Highwire Hero

Mega Man [Rockman] VI, by Capcom, 1993.

You can tell from the title that Mega Man VI is not going to be a highly original take on anything. To be sure, each installment has added new tricks: the slide, the Mega-buster, new Rush gadgetry, the energy balancer. Nevertheless, the later entries get worse and worse, and I submit that part of it is the reluctance by the custodians at Capcom to subtract anything from the formula. VI is clunky if only because Mega Man has to carry around all these weapons and gadgets that are here just because they were there in the last game. Going from six to eight robots was fine for the second game, because it accompanied the explosion of graphics and sound, and many of the robots were beatable without specialized equipment, so you could plot your own course. (Furthermore, II did take something away: it streamlined the game by getting rid of the score.) But I think less robots made for a breezier game, especially because to me the interesting part is after you’ve acquired all the weapons, after you have all the tools at your disposal, and you have to use them in concert to get through the more challenging end stages. As plodding as it was, IV wasn’t a complete write-off because it also gave you twice as many end-stages to work through — finally some weight was added to the other side of the scale. V was much zippier than any of the previous volumes, but it bungled the end stages — those identical robots made for dull bosses. Specific to VI, the Rush Suits take time to change into and you have to change too often. But giving Mega Man their powers directly would have been too risky. Play it safe, take it slow, and maybe we’ll get it right by Mega Man IX.