There tends to be a rather disturbing double standard present among gamers when it comes to comparisons regarding modern games and the “classics.” This double standard pertains to complaints regarding cash cow franchises and stagnant sequels. Series like Call of Duty, Dynasty Warriors, and even the recent Nintendo sequels have been looked at with scorn from several gamers for failing to evolve. On the other hand, Capcom released six identical titles in the Mega Man series on the NES only a year apart, and all six of those titles are looked at as classics, and Mega Man 9 and 10 were very well received despite them hardly being innovative. I am not saying I dislike the NES Mega Man titles myself, in fact I thought all of them were pretty solid action games even if they were not that different. The main point I am making is that the Mega Man series was milked to death back then.
Taking an eye off the NES series for second, it turns out that there were also five Mega Man games on the original Gameboy. It just so happens that these games, if they the first one is any indication, are even more stagnant than the NES games. Mega Man Dr. Wily’s Revenge is a game that was released a year after Mega Man 3 yet has even less depth, content, or polish than the first Mega Man game. To put this in perspective, Mega Man 2 and 3 are among the most well made and polished entries in the series, and then they have this. Admittedly, Wily’s Revenge is not really a bad game, but it is just incredibly half-assed. There is still some fun to be had with it, but you can get a lot more enjoyment out of any other 2D Mega Man game.
The first thing you notice in Wily’s Revenge, when you start up the game, is that there are only four robot masters to choose from. This removes a lot of the room for experimentation that the previous Mega Man games had. For those who are unaware, the Mega Man games have a rock paper scissors style format to them where the robot masters at the end of each level are weak to the weapon of another. Naturally, this means you gain the abilities of any robot masters you defeat, and can use them against the other robot masters. Normally there is a nice sense of experimentation and non-linearity when you have all eight robot masters available from the beginning, but Wily’s Revenge only has four, which puts a huge drain on the amount of ways to play the game.
Now technically Mega Man 7 and 8 also did this and still allowed a good amount of experimentation, but this is not the case in Wily’s Revenge. In Wily’s Revenge, you do not even have a stage for the other four robot masters. The only levels in the game are the initial four levels and two Wily stages. The remaining four robot masters in Wily’s Revenge are fought at the end of the first Wily stage where the rematch against the robot masters you already fought would be if this were any other Mega Man game.
The levels themselves are also rather mixed in terms of design. Mega Man always was a series known for being challenging, but the games never went overboard. In Wily’s Revenge, the levels are generally well designed and fun to play with the exception of a few instances. First of all there are those infamous teleporting blocks. This game has a habit of putting these types of platforming segments over a pit of instant death causing spikes. Now this normally would not be a problem, but as any veteran of the series will tell you, they pulled some dirty tricks with these blocks. At points you will be going hopping along the blocks as soon as they appear thinking that you are doing it right, only to end up having the next block appear right above you with no way of reaching it. This is not good design; this is simply a beginner’s trap and only serves to waste the player’s time. The game also pulls a similar move involving pits and spikes. The game basically decides to put a pit of spikes on the screen bellow you before you can get a view of the lower screen. This is yet another aspect of the game that only exists to extend the playtime due to deaths that were not your fault.
What is particularly annoying about Wily’s Revenge is the Robot Masters. First of all, the robot masters in Wily’s Revenge were lifted directly from Mega Man 1 and 2 in addition to their abilities. This, of course, makes it difficult for Wily’s Revenge to stand out at its own game if it is ripping content directly from earlier games. In addition to this, I could swear that I remember seeing some segments of levels in Wily’s Revenge that were lifted directly from Mega Man 2. However that is not the worst aspect of the Robot Masters.
The second problem regarding the Robot Masters is that you often cannot fight them with their actual weakness, which not only is very difficult for a lot of bosses, but even causes some other issues of its own. This first starts out when you have the choice at the beginning between Cutman, Iceman, Elecman, and Fireman. Now most veterans of the first game know that Cutman is the easiest to fight without his weakness. The problem is that Cutman’s stage is also the hardest of the first four choices. This basically throws the concept of a steady difficulty curve right out the window seeing as how you start the game off with the hardest level. Afterwards the other three robot master levels are a breeze, and then you get to Wily Stage 1.
This level is a fairly challenging level that is not overly hard until you reach the end. When you reach it, you have a boss gauntlet involving Bubbleman, Heatman, Flashman, and Quickman from Mega Man 2. One would think that they would be weak to one of the weapons you have earned previously in the game, but that turns out not to be the case. Instead, they are not weak to anything you currently have, and you need to fight one of the Robot Masters with the Mega Buster alone. Afterwards the other three robot masters are weak to the weapons you earned from the previous ones. After you have earned the other half of your abilities at the end of the second to last level of the game, you would think that would be enough but, once again, this is not the case. There is one more boss you have to face that is not weak to any of the weapons you had previously, which makes this the third time in the game that it nullified the series main innovation, and has a random and unpredictable pattern that will cause many deaths. Did I mention that if you get a game over at all, you have to redo the entire stage and boss gauntlet from the beginning?
Mega Man Dr. Wily’s Revenge is yet another game that perpetuates the cycle of classic NES games having mediocre followups on the original Gameboy. Wily’s Revenge also shows that Capcom was putting a lot more focus into the console installments and that the Gameboy games were an afterthought. I will make a confession that there was some enjoyment I got out of Wily’s Revenge, but that enjoyment came as a result of the base formula of the series and not anything that was new to this game. There is some debate among fans of the series regarding the quality of Mega Man 4, 5, and 6, but I can tell you straight up that all of those games are leagues ahead of Wily’s Revenge. Hell, even Mega Man 8 was better than Wily’s Revenge, and I did not even like Mega Man 8 that much. Overall I would suggest passing on Wily’s Revenge and any of the other Gameboy Mega Man installments if they are as mediocre as this game.
Note: This review was originally posted on GameFAQs on January 2nd of 2014, making this one of my earlier reviews. The version posted here has had some spelling and grammatical touch ups in addition to enhanced presentation.
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