Mega Man 6 holds the distinction of being one of the last Nintendo games released in the US, coming well into the Super Nintendo’s life. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Nintendo would not have bothered publishing it if the redesigned NES were not being released. You don’t hear too much about MM6 outside of its release history and with good reason. While the game is solid it is apparent that this was a last minute cash grab and is mostly forgettable. Plus showed why the Mega Man X series was needed to keep the property relevant.
The first annual Robot Tournament is being held to determine who is the strongest robot in the world, all hosted by the mysterious Mister X. But before the tournament can start Mister X reprograms eight of the most powerful contestants to take over the world. He also claims to be the one manipulating Dr. Wily behind the scenes. Come on, they aren’t fooling anyone. This would be the third game that tried to introduce a new antagonist and while it was interesting in part four it became repetitive in the next game and insulting here.
At the very least Capcom fixed a few of the most glaring flaws from the fifth game. The Mega Buster is no longer drastically overpowered and is in a nice sweet spot. Still pretty strong but not so much that the boss weapons pale in comparison. Rush has been redesigned once again and is far more useful this time. There are only two Rush power-ups, the Rush Jet and Rush Power, both of which combine with Mega Man and grant new abilities. Rush Power is actually pretty cool. After a brief charge your attacks can break walls, shields, and even send enemies flying. The only drawback is you can’t slide. The Rush Jet grants flight while the meter lasts and looks awesome in action. With the way Rush was being sidelined it’s great to see him play a larger role, especially in the two castles.
The Robot Masters and their weapons are a far more interesting bunch this time around. Two of them were designed by Americans (Wind Man and Knight Man). The Blizzard Attack has a nice spread despite being slow while the Yamato Spear can pierce shields. The Flame Blast works on multiple bosses and can melt certain walls. The only duds are the Plant Barrier and Centaur Flash. These two weapons once again are renamed versions of the Leaf Shield and Flash Stopper. That makes four shield weapons in six games that are identical. Come on! Actually fighting each boss is disappointing as they all follow the same pattern. Most leap high in the air, allowing you to run past and blast them from behind. Knight Man has very limited range and one simple attack. Yamato Man actually has to run and pick up his spear tip after throwing it. Sad.
There are aspects of the level design that I like but I do think it’s a step back from part 5. There are more branching paths in half of the levels. These are mostly to facilitate finding the four BEAT letters but also provide nice shortcuts as well. But I miss the gimmicky levels like the space jumps in Star Man’s stage or the inverted gravity in Gravity Man’s lair. These were very clever and added some much needed variety to the game. Both fortresses are also disappointing in that they don’t feature the step up in difficulty you’ve come to expect in the series. You’ll use the Rush adaptors a lot more but those are the only highlights outside of the extremely cool boss designs.
Part 5 was an easy game due to the broken Mega Buster and Mega Man 6 might be easier for different reasons. Most enemies go down quickly whether it is from a charged buster shot or the Rush power adaptor. They inflict little damage with extra lives and energy tanks practically everywhere. Not that they are even needed. Outside of some tricky enemy placement on Plant Man’s stage I used a single energy tank over the course of the entire game. Even the bosses pose little threat. Their patterns are so simple I wonder if Capcom simply gave up to get the game out the door.
You know exactly what you are getting with Mega Man 6. The basic formula of the series means that at its core the game is sound. But at the same time after 5 of these on the same platform it is a bit tiresome. You could easily skip this one and not miss a thing. This one is only for the diehard fans who absolutely feel the need to play every game in the series. I enjoyed it but at the same time never shook the feeling of been there, done that.