|[ Writer ] = BAD
|[ 07/23/02 ] = Megaman 64
| Megaman 64 defines
Megaman's entry into the 3-D realm. Since Nintendo's 64-bit hardware launched,
Capcom had been telling fans for a long, long time that they were working
on a Megaman title for it. Days and months, and years eventually passed,
and although no new Megaman title had been shown at any of the conferences
at the time, Capcom stood behind their word and assured us that there was
indeed a new MM title in the works. Many doubted the title would see the
light of day because Capcom canned their Ghouls 'N Ghosts sister N64 project,
but Capcom stood by their word, and Megaman 64 (Rockman Dash in Japan) was
finally revealed. Capcom released their long-awaited 64-bit Megaman, and
the time had finally come for fans who had eagerly been awaiting the next
chapter in the Megaman series. The Blue Bomber had arrived in the 3-D world,
pleasing some fans, while getting rid of other 'fans.' In MM64 Megaman has
his old abilities and tricks, with some new abilities, a different method
of boss fighting, and vast 3-D stages to explore. Megaman 64 is a must-have
for any fan of Capcom's first and foremost action hero. Megaman 64 is the
deepest, most intricate Megaman game of all in the series, with loads of
weapons and items to find as in the previous entries. This game is highly
underrated and is barely even properly acknowledged anywhere on the net.
Here is Megaman 64.
With the N64 hardware, Capcom made a completely fresh Megaman game with only three returning characters, with new enemies and bosses. The design of Megaman 64 is unique, with updated character design and the original theme of Megaman (not X). Capcom redesigned the original Megaman, giving the game an overall theme of a Megaman game rather than a Megaman X game. Megaman and Roll were redesigned, but they (and a few other characters in the game) still resemble their 2-D counterparts. For example, although Megaman has a new design, he is still much closer to the design of the original Megaman than he is to Megaman X. The design of the characters in MM64 is absolutely great; just look at the artwork! Some claim he is nothing like Megaman or Megaman X because his design is different, but Megaman in MM64 is more like an evolved version of the original Megaman. There are even some that claim it is not Megaman because he doesn't always wear his trademark helmet in the game, and I say this is a stupid fucking reason to disregard MM64; he's still blue, he still destroys shit, and he still fights evil. While Megaman X has the more serious and dark urgent threat to fight, Megaman always carried the serious-but-sometimes-humorous threat to fight against.
What does this mean? Well, Megaman 64 is a lot closer to Megaman than Megaman X due to its lack of dark and serious urgency to save the world from extinction. Instead, MM64 shares the sometimes humorous tone of the original MM games, with a threat at hand that is not nearly as apocalyptic as that of Sigma, but still a threat nonetheless. A good example of this (that fans will know) would be how one of the most often fought enemies in MM64, Servbot, resembles very closely in humor, that of the walking yellow helmet enemies from the original MM series. Also, another way to look at it, although it might be a far reach, is that because Wily is in Megaman 64 (he plays a very minor role at the docks), and that it is actually in the same time frame as the MM games. What? Well, because there is a character in MM64 with the name Wily that actually highly resembles that of the Wily in the other MM games; his one damaged eye, classic Dr. Wily hair and face, build, and strange demeanor are too much to be a coincidence. Though the Bonnes are the threat in this game, Wily looks cool as hell in MM64, and as a side note, I thought it was great to finally see Dr. Wily in 3-D.
Sure, Megaman 64 has a completely different style of bosses than that of the lot in the original 2-D Megaman (again, not X) entries, but there are some areas in which they are similar. The bosses are just as big as in the other games, and some are even so big that from your view it almost looks as if they are extending into the depths of the sky. Gone are fighting Wily's armies or Sigma's Mavericks; Reaverbots and a group of locusts called the Bonnes are the forces wreaking havoc this time. The enemies are actually mostly made up of Reaverbots, who range from spinning contraptions that hurl shots, to wasps (and nests), to giant fire-breathing lions who chase you until you put them out of commission. The Bonnes also make up some of the enemies, with Servbots who pilot tanks, submarines, and jets. In fact, one of the coolest things about MM64 is that if your opposition is a Servbot in a vehicle, once you blow them up, the Servbots actually escape and flee; fleeing is cool, but being able to actually chase them down after they flee and turn them into a smoking pile of metal is even better. For bosses, the bulk of them are the Bonnes and their giant weapons of destruction; the bosses consist of heavy tanks piloted by Servbots, as well as giant walkers, subs, and a gigantic excavation vehicle. Probably one of the coolest bosses in the game, Tron Bonne (the girl villain) chases you in a giant spider-like machine that sends out streams of shots and bombs to dodge while destroying the buildings of the battle stage; the machine also spins in a cyclone that covers the whole screen, sending Megaman running for cover near buildings (that haven't already been reduced to ash).
Another cool boss, Bruno (one of the final battles) is a giant walker that is loaded with huge cannons, turrets, and the ability to take down whole buildings right before your eyes. One of the coolest things about Bruno is that when you are dealing the pain from a rooftop, he'll wreck the building right beneath your feet (leaving you falling)! One of the coolest parts of the game isn't when you get to actually fight Gesellschaft (the Bonne's main ship) itself, but when you get to fight the boss that comes out of it when you destroy it in the sky. The Gesellschaft gives birth to a spiraling hawk-like machine that drowns you in gunfire and can even destroy the ship you are standing on! Even the first boss of the game is pretty cool, and I think one of the strongest points of the game lies in the bosses and all the cool things they do. The end boss, Megaman Juno, is probably one of the best bosses (if not the best) in the game, with a unique design an a sort of unexpected type of persona for an end-boss. Although I think Sigma is an amazing boss character, and I liked the persistent Wily, I still have a liking for Tron and Teasel in MM64. Tron, I think, is an especially great character because her design is cool, her persona in the game is cool, and her weapons (machines of destruction) are some of the coolest in the game (like the giant spider). It's cool to see Megaman fight against such an awesome character, so when battling her, they are some of the best, fastest battles in the game. Teasel sometimes acts similar to the way Dr. Wily acted in the 2-D Megaman games; he's all for bringin' the pain until you rain shit on his parade, then he gets all bitter and irate like Dr. Wily.
Among the hero, the enemies, and the bosses, other characters in the game play roles in the grand scheme of MM64. MM64 has more characters than any other Megaman game, with loads and loads of characters to see or fight against in a vast world. You exchange dialogue with several characters, mostly depending on their location, ranging from detectives and police, to miners, Dr. Wily (those who have played MM64 will know), and even those who you can get items or power-ups from. Loads of different characters can be seen in every one of the game's large stages; there are lots of people walking around, working at counters or in stores, guarding entrances, children running, couples talking, cats running, birds flying, and even butterflies that flutter in the forests. Data (the monkey), 'Gramps', and Roll help Megaman this time around; Data's okay, and Gramps is usually seen in idleness, but Roll is the coolest next to Megaman. She is just as she was in the 2-D MM games, but now in full 3-D. The detective and his support officers also play a big part in MM64, and are often seen throughout the game exchanging dialogue when the game's story takes an unfortunate turn. Megaman also keeps in contact throughout the game with three gangsters who provide him with weapon items.
Now, on to the graphical side of Megaman 64. To start, Megaman 64 is the first MM game to be powered by the powerful Nintendo 64 hardware, and the only MM game. Nintendo's powerful 64-bit hardware pushes lots of smooth, colorful polygons that are used to make the world of Megaman 64. When I started the game, I was stunned at how nice the game looked, with nice and colorful 3-D characters and stages, but the more I play MM64, the more I am surprised. The polygons in MM64 are of high-quality; the character's faces especially look great, the detail on the various bosses and other machines in the game look nice, and the effects are also good. Probably the coolest effect in MM64 has got to be when some of the bosses are put out of commission; sometimes they smoke, leaving nice trails of transparent fading smoke in the air. For example, when you destroy the Gesellschaft (the Bonne's main ship), another ship comes spiraling out of the burning ship, leaving trails of smoke behind it in the vivid blue sky. Some other nice effects in MM64 include vividly colored and animated splashes from torpedo explosions during a submarine fight. When close to bosses, seams in their metallic structures can be seen, as well as the rivets that hold them together.
As the game goes on and you encounter the bosses, they get bigger and badder, and the N64 hardware has no problems pushing the polygons needed for destruction. Powered by the N64 hardware, MM64's visuals look stunning; everything in MM64's 3-D environments, characters, and effects look so smooth, the game borderlines on being the cell-shaded style of graphical presentation. The first time I played this game, I was amazed at how smooth some of the characters in the game were, like the Bank tellers, the Mayor, and the Police Chief. Everything in the game moves with a certain smooth animation. From Megaman's many moves and abilities, to the giant bosses and Servbots, all of the characters in MM64 move with the fluidness that they should. Just take a look at Megaman's running, jumping animations, Buster recoiling after shots, or even his damage animations - they all look really nice. The giant lion Reaverbots in MM64 also animate very nicely as they run, pounce, and breath fire. The bosses in MM64 are huge, and take up most of the screen, while others don't even fit on the screen! For the bosses that do not fit on the screen, they have to be viewed or attacked from far away, or from on top of a tall building or structure in the stage. Not only Megaman has fluid animation though; just look around in the stages and you will see that even the insignificant characters in MM64 move with fluid 3-D animation as they run, talk to each other, explain things, look around, etc. About the only character in the game that sometimes has a sort of jerky animation set is Data (the monkey), but it wasn't any fault of the hardware the game was developed on.
MM64's colorful, vast environments are just as smooth and nice as the characters in the game. Megaman 64's environment includes busy cities, an industrial area, forests, excavation sites, an uptown area with a dock, and of course, the underground mines (beneath the city) that make the game's story. MM64's huge 3-D world ranges from the uneven terrain of the Clozer Woods and Yass Plains to the old, narrow passages of the underground mines and the many houses and tall buildings of the Downtown or Uptown stages. In the world of MM64, Megaman can go anywhere, and do anything. In the 2-D Megaman games, did you ever wonder what it'd be like to go a bit into the background or a bit more into the stage and check out more? Well, in MM64, you can go literally anywhere in any of the stages. You can jump onto ledges and climb anywhere, even on top of houses and other buildings (that haven't yet been crumbled by the bosses). There are many structures in MM64's stages, and Megaman can go anywhere, no matter how high or how far. If there's anything that can help Megaman in any way boost a jump, any place in the game is accessible.
One of the coolest aspects about this is how Megaman can go leaping from rooftop to rooftop in one of the biggest stages in the game. Sometimes, climbing to a higher, safer place might be one of Megaman's only ways out of a bad situation below, in which case he can sometimes shoot safely from a roof or ledge. Sitting on the roof or the ledge of a structure can also be effective in picking off enemies from a distance (with a powered buster, of course), since sometimes you can see them but they can't see you. As addressed earlier, though, if an enemy spots you on a rooftop or ledge, they'll sometimes just destroy the structure you're on if they can't hit you. In fact, some of the boss battles are in areas where you have to hide behind buildings for cover to even stay alive; the bosses respond to this kindly by tearing down the buildings you use for cover. In one battle, you have to destroy a group of enemies to stop them from demolishing the whole city right before your eyes. Also, as in previous Megaman entries, there are stage hazards in MM64. Stage hazards include rotating spiked traps, and conveyor belts with crushers, but strangely enough, there are no bottomless pits or cliffs in the stages of Megaman 64. Though some battles take place on the surface, some of the game's stages are underground, and there are also the Sub-Gate stages. The Sub-Gates are the coolest stages in the game because this is where the most concentrated set of enemies are in the smallest space (although the stage is big), so there are some good battles and many structures to use for mounting attacks. In the Sub-Gate stages, if you get into a fight with one enemy, the others come from all directions imaginable. Another cool stage in MM64 is the Lake Jyun stage, where you must destroy a group of subs from your moving ship, as they disappear and reappear, shooting torpedoes and missiles.
Alright, now onto the fun part of Megaman 64 - the gameplay mechanics. MM64 uses 8 buttons total: Mega Buster Shot, Special Weapon Shot, Jump, and Weapon Screen as in the 2-D games, as well as Rotate Right, Rotate Left, an Action button, and a Map button. While the Rotation buttons are used in a variety of situations, the Action button is used to pick up items, open doors, and for dashing. The gameplay of Megaman 64 is just as in the 2-D MM games: run, jump, shoot, take power-ups, find items, find weapons, kill bosses. Megaman can use his powered Buster or collected Special weapons just as in the 2-D MM games. Of course, the rules of a 3-D environment come into play, and by that I mean that the many different angles and elevations of enemies determine how you are attacked or hit, or even affect how you attack. To fight the evil forces that be, Megaman of course has many of the moves that have been carried on from each game, like dashing and being able to use acquired weapons, but he also has a few new tricks. The first, most useful new trick is the Cartwheel; because the game is in a 3-D playing field, Megaman sometimes needs to leap anywhere but up to avoid an attack, and that's what this move is for. The Cartwheel can be used for a number of dodging techniques and tactics, but it is best for dodging enemy fire because some of the bosses and later enemies in the game have fast turrets spray fire in every direction. The second use for the Cartwheel is to evade bosses who have dash or object attacks, since some of the attacks are quite fast and cover a wide area of the playing field.
Megaman's other new ability, Rotating, is mostly used to shoot at an enemy while running, as opposed to just rotating while standing in place. Using the Rotate buttons is probably a beginner's best friend when the game starts to get harder, but a more seasoned player will use the Cartwheel as a more effective means of evasion because it can lead into some nice follow-ups. Although I use the Rotate button a lot, I try to use the Cartwheel a lot more because although running while holding a Rotate button and jumping`is sometimes useful to get over some obstacles in fights, but the Cartwheel is a much safer bet (unless you are fighting the end-boss). Megaman's other new ability in MM64 is the ability to Hang from ledges if he doesn't quite make a jump. This new ability is especially useful when running from enemies and such, but I was wondering one small thing: why this new ability was implemented and plays such a big part in the game if there are no bottomless pits or death cliffs as in the 2-D games? Well, one effective way to use the Hanging technique is mainly with bosses; if you are having a boss battle in a city, and the boss is so big you have to shoot at it from atop a building, take a few shots, and when the boss starts to fire back, you can run back a bit, fall, but catch yourself and hang from the ledge until he stops shooting and repeat. This tactic was one of the later tricks in the game that I found, but it's a great way to fight the harder bosses! Tricks like hanging from ledges to avoid shots, rotating around bosses while shooting, and using a Cartwheel to avoid shots in narrow places could only exist in the 3-D environments of MM64. As a small side note, Megaman's dash, slightly changed, is a continuous, non-aerial dash that enables him to make turns and get to far places very quickly. Also, as a last word on the gameplay of MM64, Megaman no longer charges his Mega Buster as before, but instead powers it with items. As far as finding items goes, you get them from bosses, you can buy them in the shops, or they can be found in the stages just as in the 2-D MM games. Completely new to the MM series are bonus stages that Capcom added into MM64 that allow Megaman to earn money and parts. I think the bonus stages were a nice touch on the game; it's something no other Megaman had as far as I can remember, and also something I would think the series would have no reason to object. The racing, shooting, and kicking bonus stages don't make the game any worse, but they certainly add a flair of interest.
The weapons system is a lot different in MM64 than in any of the 2-D Megaman games; Megaman's special weapons are now obtained from many different characters and are found in many places. Rather than getting a weapon from a downed boss as in the other Megaman games, MM64 allows the player to find and obtain the weapons at almost any point in the game (with very few limitations). However, special weapons and items aren't actually 'found' in Megaman 64; parts are found (as in Megaman X5), which are then used to make weapons or items depending on what you have. Items include the foot, head, chest, and Buster enhancements, as well as the age-old Sub-Tank (or Energy tank) from the other MM games. Also, one of the coolest things about MM64 is how the player can even enhance the range, power, and other attributes of the special weapons (fairly similar to charging a special weapon in the other games). In MM64, a player will spend hours and hours powering up their special weapons (with money called "zenny"), and even then, you have to power-up the other special weapons that are still a bit weak. The Mega Buster itself can be tweaked to power (3 power-ups can be used at once), but the upgrading is mostly with the special weapons. With the Mega Buster, upgrading is all about upping the Range; bosses fall to the high-powered Buster, but most bosses are so huge that attacking them from a distance is safer. The weapon upgrading system of MM64 alone shows that it takes hours upon hours to master the game or to at least make Megaman powerful enough. Speaking of the special weapons, they are hidden just as well as in every other MM entry, and I must say that if it wasn't for a guide that I stumbled over, I probably would have never even found the game's most powerful weapon. There are just as many hard to reach, out of the way places where parts can be found in MM64 as in every other game in the series. I like the weapon upgrading system of MM64, but I could have still had a fondness for the game if they put it in or left it out. I like the older weapon system better, where charging a special weapon did the trick (like in MMX), but I also give Capcom credit where it's due for trying to do something different. Fans will probably not hate the weapon system of MM64, and beginners won't really know how deep it is until almost finishing the game, but all in all I think most who play the game will like the weapon system. A lot of fans will be happy to see that just as in the other MM games, in MM64 you can get power-ups that extend your lifebar (making fighting the strongest bosses is a bit easier). Capcom hit a good medium between keeping classic attributes of the Megaman item and weapon system, while at the same time using innovation to make it interesting and generally deeper.
The audio of MM64 is actually that of what the audio of Megaman games has always been: lots of explosions, crashes, power-up sounds, plasma shots, and, of course, the sounds of machines hard at work to destroy the Blue Bomber. However, the best sound effect in the game is by far when Megaman is in his running animation; as his feet hit the ground, they make the sort of mechanical anime sound effect that had actually been put in only the cinemas of Megaman 8 (and I think MMX4). The sounds are all pretty clear, and one aspect of the sound that fans will appreciate is that the game's story is almost all in spoken dialogue. Megaman converses with many in this game, but what sets it apart from the other entries in the series is that it is all in dialogue, and there's a lot of it! Some fans will also be happy to hear that Megaman's voice is not that of a female as in some of the other games. Of all the voice-overs in the game, I like the Mayor's the most; Capcom did a great job in finding her voice actress. Roll is really cool in MM64, and her voice-over fits her perfectly; Roll talks to Megaman all through the game, sometimes in the cabin of a ship, or through radio communication when he's in battle. When Megaman is in battle Roll will warn him about dangers, tell him her feelings, and even ask him questions (an interesting addition). Also, the Servbots are always making their fare share of noise, and sometimes it's absolutely hilarious to hear their different voices and phrases. With all the explosions and sounds of machines, MM64's music fits the action on the screen. For example, if you are in a part of the game that is a bit less intensive on battling, the music is a bit low-key (almost soothing), but if you are in a boss battle or making your way through a stage, the music has a sort of serious tone to fit the battling. The best music of all the MM games ever? Well, no, I think MMX5 has the best music of any MM game, but the music in MM64 fits the game's theme.
You may have heard that Megaman 64 isn't a good game from strictly 2-D gamers, or from a magazine...or maybe from a website whose staff only played through the first stage, but fans will like this game. Fans that can respect the new features of Megaman's jump to 3-D can appreciate what Capcom did with this game. It all comes down to how much you can accept innovation and something new in the Megaman series; those who only like the 2-D Megaman and it's gameplay will not like MM64, but those who can look at MM64 as a 3-D Megaman with innovation and variation can respect the game for its unique qualities. Of course, every Megaman game is a bit different from the previous entry in the series, and with every new game they add abilities and other gameplay variations to separate them, and Megaman 64 is no exception. Some dismiss the game because it is a 3-D Action game, while others dismiss it because they claim the character and the gameplay "aren't Megaman," but MM64 is just a fresh entry in the long-running series. For the strictly 3-D gamers, MM64 is a good game to try out just to check out one of Capcom's great 3-D games. Not only is MM64 one of the best 3-D action games on Nintendo's 64-bit hardware, but it's also one of the best 3-D action games ever, in my opinion. For fans of Megaman though, it's good to come into the game with an open mind; fans should always be willing to accept innovation or evolution of their favorite series. In every series, change is inevitable (it will eventually take place). Gamers with open minds can accept this MM entry with open-arms.
I have almost every MM game, and adding MM64 to the collection wasn't like pulling teeth. Is it one of the best in the series? Well, it all just depends on what kind of Megaman game you like, and which cast of enemies and bosses you happen to like most. MM64 is one of the best 3-D action games, and I'd say that it executes what the next generation of action games should be. I'd say it's in my top favorite MM games, and although I like MMX5 and MM7 the most in the series, MM64 still gets my respect. It's one of the most underrated action games of all-time.