Mega Man has been there throughout our gaming lives, but we've never had a huge amount of time for him. While it's true that his games are relatively good fun, up until recently the formula was set in stone, sealed in a ten-inch thick steel casket and buried 400 miles below the surface of the earth, and we got bored of it with Mega Man 7 on the SNES. But thanks to the Legends and Battle Network series, we're starting to enjoy life as a blue-suited, laser-armed loony with a thirst for justice once again. So you can understand our initial frustration with Mega Man & Bass, which is reading from the old script.
Old and comfortable
You know how it works by now. You've got a selection of well-designed but ultimately predictable platform stages, packed with enemies to blast, and a boss robot, whose attack patterns you'll have to undo, and whose particular weapon you'll attain afterward. These days though, it would take a multi-screen-filling, Death Star equivalent super-boss to keep us on our toes, and MM&B's efforts are a bit lacklustre compared to what we'd like at this stage in the series.
Changes this time obviously include the name checked Bass, whose abilities differ to our traditional hero's, and unlike previous Mega Man titles (Mega Men?) there are 100 CDs scattered across the game worlds which obviously need collecting. Graphically, it's pretty obvious fare - lots of smoothly contoured sci-fi worlds with no-frills, SNES-level visuals which offer little by way of inspiration but rarely put a foot wrong either. The fundamentals of the game engine haven't changed in ten years, so if you've ever played Mega Man then this will seem familiar.
However, it's not just the fundamentals that don't change, because although we don't have time to go through all the other games to confirm it, we'd swear on the graves of our collective Mothers that we've faced a couple of these bosses before. Some of the levels look familiar too. Surely Capcom isn't recycling the same old crap pixel-for-pixel now?
Not so Mega these days…
On the whole, Mega Man fans will find plenty to do here. It's a goodly-sized adventure with plenty of stages, and countless games have given Capcom a chance to hone the graphics and level design to near-perfection. It can be quite difficult, but it's never fiendishly so, and there's still plenty of creativity within the old formula. It's just that it is so very old, and with the much better Battle Network series about to spew out another hopefully excellent GBA game, Mega Man & Bass seems like a silly thing to buy. If you want a Blue Bomber game for your new SP or something, wait and see how the next Battle Network title turns out. If by some bizarre twist of fate it turns out badly, buy this.