|Dev: Seow Zong Hui|
|Release: December 17, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
We Mega Man fans have been through a lot lately, and by “lately” I mean “in the last fifteen years.” The Blue Bomber never quite managed to transition out of the 2D era, and in the years since the death of the Super Nintendo, we've been treated to numerous half-hearted throwbacks, some painful attempts to bring Mega Man into other genres, and the occasional 2D gem like Mega Man X6 or Mega Man 9.
Now, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Mega Man game—and also to commemorate 25 years of Street Fighter—Capcom has released Street Fighter X Mega Man, a fan-developed crossover for the PC that can be downloaded free of charge. This is not the Mega Man game we've all been waiting for—the one that finally drags the franchise, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. That would be too much to ask of a free game, of course. Instead, SFXMM is another throwback to the 8-bit era, a Mega Man 9-style appreciation of what the series used to be.
That's not a bad thing, because Mega Man used to be awesome, and a Street Fighter crossover is a great way to relive the old magic. This franchise is maddening, and this game has its share of flaws, but it's worth putting all of that aside to enjoy the simple brilliance on display here.
If you're wondering why I'm treating this as a Mega Man game even though Street Fighter comes first in the title, the reason is that, well, it's a Mega Man game. The graphics, sound, and controls are straight from the 8-bit console era, you play as the Blue Bomber, and the basic format—choose any of eight bosses, do some platforming, kill the boss, take their weapon, move to another one—is intact. Many of the enemies, such as Mets, can be found in any other Mega Man game. SFXMM even keeps to the traditional format of Mega Man stages: two brief platforming sections followed by a boss, with checkpoints in between so long as you don't run out of lives.
The Street Fighter universe is well-represented here, though. The bosses, including favorites Ryu, Dhalsim, Blanka, and Chun Li, are taken straight from the Street Fighter rosters, and the stage backgrounds are faithful to what you've seen in countless SF games over the past couple of decades. In a nice touch, the damage you inflict on the bosses charges a special move they can unleash, à la Street Fighter IV.
The World Warriors' fighting moves and weaknesses are what you'd expect if you've been following the franchise, with a few exceptions. The developer says that whenever he couldn't use a character's standard fighting moves to create a Mega Man-style boss, he combed through various Street Fighter media until he saw them do a move he could work with.
The music pays homage to Street Fighter as well, with original tunes that blend classic melodies from both franchises.
All of this isn't to say SFXMM is a perfect game, however. The level design leaves something to be desired; the best Mega Man stages are a series of tricky, carefully placed obstacles, and too often it feels like SFXMM is just throwing some enemies, platforms, and death pits at you.
And if there's a game-breaking problem here, it's that SFXMM has no saving option at all—no passwords, nothing. This can't be passed off as fidelity to the franchise, either, because Mega Man 2 included passwords all the way back in 1988. This was just a year after the first entry, and Mega Man 2 is widely seen as the moment the series came into its own.