Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge (GB)

Posted in Categories All Content, ReviewsTagged as Tags , , , , , , , , , ,
  • System: Nintendo Game Boy
  • Genre: Platform
  • Max Players: 1
  • Age Rating: Everyone
  • US Release: December 1991
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Similar Games: Mega Man (NES), Mega Man 2 (NES), Mega Man (PC), Mega Man II (GB), Super Mario Land (GB), Metroid II: Return of Samus (GB)

megaman-gameboyEarly Game Boy titles have a reputation for being cheap knockoffs and easy ports of popular console games. Even if they don’t, that assertion segues nicely into my sentiment that Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge is a cheap knockoff and an easy port of the NES Mega Man titles. Offering a mashup of enemies, obstacles, and music from Mega Man and Mega Man 2, Dr. Wily’s Revenge is a clever ROM hack in the guise of a legitimate spinoff, but there are enough differences from the NES games to make it worth buying a blowtorch to destroy this miserable cartridge.

I mean, uh, to make it worth buying a copy. To destroy with a blowtorch.

MMI Burn EverythingFire Man’s weapon will also do nicely.

Dr. Wily’s Revenge is best enjoyed in the same way most people enjoy professional boxing—at a distance, watching someone else get the ever-loving doodle beaten out of them. The Mega Man games are renowned for their difficulty, but Dr. Wily’s Revenge crosses the line from challenging to punishing, thanks to the ruinous trifecta of skewed rewards, excessively close-quarters fighting, and having marginally better maneuverability than a burly lumberjack with Chinese takeout boxes for limbs. Does that even make sense? I’m so upset with this game that I’m making involuntary references to Chinese food.

MMI Where Is My PlatformOh, man. Even my screenshots don’t make sense anymore.

To fit Mega Man’s adventures on a Game Boy screen without shrinking everything to an unidentifiably tiny Super Mario Land size, Capcom simply kept their hero the same height as he was in the NES games, and made all the rooms smaller instead. Mega Man: Broom Closet Showdown wouldn’t be so bad if the words “Mega Man PC game” didn’t immediately come to mind after the first few minutes of gameplay, followed by a string of profanities regarding Mega Man’s inability to run, jump, or shoot quickly enough to avoid turning every enemy encounter into that steamroller scene from Austin Powers.

MMI Enker Does Not Bake CakesThis is Enker, the tough-to-dodge “Mega Man Killer.”
As though Wily’s other robots were programmed to bake cakes.

Two good ways for a game to make up for below-average maneuverability and tight spaces are to (a) grant the hero access to a wide array of superior weapons, and (b) provide plenty of apology powerups. To its credit, Dr. Wily’s Revenge delivers on both counts. Woefully, it delivers to the wrong address, on the wrong day, with rabid badgers strapped loosely to the box.

MMI Splitting HeadachePlaying the game feels like this a lot of the time.

The game offers ten special weapons, five of which are dropped into your lap immediately before the very last stage. That’s the RPG equivalent of meeting Gogo, Umaro, Mog, Strago, and Relm right before the final dungeon of Final Fantasy VI. Or, if you’re not an RPG fan, it’s the platformer equivalent of getting Mirror Buster, Atomic Fire, Time Stopper, Bubble Lead, and Quick Boomerang right before the final stage of Dr. Wily’s Revenge. There’s maybe a total of 90 seconds where there’s any reason to use your new weapons over the ones you already had. It’s wasteful! If this were a Chinese buffet, Capcom would be charged extra for wast—oh, I’m doing it again.


At least the game encourages special weapon use. Enemies are plentiful, and defeated enemies drop powerups, including weapon refills, weapon refills, weapon refills, weapon refills, and—when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars—large weapon refills. Whether due to Capcom’s generosity or your physical inability to collect any other kind of powerup, you will never live long enough to see your weapon energy totally depleted. The only guaranteed 1-Ups are in places where you’ll Game Over at least once before figuring out how to get them, and the only guaranteed health refills come just before the part where you get brutally assaulted by everything that moves. Which is every part, really. Most games reward a player’s ability to survive by giving powerups that promote further survival; Dr. Wily’s Revenge completely misses the point of rewards in general and just assumes it’s doing the right thing by giving you anything at all. Thanks, weird Uncle Dr. Wily’s Revenge. I really needed $70,000 of Hello Kitty merchandise instead of that hip replacement.

MMI Just One Health Capsule Is All I AskI sincerely wish it was a fluke to get this many weapon capsules at once.

If you ignore everything that ruins the game, Dr. Wily’s Revenge isn’t half bad. The mildly remixed music does justice to the originals, and the new tunes are nice; the graphics are clean, albeit a little bland; light puzzle elements add a layer of interest to the otherwise straightforward stages; and it’s mercifully short. The flip side of that last point is that, because the bosses from MM2 are all clustered together and don’t have stages of their own, the player is denied the chance to tackle reimagined challenges of dodging speedy laser beams with lightning-fast reflexes and actually that’s a good thing now that I’m thinking about it. The game is mercifully short.

MMI Beam Me Up ScottyPity none of these teleports you into a better game.

Unbalanced rewards, a small playing field, and a sluggish hero make simply playing the game a chore, let along beating it. The game is worth beating (and not just with a sledgehammer), but I may only be saying that because I’m a hopeless Mega Man fan with a Backloggery to look after, and not because any of the decent aspects of the game are strong enough to shine through the frustrations and make the game any fun. Unless you’re cheating, clairvoyant, exceptionally talented, or have no standards, the game will almost certainly have long overstayed its welcome by the time you see the ending credits.

MMI Credits ProbablyI’m pretty sure these are the ending credits.

  • GameCola Rates This Game: 4 - Below Average
5 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 105 votes, average: 6.20 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
Nathaniel Hoover is almost certainly GameCola's most verbose staff member, and arguably the most eclectic. As administrator of the GameCola YouTube channel (GCDotNet), occasional contributor to every article category on the site, and staff editor, you're pretty much stuck with him wherever you go. Sorry.


  1. You aren’t giving this game enough credit. I got it for the 3DS virtual console and eat it, and I really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s more condensed, but that doesn’t mean it deserves a 4. I look up to you, Mr. Hoover, and I just disagree with this.

    1. You ate it on the Virtual Console? 😉

      Please note, though, that my driving reasons for giving the game a 4 are almost nothing to do with it being condensed, in either sense of the word. It’s a condensed version of two other games, but a lot of the Mega Man series is similarly rehashed–and this one’s reasonably unique. It’s got a smaller playing area than the NES games, but so do the other Game Boy games–and I like MMII (yes, really) and I love MMIV-V.

      I’ve played Dr. Wily’s Revenge a number of times, and even with getting better at it, it’s still too frustrating and unforgiving to be much fun, and there’s very little good that the game brings to the table that I couldn’t get elsewhere in the series, with better controls and more balanced rewards.

      Absolute best-case scenario, if I started getting consistently lucky with the powerups and got so good at the game that I could breeze through it with both eyes closed, I still couldn’t justify giving the game more than a 6–which is still above average. It SHOULDN’T deserve a 4, but no matter how many times I play and how many different approaches I take, it’s only fun when I’m winning. For a guy who loves PLAYING Mega Man, whether he’s winning or losing, that’s a HUGE mark against the game.

      1. I understand your justification. Maybe my reason is that the 3DS basically has save states for virtual console. That helps when you know you are coming to something hard, and save to continue. That is how I beat Super Mario Land :P. Also, thank you for pointing out i eat it. I meant beat it.

        1. Oh, wow–I didn’t realize they offered save states. That makes a HUGE difference–when I played the game through on an emulator to grab screenshots, it was FAR more enjoyable being able to simply reload anytime I goofed, so I totally understand where you’re coming from now.

  2. I dunno – I feel like this is pretty symptomatic of Game Boy games at the time: the initial offering(s) of an already established series (for example, Super Mario Land, Link’s Awakening, Dr. Wily’s Revenge) were almost like ROM hacks of better games and then subsequent titles would generally improve in quality (e.g. Super Mario Land 2, Oracle of Ages / Seasons, MMIV and MMV) as the developers learned to play to the system’s strengths and not just try to jam an 8 / 16 bit title into a Game Boy cart.

    And just to stave off any potential arguments – no, I don’t think Super Mario Land / Link’s Awakening / Dr. Wily’s Revenge are necessarily *bad* games but the games that followed those three were generally leaps and bounds better. While Link’s Awakening is arguably the strongest of those three titles, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m playing a pared-down Link to the Past (because, well, I am). It’s a very strong pared-down LttP but a pared-down LttP nevertheless.

    Having said that, I still purchased the original Super Mario Land and Dr. Wily’s Revenge via 3DS Virtual Console and, indeed, with Save States, both of those titles become fun little distractions without the fear of losing progress.

    I hope they get the other Game Boy MM titles out relatively soon. I hear Japan is getting the Famicom Rockman for 3DS Virtual Console – I’d happily purchase the original MM if they made it available here in the States.

    Nathaniel: It seems general internet consensus that MM IV and MM V on the Game Boy are the strongest of the bunch but if you’ve got a spare second (and, being an avid reader of Exfanding Your Horizons and an avid viewer of your YouTube offerings, I know that you truly don’t), could I trouble you for brief thoughts on the MM II and MM III on the Game Boy?

    1. Entire Review of Mega Man III from Good Ol’ NH:

      At the bottom is a list of the one thing he would take out of each of the Gameboy games, including II and III:

      And he gave Mega Man II and III 3 and 2 stars respectively on his Backoggery. Huh, funny.

      This will either be helpful or creepy. Or both. Honestly I just have a good memory for these sorts of things.



      1. Thanks for the linkage. I read the Exfanding post some time ago, but I tend to forget his Flashman85 stuff on GameFAQs (save for the occasional link to GameFAQs on Exfanding posts).

        I know the backstory on the Game Boy games thanks to UDON’s sublime Mega Man: Official Complete Works book, that the dev team who worked on Dr. Wily’s Revenge didn’t work on MMII (Capcom hired a different team for that) but then were rehired for III and onward, IIRC.

        I guess all I’m really saying is I really want Nintendo to offer up MMIV and MMV for the 3DS Virtual Console but, as I get the feeling that they’ll put the MM titles in chronological order (as they did for the Wii Virtual Console), I just want to know how much dread I should have ready for MMII and MMIII.

        I mean, in the unlikely event that they give me the Game Gear MM title, I’m fully prepared – I actually owned it back in the day. But I really ain’t holding my breath on that possibility…

        1. Joe: I am highly, highly impressed.

          k0n4: I doubt we’ll see the Game Gear MM anytime soon, but honestly, I kinda like it. (I mean, it’s a rehash of two of my favorite MM games, so it can’t be all bad.)

          MMII gets a bad rap because it’s not impossibly difficult and the music is not what people expect from a Mega Man game. If you find the soundtrack to be ear-splitting, you can turn it down; easy fix. If all you’re expecting is a condensed mashup rehash of MM2-3 from the NES, you’ll get exactly what you signed up for. It’s not terribly innovative, and it certainly has its flaws, but it serves its purpose: getting your Mega Man fix on the go.

          MMIII suffers from the same issue MMI does: it’s unforgiving and unfair. While Mega Man enjoys increased power and mobility in MMIII (they added the slide in MMII and the charge in MMIII), his improvements are negated by the fact that there’s too much packed into such small spaces, to the point where you literally have to pause every time you enter a new screen to make sure you’re not going to blindly smack into something.

          Both games have their fun moments, and each Game Boy title continually adds more to the greater Mega Man universe than the last one, so I do recommend playing them both. Keep your expectations low for MMII, and get ready to be excessively patient with MMIII.

Share your thoughts!