Near the end of every Mega Man game, there’s a section where you have to re-fight all of the robot masters in succession, followed by the final battle with Dr. Wily. Perhaps this was the basis for Mega Man: The Power Battle, one of the few forays our favorite little blue robot made into arcades. Simply fighting all of the bosses may sound a little plain at first. After all, the levels make up the bulk of most Mega Man games. However, it’s actually really fun, and works out well for the arcade style.
You start by choosing your character, which can be either Mega Man, Proto Man or Bass, and then you choose whether to fight bosses from Mega Man 1-2, 3-6, or 7. Then it basically works like any Mega Man game. You fight all the robots, collect their weapons when you beat them, and then fight a mini-boss, followed by Dr. Wily, himself. In some ways, it also feels like a fighting game. I think it even borrows some music from Street Fighter for its game over jingle. Perhaps it was a precursor to Mega Man appearing in all those other fighting games, like Marvel vs. Capcom.
One cool feature of The Power Battle is the two-player cooperative mode. You and a friend can take on the bosses together as any combination of the playable characters. Seeing Mega Man and Proto Man finally team up is pretty cool. It’s a feature we have yet to see in any of the main Mega Man games, and it helps to make this game unique.
The presentation is also one of the highlights. The graphics demonstrate the mastery of 2D sprites that Capcom had in the ’90s. The characters and levels are colorful, detailed, and beautifully animated. There’s a lot going on in some of the backgrounds, and it’s easy to get distracted. There’s also a lot of fan service that’s fun to spot. The music also contains some great remixes from the main series.
It’s a shame the game is a little bit obscure. I’m not sure if it ever originally got released outside of Japan, but an English language version of it exists. Thankfully, it was included as a bonus unlockable in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection on the PS2, GameCube and original Xbox. Also included in that package is the sequel, Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, which is also a lot of fun. Oddly enough, both games were also ported to the Neo Geo Pocket Color, but only in Japan.
It would be nice if Capcom would release these games on a current download service, like XBLA, PSN, Virtual Console Arcade, or even Steam, as they deserve to be played and enjoyed. Especially on this occasion, the 25th anniversary of Mega Man. Happy anniversary, little guy!