Mega Man Soccer (Rockman's Soccer)
Once again, we lead off our year with a spin-off game. Designed by largely unknown and short-lived gamemaker, Sun L for Capcom, (Sun L mostly made anime games for Game Boy, such as games based on Crayon Shin-Chan and Ranma 1/2) Mega Man Soccer (Rockman's Soccer in Japan) is the Blue Bomber's first, last, and only sports game.
This is a fairly blatant attempt to expand the franchise outside the 2D platforming game territory. The ridiculous premise is that Dr. Wily is attempting to take over the world by replacing soccer players with his Robot Masters, so Mega Man goes against Wily by playing soccer against him. It's so absurd that it's funny.
The game itself is pretty average for the time and not one I would have gone rushing to the store to buy. Like a lot of SNES soccer games I've played, I find the AI to work against the player's favor: the computer seems too smart, and your teammates are not smart enough.
Some parts come off on the cheap side. It's always bothered me that you can have an entire team of Mega Man (...Mega Men?). Like, the gamemakers totally discounted Roll or Dr Light or Eddie as playable characters. The Robot Masters don't go beyond the ones introduced from Mega Man 4, which leads me to believe that Mega Man Soccer was developed with Sun L not being given any information related to Mega Man 5 or 6.
Mega Man Soccer isn't particularly liked or regarded. It's a decent soccer game for the time but feels kind of hollow. Data mining reveals that Sun L intended for the game to be multitap compatible, but that never panned out.
Mega Man V GB (Rockman World 5)
Now we're back to the arena of 2D Platforming! Minakuchi Engineering closes out their Game Boy Mega Man saga.
The Stardorids have come from space and Mega Man's Mega Blaster isn't enough! To combat this new threat, Dr. Light upgrades arm canon to fire the Mega Arm, a charged power punch and provides him with a new companion: Tango the Cat; who attacks by changing his body into a buzzsaw!!
Oh boy! Now THIS is what I'm talking about! Unlike the previous Rockman World games, Mega Man V GB isn't a downsized version of one of the NES classics. It has its own original storyline, a new set of bosses: the Planet-themed Stardroids instead of Dr. Wily's Robot Masters.
Mega Man V GB is pretty challenging and thankfully not in a way that feels lame or cheap either. To ease the difficulty, this game introduces a currency system of P-Chips and a Shop in Dr. Light's lad where you can by Energy Tanks and extra lives, thus a new feature to the original series.
Even though there are some issues with slowdown in a few places, this is my favorite of the OG Game Boy Mega Mans. They went outside the formula a bit and the results speak for themselves. Mega Man V GB closes out Mega Man's Game Boy Adventures with a bang! You gotta try this one out! It's uncommon, expensive and coveted for a reason! I recommend the 3DS eShop version if you want to try out it but are feeling thrifty!
Mega Man - The Wily Wars (Rockman Megaworld)
If you were a Sega fan who missed out on the NES action, and were a bit envious, Capcom offered a Mega(drive) solution... of sorts.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Rockman Megaworld in Japan) by Minakuchi Engineering rebuilds Mega Man 1, 2 and 3 with the Genesis/Mega Drive hardware. There is some new territory to explore in the form of The Wily Tower (which is unlocked after you clear through Mega Man 1, 2 and 3) as well as new foes (designed by Keiji Inafune): the Genesis Unit. Kinuyo Yamashita of Castlevania fame makes her first contributions to the Mega Man series; she arranged the old melodies and would later score Mega Man X3.
Unlike the NES originals, you can actually save your game one Robot Master conquest at a time and swap freely between Mega Man 1, 2 and 3 in the same file! In The Wily Tower mode, you can mix and match between the Master Weapons from the 3 games.
In theory, Mega Man: The Wily Wars is like what Super Mario All-Stars is to the 4 Super Mario Bros. NES games: old level designs, new physics (wacky glitches removed), updated graphics. I, for one, love the detail put into the new backgrounds. But the pacing is not totally faithful to the NES originals. In the original games, Mega Man can have up to 3 bullets on screen; in Wily Wars it's based on frame data. Furthermore, enemies HP values are sometimes inflated making it needlessly longer to take them out.
The European version stinks. It suffers from the awful slowdown that PAL format games of the time "featured". Avoid it at all costs.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars has a reputation for being one of the more obscure Mega Man titles: it was not physically released in the US and was the series only appearance on Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. For North America, the only way to play the game was through the Sega Channel: a paid subscription service that was ahead of its time.
This September, The Wily Wars will finally be re-released as part of Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Mini with an updated and touched up port done by M2. It is also getting an official physical release courtesy of Retro-Bit sometime in 2020.
If you're gonna play Wily Wars, go with the Japanese version or wait for the new release. It's a neat spin on the original trilogy, the curious Mega Man fan should try it out, but I, for the most part, prefer the NES versions.
That's it for 1994! Stay tuned for the next installment; we'll be covering 1995!