(THEME MUSIC PLAYS)
When it comes to classic game franchises,
it’s hard not to love Capcom’s Mega Man series.
First released in 1987,
the franchise has gone on to sell
over 30 million games worldwide.
Unfortunately, Capcom hasn’t done much
with the series lately, but back in the day,
Mega Man was a big deal.
And early on, you could only play
the games on Nintendo systems,
like the NES, Game Boy and the Super Nintendo.
In fact, gamers would use this as an argument
as to why Nintendo was better than Sega.
Little did we know that Sega had
their own exclusive Mega Man games
on both the Genesis and the Game Gear.
My 10-year-old mind would have been blown.
Let’s dive into Mega Man games on Sega.
So how exactly did Mega Man–
a series that was, at the time,
exclusively on Nintendo consoles–
make its way over to Sega?
Well, it all started back in 1989,
when the Sega Genesis was released in North America.
Thanks to a strong marketing campaign,
the popularity of the system slowly began to rise.
It was around this time that Joe Morici,
Vice President of Marketing for Capcom USA,
reached out the Capcom of Japan,
suggesting that the company become a Sega licensee.
However, that was easier said than done.
For one, Capcom had a very
strong relationship with Nintendo.
They were one of the original
third-party licensees for Nintendo,
which gave them special
provisions over other licensees.
Second, the Genesis,
known as the Mega Drive outside of North America,
wasn’t selling that well in Japan.
A huge portion of Capcom’s profits were
coming from sales on Nintendo consoles.
It simply wasn’t worth risking their
business relationship with Nintendo.
Capcom did, however,
license a few games directly to Sega for release,
such as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts,
and Chiki Chiki Boys.
But by 1993, the popularity of the
Sega Genesis in North America,
and the Mega Drive in Europe, could not be ignored.
Morici continued to insist that Capcom take action.
His suggestion to become a
Sega licensee was suddenly
looking like a no-brainer.
In 1993, a press conference
was held at the Sofitel Hotel
in Redwood City, California,
announcing that Capcom had officially signed on
as a third-party Sega licensee.
Capcom also announced that their
popular fighting game, Street Fighter II,
would be coming to the Sega Genesis.
Promotional art for the event
featured Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog
shaking hands with Capcom’s Mega Man.
This led many people to wonder:
would Sega consoles be getting
a brand new Mega Man game?
The answer was: yes!
Capcom Japan was busy with many projects,
so rather than develop a whole new Mega Man game,
they decided to release a compilation remake.
Sega owners would finally be
able to play Mega Man games
that were previously only available
on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Instead of being developed in-house,
the game was outsourced to Minakuchi Engineering,
the same company that worked on
many of the Game Boy Mega Man titles.
Keiji Inafune, the character artist,
remembered development being
somewhat of a disaster, stating:
Despite the hiccups, the game was completed.
On October 21, 1994,
Rockman Mega World,
also known as Mega Man: The Wily Wars,
was released in Japan.
When it came time to bring the
game over to North America, however,
plans were quickly changed.
Sega was getting ready to launch a
new service known as Sega Channel.
In a partnership with Time Warner Cable,
Sega Channel would deliver games
to the Genesis through a coaxial cable.
For $15 a month,
players could download a selection
of games, demos and cheat codes.
Sega wanted exclusive titles for this new service
and approached Capcom about
making Mega Man: The Wily Wars
a Sega Channel exclusive.
Capcom had to make a decision.
Mega Man games were still being
developed on Nintendo consoles.
The Mega Man X series had just
launched on the Super Nintendo
and was doing well.
The series up to this point was Nintendo-only,
and it made both companies a lot of money.
And once again,
Capcom wanted to maintain a
strong relationship with Nintendo.
Thus, it was decided that Mega Man: The Wily Wars
would only be available via
Sega Channel in North America.
Europe, however, would get a physical cartridge release.
Now, you might be wondering how I
have a copy of Mega Man: The Wily Wars.
Well, this is actually a reproduction cartridge,
and it’s the only way you’ll be able
to play the game in North America
without importing a Japanese or European cart.
Wily Wars seems like an odd
choice for a Sega Channel exclusive.
This is a really big game
and Sega Channel erased your downloads
every time you turned off the system.
I’d be surprised if anyone in North America
was able to fully enjoy this
game when it was released.
Which is a shame because it’s really good.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars contains
remakes of the first three Mega Man titles,
previously only available on the NES.
It also contains a new game called “Wily Tower,”
which is unlocked after beating the first three games.
Despite this being a compilation,
there is technically a story.
Ashamed by his previous defeats,
Dr. Wily travels back in time
in an attempt to change the
past and defeat Mega Man.
This gives an explanation as to why
you’re playing the first three games again.
The story isn’t important and is never
specifically mentioned in the game.
As far as remakes go,
Wily Wars is faithful to the source material.
There are some slight differences but nothing dramatic.
Graphically, it’s a nice upgrade.
Characters and levels are colorful
and given much more detail.
Some animations have improved as well.
The music has also been revamped
with that Sega Genesis sound,
and it’s well done.
The original music is considered a classic,
and these renditions sound just as good.
One welcomed addition is a save feature.
You no longer have to jot down passwords
as you progress through the game.
Wily Wars keeps track of each
boss you defeat within each game.
There’s also no longer an easy mode in Mega Man 2.
When Mega Man 2 first came out in North America,
Capcom added an easy mode fearing the game
would be too difficult for American gamers.
This option has been removed from The Wily Wars.
Many of the bugs from the
original releases have been fixed,
such as the infamous “pause-
unpause” glitch from the first game.
Enemy AI also has been slightly modified.
Overall, these are great ports of Mega Man 1, 2, and 3.
If you enjoyed the games on the NES,
you’ll love them here, too.
The best part of Wily Wars, however,
is when you beat the three
games and unlock Wily Tower.
Wily Tower contains three new robot masters to defeat,
based on characters from the
Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”
Along with all new levels and music,
Wily Tower also allows you to customize Mega Man
with powers from each of the first three games.
This is an awesome addition
and gives you a ton of different strategies to play with.
Each level also contains enemies
from the first three games.
Wily Tower feels like a cool remix of Mega Man.
It’s a nice extra on what is
already an excellent compilation.
The Wily Wars is good,
but it does have some flaws.
The biggest one has to be the
control of Mega Man himself.
It’s not as smooth as the original games,
and it can sometimes mess
with your running and jumping.
It’s kind of hard to explain,
but you’ll definitely notice a difference when you play.
Another issue is that the
game slows down tremendously
when there’s a lot of action onscreen.
It impacts the game directly,
as it can make certain sections a little easier,
almost as if you’re playing in slow motion.
Now, I would like to address one criticism.
While reading up on this game,
a lot of people kept commenting
on how slow the game was.
And not just when there’s a lot of action onscreen
but just slow overall.
Well, the reason for this is that most people
are probably playing the European release.
Without getting super technical,
European games are released
on a video format known as PAL,
while North American and Japanese
games use a format called NTSC.
If an NTSC game isn’t specifically
modified for the PAL format,
it results in a slower game–
about 16 percent slower, to be precise.
Wily Wars contained no such modifications,
so the PAL release is sluggish.
If you play the Japanese version,
or a reproduction cartridge,
this is a non-issue.
Mega Man: The Wily Wars is a fantastic game,
and it’s a shame it never got a
physical release in North America.
If it did, we’d probably consider
it a must-have Genesis title.
It’s never been rereleased and isn’t
available for download on any consoles.
The European version is expensive
and suffers from the slowdown issue.
The Japanese version is also expensive
and has region lock, so it won’t play on a
standard North American Genesis console.
It’s rare that I say this but…
I recommend picking up a reproduction cartridge.
It’s not gonna cost you nearly
as much as importing the game,
and this is seriously one of
the best games on the Genesis.
Wily Wars was the first game in the
franchise to grace Sega consoles,
but the very next year in 1995,
fans in North America would be
treated to ANOTHER Mega Man game,
this time on Sega’s handheld system, the Game Gear.
It’s simply called Mega Man,
although it’s not a remake of the original.
The game borrows elements from Mega Man 4,
Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 2.
The game was published by U.S. Gold,
a British company that sublicensed many games
from Capcom for distribution throughout Europe.
They primarily worked on
computer ports of Capcom titles,
like Street Fighter.
But after the new licensing agreement
between Capcom and Sega,
they were given the task of making a
Mega Man game for the Game Gear.
Development was contracted out
to a small studio known as Freestyle.
The interesting thing is,
Mega Man on the Game Gear
only saw a release in North America,
despite having a British publisher and developer.
So, what’s the game like?
Graphically, the game looks nice.
It’s similar to the NES games
with a few more colors.
The biggest problem, however,
is the screen size.
So small, in fact,
that the developers had to add vertical scrolling.
This presents a huge problem
when navigating through levels.
You have to battle enemies
in extremely tight quarters.
In some areas, you have
no idea what’s below you,
so you just have to take a leap of faith.
While playing, you may notice a few changes.
Mega Man can only fire two shots onscreen
instead of the usual three.
After defeating a robot master,
you’ll get their power,
but it no longer has a unique name.
For example, when you defeat Bright Man,
you get the “Bright Weapon,”
instead of its usual name, Flash Stopper.
Speaking of robot masters,
there’s only four of them instead of the usual eight.
Stone Man, Napalm Man,
Bright Man and Star Man.
Once you beat them,
you’ll play through Wave Man and Toad Man
before ultimately battling Dr. Wily.
It’s a short game,
but it’s difficult.
There are no continues
and the screen limitations ramp up the difficulty.
There’s even a hard mode
if you’re up for a serious challenge.
Despite all this, well…
It’s Mega Man on the Game Gear!
That’s pretty incredible!
My brother would have killed for a game like this,
as he was always borrowing my
Game Boy just to play Mega Man.
Critics seemed to agree.
GamePro gave the game a 3.75 out of 5, stating,
“Mega Man fans should dig this Game Gear version.”
Unfortunately, like The Wily Wars,
Mega Man on the Game Gear
has never been rereleased
and grabbing the actual
cartridge is, once again, expensive.
I’d say this title is for serious fans only.
And there you have it!
The only two Mega Man games that
were exclusive to Sega consoles.
If you’re a Mega Man fan,
I suggest picking them up.
They may be hard to come by,
but it’s a cool little piece of Mega Man’s history.
That’s all for this episode of Gaming Historian.
Thanks for watching.