|Publisher & Designer:||Capcom|
|Release Date:||September 1995|
I have to admit that playing Mega Man 7 was actually a bittersweet experience for me. Growing up with the legendary NES Mega Man games, it was difficult to accept the fact that the Blue Bomber was finally moving on to a new console. Nostalgia aside, however, I was honestly very pleased with the seventh Mega Man game! It featured gorgeous 16-bit graphics and sound along with the superb play control and gameplay that have long been the staples of this incredible franchise. What MM7 had that had not been seen since the likes of the original Mega Man game, however, was a challenge level that went through the roof at times...and into the stratosphere during the game's final battle. Only the very best Mega Man players could even hope to catch a glimpse of the game's ending.
Overview: Although it is now long-forgotten, the year 1995 was truly a make-or-break it kind of year for our favorite wearer of blue tights. Mega Man's popularity was truly beginning to crest at this time due in large part to the stellar set of six NES games, five Game Boy games, and the initial Mega Man X game that splashed onto the Super NES scene in early 1994. However, two crucial games were nearly cancelled by Capcom around late 1994. Mega Man X2 was one of them with Mega Man 7 being the other. The details are a bit fuzzy to be honest but I distinctly remember reading various articles in video game magazines such as Nintendo Power and Game Pro touching on the subject. I believe that Capcom, for whatever reason, was having serious doubts that any new Mega Man games would succeed in the States...which is preposterous since the Blue Bomber's popularity was as high as ever during this time.
Thankfully, sanity ended up winning in the end with Capcom acknowledging that the Mega Man series still had a very loyal following in the United States (Duh!) and that both MMX2 and MM7 would be released as scheduled. Needless to say, there were a lot of very thankful Mega Man fans that rushed to the store and snagged copies of both games shortly after their release dates. Unfortunately for the Blue Bomber, however, 1995 ended up being a banner year for the Super Nintendo, particularly during the last quarter of the year when two of the all-time greats in Chrono Trigger and Donkey Kong Country 2 were released. Due to so many great games coming out at the same time in addition to very average distribution of Mega Man 7 (by Capcom standards anyway), the seventh Mega Man game is actually somewhat hard to find these days.
Now that I have explained why Mega Man 7 goes for a pretty penny on eBay, I suppose I should write about the actual game, eh? ;) Simply put, if you have played any other Mega Man games in the series, you know exactly what to expect in the seventh installment. I am writing this review under the impression that you have read at least one or two of my other Mega Man reviews so I'll keep things fairly brief.
From a gameplay standpoint, Mega Man 7 plays almost exactly like MM4-6. You can charge up the Mega Buster, slide, and jump around blasting enemies like before. What differentiates Mega Man 7 from its predecessors, at least for me, is the vast amount of secrets found in the game! Multiple paths, secret rooms, and hidden items are commonplace in this game. Mega Man 6 touched on this; Mega Man 7 really fleshed it out! Unlike most Mega Man games, Mega Man 7 could be a somewhat non-linear game at times and you would almost have to visit certain stages more than once to find everything!
In addition to having a few minor elements of adventure games, Mega Man 7 was the first Mega Man game to feature an intro stage. Instead of plunging head first into the stage select screen like usual, there was a fun intro level that did a nice job of setting the table for the rest of the game along with introducing the player to Bass and Treble (see the Storyline section for more). In addition, you initially got to choose from only four robot masters instead of the usual eight. And once you beat all four bosses, you encountered a really cool mid-level of sorts. It took place at the Robot Museum and was a feast for long-time fans of the series with images of Snake Man, Heat Man, Pharoah Man, and Ring Man gracing the background! It was pretty cool to venture into the stage's final room and witness Dr. Wily stealing a classic robot master (that you wouldn't fight until the Skull Castle). Which robot master was it you ask? I'm give you a hint: Think Mega Man 1 thoughts.
Speaking of nostalgia, Mega Man 7 is simply littered with classic foes and obstacles throughout the game! You will instantly recognize mainstays like the mets and Sniper Joes in addition to dreaded obstacles such as the rising fire and fire "beams" found in Turbo Man's stage. The bubble bats and fan foes from Mega Man 2, the toilet plunger enemies from Mega Man 3, and the fearsome spinning platforms and shooting platforms from the original Mega Man game are all back in MM7!
Lastly, I feel that it is important to mention that Auto and the shop made their first appearance in Mega Man 7. Auto can be pretty funny at times (the "hat" incident at the beginning of the game is cute) and is extremely handy in regards to obtaining rare items. Energy tanks, S-tanks, Beat Calls, and a whole batch of other helpful items can be obtained by gathering bolts from defeated enemies and spending them at Auto's shop.
Graphics: By this point in the series, it was pretty safe to say that a new Mega Man game and fantastic graphics were an absolute certainty. No matter the system or the capabilities; in Capcom's hands, you just knew that Mega Man would get the royal treatment.
And Mega Man 7 was no exception. With the power of the 16-bit Super Nintendo at their fingertips, the good folks at Capcom delivered yet another visual masterpiece! Granted, I missed the crisp, MMC3 chip graphics of the NES that we had all grown accustomed to seeing with each passing Mega Man game, but the 16-bit visuals weren't too bad either. ;)
As you can see from the various screenshots in this review, everything is just very bold and colorful throughout the game with impressive attention to detail as always. But do you also notice the size of the sprites in the game? At least compared to the NES games, the sprites are huge! Not everyone seems to notice this but I sure did. It really isn't that much of a problem, but I did find myself wishing that Mega Man could be slightly smaller in this game. As a result, the stages don't seem quite as large as normal due to the slightly larger sprites.
On a positive note, the animation throughout Mega Man 7 was much better than the previous six games simply due to the NES' limitations. From the beautiful winter wonderland of Freeze Man's domain to the incredibly eerie Shade Man stage (just watching the clouds cover the moon and causing darkness to set in was too cool!) to the prehistoric Slash Man level (with its green, blue, and red hues just leaping out at you!), Mega Man 7 did the series proud. I really enjoyed the atmosphere throughout the game and the unique feeling you got in the aforementioned stages. Wily Stage 1 is another perfect example with its dark clouds and foreboding music.
Music: After listening to what I felt was one of the somewhat weaker musical scores in the series (sorry Mega Man 6 fans!), I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard the Mega Man 7 soundtrack. For the most part, I thought that it was very nice. Granted, the sound quality didn't seem to be anywhere near that found in Chrono Trigger or Donkey Kong Country 2 (a fair critique since all three of these games came out within 3 months of each other) but the melodies were still catchy and memorable for the most part. That was the main problem I had with Mega Man 6. There were some very good tunes in that game for sure (The Mr. X, Blizzard Man, and Tomahawk Man themes to name a few) but none of them really leapt out at you and latched onto your memory banks like a Flash Man or Metal Man tune.
Of all the music found in Mega Man 7, I think that my favorite tracks were those found in the Shade Man, Slash Man, Freeze Man, Robot Museum, and Wily 1 stages. All five of those tunes were just perfect fits for their respective levels and they all have fun, memorable melodies that really stick with you long after playing the game. The Shade Man track with its dark, spooky undertones and catchy melody was a real treat (no trick here!) and along with the incredible graphics in his level, probably made that stage my favorite one in the game. Slash Man's tune is just incredibly good as well. In fact, it might one of the more underrated tunes in the whole series because you just don't hear fans talking about it. But man...I loved it! The Robot Museum melody only plays during a very short level in the game but is easily one of the best tracks in the game due to nostalgia alone! You get to hear remixes of the classic Guts Man, Heat Man, and Snake Man tracks all blended into one superb composition! And lastly, the Wily 1 stage theme just set the table perfectly for yet another trek though another Skull Castle (How does Dr. Wily fund these castles? That's like 8-9 castles so far!) It was ominous and dark yet got the adrenaline going quite a bit which is exactly what any great Wily tune should do.
Now granted, Mega Man 7 certainly had its fair share of average tracks as well (Cloud Man, Spring Man, and Turbo Man to name a few) so I wouldn't put this soundtrack as a whole anywhere near the top-tier Mega Man soundtracks. But still, it was a very good soundtrack worthy of the Mega Man name. And that is certainly saying something.
I wish I could say the same for the game's sound effects though. For a Super Nintendo game, you would have expected Capcom to bring a little more gusto in this area. While some of them are fantastic (I love the sound the Slash Claw makes as well as Cloud Man's lightning attack.), others like the sound of shooting at enemies sounds more like a pea-shooter than Mega Buster bullets.
Play Control: Honestly, I was a little antsy about what Capcom would do regarding the game's controls with this game being on the more sophisticated Super NES. With four additional buttons to tap into, you just naturally assumed that Mega Man 7 might be a little more complicated in terms of the control scheme. But not to worry because everything about the controls continued to scream simplicity. From the typical jumping, shooting, sliding, and charging controls to utilizing the new special weapons and Rush Adapter suit (a sweet new addition in MM7 btw), I thought that the play control in Mega Man 7 was spot on. Granted, the larger sprite of Mega Man forced you to adjust just a little in terms of making some of the more daring jumps that you wouldn't hesitate to make in the NES MM games but that's just me.
Challenge: Here is where things really got interesting in Mega Man 7. While the 16-bit graphics and music were revolutionary for the original Mega Man series for sure, the difficulty of this game caught a lot of Mega Man vets off guard. While all of the games in the series have their fair share of challenging, death-defying moments, Mega Man 7 went where no game in the series had gone before (no, not even MM1!)...to the near-impossible.
Before I go there, though, I first want to say that the main game (i.e. eight robot masters and castle levels) could be pretty darn tough as well! While most of the stages and bosses are typical in terms difficulty, there are certain areas (a few sections in the Burst Man, Junk Man, and Turbo man stages) and a few bosses (namely Freeze Man and Slash Man) where the difficulty really spikes. Even a savvy Mega Man veteran can get frustrated because a lot of the difficulty is the cheap kind of difficulty. And by cheap, I mean the dreaded one-hit KOs. Turbo Man's stage has to be the worst with tires that cheaply knock you into pits and fire that shoots out like the beams from Quick Man's stage in Mega Man 2. And Burst Man's stage isn't too far behind with spikes placed in really cheap locations at times.
I don't want to sound whiny about this because I honestly love a good challenge and Mega Man 7 really makes you work for everything you get (which I respect). And granted, all Mega Man games have their share of cheap deaths for sure. That's something we all expect with each new Mega Man installment. It's just worth mentioning that Mega Man 7 is probably not a game I would recommend for a Mega Man newcomer. If you are new to the series, definitely play some other game in the series first (for some reason, MM5 or MM8 seem like great choices in this regard).
This finally brings us to the item that started this rant: The final battle against Dr. Wily. Like in Mega Man 4-6, you once again have to fight Dr. Wily in his stupid saucer at the end of the game. However, instead of this being your typical "somewhat hard but not too hard" final battle, the difficulty of this battle spikes immensely from his first form to his second evil incarnation. So obscene is the difficulty that even a seasoned pro will probably need four energy tanks as well as the S-tank (an S-tank is like the M-tanks found in Mega Man 5 that fill up all of your weapon energy in addition to your life energy) in order to have a shot at winning this fight. And even that might not be enough!! Can you believe it? That is how difficult and how cheap and how infuriating this battle can be. Dr. Wily basically appears in random locations on the screen, proceeds to fire four orbs in your direction (which hone in on your location like heat-seeking missiles and are virtually impossible to avoid most of the time), and has incredible defense to boot. Every time you hit Wily, you cause one tiny sliver of life to disappear from his life bar. And every time you get hit? Anywhere from 1/7 of your life to 1/3 depending on which colored orbs hit you (get hit by the yellow one if you must take a hit).
Once again, I love a good challenge and I won't lie: That battle against Wily gets my adrenaline going unlike any other battle in the entire Mega Man series. But at the same time, the challenge level is incredibly uneven. It is pretty normal Mega Man stuff for most of the game, then *BAM!* I'm back in the insanely hard Battletoads trying to complete another near-impossible challenge! It is fun and adrenaline-pumping for me for sure, but it is beyond cheap to the point that it is probably the Mega Man game that the fewest percentage of Mega Man fans have ever beaten. I still think that MM1 is the toughest game in the series as a whole, but MM7 is without a doubt #2 in this category because of the Wily fight alone.
Storyline: After beating Mega Man 6 and finally capturing Dr. Wily at long last, it appeared that the glorious Mega Man series might finally have reached its conclusion. The world was safe at last with Dr. Wily ruling over nothing more than a dreary prison cell.
However, it was not five minutes after beating the game that this thought was laid to rest because of three of the most powerful words in video games or movies. When you got through the ending credits and saw "To Be Continued" in the lower right-hand corner of your television screen, you just knew that something would happen to somehow free Dr. Wily. You didn't know what it would be; you just knew that something crazy was going to happen at the beginning of the inevitable Mega Man 7.
The cool thing is that, while all of us knew what was going to happen before it happened, the way in which events transpired was actually pretty cool! Apparently, at some place and time earlier in the series, Dr. Wily began to understand that Mega Man just might defeat him in such a way that he (Wily) would wind up captured and thrown into prison or a similar place. And what he did was create a backup plan in case of such an event. Wily pieced together four robots (one literally made of scrap parts) and hid them deep within a hidden lab. Not only that, but he set things up to where the hidden robots would automatically emerge and seek him out should they not hear from him within a six-month time period.
As a result, things begin to get very hairy early in the game (which takes place approximately six months after Mega Man 6). Wily's robots along with his other creations begin to search for their master and destroy half of the city in the process. Mega Man tries to intervene but is unable to reach Wily in time. In addition to Wily's escape, Mega Man encounters two mysterious characters in Bass and his robot dog Treble. Bass appears to be good at first as he claims to have been fighting Wily in Mega Man's absence. Of course, any Mega Man fan will probably see right through this facade but unfortunately, Mega Man himself is probably the most naive hero in the history of video games (or is at least in the running).
Although the Mega Man series has never been known for placing a great emphasis on story, I thought that the main plotline in MM7 was actually thought out nicely. It shows just how crafty Dr. Wily truly is and created an interesting start to the game for sure. I'm just glad that we at least got to know right from the beginning that Dr. Wily was the main foe instead of having to fight yet another useless facade (Dr. Cossack and Protoman were pretty cool foe ideas but Mr. X was awful!) Throughout the game, you are fighting Dr. Wily's robotic army, running into Bass and Treble from time to time, and encountering Protoman as well (listen to what he says!). It isn't the best story by any stretch but I thought it got the job done. The ending has some pretty deep dialouge for a Mega Man game in any case.
Funfactor: Although I wouldn't quite call it a top-tier Mega Man game, I still feel that Mega Man 7 is a fantastic game worthy of the Mega Man name. In the end, it is another fun, enjoyable game from start to finish (although the final battle still gives me the willies) featuring the same great gameplay we've all come to love over the years. The play control is superb as always, the gameplay challenging and varied, and the replay value simply soars for a game of this nature. Like I mentioned before, Mega Man 7 is chock-full of secrets and some of them are extremely hard to find! The Rush Adapter Suit is definitely a must-have item (collect the R, U, S, and H letters in the four initial robot master stages to obtain it) along with Auto's Hyperbolt (allows him to create additional items and lowers the cost of the shop immensely; seek it out in Spring Man's level!) and a plethora of other items like super large bolts, the Energy Balancer, and even an item that allows you to charge up special weapons! If you're a perfectionist and you love action games, you really can't go wrong with Mega Man 7! Just be prepared to work for everything you get!
Negatives: Anytime there is an extreme difficulty spike in a game, I think you have a problem. I believe in consistency and feel that a steady increase in the challenge level from the beginning of a game to the end (with the final boss being the most challenging one of all) is the way to go. And while Mega Man 7 actually does a pretty good job in this regard, the Wily Capsule battle at the very end of the game is just plain ridiculous. This particular battle probably kept a large portion of gamers from ever seeing a pretty good ending.
The main problem that I have is this. Even the most seasoned pro is probably going to need at least four energy tanks to win (most likely the S-tank as well). And let's say you happen to have six or seven lives going into this battle. Essentially, you have one shot and one shot only to beat Wily and you have to choose when to take that shot wisely. Because once you've started using your energy tanks, there is no going back. And if you lose (more like when you lose) to Wily, you will have to accumulate the necessary energy tanks to get another realistic shot at beating him. And did I mention that you have to fight all of the robot masters a second time during the game's final level? It's just very tedious and unnecessary. This may surprise you but I actually love the final battle to be honest. The way it gets your adrenaline going; the way it gets your heart pumping; it's pretty cool! But geez...it can be relentlessly brutal if you lose (which I'm sure you will plenty of times before beating the game...if you beat the game).
On a different note, I did feel that the sprites were just slightly too large in Mega Man 7. It isn't as huge a deal as many Mega Man fans make it out to be but it's true that the smaller sprites in the NES games (and Mega Man 8 as well) just seem to make the surrounding world larger. And making those pinpoint jumps onto small platforms (with a platform being right about you) was more difficult due to the sprites. This is nit-picky I know but it's probably worth mentioning.
And while I did enjoy the soundtrack immensely, I thought that the sound quality in general was a little less than I would have expected for a Super NES game...especially in regards to the sound effects. I am being very particular I know but you have to remember that Chrono Trigger and Donkey Kong Country 2 came out around the same time (and both games had unreal sound quality!) Perhaps MM7 is simply a victim of being released during a time when some of the all-time greats made their glorious appearance.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.3 Music: 4.3 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 3.8 Storyline: 4.1 Funfactor: 4.4 Overall Score: 25.4 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo
Back to Super NES SpecialLast Updated: February 10, 2011