The year 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of two legendary franchises: Mega Man and Street Fighter. People have assumed that Capcom, curators of both beloved franchises, left Mega Man in the dark for a long while for no apparent reason, while Street Fighter cruised on its popularity. While that’s debatable, it’s clear that we’ve been lacking in the Mega Man department for a long while. Capcom has heard these pleas and brought in some huge Mega Man fans to make one of the biggest and best surprises of 2012, Street Fighter X Mega Man, for the low, low cost of absolutely free…the catch being that it’s only on PC. Does this bizarrely awesome crossover respect both beloved franchises? The answer is a somewhat clear “yes.”
Street Fighter X Mega Man, announced earlier this month, is a Mega Man title in major components, but it lacks in a few departments. Mega Man, the blue bomber himself, takes down eight bosses before reaching an impossible final level, just like he’s been doing for 25 years. The twist is that instead of the usual Robot Masters, you’ll be facing the Street Fighters. This isn’t a simple cut and paste from previous Mega Man titles, though. Street Fighter X Mega Man takes many cues from the Street Fighter games. Bosses like Chun-Li, Ryu, and Dhalsim use legitimate move sets from their Street Fighter counterparts, and you can implement small Street Fighter techniques to defeat them.
Being a Mega Man title, the game is difficult. I’d say Street Fighter X Mega Man is easier than Mega Man 9, but harder than Mega Man 2 or 3. None of the stages are ball-shatteringly difficult like Mega Man 9‘s stages were, but if you’re new to the Mega Man series, it’ll give you a rough time. Some “mega” men have been able to beat the game in under an hour, but at that point it’s just insanity. If you think that’s too short, consider that people have beaten Mega Man 2 in half an hour, so that shouldn’t deter you. Being on PC, you’re tethered to the WASD directional pad setup, which works alright, but it’s not perfect. There’s an option for the use of a wired Xbox 360 controller, but I honestly had a better handle on it with a keyboard.
As much fun as Street Fighter X Mega Man is on the surface level, the title is not without its fair share of issues. There seems to be a lack of polish or “soul” to the overall package. This obviously can be attributed to the fact that the game was endorsed by Capcom so late in the game that all they could really do was slap on their seal of approval and promote the living hell out of it. Given more time in the oven, it could have had that little something special to make it the Mega Man game to end all Mega Man games. However, if they did that, then the game wouldn’t be in tandem with Mega Man‘s 25th anniversary, now would it?
There lies one of the biggest bullet points about Street Fighter X Mega Man: it’s a proper Mega Man title in many ways, but isn’t in others. No, it isn’t Albert Wily and his robot goons, but the level design, music, and aesthetic are classic examples of Mega Man. This doesn’t have the Inafune (series creator) touch that makes Mega Man titles what they are, but the head of this operation, uber-fan Seow Zong Hu certainly knows how to get it as close as possible. Being a fan project, it’s hard to tell what direction Capcom would have taken the title if they helmed it from the beginning. As it stands, what we’re getting is more than a fan’s knockoff, and for the price of absolutely free, you won’t get more bang for your nonexistent buck anywhere else. Street Fighter X Mega Man is a great deal, but a game is more than its price and platform of choice.
It’s unfortunate that we can’t see Street Fighter X Mega Man on other platforms, but it’s pretty simple why that’s the case. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo aren’t too keen on releasing free content on their designated platforms because they see it as lost profits. The PC market thrives on free content, utilizing concepts like word of mouth to push the product further. Street Fighter X Mega Man is rumored to go on other free-based platforms like Macs and mobile phones, but don’t expect to be earning trophies for the game on your PlayStation Vita. My educated guess is that Street Fighter X Mega Man is testing the waters. Capcom wants to see if gamers still love the Mega Man brand, so releasing a free Mega Man title to the biggest market seems genius. Let’s just hope the waters bite.
Despite the various shortcomings, this game is a must for any fan of Mega Man. It’s also a great entry point for anyone looking to dive into the series due to the nonexistent price, and the similarity to the iconic titles of past. And while Street Fighter X Mega Man can’t get away with being a true blue Mega Man title, rest assured that Capcom delivered a salute to the blue bomber in one of the most surprisingly awesome ways we’ve ever seen. Hopefully Capcom continues the Mega Man name, and Street Fighter X Mega Man will hopefully serve as the harbinger of the future of Mega Man.