If you only read one paragraph of this review, read this one. Powered Up is not just a remake of the first Mega Man game—it’s a celebration of it. It is a party where everyone is invited. There’s Elec Man DJing, Guts Man making short work of the buffet cart and Cut Man passed out in the corner (he never could handle his drink).
In 1987, Capcom developed and published Mega Man, a game staring a character of the same name that started one of the longest running series of games ever and placed Mega Man in the history books. This game has appeared on home consoles four separate times, so it was obvious from the start that Powered Up had to pull some wild new tricks to make it stand out from its predecessors.
As you’ve probably picked up by now, you play as Mega Man, a small blue helper robot with a big head who has been converted into a fighting machine to help defend the world from evil. And, of course, there is an evil: The antagonist is Dr. Wily, a mad scientist bent on world domination. (Well, everyone’s gotta have a hobby.) To achieve this goal, Wily has stolen eight powerful robots and programmed them to do evil on his command. That is pretty much as deep as it gets, but given the style of the game, it doesn’t really matter.
The gameplay is wonderfully simple—throughout most of the game, you really only need to jump and shoot through traps and evil robots alike. You have access to two modes in the main game: old style and new style. Old style is an almost perfect port of the original game, except with updated graphics and a few glitches of the original fixed. The retro buzz you get playing old style is great, but most gamers will love the new style even more. The stages have been updated, new foes stuck in and two new Robot Masters bring the original six up to the usual eight. Gamers looking for a challenge will find it here, and by the bucketful. New style offers three difficulty settings, and the game even records which difficulty setting you’ve beaten each stage with, so there is a lot of incentive to replay a stage at a higher difficulty.
One of the more interesting features of Powered Up is the ability to play as the Robot Masters. Taking one of the eight for a ride, you can play through the story of Powered Up taking Mega Man’s place as the main character. This greatly increases replay value, especially when you take into account that each Robot Master has the ability to play the three different difficulty settings. Taking the Robot Masters and Mega Man into account, there are over three hundred stages you have to blast through to get one hundred percent. Plus, I speak for every Mega Man fan when I say that we have always wondered what would happen if Cut Man and Guts Man got into a fight.
A quick word of warning: Some of the Robot Masters, namely Fire Man and Elec Man, play similarly to Mega Man, making the stages fairly straightforward. But, Robot Masters like Oil Man and Guts Man attack in radically unique ways and the stages are really not designed for them—anyone that can complete Oil Man’s story on hard deserves to have a country named after them.
The updated graphics, especially the large-headed characters, are rather unsettling at first, but once you get playing you realise that they fit perfectly into the light-hearted theme of the game. The music is also updated perfectly into the new style, keeping the beat of the original game while adding in more flavour.
People bored of the main game can enjoy challenge mode, a series of one hundred short levels that usually force you to rely on the abilities of a particularly Robot Master. These challenges are fairly tough but very addictive, and there is a very nice reward if you manage to complete them all.
If the updated graphics, music, challenge mode and playing as the Robot Masters isn’t enough for you, Powered Up has one final trick up its sleeve: Level Construction mode. There are very few Mega Man fans that can claim they’ve never wished to be able to make there own levels, and Powered Up gives you that chance. The level editor is very simple to work; like the real game, the level editor’s set out into a giant grid and it is simply a case of laying down the blocks, spikes and foes—you can even give your level a boss. The simplicity of the level editor and the joy of playing through your own creations means you can spend hours play testing and tweaking the design of your stage.
After you’re done, you can even upload them onto the Capcom servers to let others download and play them. The rate of levels being uploaded to the server is alarmingly fast, and playing the user-created continence gives the game almost unlimited replay value.
Overall, Mega Man Powered Up gives pretty much everything that anyone could want from a remake, and then adds in a level editor to the mix, too. I would have loved it if they allowed you to play with the original sprite graphics too, but the level editor easily makes up for that. If you are a fan of the original game then you will love this, or if you are looking for a game with retro gameplay covered with an ocean of nice extras then you will love this, too. Powered Up is one of the best games on the PSP, and it reassured my faith that Capcom may screw us fans around a bit, but when they do good, they do very good.
Now, hurry up and make Powered Up 2. I want to play as Crash Man, dammit!