This week's forgotten game pulls double duty. Not only is it technically a sports game (and therefore in keeping with this month's Destructoid Boot Camp), but it's also a Mega Man game, tying in with the franchise's 20th anniversary and, more importantly, the RetroForceGo episode devoted to it. Referred to by Chad Concelmo as "the best spinoff ever," the combination of Mega Man and soccer is not entirely unlike the pairing of grilled cheese sandwiches and ketchup; theoretically disgusting, but actually not that bad in practice.
Hit the jump, then, and read about the SNES precursor to Mario Strikers; try to imagine the logic behind a Mega Man game where the characters don't try to kill one another; explore the possibilities of forming an entire team made of nothing but Guts Man.
Oddly enough, there is one, sort of. Delivered through a cut scene at the beginning of championship mode, the plot goes as follows:
Just as a regular, human-filled soccer match is about to begin in the town of Whereverthehellmegamanisset, dozens of explosions rock the stadium. Dr. Wily's robot army, evidently lacking anything better to do and of the opinion that a soccer stadium has some sort of underestimated strategic worth, have attacked and taken over the stadium.
Back at Dr. Light's laboratory, he, Roll, and Rock (still a civilian at this point) watch the news report, horrified. Knowing that only Mega Man can stop the armored menace, the good doctor upgrades Rock into Mega Man, and evidently gives him some sort of useful soccer programming.
Then, Mega Man heads into the soccer arena and decides to defeat each of the eight evil robots in a fair soccer match instead of shooting them in the head as he would normally do. Don't ask why.
My experience with soccer both real and virtual doesn't extend beyond Mario Strikers Charged for the Wii. As such, it's difficult to replay Mega Man Soccer without drawing some inevitable comparisons.
For instance, each characters gets their own Power Shot. An intensely powerful kick different to each individual character (Mega Man shoots the ball from his Mega Buster, a bunch of skulls rotate around the ball as it shoots toward the goalie when Skull Man does it, etcetera), the player typically only gets two Power Shots per half since they're more or less impossible to defend against.
In the championship mode (which has no ending, by the way -- once you beat Dr. Wily's team at the end, you get unceremoniously kicked back to the title screen), defeating a particular enemy will allow you to populate your team with him. In other words, if you beat Cut Man, you can thereafter put Cut Man on any position on your team. It's basically the soccer equivalent of Mega Man absorbing his enemies' blaster powers and it adds a pretty nice sense of escalation to the campaign mode.
Speaking of characters, Mega Man Soccer has a lot of 'em. You can play as Mega Man, Proto Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Bomb Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Bubble Man, Flash Man, Air Man, Wood Man, Needle Man, Top Man, Snake Man, Gemini Man, Skull Man, Toad Man, Dust Man, Pharaoh Man, and Enker. That, my friends, is a hell of a cast list.
Beyond these Mega Man-esque little changes, there's not much to say about it -- it's soccer. You pass, punt, and shoot, and when you finally make a goal after three hours of athletic cockteasery, you're more or less required to shout "GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL" in a tired, quasi-racist mockery of Brazilian soccer announcers.
Granted, the actual soccer mechanics could use some work -- the slide tackle is horrendously inaccurate for everyone but the CPU -- but considering the era in which the game was released, Mega Man Soccer was a pretty solid fantasy sports game.
Why you probably aren't playing it:
If you didn't play it when it came out, or if you didn't hear from someone like Chad that the game was actually pretty good, I would not blame you for assuming Mega Man Soccer to be a stupidly horrible game. It sounds like an odd, third party cash-in not unlike Hotel Mario or Wand of Gameleon, but it ain't -- it was both published and developed by Capcom, technically making this an "official" Mega Man game. Though I wouldn't want to guess where it falls into the canon storyline.
It's not spectacular by any means, but Mega Man Soccer is the most enjoyable robot soccer game you'll probably play; it's got two-player co-op (something of a rarity in those days), a surprisingly large player roster, and motherf*cking Mega Man.
You can NOT emulate it pretty easily, though I assume you knew that.
Oh, one last bit of fun trivia: according to Wikipedia, Capcom cut a lot of stuff from the final version of Mega Man Soccer. Originally, Dr. Wily was a playable exhibition character, and the game actually had a friggin' ending. Which would have been, you know, kinda nice.
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