Mega Man 7 is what happens when executive heads don’t use protection. I’d like to capitalize on that joke somehow, but the only thing I can think of is a picture of some CEO with a condom covering his head. I wonder if my editor will stick one in for me somewhere.
Anyways, the conception of Mega Man 7 is a baffling conception—withtentacles and vaginal fireworks and shit. It’s totally confusing from an analytical perspective. Mega Man already made a successful transition to the SNES with Mega Man X; why did we have to have this? Why did he have to do it again? Released RIGHT between X2 and X3, timing is something this game had not a pitiful piss jar of. If there’s a phrase Keiji Inafune has never heard before, it’s some variation of “TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING.”1
….I think I used the word analytical in my Arcana review….
But who are we to criticize Dr. Inafune? Are we going to tell a man who academically (and by now, numerically) owns 40% of platform gaming history, eclipsed only by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, that he can’t do what he wants to his game series? It’s 2007 now2, and Mega Man 7’s timing doesn’t amount to bratwurst today. It’s no Mega Man 2, but Mega Man 7 is one of the classic series’ highlights, and I intend to prove it.
Let’s see…where to start, where to start…well, let’s start by saying that squeezing 7 in with all the Xs was not as bad of an idea as it initially appeared to be. If you were going to try to reinvent the wheel for God knows what purpose, you at least need to make it look like the modern models (i.e., round). A lot of X’s design rubbed off on 7, and now we get a (short) introduction stage, the ability to alter levels with weapons (burning trees with fire, freezing lava, powering machines with electricity, etc.), minibosses, dialogue, and something resembling a plot! YIPPIE! A lot of these work almost seamlessly within the regular Mega Man structure. Although they’re not original in any way (cue John Fogerty’s “The Old Man Down The Road”), they do, from a technical point of view at least, breathe some desperately needed life into a series that needed some sparkle two or three games ago. There is also a SHOP feature, which is not new but badly needed, as well.
…I’m sure I’ve seen that word before; why does it bother me….?
Another welcome addition, one that literally sent one acquaintance of mine down the path of prostitution3, was the fact that Capcom didn’t use the same damn sprites they’ve had for 10 years up to this point! That’s right! New graphics! And boy were they bouncy…and colorful! Mega Man never looked so damn…cute. What was not a new feature in any way was the soundtrack, which stayed true to Mega Man’s roots in the synthesizer as opposed to Mega Man X’s guitar (and took like 20 people to compose, for some reason). The soundtrack, relying not on old squares and saw waves but SNES-grade instruments, just made the game that much cuter. Every track bubbles and creams with upbeat, modulation heavy polys and pops, pianos and strings, squares and basses, and even the saddest, angriest song (which no one can identify) has a half smile on one side of its face. Personally, I think 7 has the best Mega Man soundtrack, but I stand alone in that decision.
But while everything looks like it’s upgraded nicely to fit in with the X series, they don’t all work out as well as you would think. There is a subtle “two steps forward and one step back” consistency present and accounted for in virtually all of these features. For one, the brand new graphics are way too big. This is a small quivel, but it does seem pretty bothersome. A lot of X’s features are present, except the one you’d want the most: WALL JUMPING. And trust me, you will look quite the fool as you try to hug the wall because you’re trained to do that from all the X games.
You get to alter the environment with your weapons nicely, but the levels themselves (and the new roster of bosses who occupy them) are nothing to scream about, save for one unexpected trip back to Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. This Mega Man relies largely on mashing old tricks and items together—you’ll walk down Memory Lane off the corner of Redundant Boulevard as you step on time bombs, go through rehashes of Air Man and Bubbleman’s stages from Mega Man 2 as well as an elevator, jump carefully in the water stage so as not to hit the spikes…the only thing this game is missing is a Quick Man-style dash to avoid energy beams and…oh, wait, it’s got that too. Wily’s castle has some good stuff waiting for you as always, but they’ve made it a lot easier. You can leave and start back at ANY point in the castle, and you only get one. One castle.
Analytical…analytical…anal…. Dammit, my whole afternoon is getting eatin’ up in this….
If there’s one thing 7 can stand shoulder to shoulder with X in, it’s the plethora of secrets contained within the game. Good lord God. You get a really cool new Rush adaptor that lets Rush dig or search out hidden items or pathways. It’s not 100% effective, but having him dig up a power-up right when you need it makes it worth it. You can find 4 RUSH letter icons, which let you have a much more useful RUSH JET armor. Beats hanging around somewhere (literally) and can save you from falling four times. You can win Proto Man’s shield and change the music in Shade Man’s stage to something more…appropriate?
There’s also a pretty silly secret street-fighting minigame. It’s silly.
All in all, Mega Man 7 is almost more of a damn-good retrospective tribute to the Mega Mans of old than a game in its own right (the museum level gives it away). It’s not original, but who goes into Mega Man looking for originality? It’s the same shit as before, and it’s still pretty good. I hereby crown this game KING!!!!!!! of the Mega Mans! Let’s hear it for Mega Man 7!
Where’d everybody go?
1. OK, now let’s think up phrases Keiji has heard many times before! “Mr. Inafune, you ARE the father!” “The TOILET, Keiji, not the SINK!” And, my personal bet: “Who the hell are you, and why do you find my security guard so attractive?”