Mega Man III (Game Boy)


One of the things Mega Man is mostly disliked and silently praised for is how it always sticks with tradition. When it's the same, people moan, but when it changes, they want the old back. Experimentation is good, and I highly commend Mega Man X7 for that, but it doesn't make an enjoyable playing for me, y'know? Similarly, Mega Man X5 sticks to tradition, but it emphasises the worst parts and the good additions are violently overshadowed by the crap, so I'd much prefer a blast of X6 than that. Yes, X6. I'll take obnoxious hard over boring hard any day.

The Game Boy games are particularly bashed for how they don't do anything to make themselves stand out from the more dynamic console renditions, though I personally don't see why. Mega Man III for the Game Boy features bosses from instalments 3 and 4, redesigned levels for all of them, a mere two "tools" (Rush Coil and Rush Jet), new mini-bosses, fortresses and so on. The stages are more or less just a different look at the same motif and gimmicks, yes, and the mini-bosses are as unique as it gets, but is it worth the hate?

I'm a guy who likes template games. Mega Man is a template game. He runs the same in each game, he jumps the same, he shoots and climbs and slides the same, and it'd be sacrilege to remove the weapon gaining ability. However, each instalment places him somewhere new, against new enemies (more or less) and with new bosses; perhaps a new tool to help him along. That's why I like it. You don't need a ten minute introductory tutorial to show you how everything works, there's no sudden change like giving him the ability to drown, nor a fear of a boss being unbeatable. Well, after the second instalment, and bosses are tough without a weapon, but just keep your weapons stocked why doncha

Basically, Mega Man never changes drastically. When he turned into an executable program that battled viruses with school kids, that was a different series, so it didn't completely ruin the chances of a traditional instalment appearing again. Unlike, say, Crash Bandicoot. That jerk had three good adventures and then dipped into spin-offs and racing games and the adventures since have been a little lacking. At least Mario has a backlog.

Speaking of Mario, that's why I like the platformers. Sure, Super Mario Bros. 2 featured a different dynamic, picking up and throwing enemies, but that merely assisted in expanding the gameplay, and I suppose could have played a part in Donkey Kong GB coming out the way it was. But the first game, it's brilliant. Everyone's said all there can be said, so I'll just say it's brilliant. But what's even better is that the Japanese sequel, The Lost Levels, is nothing more than an expansion. Luigi has changed physics, bouncing is a little different and some enemies are upside down, but it's the same game, except with even wackier difficulty. I love them both.

And that, personally, is why I love the handheld titles. The console versions are the big boys - they add the new, unique tools and bosses, so those looking for a new experience are content (until 4 through 6, at least), while someone who wants a little more out of what's already there, the handheld games fill that role. You know all the tricks to the console versions' levels, so these ones mix them up a little bit. They could have done so in a ludicrous way that would completely change the dynamics of going through levels, ala Lost Levels, but the way they're done already is enough to satisfy me.

That's why I'm always cranky when a new 3D Mario game is made. Sunshine and Galaxy (the latter of which as of this writing I have not played) have dynamically changed the gameplay, in Sunshine having the projectile liquid acting as a major tool and the latter having the whole space and crazy ass physics thing. That's swell and all, and it definitely highlights Nintendo's image as a company who try to keep themselves fresh and innovative (though doesn't explain why there's five WarioWare games am i rite), but surely an expansion to Mario 64 with ten new levels, co-operative play and maybe even Yoshi wouldn't have killed them?

I first started getting game magazines when the N64 was new, and there was all this wondrous talk of the fabled 64DD. In reality, it was just a disc drive that allowed extra space, but the way it was shown and worded struck me as a dream machine. This device would allow me to make Castlevania 64's Dracula a boss in Banjo-Kazooie! This device would let me make new levels in Mario Kart 64! This device would MAKE ME A GOD.

Then it turned out to be a disc drive that was sold by mail only.

But the concept of the 64DD was something I loved: Back when Zelda: Ocarina of Time looked like ass (well, more than it is already thanks to today's super grafix) there was talk of the 64DD expansion that would add new dungeons, stories and whatnot, and is supposedly what became Majora's Mask and Master Quest. Using the original game as a template, it would tweak things, add things, dynamically change things, and make it into an all new game, or expansion pack for more accurate title.

And that's what I like.

PC gaming uses expansion packs, which is good, but it's always for games I don't regularly play. Baldur's Gate has Tales of the Sword Coast, featuring your party going on a ship to an island of vampires (and some prostitute who says "hey, sexy! D'ya wanna take a look at me diddies?"), but since you're just leading these guys around by an arrow and clicking commands and that shit, it wasn't quite as amazing as it could've been for me.

But with today's gaming having online capabilities and downloads to fix bugs, add levels and so on, I'd like to hope my dream of expansions hitting games that don't suck (burn) will come true. Sonic Adventure 2 had a downloadable feature that made levels more difficult, apparently, and the latest instalment for the Xbox 360 and PS3 had new modes available, though thanks to lack of information (and lack of good sites) I've no idea what they were truly like, aside from the latter being a bit balls. Still, it's the thought that counts, and if Nintendo came to use it's Wii Channel effectively, one could almost play Super Mario 64 as it was originally intended, with thirty levels, multi-player, Yoshi and hopefully not with shitty D-Pad or stylus control.

Sadly, looking at the December issue of EDGE, it looks like most game companies are spending more time on making their games look identical than anything. It took me two looks to realise that Bionic Commando was a Bionic Commando game. I miss bright colours and gaussian shading. =(

So, Mega Man III for the Game Boy.

Well, it's Mega Man. He can slide, he can charge his gun, he faces four guys from Mega Man 3 and another four from Mega Man 4, is armed with Rush Coil and Rush Jet and there's two fortress stages. There's nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that stands out significantly, and ultimately, a rather valid reason for people to hate it.

Yet, at the same time, precisely why I like it. Definitely not a favourite or something I'd play regularly, but when starved for a little extra Mega Man gameplay, it's a satisfying little meal.



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