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Mega Man & Bass

Mega Man. Those two words conjure up some of the most memorable moments in gaming history. There stands the Blue Bomber, basking in the love of his fans and smiting any evil foolish enough to get in his way. The hero has endured years of adventure, undertaking countless quests in the name of all that is good and righteous in the gaming world. The trials and tribulations of the Blue Bomber have spanned across several platforms, from a humble start on the NES all the way through the current generation of consoles and handhelds. Indeed, the Mega Man series continues to flourish with countless additions to the hero’s impressive history. Though some of the current games can’t quite measure up to Mega Man’s original glory, they can stand well enough on their own. Thankfully, Mega Man & Bass is such a game.


Fire…

Welcome back to the future. Mega Man has blasted, smote, and vaporized every enemy he’s come up against. But after all these years of being a hero, he still can’t catch a break. A new enemy named King has appeared, taking over Dr. Wiley’s base and stealing the blueprints for eight deadly robot masters in an attempt for world domination. Knowing a lame and rehashed sinister plot when he sees one, Mega Man embarks on a brand new quest to eradicate his latest foe. However, things won’t quite be as easy as some of Mega Man’s previous exploits. He’s grown a little feeble with age, even enlisting the aid of his dog, Rush. With a formidable arsenal standing in his way of victory, his chance of survival looks pretty slim. Luckily for the Blue Bomber, his part-time nemesis Bass is right there to give him backup.


Robot snowmen…

As the new quest unfolds, veterans of the series will be reintroduced to the tried and true Mega Man gameplay formula that has endured all these years. While Mega Man has saved humanity on several occasions, he’s really nothing more than a robot toting an energy blaster. However, that energy blaster packs an impressive punch, allowing the Blue Bomber to charge up and serve a little bit of mass destruction for his hapless foes. But in between all the firefights and laser blasts, he’ll have to do a fair amount of platforming and leg sliding to progress through the level. While these new areas are a far cry from the angst-inducing levels of old, they do offer enough variety and challenge to the prospective gamer. It’s up to you to make sure that Mega Man gets through the area unscathed, lest he be wiped out by some of the truly aggravating bosses.


Pirate Man…

But just in case you get sick of playing the Blue Bomber, this game offers a nifty twist. Bass, the all-around cybernetic badass extraordinaire, is fully playable in his own adventure. This mean, lean robot-annihilating machine comes packed with a few tricks of his own. Platforming aspects aside, Bass can rush through the battlefield with his impressive agility and speed. But just like his occasional mortal enemy, he has his limitations. While Mega Man can charge up his blaster and let loose some heavy artillery, Bass sports a semiautomatic blaster than can fire weaker pellets in seven directions and at quicker speeds. While he can double jump and dash into areas that Mega Man can’t reach, he also can’t slide into smaller areas. Thus the heroes are balanced out between power and agility, providing a true test of your ability to use both efficiently.


Water…

Despite being so different, these heroes have a few things in common. They’ll have to deal with the same levels, each one with areas catering specifically to their individual abilities. Bass will be able to traverse some of the tougher platforming areas with ease, but he’ll have a tough time taking down some of the stronger bosses. Mega Man may be able to slide through tight spaces, but his slow speed almost makes him a sitting duck. Both heroes will face the same bosses and obstacles, forcing you to strategize differently depending on whom you’re using. Once they’ve taken down one of the robot masters, the heroes will be able to swipe the weapons from their crushed foes. You’ll also have to be on the lookout for powerups and items, which will allow you to upgrade the characters and unleash even more havoc.

Your path of destruction will take you into the vast sands of the desert, into the thick foliage of the jungle, desolate tundra, space stations, and a few other interesting locales. These places are depicted with remarkable quality and detail, a nice throwback to the Mega Man games of the SNES generation. You can see the sand cascading down the screen in pixilated torrents, or the thick and dense green shrubbery of the jungle level. Both the heroes and their foes are drawn with a wide variety of colors and shades, from Bass’s sleek black armor to Mega Man’s signature blue suit. The heroes’ animations are done flawlessly, even including animations of them staggering and aching when they’re down to their last sliver of health. The display is nicely complemented with a fairly upbeat and catchy soundtrack and a wide variety of sound effects. All things considered, it’s a job decently done.


Green guy with shield…

I miss the old school Mega Man. Call me crazy, but there was something special about sticking that big cartridge into the NES and blasting countless foes to smithereens. It’s the kind of nostalgic magic that stays with you, even twenty years down the road. But while the current generation of Mega Man games is not quite as demanding as their predecessors, little seems to have been lost in the translation with this game. You’ve still got Mega Man blasting and platforming his way to victory, and Bass adds some much-needed flavor to the gameplay setup. Yet no matter how new and fresh this game may seem, it’s really an homage to the games of yesteryear. Mega Man & Bass takes us back to the old gaming formula, away from the RPG elements that now dominate the series. It’s a welcome blast from the past, the lost gem of the Mega Man GBA series.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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