Retro Achiever Game #53: Mega Man 7 (SNES)

It’s no secret my personal favorite game of all time is Mega Man 2 on the NES. From the moment I saw Mega Man 2 featured in Nintendo Power, I wanted to try it more than anything, and I for some reason remember that my parents had to rent the game from a location outside our town so I could try it for the first time. It was likely the first game since Super Mario Bros. that stuck to me on every single factor – characters, music, gameplay, challenge.

I’ll be honest in saying, up until reading about Mega Man 2, I had never even heard of the first game. The game eventually crept into my town’s rental locations, but that was mostly on the back of Mega Man 2’s success having people chomping at the bit for the release of the highly-touted Mega Man 3. Much like how I almost missed out on the first few Mega Man games upon their release, the U.S. gamer almost completely missed out on the impressive Mega Man 7 in 1995.mm76

Sitting here 15 years later, it’s easy for us to consult the internet to discover Mega Man 7’s troubled development, but, leading up to 1995, we only had magazines to vaguely fill us in on the inner workings of game companies.
Although Rockman 6 was developed by and received publisher support from Capcom in Japan, it shelved a potential U.S. release. U.S. gamers only received a proper Mega Man 6 release because Nintendo itself took hold of the publishing reins to dangle a proven new game release along with StarTropics II and Wario’s Woods for potential buyers of the re-released top-loading NES system.

Rockman 7 dropped in Japan roughly one year following Mega Man 6’s release in the U.S., and, while the game was tested and translated for the U.S. market, Capcom of Japan decided against its release in the territory. This news was broken to me through an issue of GamePro and its industry news section, and it was met with disappointment. The screenshots for the game looked fantastic, and it would have served as a Super Nintendo entry point for a series I grew up loving.

It would appear I was not the only Mega Man fan disappointed with the announcement, as the same magazine months later would report Capcom reversed its course and would move forward with the Mega Man 7 release. The release was limited, however, and a copy of the U.S. cartridge continues to climb over the $100 mark according to Price Charting … thank goodness for Capcom’s digital downloads and anniversary releases.

Mega Man 7 plays directly off Mega Man 6, with the prologue cutscenes showing Mega Man fighting Dr. Wily in his Mega Man 6 capsule and ultimately taking him into custody.

mm72While Wily was on a streak of narrowly escaping at the end of Mega Man games, he starts Mega Man 7 behind bars, which ultimately leads to the events of this installment. The game explains Dr. Wily had a back-up plan in suspended robots that activate if he were to not send a signal to them for six months. These new robot masters then build up a robot force strong enough to launch an attack on the city to serve as a distraction while Dr. Wily is broken out of prison.

What then ensues is the familiar, yet comfortable formula of Mega Man game. The spirit of Mega Man is large and in charge with part seven, but the Super Nintendo allowed for a presentation not seen in a mainline Mega Man game up to this point. This installment added the collectible bolts Mega Man could shop with, more hidden paths, battles and items, and, perhaps most importantly, a boost in the in-game storytelling coupled with the introduction of Bass and Treble (Forte and Gospel in the Japanese version).

Mega Man 7 is making a sort of comeback, being featured once again in a recent Mega Man collection and with speedrunning tech progressing through a few players, but, in 1995, the title ultimately passed through the market with indifference. The limited release didn’t help matters, but Mega Man 7 proved to be a victim of its timing – Mega Man X had been released on the Super Nintendo the year before, and this appeared to be the style of game reviewers at large wanted more. Reading magazines and viewing gaming videos through the mid-2000s, the popular opinion seemed to be the overall player base soured on the series after Mega Man 4, and magazines were growing tired of the formula by Mega Man 5 despite having nothing overwhelmingly negative to say about the games based on their mechanics.

For me, personally, though, Mega Man 7 is notable for having extra attention to detail running under its hood.

The later NES Mega Man games built up to having some of the most impressive stage graphics and large boss sprites available on the system, but a lot of basic characters remained largely the same. If you were seeing Mega Man 7 for the first time in 1995, the jump from NES Mega Man to SNES Mega Man was insanely detailed.mm73

Sure, Mega Man X was mighty impressive, but this series took Mega Man in a slightly darker direction while the mainline series maintained its vivid, cartoony look. Mega Man 7 was a slightly different beast, and it still stands out as an impressive graphical work by Capcom. Mega Man X also took the series’ music to a heavier rock tone, and Mega Man 7 kept a peppier tone. The stage themes for Burst Man, Slash Man and Shade Man always stick out for me, but, overall, the Mega Man 7 soundtrack is solid all over.

Mega Man 7 was the first to break a game into “defeat four robot masters and then four more appear,” which provided a story segment and mid-game level, but I always felt that slightly interfered with the experience and challenge of seeking out a robot master’s weakness. It doesn’t break a Mega Man game for me, but it limits the experimentation and game time for a player when you have a far better chance to have a weapon that will completely smash a boss.

Mega Man 7’s real saving grace is in the developers’ stance of having specific powers affect the stages – electricity can power machines, ice can turn rain into snow and fire can burn down trees. This works itself into the large amount of hidden collectibles in the game, but players can also use other means such as the Rush abilities to uncover hidden Protoman cutscenes and even more optional abilities. The optional material in the game is so deep, there were still a few items I uncovered in the game years after the game’s release.

For my Retro Achiever playthrough, I didn’t expect to beat the game as quickly as I did, as Mega Man 7 has one of the most notoriously-difficult Dr. Wily battles in the series. An E-Tank stock was used, but I managed to get through the game with 24 of the game’s 45 achievements. The majority of the remaining achievements is in defeating all of the bosses without taking damage, so I’m not sure if it is one of the games I want to revisit to sweep up achievements, but, I feel like I should add Mega Man 7 to my rotation of games I make an effort to play at least once a year.mm75

It always seems like I enjoy Mega Man 7 more than most people, and I would probably slightly rank it above the Mega Man 8 game that would follow. Mega Man 8 got more of the flack from media given to the mid- to latter stretch of Mega Man titles, but, after a decent break in releases, it’s good to see more people accepting the comfort of the series’ classic gameplay, especially for Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 11. If the series made an effort to only pop up once or twice a console generation, perhaps people would be more into new releases.

Still, Mega Man 7 had a tall order in distancing itself from Mega Man X back in the ’90s. I consider it to be fantastic game worthy of its release on the Super Nintendo, and, perhaps, as time passes, players will give the entry more of a chance as its digital appearances afford more chances to experience this fantastic title.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, IndieSnack

Author:indiesnack

Indie Snack is a video gaming Web site focusing on independent developers and game releases. Indie Snack will also soon have services made available to independent developers to include tools aiding them in public relations and game marketing.

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