Rockman Complete Works
(Encompassing Mega Man 1-6)
Format: PlayStation (import)
Published by: Capcom
Based on: Janken
Genre: 2D Platformer
Media: 1 CD each
Rockman - Aug. 4, 1999
Rockman 2 - Sept. 1, 1999
Rockman 3 - Sept. 14, 1999
Rockman 4 - Nov. 3, 1999
Rockman 5 - Nov. 24, 1999
Rockman 6 - Dec. 8, 1999
Many moons ago, the release of a new Megaman game for the NES was an annual event, not unlike the modern holiday tradition of a new Tomb Raider game, or the Thanksgiving release of the annual "only N64 game this year worth owning." Nowadays, though, the little blue guy is a bit harder to come by, making only a few appearances in his original form each hardware generation.
Unless you live in Japan, in which case you can't throw a rock without hitting a Rockman. While America has been receiving carefully rationed Megaman translations, it's almost an industry overseas - the past five years have seen almost a dozen games that never came to America. There's the Playstation port of X3; the infamous racing game that almost made it to the US, Battle & Chase; a cheezeball FMV adventure called Super Adventure Rockman; and two offshoots of the regular series called Rockman & Forte that appeared on the Super Famicom and the still-not-for-sale-in-America Wonderswan handheld. And then there are the Rockman Complete Works games. OK folks, let's ball our hands into fists and shake them feebly at Capcom USA for not bringing these over - a lot of Megaman fans should be very sad, sad, sad. Sadder than being married to Liz Taylor sad. Sadder than being trapped in Disc Two of Xenogears for 10 years sad.
Luckily, American Megaman fans have big dorks like me with nothing better to spend our money on than expensive imports of reissued games (no applause necessary, thanks). Because that's all the "Complete Works" games are: Playstation ports of Megaman 1-6, with some added gimmicks to convince you that you really need to drop ¥3000 on each. And they're not even truly complete, for crying out loud; each game comes separately! Further adding to the misnomer, Capcom didn't bother to port Megaman 7, X or X2, leaving a nasty gap of *gasp* incompleteness in the Playstation Rockman catalog. Still, despite the WALLET GOUGING price and unsightly omissions, the games are pretty good, for what they are. Yeah, so Weekly Famitsu only gave them a 20 score or so, but who do you trust more - a stranger masquerading on the Internet as a lovable, flammable frog, or respected journalists from the country of the games' origins? All right, then.
Let's break this down sensibly. Each game comes in its own unique jewel case with brand new cover art (using the contemporary, refined style for Rockman rather than the "tubby 9-year-old" style the games originally featured) - each of which looks really nice.
The games themselves are more or less untouched; the graphics and music are the same. More than likely, the games are actually simply emulated NES ROMs with minor hacks, because they feature all the same flaws and slowdown as the original NES version. One significant difference is that the Elecbeam pause trick (which most people - myself included - used to get through the butt-kickingly-hard first game) is much harder to pull off now. Start still brings up the equipment menu, but Select opens the Complete Works menu rather than pausing the game. That means if you want to beat the first game, you have to learn to kill the Yellow Devil ("rock monster") and Dr. Wily's machine the hard way. Ho ho!
A few other small changes are evident within the gameplay - you can assign buttons for auto-fire and sliding (in games where you can slide - sadly, they didn't do like The Wily Wars and retrofit later skills and features into the older titles). The later Rockman titles, which had slightly branching levels, allow you access an in-game map to see when you should start looking for secret passages.
Also, you can play in "Navi" mode, where Dr. Light shouts "Hey! Listen!" every time something important happens. "What would Roll say if she knew you were going to save Hyrule?" Ha ha, just kidding. Sort of. Actually, Navi mode gives you a slightly upgraded interface (the energy meters resemble the meters from Megaman 8, and the weapons menus are overhauled to look more compact and attractive - plus, weapon and item names are written in katakana, whereas they appeared in romaji in the original games). And every once in a while, Beat will appear onscreen and point you in the right direction (you know, because sometimes it's hard to remember to go UP ladders or STRAIGHT to the right). At certain points in the Navi mode, you will receive tips from your allies (Dr. Light in Rockman 1 and 6, Roll in Rockman 2, Blues in Rockman 3, Kalinka in Rockman 4 and Dr. Cossack in Rockman 5). These are very useful, telling you things like "I wonder what could be behind this shutter!?" when you reach a boss' room, or "The conveyer belts will carry you along!" or "Watch out, this boss' weapon is dangerous!" I can't believe I actually bothered to translate some of them - they were apparently created for the utterly braindead. Finally, Navi Mode in Rockman 4-6 allows you to play the games with the accompaniment of a remixed soundtrack - which is good, because the original music in Rockman 4 especially is utter crap, like it was written by some amateur MIDI musician trying to reproduce Secret of Mana's OST with two instruments. There appear to be remixes of music in the earlier Rockman games as well, but I'm at a loss for how to access them shorting of ripping the files from the CD.
Of course, that's all well and good, but nothing besides the remixed music really adds to the games. That's because the main draw for these games is the outer shell for the games. It's not like you just pop the game in your Playstation and crank up the original games just like that - oh no. There's a sleek and high-tech interface you have to navigate before you can play. From this interface you can choose several options, including, uh, Options, Original mode, Navi Mode, Database and Pocketstation.
The Database mode is probably most interesting feature here - it features info on all the enemies in the game, as well as original art related to the game. Everything has to be unlocked through gameplay; every time you see an enemy onscreen, it's "rememberized" in the Database. Every time you face off against a boss, you unlock some artwork of it (unlike the regular enemies, which appear as in-game sprites in the database)... and for repeated fights, you unlock more information (the boss' statistics at 4 fights, and some descriptive information at 8 fights). Furthermore, you can download defeated bosses into the Pocketstation game, if you're into that kind of thing. Each time you finish the game, you unlock new general artwork as well - a total of four pieces per game. These range from concept art to ads to mini-manga.
As for the Pocketstation aspect, it's a mildly diverting but pointless addition, just like all Pocketstation games. The main attraction is a fighting game that allows you to pit bosses against one another in a 3-man-tag-team tournament. Not a bad idea, but it runs automatically based on character stats (speed, power, endurance, etc.) and becomes pretty boring. You can link up to other Pocketstations, and battle bosses from all six games (so you can finally answer the question, who would win if Metal Man fought Magnet Man?), then upload your boosted fighter into the Database of its respective game... but ultimately, there's not much point. The Pocketstation also has some other minigames, such as a rather fun whack-a-mole featuring Cutman and a practically impossible Janken game. On the whole, though, I would not really recommend paying import market value on a Pocketstation just to give these little bits of digital fluff a whirl.
The final mode of the games is a hidden "Boss Attack" challenge that becomes available once you complete each title in Navi Mode and save your data. It's an interesting minigame that allows you to tackle a game's bosses in any order, starting with only the standard Rock Buster and collecting weapons in a race against the clock. Nothing fancy, but fun in a personal challenge sort of way. Completing the games also unlocks an option to play in "Hard" mode, which does away with all extra items in the game - besides the weapons you acquire, there are no extras to be earned. No life boosts, no 1-Ups, no Energy Tanks, no weapon refills (the world-famous Yashichi in the final area of the first game is still there, oddly). Interestingly enough, I find the first game is the easiest to beat in Hard mode, because it had the fewest power-ups to begin with, and no energy tanks.
Luckily, the interface for saving the game data and making selections is pretty straightforward, so even without much Japanese knowledge, you can probably fumble your way around easily enough. Irritatingly, the attractive interface for Rockman 1-3 was replaced for games 4-6 with something uglier and less functional. It makes me want to grab some random Capcom employee and give him a good toilet-dunking.
This sort of thing is a godsend for Rock-otaku, who will happiy plop down money for anything Megaman-related, but a definite "no thanks" for anyone with common sense. Capcom should be embarassed for taking advantage of those poor, helpless souls. For shame.
Master of Unlocking
Unfortunately, these games fell prey to Capcom & Sony's ridiculous urge to prevent importing games (under the guise of stamping out piracy). So if you want to play them on a modified US (or Japanese) Playstation, you need to enter the following GameShark codes to bypass the Screen O' Death. These codes are courtesy of Asian Game Shark Code Creators.
Rockman Nerd Trivia:
- The original Rockman was presented entirely in English, which explains why someone thought "fight for everlasting peace!" was a sensible exhortation. The only differences between the US and Japanese versions of the game were the character's name change and that horrid box art.
- The graphic design in Rockman Complete Works was created by RYUTARO'S MAMA, who is presumably no relation to original series sound programmer YUUKICHAN'S PAPA.
- Protoman or Breakman? In Japanese, he was called Blues, which compliments the whole musical theme of the main character names. You know, the bit that was inexplicably dropped for Western audiences.
- Crashman or Clashman? It's all the same in Japanese, so who really cares?
In Japan, every game has a subtitle. It's a fact of life. While the original Rockman wasn't blessed with a lengthy secondary name, all the others have had one. Very exciting, no? I especially like the extra punctuation, just in case you thought subtitles alone were too boring.
- Rockman 2: The Enigma of Dr. Wily
- Rockman 3: Dr. Wily's End!?
- Rockman 4: A New Battle!!
- Rockman 5: Blues' Trap!?
- Rockman 6: Attack of Great History!!
- Rockman 7: The Destined Battle [thanks to Huts]
- Rockman 8: Metal Heroes
- Rockman & Forte (WS): Threat From The Future