Initial release date: July 6, 2000
Rerelease date: August 3, 2022
Series: Mega Man
Designer: Keiji Inafune
Mode: Multiplayer video game
Genres: Fighting game, Action game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Neo Geo Pocket Color
"Review Code Provided By SNK & Renaissance PR"
One of my prized possessions is my copy of Rockman Battle and Fighters for the Neo Geo Pocket that I bought with my allowance at a Software ETC back in 2000. I was a MASSIVE Mega Man fan as a kid growing up in the 90s and I physically owned all the North American released Mega Man games so when I saw that game, I just had to buy it along with a Japanese Neo-Geo Pocket. So, what exactly is Mega Man Battle & Fighters? It’s essentially a portable 8-bit version of the arcade games Mega Man The Power Battle and Mega Man 2 The Power Fighters in almost their entirety. There are some exceptions such as the graphics not being the same as they are in the arcade and being made in the classic 8-bit Mega Man style along with some of the music being missing along with this port having no English translation at all. The lack of an English translation is rather strange compared to every other Neo-Geo Pocket Color port that has been released. So, is this game which has never been released in the west before worth diving into and is the lack of an English translation a barrier of entry? Let’s find out!
Diving into the first game on this collection being Mega Man The Power Battle plays near exactly the same as the arcade original with all of its intricacies as well as such as allowing you to pick between Mega Man, Proto Man, and Bass and then deciding which set of Robot Masters you want to go after be they from Mega Man 1-2, 3-6, or Mega Man 7 for a total of 36 Robot Masters for you to battle. Each of the 3 playable characters have their own strengths and weaknesses such as Proto Man taking the most damage out of the 3 but having the strongest buster shot while Bass has the best mobility and speed allowing for him to maneuver around the Robot Masters with ease, and finally we have Mega Man who is the most balanced of the 3.
After selecting you character and your route, you’ll then have a roulette going that you’ll need to press a button to get it to stop so that you can go into a one-on-one fight with a Robot Master. These battles take place in a fairly open area themed after the Robot Master and you’ll need to utilize your buster shots and evasive maneuvers to win. Now, none of these encounters is complicated as they adhere to old Mega Man tradition of basically run, jump, and shoot the boss as much as you can and outlast them, a battle of attrition if you will and then collect their ability after they are defeated. After defeating a Robot Master, you get their weapon of which you can use on other Robot Masters that you encounter with some having specific weaknesses to certain abilities over others.
After you take down the core Robot Masters of your route, then you’re taken to Wily’s castle and then you encounter the series staple Yellow Devil followed by Wily himself in a 3-part battle with the last part being timed to 10 seconds of which determines if you get a good or bad ending depending on if you can defeat him in time.
All in all, The Power Battle is a fairly straightforward affair.
Where things get interesting is in The Power Fighters as not only do the 3 previous characters return but you also get Duo from Mega Man 8. Each character has the same standard movements from The Power Battle with some new abilities added for each character. Bass can now air dash similar to how he could in Rockman & Forte (Mega Man & Bass in the west) while Proto Man can throw his Proto Shield at his enemies. Each character is also given Street Fighter-esque command input attacks such as Mega Man getting a Shoryuken, Bass getting the Flash Kick, and Duo getting a launching uppercut.
Just like the first game, after selecting one of your characters you can then select your route except where this is different is that instead of selecting which game sets for a route you instead can decide to either go after Wily, save Roll who has been kidnapped, or help Dr. Light. Unlike the first game, you can now select which of the Robot Masters you fight instead of it being randomized and levels also offer up a little bit more variety than they did in the first game and after defeating a Robot Master you are able to collect orbs to replenish your health and weapon energy.
So now that you know what the games are like, let’s talk about the differences between this handheld game and the arcade originals. Now we already spoke about the graphical differences between this and the arcade versions but there are a few other differences as well such as there being fewer music tracks in this compared to the arcade versions along with the removal of a two-player mode from the arcades making this a single player affair. Selecting your weapon power ups is also don differently because the Neo-Geo Pocket only has 2 buttons so you’ll need to pause the game and then press A to cycle through your weapons which can slow down the overall gameplay which, interestingly enough, still has the original releases’ slowdown when too much is happening on the screen at once.
The link cable feature of the original Neo-Geo Pocket version is also removed. What we do gain is a full on English translated manual to help us navigate the games menus, but my question is why couldn’t the game itself have been translated when there are fan translations of the game out there?
So, with all that being outlined; is Mega Man Battle & Fighters worth picking up? It most definitely is! While yes you could get the arcade versions of the games via the Capcom 2nd Arcade Stadium, that doesn’t negate that this is still a very fun and very much worth playing version of what has become a near unobtainable game that has never seen a rerelease until now and given that its only a few dollars, you really can’t go wrong with picking this up. I will continue to question why this game wasn’t fully translated into English; however I will also say that this game at this price is a steal and is a game that you need to add to your collection!