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Mega Man 7 (SNES) artwork

Mega Man 7 (SNES) review

"By the time Capcom was done running their Mega Man franchise into the ground on the NES, it seemed obvious something needed to change. As the sequels had poured in, it seemed each new game had fewer things to set it apart from its predecessors until the NES series culminated with Mega Man 6 — a completely unnecessary game that seemed content to merely rehash elements of the Blue Bomber’s past few outings. "

By the time Capcom was done running their Mega Man franchise into the ground on the NES, it seemed obvious something needed to change. As the sequels had poured in, it seemed each new game had fewer things to set it apart from its predecessors until the NES series culminated with Mega Man 6 — a completely unnecessary game that seemed content to merely rehash elements of the Blue Bomber’s past few outings.

So, would the move to the SNES be sufficient to re-energize the Blue Bomber in his seemingly eternal quest to stop a geriatric scientist from taking over the world? In many ways, yes, as Mega Man 7 has a number of fresh, new ideas that add a certain level of depth to the game.

The biggest difference you’ll notice between this and the NES installments is that Mega Man 7 adds a number of adventure elements to the action-oriented gameplay. Whenever you’re on the level select screen, pressing “select” takes you to a shop where you can exchange Bolts (currency commonly dropped by fallen foes) for many items, including 1-ups and Energy Tanks. Some of the more useful items for sale are actually wastes of that money, as they can be found in the various levels of the game. And that is where a good deal of the depth lies.

You could spend a few hundred Bolts to buy such items as a fancy new suit that allows you to shoot homing rockets or an accessory that lets you search for hidden items on every screen of the game. Of course, you’d then be spending hours running around aimlessly through random levels blasting everything that moves to get more and more precious Bolts. But, by carefully searching and knowing when to use the proper items, virtually every useful thing in the game can be found hidden throughout the eight robot master stages.

They aren’t always easy to get, though. You might have to come back to a certain stage after gaining a new power (yep, you still absorb the abilities of fallen bosses) in order to open the way. Or you might need to find another item in a different stage to access what you’re looking for. While none of this is overly complicated (although a few accessories are squirreled away securely), it does add a certain level of “adventure” gameplay to the mix, as you will have to do a certain amount of backtracking to collect all the hidden goodies. After getting Freeze Man’s weapon, for example, you may find it is the key to getting a well-hidden item on an earlier stage. Fortunately, one of the items you can find or buy allows you to exit a stage at anytime, allowing you to warp out the instant you get what you’re looking for.

The robot master powers you absorb play a big role in finding many of these items. In other words, for the first time in what seems like forever, a Mega Man game made their cool optional weapons useful for more than just one or two boss fights. You’ll find yourself using the Scorch Wheel, Freeze Cracker and other weapons with regularity as you search for well-hidden accessories.

Those additional attacks are even more crucial than before when you fight bosses, too. I noticed that many of the eight robot masters went down with barely any resistance when I attacked them with the proper sub-weapon. However, if I’d try a different weapon or my pellet gun, things would get ugly for me in a hurry. Take Turbo Man, for instance. If you hit him with the weapon he’s weak to, he’ll simply turn into a car and speed toward you. All you have to do is jump over him, turn around and whack him again. Now, if you aren’t using the right weapon, things get a lot rougher. Ol’ Speedy Gonzales here will send a Scorch Wheel your way. And since this fiery wheel is powerful and pretty tough to dodge, odds are you get banged up pretty bad if he’s able to use it.

But the adventure elements and more useful subweapons aren’t the only addition to this installment in the series. For the first time in a Mega Man game, you’ll actually have somewhat of a story. We’re not talking about War and Peace here or anything like that, but it is a nice bit of filler to set this game apart from its predecessors. Much of the story revolves around Bass and Treble, the counterparts to Mega Man and Rush. They seem to be on your side, but you never can trust those allies that seem to pop up out of the blue in video games.... You also get a couple of mini-levels where you do little but walk and fight a boss while getting a brief glimpse of reliable ol’ Dr. Wily and what he’s been up to since cashing in his “Break out of Jail Free” card.

The move to the SNES also allowed Capcom to enhance Mega Man’s graphics. Characters such as Dr. Light, Dr. Wily and Mega Man are much more detailed than in previous games, while many of the robot masters are much larger and more threatening in appearance than in previous games. It also doesn’t hurt that they all get their own personalized appearance — a nice improvement over the old generic intro they had on the NES. The backgrounds tend to be brightly colored and cartoonish, something I felt really meshed with the general theme of this particular Mega Man series. The color scheme wouldn’t have worked in the bleak, futuristic world of the Mega Man Zero series, for instance, but does fine here.

Musically, I didn’t notice the “improvements” so much. Sure, the superior sound capacity the SNES had over the NES is on display, but none of the songs really seemed as catchy as some of the classic music from, say, Mega Man 2 or 3.

But if the soundtrack was my only qualm about Mega Man 7, I’d just slap my “10” on it and be done with this review. However, Capcom did a few things that struck me as questionable. You remember how in the old Mega Man games, you’d have to make it through the end-game fortress of Wily in one sitting? Not anymore, as after you finish each level of the castle, you can pick up a password and do some shopping before returning. While I can think of two particular bosses deep inside the fortress that may make you grateful for the chance to replenish your Energy Tank supply, it just seems to detract from the challenge and make the inevitable confrontation with Wily a bit less climactic.

And there are fewer levels here than in most of the NES games. You have eight robot master levels, Dr. Wily’s four-level fortress and those two “levels” that really are nothing more than a boss fight. Starting in Mega Man 4, Capcom gave gamers two big fortresses after you got past the eight robot masters. That second castle is now gone, which is a shame (at least for gamers such as myself who have no problems receiving too much of a good thing).

It truly saddens me that Capcom butchered the ending sequence of this Mega Man game by removing one major fortress and then neutralizing much of Dr. Wily’s challenge by allowing you to leave and resupply after every level. For much of this game, I felt they had rebounded from the stale Mega Man 6 and were back on track. The first eight levels were excellently designed, with plenty of cool items to find and a few storyline elements that had been lacking in previous games. But in the end, I have to admit I felt a bit let down by the way the fortress section of the game was handled.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mega Man 7 was a very good game that did wonders to make up for the less-than-inspired sixth installment in the series. However, the disappointed feelings I had as I finished this game were enough to tell me that it’s not quite at the same level as Mega Man’s best eight-bit offerings.

overdrive's avatar
Community review by overdrive (February 03, 2005)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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