The Blue Bomber's chance to knock out the Mustachioed Plumber is upon us! But who is this wide-eyed mechanoid?
On June 11th of 2013, Nintendo opened the flood gates of speculation and intrigue when they announced new characters for the sequel(s) to their long-standing and popular Super Smash Bros. series. Since then, the beloved Japanese company has been continually trickling new information for their game, culminating to it's release in Japan on September 13th and the rest of the world on October 3rd. With the Japanese release being streamed daily, it's hard to think about anything other than this game, and with so many days before I get my hands on it, I felt now would be the best time to brush up on these new fighters we'll come to know and love. This is Smash 101!
By: Tim "Blunder" Redd
Full disclosure: I am a huge Mega Man fan, but not in the traditional sense. My first introduction to the character wasn't with the originals or even the Megaman X series. My first time playing with this character was Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on the Sega Dreamcast. I went on to get to know a different variation of him in the first two Battle Network games. This led me even further from the source by enjoying Mega Man ZX: Advent. That had me helping Kickstart his spiritual successor, Mighty No. 9, and, finally, two summers ago I played through the original Mega Man and Mega Man II on my 3DS. I don't think I've ever made such amazing purchases.
That same summer I helped out at a preschool, hanging out with kids and making sure they didn't get hurt. They would bring their DS's and 3DS's to school, and they asked me what I was currently playing. I showed them Mega Man, but they didn't know who he was. This was shortly after the announcement of Mega Man in the new Smash Bros., a game they also didn't know about. After some coaxing— because no kid wants 8-bit graphics when they have Mario Kart 7— they ended up loving the game. Their excitement turned into a yearning for more Mega Man, and their newfound anxiousness for the new Smash has led me here, trying to convince the internet to love him as well. This one's for the kids!
Originally designed to be an Astro Boy game, the first Mega Man— called Rock Man in Japan—came out on December 17th, 1987 for the NES. The original Mega Man games had a run-and-gun aspect tied into a platforming setting. The player would traverse dangerous locales, defeat enemies using various tactics, and ultimately fight a boss at the end of each level. The primary gimmick was that Mega Man would gain the powers of each boss that he would defeat. After amassing his arsenal of normally 8 bosses, Mega Man would go fight his nemesis, Dr. Wily, but this would only happen after a "boss rush" mode in which Mega Man would go up against each robot master without a substantial break like before.
This would be the structure for the primary 10 Mega Man games, but there were many notable spinoffs. Mega Man X for the SNES and Mega Man Battle Network for the Game Boy Advance set the stage for many future iterations of the character, each forming their own mythos and history to set them apart from the original. Mega Man X had a similar design to the original games, but it had much more focus on its story and tight gameplay, bringing wall sliding, visually upgradeable armor, and the famous Zero into the mix.
The most striking differences come from the Battle Network series in that they play more like a standard JRPG with action-adventure elements. In the series, you play as a young boy in a futuristic society where people can traverse the internet with personal-assistant-like AI known as "NetNavi's". The game incorporates card game elements with twitchy battles and panels on the screen and strategy and action and I am an ENORMOUS fan of this series. Although we won't be playing as these other versions (crossing my fingers for DLC skins!), we can see them all in Mega Man's final smash.
Classic Mega Man transfers over to the game giving fans a little bit of everything they could have wanted. 10 games with 8 robot masters in each gives a little less than 80 special moves to choose from, assuming some of them have duplicate powers. The moveset given to us is versatile and utilizes both fan favorite moves as well as ones that would be most useful in combat.
Speaking of his standard A moves, his neutral-A, neutral-air, and forward tilt are all his buster. In other words, he shoots lemons for his standard combo. Although this may seem a bit lackluster, this plays into a style that prefers baiting rather than charging into battle. These can easily prod an opponent into making a mistake or even just gaining some space. His up-tilt is the shoryuken from his time on the Marvel vs. Capcom roster. This easily does 12% and has a ton of knockback, killing a Link at 85% with ease. His down-tilt is his classic slide. Though it doesn't deal the most damage, it comes out instantly, catching opponents off-guard.
In the air is where he really shines, though. His forward-air unleashes a downward, flaming strike that comes out quickly and deals decent knockback and damage. Similarly, his back-air lets out a flurry of colorful swipes that make for a decent kill-move. These two are easily spammable and, coupled with a few well-time hops, can make for a very aggressive up-close game.
His Smash attacks, although enjoyable to watch, aren't as great as others, in my opinion. His bread and butter is his Mega Buster forward-Smash. This can be charged up for a wider and longer range, and the damage is phenomenal. The main downside is that it is incredibly obvious to notice and dodge. His up-Smash is a little better in comparison, being two needles coming from his arms that electrocute anyone above him. They have a decent range and knockback, but the lag that comes after is just asking for punishment.
His specials are fun to use, but they aren't the most useful. His standard B is his Metal Blade, having a good amount of damage, multi-directional capabilities, and even the ability to become a holdable item if aimed at the ground. His side-B shoots a sticky bomb that attaches to enemies and transfers to others when in close proximity. This move doesn't land very often, but the panic that sets in when the bomb is in place is both priceless and invaluable when in a tough fight. His up-B is easily his most useful move, summoning Rush for a bounce like Sonic's spring bounce. This can be used to push down opponents caught under the dog and, of course, for a very long range, vertical recovery.
If you want to play some games to get a feel for this awesome character, the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS eShops all have amazing games Mega Man games for low prices. I highly recommend the original Mega Man games on the 3DS for the awesome Virtual Console support (you can save LITERALLY ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME DURING THE GAME). They are about $5 each, and the replay value is literally infinite. Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man X 1-3 are on the Wii Virtual Console, both for $8. Classic goodness on a touchpad.
Does this Mega Man live up to my mega expectations? Yes. Despite the troubles I put him through in the above, the transition to Smash has been a great one for Mega Man. He has moves that aren't too useful, sure, but he is an immense amount of unf to play with, and the devotion put into making this character live up to his 8-bit counterpart is stunning. I don't think he will be a "top tier" character, but who cares about that. He's fun, and I can play him with a pretty good win/lose ratio. Things are good for me and my Man.
English teacher by day, blogger by night! Tim "Blunder" Redd can normally be seen stalking reddit, playing on his 3DS, or writing on his personal blog thedirtycasual. He is also the gaming editor on the start-up, collegiate online magazine, Shuffle!