Street Fighter X Mega Man is a Disappointment
Street Fighter X Mega Man is a new Mega Man game where the bosses are all characters from the Street Fighter series. Despite the title’s similarities to other crossover games, this is not a fighting game but purely a Mega Man game, a sprite-based side-scrolling platformer where you shoot enemies and get new powers to increase your killing abilities.
Street Fighter X Mega Man started as a fan-made game, but Capcom was so impressed by it that they adopted it as their own and gave it away for free. This shows that not only do they appreciate their fans, but they acknowledge the thinness of our wallets, too. They could have easily put Street Fighter X Mega Man for sale on Xbox Live and Sony Network at any price they felt like and people would have bought it. This doesn’t seem like the same Capcom that tried to bilk Street Fighter X Tekken players out of money for DLC characters and gems. It’s a perplexing act of charity from a typically callous company, and a welcome change.
The most immediately apparent aspect of the game is the quasi 8-bit visual scheme, which is an obvious attempt to piggyback on the success of the “retro”-looking Mega Man 9 and 10. I realize that this is because the game originated as a fan-created work that Capcom thought was noteworthy, but I would have appreciated something more imaginative visually than an attempt to appeal to tepid nostalgia.
The controls are immediately accessible to anyone who has played one of the previous quintillion Mega Man games, though it feels like the protagonist jumps a little bit higher than in most games. The NES Mega Man games controlled fantastically and this is an accurate representation of that perfection, and it runs like magic alongside JoyToKey. You have the option of changing the controls and the screen size to suit your preferences. Unfortunately, the game slows to a poky chug when I try to run it fullscreen, and that’s after closing all other programs to free up my 8GB of RAM. Other Mega Man fangames I’ve played were optimized better than this one, but that is a minor quibble.
The levels are all rather straightforward and overly simplistic. Only Dhalsim’s twisty stage and Vega’s climbing zone made me think even a little bit in order to maneuver through them. The enemies are mostly new visual designs though they are identical in function to existing Mega Man foes. Only the ninjas with their teleports and blocking moves were memorable. A great opportunity was lost here, but they probably didn’t want to overshadow the Street Fighter characters by throwing in a giant enemy crab now and then.
I was looking forward to the boss fights, but they all follow disappointingly similar patterns and skill sets: projectile, jump attack, dash attack. Even the bullet reflectors wielded by Rose and Urien can be overcome by mashing the shoot button a bit more. There is a bit more creativity to be found in each boss’s super move (built up in a meter with their ordinary attacks, as in many of the fighting games) but they all too often just leave the user vulnerable. This is strikingly similar to many fighting games where throwing out a random super move can make you a wide open target, but I expected a greater challenge from an action game. I want the bosses to be stronger and better than my in-game avatar so that they can test my skills.
Street Fighter X Mega Man is far too easy. Enemies do piddly paper cuts worth of damage to Mega Man and health pickups are frequent. Enemy bullets can usually be dissipated with your own, turning dodging into a skill as unnecessary during the levels as ice skates to Cliff Burton.
The weapons are useless. I’m talking Mega Man 5 levels of ineffectiveness here. I found myself using every weapon against a new boss only to find out that almost all of them do one pixel of damage and one of them does 2-3. The Mega Buster is superior in almost every situation, especially if you’re cheating by using JoyToKey’s turbo function. This lack of utility is especially irritating if you’ve played Mega Man 9, a game that goes out of its way to make Robot Master weapons useful in the levels and against bosses. I’m not expected a free win button like Mega Man 2’s Metal Blade, but what’s the point of giving the player tools if they’re as effective as Final Fantasy 1 characters hacking away at the black void? Weapon energy restores after a lost life and Rose’s shield weapon sticks around even after switching weapons or leaving the screen, which are nice touches. Not that you’ll need the weapons anyway, considering the low difficulty of both the levels and the bosses.
It’s a rather buggy game, too. On C. Viper’s stage I was often instantly killed by the elevators even though they were crushing me against things as innocuous as thin air. At one point, the music got stuck in a loop of Guile’s theme no matter how many levels I entered and exited. Granted, it’s a great song, but I was hoping for a more stable release. At least none of the bugs were game-breaking.
The music is 8-bit remixes of various character themes. The interesting thing is that the opening of some of the songs is reminiscent of old Mega Man tracks, like the first few notes of Dhalsim’s theme closely resembling Snake Man’s from Mega Man 3. The “boss defeated” theme is quite a bit lower in volume than the rest of the game’s sound. Mixing error?
And there’s no save system, no password system. The fact that you can alt-tab out and do something else prevents you from having to complete it in one sitting (and the music can’t be turned off during this time, either), but the ability to save is basic functionality that is sorely missing. It’s the 25th anniversary… of the first and last mainline Mega Man game where you couldn’t bloody save the game. That’s not the part about the first Mega Man that I can remember fondly. And unlike many Mega Man games, you can’t revisit completed stages. It’s not as bad as, say, Mega Man X6 (where you could get permanently stuck), but hopefully you got that e-tank the first time around.
Street Fighter X Mega Man offers fanservice over content and form. It relies to a much greater extent on recognition of characters rather than good level designs or interesting combat. The fact that this game doesn’t cost anything does not give it Circle of Protection: Criticism. Street Fighter X Mega Man should have been equal or superior to other fangames such as Mega Man: Day in the Limelight, but for the moment it offers nothing but a missed opportunity with a mediocre result. Maybe Capcom could try to spruce it up with some ridiculous DLC.