megaman-dr-wily-1

Genre: Platformer
Year: 1991
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Game Boy
#444
Feeling Like: Micro Man

The very first system I was ever gifted was a Game Boy. While I’ve soured on handhelds now (we’ll see if the Switch remedies that), I didn’t have that luxury when I was six years old. I couldn’t even fathom playing video games outside of a TV, let alone mini versions of existing NES games. While Dad vs. Henry Tetris battles took most of the battery life, Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge managed to take a second row seat in my theater of Game Boy treats.

Mega Man is my bronze medal winner in terms of games played in a single series. Mario is the front runner by far, then Final Fantasy, then Mega Man. While the spin-offs of the franchise experiment with different play patterns, the main titles are interested in sticking to the core goals of running, jumping and acquiring dead bosses’ abilities to be effectively used against other soon to be dead bosses. While that may sound repetitive, particularly after 15 versions, I see it as a strength. The controls, soundtrack, level design and challenge are all so strong that there’s very little reason to deviate.

But there were only three Mega Mans when Dr. Wily’s Revenge came out and was innovative in its own right. It was on a tiny screen. It combined bosses from the first two games, made Mega Man’s sprite HUGE and paid tribute to the mainstays of Mega Man: tough levels, disappearing blocks, a boss gauntlet, and the ability to pick and choose which stage to tackle first.

megaman-dr-wily-2
Do NOT pick Ice Man’s Stage first

You’d think hearing a sound effect every time you land would drive you crazy, but it’s a reminder of a simpler time. A chime, a congratulations. You landed! Well done! Could be worse – spikes, or the infinite abyss, say. Speaking of the audio, I’m glad to see that Elec Man’s theme, an absolute ripoff of Journey’s “Faithfully”, made it into the handheld version. I saw Journey here in Victoria last year, and hearing Jonathan Cain explain that he thought of the song while riding the bus and being away from family, lonely at night was a nice reminder that I had unknowingly listened to Cain’s hook, while in the car at night, blasting clown-robots under the illumination of passing streetlights (PEOPLE OOOHHH OOOOH OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH).

Some games have evolved beyond this, but I still find it confusing why simply TOUCHING an enemy hurts you. I suppose that was by design; simply having enemies exist was usually very difficult to do, let alone give them unique attacks and strategy. Them simply being there would have to do.

Mercifully, Mega Man has always had a password system so progression was always there, along with a pad of paper. I learned to take very good care of labeling my notes, a useful result for a certain blog I would start 25 years in the future.

Mega Man: Dr Wily’s Revenge is my least favorite Mega Man game, but that’s hardly an insult. I liked a lot about it. I liked that my sisters wouldn’t kick me off to watch another Disney cartoon. I liked that the boss run near the end featured Mega Man 2 villains. I liked the visceral reminder that Mega Man is a robot first, boy second with the freaky weapon acquisition screen. I liked the traditional Dr. Wily fleeing like a coward into his impossible to miss castle, which looks like Wily Wonka’s Dino Riders Factory. I liked how Dr. Wily sort of looked like my dad if he didn’t comb his hair. I liked a lot about Mega Man, as you’ll find out.

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