Megaman: Dr. Wily’s Revenge Review (GB)
Enter Megaman’s World and save it from Wily’s Revenge
By the early 1990s, the Nintendo Entertainment System was beginning to decline while the popularity of the Gameboy was on the raise. Many developers were quick to port over their NES properties to the new handheld as in many cases, assets could be reused and new games could be developed on the cheap.
Capcom, famous (or notorious, depending on your position) for reusing assets already on the NES, jumped onto the Gameboy with the first Megaman game being little more than a handheld version of the NES Megaman 1. They were able to excite gamers at the time with promises that this new version would include many elements from the much beloved Megaman 2 and even though somethings would be familiar, the game would offer a new experience.
So all these years later, let’s see how much truth was behind that statement.
No story. What, were you expecting Shakespeare?
Dr. Wily’s Revenge is rather impressive on the Gameboy, reusing the same large and detailed sprites used in the NES versions of Megaman 1 and 2. Even in grayscale, the Rockman 1 graphics engine still manages to impress and many of the new sprites fit in nicely and are fun to spot for long time fans of the series. Effects look good and there’s a fair bit of detail in the stages, especially compared to other Gameboy games of its age.
On a technical side, the game suffers from a lot of flicker, but not much slowdown. This is probably the weakest graphically of the five Gameboy games, but understandably so as it was indeed the first effort.
There’s an unwritten law that all Megaman games must have amazing music, and Wily’s Revenge is no exception. The game features stereo remixes of many of the best tunes from Megaman 1 (NES) and offers a good number of terrific new chiptunes as well.
Among the more memorable original tracks was the theme used for the first Dr. Wily Castle level. The theme would many many years later be reused for Enker’s theme in Megaman 10 for current gen systems. The original version is simpler but there are yet some remixes of the orginal as well. Here’s one of the better Wily remixes from Wily’s Revenge.
Megaman: Dr. Wily’s revenge is a repackaged game featuring new levels for bosses from the NES Megaman 1 and 2. That means all the run and gun action from the pioneering Megaman games can be found here. The best way to think of the first four Megaman games on Gameboy is to think of them as “Remixes” or “What ifs” since they allow players to use weapons from one game on bosses from another. Kinda a neat concept.
The game plays exactly as the NES games do with is a very good thing. It just feels like a Megaman game, especially since it retreads Megaman 1 so much. Once again, Megaman has to trash Cutman, Fireman, Elecman, and Iceman. After that, he goes after Flashman, Bubbleman, Heatman, and Quickman. The formula is the same: face one boss and defeat them to gain their power. Use that robot’s power on the next one and continue until all that’s left between you and the credits is Wily’s Fortress.
Although the bosses are recycled, the levels themselves are brand new and offer some unique challenges, but I have to point out there’s not as many levels as you might expect. After you defeat the Megaman 1 boss set you then fight four from Megaman 2, but these are only just boss fights – they don’t have any stages. This means there are basically only five levels in the whole game. This was probably due to storage capacity restrictions of early Gameboy games, but its still rather jarring. Luckily, this was the only game to pull this out of the Gameboy Megaman line.
Despite being a rehash, starting here with Dr. Wily’s Revenge the Gameboy games set themselves apart by offering players a new boss never before featured in any other game. In this game’s case the boss is Enker, who uses a weapon called the Mirror Buster which absorbs weapon fire and reflects it back with twice the force. Cooler still, once you beat Enker you gain his power as well, allowing you to use the Mirror Buster on Wily.
It should also be noted that Dr. Wily’s Revenge adds a password feature not found in the original NES Megaman 1, but given the game’s sort length I never used it and found it to be completely redundant.
Thankfully, Megaman: Dr. Wily’s Revenge controls precisely like the NES games. You won’t have any problem.
Select: No Function
Megaman Dr. Wily’s Revenge manages to convert the Megaman experience down to the Gameboy’s more limited screensize quite well by completely redesigning levels rather than just porting over the same level designs used in the NES games, eliminating blind jumps that were constantly a problem in Gameboy platformers.
However, it should be noted that this game takes much more after Megaman 1 than it does Megaman 2. This means there are no Energy Tanks, some enemies are brutally tough without the right weapon and the game is shorter than all others to follow. One could even argue that in some ways, its harder than Megaman 1. Yikes.
Availability & Price
Of all the Gameboy Megaman games, this one should be the easiest to find and the cheapest. Don’t pay more than $10 for it. I’ve seen it for as low as $4. Check your local used game stores first, but ebay is always a good alternative if you just can’t find it. The game was popular enough to be re-released as the Player’s Choice series as well, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding the first GameBoy Megaman.
Megaman: Dr. Wily’s Revenge was known in Japan as Rockman World. The sequels were simply called Rockman World 2, World 3, World 4 and World 5 to help tell them apart from the Famicom games which simply numbered them. Defying sense though, the North American versions change in the naming of the GB games to roman numerals exactly as the NES games used, which made telling the NES from GB versions apart by name impossible, an idiotic move in my opinion.
Rockman World 1 was made to cash in on the popularily of the Megaman series as by then Megaman 2 and 3 were selling outrageous numbers and even moving on to the Gameboy Capcom played it safe offering the same experience as the console versions.
In 2004 a colorized port of Dr. Wily’s Revenge along with the other four Gameboy Megaman games was in the works for a Gameboy Advance compilation called Megaman Mania. The project was delayed and delayed until it was finally canceled when it came to light that Capcom had lost the original game’s source codes making the project too difficult to finish. This was a game I was really looking forward to and was utterly crushed when I found out it was canceled. I hope that someday it might become a reality but for now we can only dream of what could have been.
Here’s an original ad that appeared in gaming mags in the early 90s. Capcom ads were kind of terrible.
- It’s Megaman on the go!
- Some excellent chiptunes in stereo
- Doesn’t suffer from the typical blind jumps a lot of gameboy platformers do
- Password system
- The level design leaves a lot to be desired. Most areas are quite boring to travel through with very little of the magic from the NES versions intact.
- The game is arguably harder than the original NES games they’re based off
- The second half of the game seems compressed; the second set of Robot Masters don’t even have their own stages!
As a Megaman purist, it pains me to see how sloppy the first effort was on the Gameboy. It’s by no means a bad game, but it just doesn’t compare to any of the other games. Still, its clear with the games to follow that Capcom would learn valuable lessons and continue to improve each game as the series continued on the Gameboy. Only recommended for collectors and hardcore Megaman nuts.
Platform: Original Gameboy
Genre: Action Platformer
Release Date: December 1991
Also from the developer: Megaman 1, Bionic Commando, Darkwing Duck, etc
Game Length: ~50 minutes