Mega Man: Powered-Up
by Polly

Until only recently, poor ol' Mega Man had a rough going of things in the last decade. With the glitz and glamour of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras behind him, it seemed unquestionable that the Mega Man series would keep on keepin' on right through the 32-bit era. Sadly, The Blue Bomber's little series that could hit a bit of a snag right out of the gate with the insanely lackluster (and now infamous for its voice-over work) Mega Man 8. Granted, this degradation began with Mega Man 7 on SNES, but it really seemed to hit hard when 8 rolled around. Hehe...Roll... With that failure, Capcom picked up where they left off with the SNES' excellent trilogy of Mega Man X games and delivered Mega Man X4. This was the last really good Mega Man game I played for yeeeeeaaaars. Since then, Capcom has seen fit to whore the poor series out so much that it's almost a joke. What are we up to, like 8 X games and that ridiculous Battle Network series and not to mention those series' spin-offs as well. It really is enough to make one roll their eyes when you go down the list of games bearing the Mega Man name.... Hehe... Roll...

But still, they sell. And I think they still sell for good reason most of the time. With the X and Zero series especially, the brand became a little more niche, I think. The games sated the desire for hardcore 2-D platforming that challenged players in an old-school way without feeling too cheap. You either got good at the games, or traded them in for credit at GameStop. I bitch about Capcom shitting them out at such a rapid rate, but I actually have a lot of those games laying around here and bought them for that very reason. I only recently played through the first ZX and ZX Advent still hasn't been popped out of its damn packaging yet. But all that may change after having played through Mega Man: Powered-Up.

Mega Man: Powered-Up is a...well...powered-up version of the VERY FIRST Mega Man game on NES that was released in 1988. The game's subtitle is one of the most appropriately used that I've seen in a while. When you get a look at how much shit they packed into this game, it's almost enough to make your head spin and wonder how the hell you're gonna get around to playing it all. They aimed at giving the player bang for their buck here, and I can safely say that had I not received it as a Christmas gift, I wouldn't feel ripped off if they were asking $50 for it.

To give you an idea of how much you're getting with Powered-Up I'm gonna run down as many of the game's features that I can fucking remember.

Starting off, the game gives you two modes to play in: New Style and Old Style. New Style is where you'll most likely spend most of your time playing, as it's where most of the game's new features lie. It features completely reworked stages with three difficulties each, new remixed music, two BRAND-NEW Robot Masters to fight, and each Robot Master has been granted a brand-new super attack as well as small tweaks to their original fight patterns. Some would think that'd be enough for a new spin on an old game, but Capcom didn't stop there.

Now, in addition to gaining a Robot Master's power after you've defeated him, you can also capture your foe peacefully (by only using the Mega Buster to fight them) and, in giving the fans what they've wanted for YEARS, actually play through the game as them! You read that right, you can now play as the Robot Masters, and on top of that you can play through the ENTIRE GAME as EACH INDIVIDUAL Robot Master, as the game saves progression for each character. Each Robot Master uses their signature moves and has special abilities that no other characters have. For instance, Cut Man can jump off walls, Ice Man doesn't slip on icy ground and can use enemies as platforms, etc. You'll end up replaying various stages as various characters quite a bit in order to get into hard-to-reach places that only specific characters can get to in order to unlock all the game's goodies. So, that's nine different ways you can play through the game already, but there's still more! After defeating the final boss a few times you can unlock later version of Mega Man that can slide and charge the Mega Buster, as well as play as series favorites Proto Man and Roll. The game ends up being tuned very well to handle pretty much all of the playstyles too, so it's not often you'll run into situations where something feels impossible for a specific character. Harder, yes? Imossible, naw.

The aforementioned Old Style is exactly what you'd think it is. It's the old-school original game almost the way you remember it. It features only the original six Robot Masters, all the original stages, their 8-bit chiptunes, and bosses fight you exactly the way you remember them. The only minor gripes here are that the stages still use the updated looks and that you play this version of the game in a smaller play area of the screen, likely to simulate the smaller resolution of an NES.

The second biggest selling-point of Powered-Up is the level creation engine. It's fairly simple and easy to use, but highly, highly effective at being able to create very intricate stages. A real downer here, is that all the starting stuff you can use to create stages isn't really varied at all and incredibly restrictive on what types of stages you can create. The only way to get new building tools is to unlock them in the game's New Style mode by finding level and enemy packs. You can download more packs online (including all the Mega Man 1 tilesets) and a few more, but the bulk of the stuff you'll want to be using has to be unlocked.

Speaking of online, once you've created your masterpiece you can upload and share it online for everyone to download and enjoy. More games really need stuff like this. LittleBigPlanet has the right idea. I guess if there's any real problem with this portion of the game, it's that there's no real way to preview levels before you download. This is a problem, because it's been proven time and time again that when you give players a level editor, all they wanna do is make the most impossible and unfun shit imaginable. I've tried roughly 30 levels and have only found maybe four or five worth playing. Thankfully, Capcom themselves were offering their own bonus stages for a while and they're still hanging around and make interesting use of the system, so they're worth checking out.

The last game feature I'm going to mention is the Challenge Mode. Sorta in the same vein as the Contra 4 Challenges, if you've played it. These are 100 special stages, ten for each playable character, that have unique goals that must be completed in order to be cleared. When you're finished with the main game, these are a great way to waste time and get that blood-pressure elevated. They're fucking tough, but fair most of the time. You'll get a lot of replay value out of this portion of the game if you love micro-challenges that'll drive you fucking batty.

As you can plainly see from the screenshots, Mega Man has been given a bit of a...makeover. The visuals in this game are so sickeningly sweet, you'll be reaching for the insulin every 20-30 minutes of playtime. It's simple 3D layered in pretty pastel colors and amazingly, it's a look that works very well. The game does suffer from a bit of slowdown when things get a bit hectic, but it's never been game-breaking. What can be game-breaking at times is that everything is a little too big and feels a bit cramped, even on the PSP's large screen. The viewable space makes some jumping puzzles and incredible pain in later portions of the game. The game also plays a bit faster than you'd expect, so the jumping mechanics are already a bit of a pain to finally pin down. If you stick with it, you'll be nailing those pixel-perfect jumps in no time, but know that it won't be easy at first.

Like the visuals, the audio is sugary sweet, with cute little renditions of all your favorite original tunes. The sound effects are also in the same vein offering cute cartooney takes on all the originals as well. There's also a substantial amount of voice acting throughout the course of the game in story bits and Robot Masters have little catchphrases they use to signal their special moves and when they get hurt. The whole presentation goes together well, so unless cute isn't your thing, there's not much to gripe about here.

Honestly, for everything that Mega Man: Powered-Up gives you, it's pretty damn hard to bitch about its few stumbles. There's so much fun and variety to be had here, it's just really astounding that this game never received a PS2 or higher port. It could have easily flourished there, instead of bombing like it did on the PSP. The fact that it bombed is just astounding to me, because it seems to be what I'd think most would want from a remake. Then we get lolfarts Mega Man 10, with only vague hints at a Mega Man 2: Powered-Up. If you have a PSP, you either already own this game, or you should. Them's the facts, Jack.

You'd also do good to have yourself a copy of Mega Man Maverick Hunter X.

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