Mega Man 6

Mega Man 6 / Rockman 6: Shijou Saidai no Tatakai!! (ロックマン6: 史上最大の戦い!!) - NES, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Mobile, Wii Virtual Console, Wii U Virtual Console, 3DS Virtual Console, PSN (1993)


The 1st Annual Robot Tournament brings forth the best bots from around the globe to partake in challenging tests to decide who is the most powerful robot in the world. This entire contest is headed by a mysterious billionaire referred to as only Mr. X. If Enter the Dragon has taught us anything (besides “Don’t mess with Bruce Lee”) is that tbattle tourneys like this always conceal some shady motives behind them. Sure enough, before the last event, Mr. X steps out to the crowd proclaiming that he’s having these 8 robots assist him in taking over the Earth as the final challenge. Bet you’ll never guess who Mr. X is…

Mr. X

Leader of the X Foundation, which funds the World Robot Alliance. He claims he’s the one who pulled Dr. Wily’s strings in the past to do evil. He looks an awful lot like Dr. Wily, too. Remove the shades, the beard, and the cape, and he’d be a spitting image of the mad scientist we know and love. Could he be…? Nah…!

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Try to fool us four times in a row, you’re seriously not bothering anymore, Capcom. Coming out nearly three years after the Super Nintendo had been released in each country, and mere months after Mega Man X came out for the 16-bit system, the 6th classic installment landed on the old console with little fanfare from its publisher and most gamers. In fact, Capcom did not publish the title outside of Japan, leaving Nintendo to distribute the game in North America and leaving Europe skipping number 6 in the series up until 2013.

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be too much changed from the 5th outing, and for the most part, that is correct. Beat makes a return, though slightly nerfed by not attacking bosses but only needing to acquire four plates this time around. These four plates can be found by defeating the correct Robot Master at the end of the stage which reside in slightly harder to reach branched paths. This little shift encompass many of the other changes and revamps made in the game.

For one, there are much more branching paths available for many stages, not just leading to the fake and real boss. Two, returning to these stages changes the color palette as an added signifier, generally changing the time of day, as well. Third, and most important, is the changes to Rush. Gone are the Coil and Jet forms in exchange to 2 adapters to transform Mega Man. The Rush Power Adapter boosts the Blue Bombers strength, able to break through shields, breakable blocks, and more with chargable close-range punches, along with sending certain enemies hurdling back. The Rush Jet Adaptor makes Mega Man propel himself in flight for as long as the meter holds out. Both adapters don’t need weapon energy to function, but they prevent the player from being able to slide and also the ability to charge up buster shots in the case of the Jet form. Nevertheless, reaching the real Robot Masters to gain a Beat plate lies in using these power in one shape or form.

The adapters themselves illustrate many of the problems with Mega Man 6 in general: namely that the game is a relative cakewalk. The Power Adapter is earned after clearing Flame Man’s stage, which isn’t too difficult of a level to beat. After that, there’s hardly an enemy that can withstand either a charged Mega Buster or Power Punch or two. That is if you bother fighting them at all. Most baddies’ impact damage is low to Mega Man, so you can bum rush through many corridors without firing and come out barely scathed just in time to find a power up in one of the numerous breakable blocks along the way. The Robot Masters’ fight patterns are very formulaic, many of them firing their trademark weapon then leaping high enough for you to easily walk under and charge your buster or punch during their long airtime.

Speaking of airtime, the Jet Adapter keeps you hovering off the ground for great lengths, able to bypass any spike pit, hole, or groups of enemies at will. A lot of levels lack tight corridors or low ceilings, leaving this power up very exploitable. With these adapters and an E-Tank or two, Mega Man’s practically unstoppable for most of the game. In fact, the only stage liable to give you cheap deaths at all outside of a few tricky to get to but optional branching paths is the straightforward pit-riddled Plant Man stage, which grants you the Jet Adapter after completion. Ironically, the stage would’ve been super easy flying over the leaping robo-fishes with Rush. The only drawback to sitting to these overpowered forms is the rather tedious menu switch to them with a little animation to showcase their abilities, mashing the start or A button to try to cancel out of the demo as fast as possible.

As for the Robot Masters themselves, they’re generally grouped in fan’s terms into two sets of four: four elemental-based and four warrior-based. The standard stage select boss preview shows off the stats of the Robot Master, his title, the area the level will take place, and even his form of power source (mostly Solar. Nice to know even Dr. Wi– er, Mr. X likes to keep his carbon footprint low). It is the four warriors that have fake bosses on the main level paths, the real ones guarding the Beat plates.

One robot each from both sets hold very honorable distinctions of being designed by submissions from fans outside of Japan. In September of 1992 the 40th issue of Nintendo Power announced a contest for design ideas from USA and Canada, passing the submissions along to Capcom. The 44th issue in January 1993 would have a 16-page blowout for two Mega Man games (MM5 and the 3rd Game Boy title) along with four pages filled with North American robot designs. By November of that year issue 54 announced 2 winners from their side of the Pacific being placed in the game: Knight Man & Wind Man. This semi-direct involvement in the game’s creation help lead to Nintendo itself publishing the game when Capcom USA’s involvement with the NES was phasing out. Far be it to help 2 kids get their designs in the game and names in the credits and not allow them to easily beat their own creations themselves. Besides, the redesigned top-loading NES-101 was released and the Big N needed new games to market for it, and Mega Man 6 was shown alongside Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II in commercials for the cheap sleek new model.

MXN-041 Blizzard Man

A Canadian 3-time Robot Olympic gold medalist in skiing built to monitor weather in the Antarctic, who can manufacture artificial snow. Not too threatening and not much of a fighter, though. His snowflake-flinging Blizzard Attack is slow and easily dodgable, but his rolling attack can be dangerous if Mega Man is too close to a wall. [Weakness: Flame Blast]

MXN-042 Centaur Man

His backstory lists him working at an Grecian museum of antiques. As in working as staff around priceless artifacts while being a half-robo-horse. His uses Centaur Flash, which freezes Mega Man, just like any other time-stopping weapon, before shooting a bullet that breaks into multiple parts when it hits a wall. By far one of the strangest (and easiest) Robot Masters in the series. [Weakness: Knight Crush]

MXN-043 Flame Man

An turban-wearing Arabian robot that runs on oil and is a bit of a gas-guzzler in that regard, which sets a bad precedent for someone who works in a refinery. His fire-pillar Flame Blasts may be hot but he sports a wicked cool ‘stache. [Weakness: Wind Storm]

MXN-044 Knight Man

A chivalrous guardsman from merry ol’ England. It is said that he smashed 1000 robots with his Knight Crush mace. His shield protects shots from the front, though he isn’t too hard to take down with persistence. This knight was designed by Daniel Vallie from Quebec. [Weakness: Yamato Spear]

MXN-45 Plant Man

He watches over a Brazilian botanical garden and is able to talk to plants. It’s also stated that this shrinking violet is an overly-sensitive crybaby to boot. His Plant Barrier protects just as well as Skull Barrier, but costs twice as much weapon energy. Lame. [Weakness: Blizzard Attack]

MXN-046 Tomahawk Man

A pastiche of Native American warriors built by the US (in-game, that is. The design winner is Japanese) exclusively for the Robot Tournament. At least he isn’t as wacky as the sport-cobbled design of the Gundam Maxter from G Gundam – or any Gundam from that anime. His Silver Tomahawks fly in an upward angle and he can fling sharp metal feathers from his headdress. [Weakness: Plant Barrier]

MXN-047 Wind Man

Those shoulder-mounted prop fans aren’t just for show. They can suck Mega Man into his spinning whip-mace braid. Otherwise he hovers with the jet engines built into his feet and fires off 2 propellors. Defeating him nabs Mega Man the ability to fire off tiny tornado-like Wind Storms. His robot represents China, but in real life it was dreamed up by the USA contest winner Michael Leader. [Weakness: Centaur Flash]

MXN-48 Yamato Man

Modeled after a high ranking samurai warrior, he is the wielder of the Yamato Spear and a ton of Japanese spirit. It’s too bad he had to sacrifice tougher armor for agility. He also doesn’t carry enough spears since he has to run over and pick them up after firing them. He has high respect for Knight Man’s valor. [Weakness: Silver Tomahawk]

The earned Robot Master weapons are a tad step up from Mega Man 5‘s botched selection. Flame Blasts arc down and hit very hard, and can melt a few barriers in Blizzard Man’s stage. Wind Storms work like speedier Bubble Leads that send enemies skyrocketing off the screen. Plant Barrier, while one of the worst shield weapons, is still better than Star Crash. Silver Tomahawks fly fast in a nice upward arc for faraway aerial baddies. Centaur Flash is a mild step down from Gravity Hold, but still works wiping the screen clear of weak enemies. Blizzard Attack, while slow, has a nice spread. Knight Crush boomerangs back slowly but can be aimed upwards like a whippable Shadow Blade, and Yamato Spear make for a good buster alternative with some shield-piercing ability. The energy-free Mega Buster and Power Adapter are still strong enough to blaze through the easy game, but at least the special weapons serve better purpose outside of exploiting boss weaknesses. Proto Man is also kind enough to hand Mega Man an useful Energy Balancer item should he find him in a suspiciously blocked hole in the wall in Tomahawk Man’s stage.

The fortresses in this game are rather underwhelming, moreso with Wily’s. Outside of block-pushing gimmicks in Mr. X’s Castle 4, there’s not much interesting outside of a few branching pathways for even more powerups. What really shines, though, are some of the big bosses awaiting you, from a huge green robo-Brachiosaurus to a cute Mazinger-Z spoof Met tank Outside of a walking sideways piston boss keeping out of reach they’re not all that difficult to bring down. A nice surprise is the ending showing a newspaper proclaiming the mad doctor finally being put in jail for his crimes. Yes, pleading for forgiveness won’t work this time, Dr. Wily!

The graphics once again make a step forward with Capcom flexing more visual techniques out of the ancient system. Nowhere is this more apparent than the sunset background in Tomahawk Man’s stage, flickering and keeping in place even as Mega Man and the foreground scrolls forward. The developers also weren’t afraid to experiment with previously underused color schemes and combinations, decking out Knight Man’s castle in lavender, magenta, and lime. The music this time around is heralded by Yuko Takehara, keeping the tingey sound found in Mega Man 5 but incoporating melody elements with the Robot Masters’ countries of origins in each piece. The pre-title intro track differs between regions, redone for the US release for unknown reasons.

While not a terrible game by any stretch, Mega Man 6 isn’t up to the pedigree brought forth from its earlier works. The changes to Rush break an already easy playthrough and the branching paths don’t add quite enough to warrant significant replay value. Many passed up this title for the far superior and radically different Mega Man X at the time, but if obtained cheaply as a download or as part of a collection, the sixth installment can be a relaxing jaunt for an hour or two. Well, except for a brief bout of frustration from the leaping fish in Plant Man’s stage.

 

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