VC Weekly 317

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

If you've been itching to play some more games featuring Capcom's Blue Bomber then you've come to the right place. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!
Available for download this week we have...     

Mega Man X3
Mega Man VII

Price: GB £5.49, EU €7.99
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Released: 1996
System: SNES

The last Mega Man X game to appear on a Nintendo platform, based on the previous two stellar entries you would have thought that the third would have been something spectacular but alas sadly this was not to be the case. Though you could argue that this was inevitable with the original game setting the bar so high, the sequel then carrying the well-lit torch managing to make it burn brighter somehow, then onto the 'final' part of the relay as X3 quite spectacularly stumbles with it managing to set itself ablaze; an extreme metaphor perhaps but this really is a prime example of why if you have a near-perfect formula that you shouldn't try to tamper with it too much lest you destroy all the initial good work laid down in the foundations.

Your standard Mega Man storyline revolving around eight robot Mavericks which are on the loose, so they must be stopped by 'X' in order to restore peace once again; as ever you choose which stage you wish to take on first remembering that each of the robot bosses at the end will bestow when beaten a power which you can use against the others all who have their individual weaknesses so choose your path wisely or you might be in for a tough time. In truth you'll already be in for something of a trauma from the very start as Mega Man X3 has reasonable controls but everything else is a real trial, not least of all the level design which is poorly thought out to say the least containing many stages which simply don't have enough action for long periods of time but then have traps out of nowhere which will almost certainly see your early demise being that there isn't even a clue that they are there; properly designed games will at least give you some subtle visual or audio due but not here so have restore points at the ready!

At least the bosses will be of decent quality though surely? Sadly not as the Mavericks are something of a joke this time around as although hunting down the right weapon still rings true here you can actually defeat most of them with relative ease thanks in part to their decidedly dumbed down attack patterns, literally all you have to do is move around slightly while shooting which near enough secures your victory. Good luck if you want to get every upgrade in this game too as some of them require bizarre ways of dealing with interactive parts of the stage which make no sense when it comes to which weapon you must use to obtain them as apparently sending a shockwave through the ground can break a rope yet a blade can't bizarrely; at least you can choose to use Zero if you summon him during a stage which adds some nice variation to the gameplay even if this isn't his finest hour owing to a limited move set but at least it's something.


Visually this title isn't too bad in the respect that it doesn't seem to come across as being graphically inferior to the previous titles though it doesn't really do anything to better itself either, at least it's nice enough to look at though but it does lack the variety of the other Mega Man X titles. Audio on the other hand takes quite a nose-dive in terms of quality, whereas this is usually a highlight here it is yet another low for the series as a lot of the stage music isn't even enjoyable to listen to on a basic level which is really unfortunate; the sound effects are still reasonably well-sampled though but that's like saying the jam in a sponge is nice while the rest of the cake tastes terrible, jam on its own isn't great and neither are just the sound effects to this poorly put together game.

It is with a heavy heart that I would advise anyone wanting to get into the Mega Man X series to steer away from this abomination, though I can gleefully recommend either X or X2 in a heartbeat, this third entry just misses the boat entirely. Obviously if you're a long-term fan then you will either buy it or will already have it bought though I'm sure you can't say that it's honestly that enjoyable; understand that I'm not calling this the worst platforming game ever, just that it's the worst in the Mega Man X series and it will always be a crying shame that it's a series that peaked with the second entry, never recovering since... try out Mega Man 7 instead if you haven't already.

Verdict : Mega Man X3 is maddeningly mediocre.


Price: GB £5.49, EU €7.99
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Released: 1995
System: SNES
With it being released after the first two Mega Man X games - but presumably before X3 which might explain a lot - it seems that Mega Man 7 took on a different approach entirely by taking the essence of the original games, then upping everything with its bigger, bolder sprites plus a load more colour partially owing to it taking cues from the Mega Man cartoon series of the same era. So as you load up the game you are greeted with the games story which unfolds exactly like this; "DR. WILY ALWAYS KNEW HIS SCHEMES MIGHT END IN" on the first screen followed by "FAILURE AND HAD PLANNED FOR JUST SUCH AN OCCASION" on the second screen, awkward it might be but the accompanying cut-scenes detailing the story are most welcome being that it would all just have been left to the imagination before, there's even a nice bit of humour involving Mega Man wearing a hard hat at the start too which is a nice bonus.

All of the stage design is decent enough even if it all feels a little more straightforward than some of the previous games, though I would easily take simple design which is at least done well as opposed to the complete mess that is Mega Man X3 as at least here everything feels fresh if only a little uninspired in places; it's all made up for in just how much fun each area is. You can collect blue bolts which are used to purchase extra items - should you need them - from 'Auto's Shop' but quite honestly so long as you're good at using restore points it never feels necessary, even if you couldn't save anywhere I still don't think many players would be requiring too many extra lives as this isn't the most difficult game in the series.

Interestingly this outing is where we first get introduced to Bass & Treble who are very much 'of the era' in their design adding a lot to the game overall, this is certainly Mega Man with buckets of added charm. This time around you only have a selection of four Robot Masters to begin with as the other four are only unlocked following the defeat of the first set, this is all very well for creating more focus but it does break with the more open tradition of being able to choose from eight different stages from the start; this does at least add a bit more balance to things dividing the simple stages from the more deviously designed ones, all of the controls are perfect thankfully as they never feel sluggish for a moment, playing this title with a SNES classic controller is an absolute dream.


Stylistically varied throughout there is a lot to love about this seventh outing for the 'Blue Bomber' as the large sprites coupled with the beautiful backdrops plus the detailed scenes really are a joy to behold, even if they do come at a price due to the simpler nature of the stages. Naturally the musical score is very nice indeed even if it's still not quite up there with some of the other titles, there are a lot of decent tracks used which will leave you at least humming parts of them after you stop playing though there are one or two tracks which fall flat, it still sounds nice enough as do the sound effects.

For anyone new to the series Mega Man 7 certainly is a very inviting title being that it has plenty of charm to it but not so much of the relentless difficulty which earlier titles are famed for, that isn't to say that it's easy but it's on par with most standard platformers of the era. It's bold, beautiful - brazenly so - and isn't afraid to put its big personality of its own out there; representative of the series to the point of showing you moreorless what to expect while at the same time managing to not scare you off if you're a new player, fans will be satisfied with it too as it's a very happy middleground indeed.

Verdict : Mega Man 7 manages to merge classic with charm in a masterful manner.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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