Rockman & Forte (SNES) review
"RockMan and Forte is sort of an anomaly in the vast field of Mega Man games. Released in 1998 for the Super Famicom, this game really doesnít fit cleanly into the Blue Bomberís initial series. "
RockMan and Forte is sort of an anomaly in the vast field of Mega Man games. Released in 1998 for the Super Famicom, this game really doesnít fit cleanly into the Blue Bomberís initial series.
First off, it wasnít released in America, a fact that makes it an aberration right from the start when you consider how ubiquitous Mega Man is on our shores. Second, a number of the bosses are based on enemies in the Playstationís Mega Man 8, leading one to believe this was a toned-down, altered version of that game.
Oh, and you also get to control Forte (Bass in America). Veterans of Mega Man 7 (or the GBAís Mega Man Battle Network series) will recognize this more recent adversary of your protagonist. Created by Dr. Wily as sort of an evil version of RockMan, Forte now is a playable character with his own abilities. At the beginning of a game, you get to pick either RockMan or Forte to be your hero of choice. RockMan can charge his shots, slide and do all the other traditional moves he performed in the American Mega Man games. Forte, on the other hand, relies on a dash move, a double jump and the ability to aim his blaster to pick off enemies at different elevations. Obviously, some rooms and stages are easier with Mega Man -- others will be brutally difficult unless Forte is your man.....er, machine.
After doing an introductory level, youíll get your first exposure to the gameís derivative story. Apparently, a robot named King has decided that robots should rule humans, so heís playing the role of Dr. Wily and amassing eight big, bad robots to prove his point. Of course, itís not like any of the Blue Bomberís adventures have relied on expert storytelling, so you canít really punish RockMan and Forte for NOT breaking that mold.
Instead of being able to pick and choose which of the eight robot masters you go after first, a mere three are initially available. Beating one of those foes opens up paths to more levels -- a trend that continues until all eight have taken a one-way ticket to the scrap heap.
And thatís about it. While Capcom did an admirable job of creating a solid framework for this game, virtually everything else appears to be an afterthought. Itís just the sort of thing that gives one the idea that the company was trying to squeeze one more dime out of the 16-bit crowd before moving on to bigger systems. Hmmm.....didnít I say that about Mega Man 6 on the NES, too? Looks like historyís repeating itself here.
To start with, Autoís Shop returns, allowing you to buy add-ons to both Mega Man and Bass. On the surface, this is a great idea. You can, for example, allow RockMan to auto-charge his blaster, so you donít have to hold down the ďBĒ button. Or, if youíre a more defensive-minded player, there are accessories that reduce the amount of damage you take or slowly regenerate your life.
However, one of the coolest features in Mega Man 7 was that you NEVER had to buy anything from Auto. Every single item he sold could be found within one of the gameís levels, meaning that a diligent player could conserve their money for energy tanks and bonus lives. You donít get that freedom here, as bonus lives are the only thing you can find for nothing. Thereís nothing quite like having to interrupt what should be a fast-paced platformer to earn a few hundred bolts (currency) to buy a couple of necessary add-ons.
Oh, and the aforementioned energy tanks are only a memory in RockMan and Forte. Thatís right -- there are no quick-fix life-restoring items here. To replace them, you can pick up an accessory that causes energy balls to restore more life or simply equip the item that automatically recharges RockMan. Of course, that item will only raise your life meter one notch every five seconds or so, but this game seems to revel in wasting the time of players.
RockMan and Forte has no better time-waster than itís CD hunting mini-game. Scattered throughout the levels of this game are a slew of collectible CDs that contain snippets of information about virtually every character and boss in all the NES, SNES and GameBoy Mega Man games. Itís a cute concept and all, but the game kind of botches the execution a bit. Many of these CDs are hidden, forcing you to use items like Rush Search to dig them up. Fortunately, you can buy an item to show where these hidden discs are to save you a lot of trial and error. Unfortunately, that item doesnít become available until late in the game, meaning that to get all of these unnecessary collectibles, youíll be making repeated trips throughout each level. Overall, itís a decent idea that turns into an annoyance after awhile.
Really, the only place RockMan and Forte really shines (outside of its very nice graphics and music) is in its high difficulty level. I can safely say that out of all the old-school Mega Man games, this is easily the most difficult to get through. Youíll go through some long levels and fight some tough bosses. Just take a peek at Dynamo Man, for example. Not only does he have a number of potent attacks, but after youíve lowered his life bar to a critical state, heíll hop into some sort of contraption and REGENERATE his life. And if youíre unable to destroy this machine before Dynamo Manís life meter is full again, guess what? Heíll jump into it again after you bring him back to deathís door. Needless to say, that is just one wild fight that you have very little (if any) room for error in.
And things donít get easier after youíve gone through the robot mastersí stages. Kingís Fortress boasts a ton of bosses, including the King Jet, which just may be the toughest platforming boss Iíve EVER encountered. You have to chase this giant airborne machine while hopping across a series of platforms WHILE the screen automatically scrolls to the right. Meanwhile, King Jet occasionally will just pelt you with attacks, including giant fists that can destroy platforms and a massive laser that will decimate your life bar (if anything makes you yearn for an energy tank, that attack will). Let me tell you, I needed a good, stiff drink after finally outlasting that flying behemoth.
The difficulty even got taken to a new level for the tried-and-true gauntlet of bosses past you have to run toward the end of the game. Instead of simply going from one room to the next, beating whichever boss gets in your way, this little section of the game runs like an actual level. Before getting reacquainted with each boss, you must first do a short, but intense, platforming section. To be honest, the final two fortress levels were far longer and more grueling than any adventure Iíd previously had with the Blue Bomber and likely would test the mettle of most players.
Itís funny, actually. One of my main complaints thatís popped up in more than one Mega Man review is that I wished there would be more innovation in each new game. Here, my feelings are the exact opposite. You have a very challenging, yet rewarding, action-packed game in RockMan and Forte. But all that good stuff just gets bogged down by a mindless CD-hunting mini-game and a shop that requires players to find a few key rooms to sit in and endlessly plug enemies to obtain mass quantities of bolts. I would have loved this game had it been a no-frills, blast-em-to-Hell platformer. But all the fat Capcom gummed up the works with really sapped my enjoyment as time went on. I hung in there and beat RockMan and Forte, but I doubt Iíll ever play it again. And with the potential this game had, thatís sad.
Community review by overdrive (March 19, 2005)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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