The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Mega Man fans have been understandably frustrated since Capcom canceled two high-profile projects in the series last year. To help fill the Blue Bomber void, Capcom teamed up with a group of dedicated fans to deliver a crossover that you didn’t know you wanted. Street Fighter X Mega Man is a classic, NES-style game that replaces Dr. Wily’s Robot Masters with Street Fighter characters like Ryu and Blanka. The fun, charming experiment is a must-play for anyone looking for an old-school challenge. Be warned, though: The free downloadable program itself is a bit unwieldy.
The structure is identical to classic Mega Man games. You choose the order of the levels you wish to play, kill all eight bosses, and then take on a final gauntlet of stages before the final boss. Levels are themed after each street fighter, with Japanese samurai robots teleporting around Ryu’s stage and electric eels swimming through the deep waters of Blanka’s level. My favorite is Crimson Viper’s base, which involves a harrowing escape from a pursuing instant-death laser wall (a la Quick Man’s stage in Mega Man 2). Other levels deviate from the standard formula in fun ways, like a side-scrolling shooter segment on Rush’s back and an elevator battle. Unfortunately, the overall level design doesn’t live up to Capcom’s legendary polish. A lack of worthwhile secrets make some sections feel altogether empty. That being said, this could be a godsend for would-be Mega Man fans that were intimidated by the blistering difficulty of Mega Man 9 and 10.
Speaking of difficulty, the boss battles are much more forgiving on the whole. I had an easier time taking down each boss with only the buster than in any other Mega Man title. Bosses feel less aggressive, and have more obviously telegraphed moves than ever before. Maneuvers like sliding beneath Chun Li’s flying kicks and dodging Dhalsim’s yoga flames don’t require the precise timing of other Mega Man games. Additionally, life-saving E-tanks are plentiful and curb the difficulty even further – I had seven of them stored up at one point.
One of the draws for any Mega Man game is the weapons you acquire from bosses. Dhalsim’s controllable flames and Rolento’s grenades are fun weapons to use against common enemies. Unfortunately, decoding the rock-paper-scissors boss weapon weaknesses isn’t as satisfying this time around. In past Mega Man games, you can absolutely tell when you’ve walloped a Robot Master with its weakness. Flash Man’s time stopper stops Quick Man dead in his tracks, and Tornado Man’s tornado blow extinguishes the flame on Magma Man’s head. This entry is missing these meaningful touches, leaving you to try weapons and compare damage without any cues.
There are a few things you should know before diving in after downloading Street Fighter X Mega Man. The game has no password or save function, and the overall user interface is frustratingly bare-boned. It also glitches out on me whenever my PC’s screensaver kicks in, which made me lose hours of progress. Be sure to deactivate all sleep mode or screensaver functions. Also, be careful not to touch the Escape key, because it immediately closes the game without a single confirmation request.
You can play with the keyboard right away, but that would be awful. Wired Xbox 360 controllers’ plug-and-play functionality works with the game immediately. However, Mega Man can slide in this game, which makes playing with a 360 controller’s analog stick different than in Mega Man 9 and 10 on 360. Expect a lot of accidental slides when you meant to jump left or right. You could use the 360 controller’s d-pad instead, but you’re smarter than that. The best solution I found involved downloading Motion Joy, following this great YouTube tutorial, and blasting away with the PS3 controller’s excellent d-pad.
Nothing should stop you from downloading Street Fighter X Mega Man and giving it a shot. After all, it’s free. Street Fighter X Mega Man pales in comparison to the rest of the classic entries, but it’s still a wonderful test of the waters for newcomers and a charming experiment for lifelong fans. I hope to see more Capcom-endorsed fan projects in the near future.