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2014 In Review: Megaman Sprite Game 
 PostSat Jan 03, 2015 11:43 am
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Patrick Swayze says "Tell Megaman I said ditto!" (That's 1990 so Charbile can suck it!)
Bug report! Hitting up on the menu makes it loop around like this. You can hit up some more and loop it back though, so no foul!
It's got ducks in it, you know what that means.
Good call, Uncle Proton. Good call.
This is a review of Megaman Sprite Game.

My first choice was 60 megabytes so I skipped ahead to this, figuring it'd be a short, stupid joke thing. TOTALLY WRONG! It is a long, stupid joke thing with a lot of love runnin through it's veins. There was one moment, about a third of the way through, where I lost faith and almost gave up, but I'm glad I didn't. Now, it is a joke game, so don't go expecting the moon, but this is a game that is worth playing so SPOILER WARNING is in effect! Don't read further if you don't want to be spoiled!

The story follows Megaman, who is being haunted by ghosts. What starts as a simple haunting turns into a bizarre conspiracy, and our hero is up to the task of investigating. With the help of his dad, his Uncle Proton, and his brother Zero they take the fight back to the ghosts, and eventually cross paths with three magic B-Balls, in an homage? to Shut Up and Jam Gaiden.

Now, we obviously aren't talking about Charles Dickens here. The dialogue is crass, the jokes aren't very deep but there's some good shock value to it. As the game goes on, it gets better and better to where you're actually interested in the outcome of the plot. The obvious comparison is to Arfenhouse, only Megaman Sprite Game doesn't go out of its way to make the dialogue unreadable. If you don't like that kind of a game, MSG isn't going to win you over. As a fan of the genre, I would say this is in the top 10%. It could be better in spots, particularly one which we'll get into in a bit, but it doesn't overstay its welcome and has some good gags.

The art really goes a long way in making things funny. All of the characters have this same goofy grimace, even the monsters. It seems to be original work too, with a funny sense of style that suits the tone of the game. The battle backgrounds are photographs, which is another way the game reminds me of Arfenhouse. I don't know if it was a direct inspiration or not, but if so, the author did a good job of picking the right things to take and which things to leave. As the game goes on, the art gets better and better, especially in terms of special effects. There's a lot of explosions and minigames and razzle dazzle near the end that really sell how much the creators of this game cared and elevate it beyond a throw-away bullshit game.

However! One of their jokes goes too far, and that's the aforementioned trouble spot. After finding the second b-ball and exiting the dungeon, you're confronted by the cops. Throughout the game there's been a path that leads from one place to the next, sometimes taking an indirect route. If you stepped off of this road *even once*, the bad guy will produce photographic evidence of your trespass and you go to jail for life, BAD END. It's so sudden and so silly that it's easy to assume the game is just messing with you, and that this is the game's only ending. You've probably spent about 20 minutes getting to this point, and could easily have saved after wandering off the path. It'd be really easy to say "To hell with it! I'm not walking back!" and quit right there, and miss out on the best parts of the game.

Having a character actually take your picture when you do it, and then making that important later would've been a better way to handle it. Even a mysterious sound or lighting effect when you first walk off the path would be something you'd notice, and then when you get to that point of the game you'd realize "Oh! That's what that was! The game was keeping track! I'll try again and not do that!". So many joke games end with a "Bad ending" and leave you jumping through hoops to get a non-existent good one that it's easy to give in too soon. It's hard to fairly judge something like this. When you play a "real" RPG and get beaten by a boss, you don't assume the boss is unbeatable, though it's frustrating if the last save point was a long time back.

Perhaps a more apt comparison would be to the Sierra adventure games of old where you could forget to pick up a key item early on, or "solve" a puzzle with the wrong item and force your game into an unwinnable state. Having "puzzles" like that which require a re-do shouldn't be forbidden, it's a valid tool in the game design arsenal. But in a "joke game", players extend a little bit less leniency to these kind of gimmicks and you really want to keep the audience laughing with you, rather than you laughing at them.

On the most part, the game does a good job of dodging the major stumbling blocks of an OHR RPG. Battles are maybe just a touch too slow, but enemies throughout the game only take a few hits. I didn't run from any battles and didn't do any grinding and was appropriately levelled throughout, though there isn't a whole lot of strategy necessary. You hit, you hit, and in a few of the final bosses you need to heal. The goofy enemy design keeps it from being a total snooze, but most of the time you're gonna be holding down enter.

Graphically though, the battles get quite nice. There's some really well animated multi-part bosses, nice tricks used with the "Jump!" Animation, and the final boss is one of the coolest ones I've seen in an OHR Game. Indeed, the final dungeon is a masterful build-up of suspense through map design. You see parts of the map before you get to them, and loop through a few times, each time getting closer to this weird stuff you've been seeing. The encounter rates are just right, and the music suits it perfectly. The music is actually a strong-suit across the board. It seems to be some kind of resequencing of old NES and SNES songs to great effect.

They even credit the original sources in the closing credits, which brings up another complaint: The credits go by too fast! A lot of good work went into this game, and you deserve to give credit where it's due. I was taking screenshots so I was able to read 'em, but there's a lot of stuff in those things and they're only up for like a second or so. Throw some more ticks on there!

It starts off a little slow, it's the victim of a "bad" genre, and that one mistake in the middle might lose a lot of would-be fans, but overall Megaman Sprite Game is a solid experience. I could be really picky and say that the battles weren't intelectually stimulating enough, but these kind of games are so tricky. If the battles are too hard you die and you have to relive the same jokes over and over, and if the battles are too easy it's hardly a game at all. There's a sweet spot to be found, and I think Brotoad erred just a fraction too much to the easy side, but it's not a fatal flaw. Worth a look!
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