Mega Man 7: An Apology

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Mega Man 7: An Apology

Post by Marilink » Thu Oct 22, 2015 4:30 pm

Apology, \ə-ˈpä-lə-jē\, noun (plural apologies). A defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.

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In a lot of ways, I feel that MM7 is kind of a black sheep of the franchise. It was under-produced and didn't sell particularly well (under a million copies sold; didn't make even the top 40 of best-sellers for SNES). I've heard a number of reasons why the game is inferior to is other Mega Man Classic brethren, but I want to convince you guys that this game is really worth giving another shot if you've already written it off. Or, you know, being an echo chamber for people who already enjoy 7. But my general impression of VGF is that 7 isn't too highly respected. (I seem to remember this being the opinion of [USER=25415]@Hell Orb[/USER] and [USER=15648]@Swordmaster Link[/USER] , but you guys can correct me if I'm wrong.)

Strikes Against MM7

Timing

MM7 was released in March of 1995, which is notable for a few reasons. First of all, this is toward the end of the SNES's lifespan. The N64 was right around the corner, so a return to the NES-style Mega Man games was not necessarily something that everyone wanted. Second of all, and probably more notably, this was between the releases of Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3. In other words, the series had already been reimagined in its darker, grittier, electric-guitarier state. MM6 was basically a distant memory at this point, if that. Without that "X" in the title, the general consumer wasn't convinced. Even Mega Man fans at the time tended to skip this game in their anticipation for X3 and future games.

The game hasn’t even been done many favors in the “retro era.” Some who skipped this game still played 8 when it came out, but were disappointed by it and never went back to 7 as a result. (Don’t let this be you! 7 is far superior to 8.) And when Capcom released MM9 and 10, they went straight back to NES-style without blinking an eye. If not for MM7’s Virtual Console release, I’d almost say the game is wholly ignored by many.

Lack of innovation

The reviewers of the time panned the game for adding nothing new. This is a little in connection with the Timing issue, since the X series added so much in terms of gameplay and design. A return to the style of classic Mega Man may not have been what the doctor ordered. And this complaint doesn’t just mean gameplay, either. The level backgrounds have been called “muted and regular,” and the aesthetic style of the game as a bit brighter may have turned people off who got used to the new style. If 7 had immediately followed 6, it may have been received a bit better...but as it stands, it ended up being reduced to “‘a nice holdover’ for fans waiting for the next game in the X series.” (GamePro review)

Sprite size

This is one of the arguments that I see pretty consistently about the design of the game. In some respect, I understand this one, but I will defend it later on in the post. The thrust of the argument is that the sprites in MM7 are too big and hinder the gameplay as a result. It’s almost as if the game is too “zoomed in,” which creates certain rooms that feel stuffy, or even rooms that have to be emptied so as to not have too much going on. Again, I can see where this one is coming from--Mega Man and Bass does a better job of having larger sprites but using the aesthetic to its advantage.

Why You Should Give MM7 A(nother) Shot

Design: Level and Character

This is one of the ways that I would counter the argument of “Lack of innovation.” In fact, I’d say that MM7’s level design was the perfect balance between X and Classic. There were some elements from X, such as shooting the generator in Junk Man’s stage with Cloud Man’s weapon to get the platforms to move, or using Turbo Man’s weapon to burn the trees in Slash Man’s stage. These environmental interactions were new to the Classic series, and 7 incorporated this from X in a way that didn’t seem like stealing or re-using and still added something to the flow of the game and its design. Shade Man’s level is probably the best example of where 7’s design can shine. Depending on which way you kill the mid-boss, you can take an upper or lower path--one of which leads to Proto Man, whose shield you can use for the rest of the level. Other MM games (most notably, 6) have used branching paths, but to have a branching path that is dependent on the way in which you beat a Mid-boss is unique. And there are more elements that I enjoy, too--Spring Man’s stage had the spring action going on, Cloud Man’s stage changed to snowy weather if you shoot that enemy with Freeze Cracker, the Intro Stage and Robot Museum...The levels in the game just do good things.

Earlier, I mentioned that one of the complaints levied against the game is that the sprites are oversized. I even admitted that I could understand why people would feel this way. However, I feel like it'd be a mistake not to mention what those larger sprites allowed the creators to do:

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Make awesomely designed Robot Masters. Not only that, but Robot Masters that varied in size and shape, another good design influence from the X series. Look at how tall Junk Man is! Check out Shade Man's wings! Spring Man's torso is literally just a spring! Cloud Man is all fat and stuff! I mean, the sprites in this game may be big, but they're beautiful. There's a reason that Bob and George used MM7 sprites for their comic for like 6 years, and why 11-year-old kids still re-skin MM7 sprites to make stuff like this. Also, this game gave us Bass. Bass is cool, yo.

Difficulty curve

One thing that you’ll notice when you boot up MM7 is that you only have access to 4 Robot Masters right away. I think that this was a cool move, and something that hadn’t been done yet. Basically, the trial-and-error process of finding out boss weaknesses was streamlined, which makes for less frustrating replays of the same levels. However, it didn’t even cut down on the amount of bosses, since the remaining four Robot Masters are revealed later (after a cool mid-dungeon, as well). So the game starts out at a reasonable difficulty with your opening 4 stages, then increases a bit with the next 4 stages, then ramps up even more with the Wily Castle, and then culminates in one of the hardest final boss sequences in any Mega Man game to date. I love the progression of the game, because it doesn’t hit you over the head with difficulty, it doesn’t have randomly super hard stages amid other super easy stages, and it doesn’t sandbag difficulty for the whole game and suddenly blindside you with ridiculous Wily levels. The game has a steady increase as you progress, and it really does feel like a progression.

Music

I love the music in MM7. I mean, it’s not exactly a controversial statement to say “Mega Man games have good music.” However, the music in MM7 is special. Compare MM6’s Tomahawk Man and MMX’s Storm Eagle. Obviously, both of these songs are great, but MM7 managed to differentiate its soundtrack from both the NES games and the X series. The NES games have all of their chiptune majesty, providing really driving rhythms and memorable melodies that pushed you through the level and had killer drum beats to keep you going. The X series music...I’m not even sure I need to say much about it, since you already know: it’s hardcore. But now listen to MM7’s Freeze Man. The song has 4 different sections, which is a lot for a classic MM tune. It has dynamic contrast (listen to that crescendoing flute at 0:38!), a variety of instruments, and honestly just doesn’t even sound like a Mega Man level theme. It’s up-tempo, but not driving. It captures the theme of the level, but does so in a more subdued way.

Of course, the game still has a lot to offer in the way of classic MM tunes, exemplified in songs like Junk Man. But is anything else in the Classic series quite so sinister as the Shade Man music, or as positively joyful as the Spring Man music? I just can’t emphasize enough how much I think MM7 did a great job of differentiating itself from both X’s hardcore music and the NES chiptunes. And if you only click on one link for this whole paragraph, make it the Wily 1 music. It’s sinister, it builds, it captures the mood, and it’s got some sick bass guitar. Actually, a lot of the soundtrack has great bass guitar. I wonder why.

Oh, Boy, It's-a Mega Man!

I must say, the Jumping and Shooting in this game is just as enjoyable as it has ever been. One of the best things about MM7 is that it continues the streak of consistent quality that had been in MM games through that point. And I don’t necessarily mean level design or music when I say this, but the game just feels really good, just like every other Mega Man game has felt great through the rest of the series. The controls are tight and responsive. Nothing feels unnatural, and you’re not surprised by anything. The whole game is simply a solidly put-together product, in keeping with the MM tradition. So why not play it?

Conclusion

Don’t sleep on this game. If you passed it up when it came out, give it a try. If you were turned off by it when it came out, for whatever reason, give it a second shot. If you liked the game and this made you want to play it again, buy it on the Wii U VC. In any case, I’ll support MM7 as one of my absolute favorites in the franchise. If I could only have one SNES Mega Man game for the rest of my life...well, OK, I’d probably choose X. But if X were excluded and I had to choose from 7, X2, X3, and hell, let’s even throw Mega Man and Bass in the running; I’d choose 7 in a heartbeat.
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Post by DarkZero » Thu Oct 22, 2015 4:40 pm

Mega Man 7 is honestly one of my favorites in the Classic series. It fused some elements of the Classic and X series and added in a lot of its own inventive features and mechanics. The soundtrack has some amazing compositions by my favorite composers, the levels were very rich with secrets and areas to explore, and there's just an astonishing amount of polish in places you wouldn't expect.
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Post by New! Tazy Ten » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:02 pm

Never had too much of an issue with MM7 outside of my attempts to ride Rush Jet across a part of Freeze Man's stage to get a secret item and getting attacked by everything in the room.

Even the final boss isn't so bad if you stock up on E-Tanks and be really careful with your movements.

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Post by X-3 » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:03 pm

I like 7 better than 8, but I still think it's pretty damn boring. It's like all of the elements of the game were tailor-made so that people would fall asleep. Kind of like how 8 was tailor-made to annoy people. I found it to be a really unremarkable game last time I played it. (more than 5 years ago, definitely been too long)

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Post by Swordmaster Link » Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:09 pm

Yeah, I'd say you're not too far off there - I certainly don't dislike the game but for me, it definitely didn't give me that same feel as when I played most of the other entries in the series (except for 6...that was really meh, and thankfully 8 is the only entry I've never played). I respect your thoughts on this though, I definitely remember talking about this with you a long time back.

The biggest thing I'd agree with is the level design; that's definitely this game's strong suit and I would put it on the higher end as far as the classic games go. (And yeah, I'd say I gained an appreciation for that on my 2nd playthrough of the game, so you're right on giving the game a shot, definitely.) It's a game that encourages exploration and trying different things, which is never a bad thing.

For me, what jumped out right away was the difficulty - I don't necessarily agree that there was a consistently graded difficulty...yes, I'll give you the fact that the last boss sequence was awesome/hellishly difficulty the first time I played it, but the lead-up to that felt too easy, too straightforward (the level design bit makes up for this to a certain extent, but meh). Really, unless this game was the first Mega Man game you played this felt like a cakewalk (whether you grew up with the classic games like I did, or started with the X series...either way it felt like hand-holding). And, this is more of a personal preference, but I think the shop bit was totally unnecessary except for possibly the final boss where you might've needed some extra help. But hey, I'm old school so I don't like the crutches generally. I can't gripe about that too much because otherwise I'd have to hate 90% of the games that come out today.

As for the controls, it's been awhile since I've played this game so I can't speak to whether I agree with them being as tight as they always were (I lean towards agreement here btw) BUT everything just felt slower. I don't know if that's because of the sprite size or what, but I just never felt on my toes as much as I did with the other games because everything seemed just a half step slower. For me, the pros of level design and aesthetics couldn't outweigh that. Again, that final Wily fight makes up for some of this, but meh. Ultimately this game has the unfortunate task of stacking up to other entries in a series that has produced consistent quality titles. Like, I remember playing Cloud Man's stage and thinking "Meh, I like Air Man's stage more". Shade Man is pretty sick though.

All in all, I still think MM7 is a good game, and you laid out a lot of good points - ironically, I've played it more frequently than X3 which I didn't particularly care for at all - but when I think to myself "Man I should replay some MM games", this one is low on the list. And when I do think about it, I'd rather play MM&B instead.

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Post by LOOT » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:06 pm

Charged shot only does twice damage

0/10 no ethics

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Post by е и ժ е я » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:48 pm

I actually really dislike the sound design in the game. The music and sound effects feel wrong and lack the series' punchy identity. The weapon balancing is fairly weak and overall it suffers from the usual late-series once-off style design where the majority of the abilities aren't really meant to be used but in a few circumstance. Generally speaking, it feels like a fan game. It's still got enjoyable traits, but it's not really in the top tier of SNES games at all. The next Mega Man game was Mega Man X, its gameplay and sound design are fast and have punch. They tried to take all the edge out of MM7 to differentiate between the two series and really tripped over that.[DOUBLEPOST=1445557725,1445557512][/DOUBLEPOST][QUOTE="Philip M'Linkthon, post: 1568614, member: 23215"]
Difficulty curve

One thing that you’ll notice when you boot up MM7 is that you only have access to 4 Robot Masters right away. I think that this was a cool move, and something that hadn’t been done yet. Basically, the trial-and-error process of finding out boss weaknesses was streamlined, which makes for less frustrating replays of the same levels. However, it didn’t even cut down on the amount of bosses, since the remaining four Robot Masters are revealed later (after a cool mid-dungeon, as well). So the game starts out at a reasonable difficulty with your opening 4 stages, then increases a bit with the next 4 stages, then ramps up even more with the Wily Castle, and then culminates in one of the hardest final boss sequences in any Mega Man game to date. I love the progression of the game, because it doesn’t hit you over the head with difficulty, it doesn’t have randomly super hard stages amid other super easy stages, and it doesn’t sandbag difficulty for the whole game and suddenly blindside you with ridiculous Wily levels. The game has a steady increase as you progress, and it really does feel like a progression.
[/QUOTE]
I really prefer having the whole range of bosses available to choose on a whim, got to say. I can beat most Mega Man stages from whichever boss I choose to battle first, so not having that option is just irksome. This aspect in particular reads more like over production on an otherwise fundamentally successful formula.

Also, they'd done this with Mega Man games on the gameboy, it wasn't actually anything new.
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Post by Swordmaster Link » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:52 pm

^ Oh yeah, forgot about those. I only played 4, I think. The one with Ballade.

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Post by е и ժ е я » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:51 pm

I notice that I didn't say anything good about the game above, and just want you to know ML that I still like the game but it kind of only out-ranks Mega Man 8 in the series as I'm concerned. It does feel a bit like a natural decline though due to the devs enhancing elements of the series without understanding its popularity, rather than a clear mismanagement. It's still a fairly complete and fun game. Just a disappointingly par entry for a really amazingly good series IMO.
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Post by Deku Tree » Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:37 pm

I played through all the games in a row on the GameCube collector's disc. I think I particularly disliked 4, 6, and thought 8 was kinda lame. Or maybe 6 was just too easy. Don't strongly remember 7.

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:31 am

Mega Man 7 is my favorite numbered game in the Classic series. It's awesome and I can't imagine it not being considered nearly perfect.

7>10>6>5>4>3>2>8>9>1.

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:31 pm

By the way, on the topic of this series, I just played through Mega Man 8's Wily Fortress Stage 1 and it is the hardest, most unfair level in any of the games. F*** this.

Like, seriously. The level itself requires nanosecond execution and pixel perfect precision. Without using that difficult ball jump trick it's nearly impossible.

Then there's that boss...no matter where I stand the ball doesn't go consistently go up the correct area to hit the him, and I just can't get the positions right.

This is the worst Mega Man ever and I'm considering dropping it in my list. Take that, Capcom.

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Post by X-3 » Sun Oct 25, 2015 4:36 pm

J U M P J U M P S L I D E B O Y Z

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Post by е и ժ е я » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:12 am

[QUOTE="I REALLY HATE PUMPKINS!, post: 1569120, member: 18119"]By the way, on the topic of this series, I just played through Mega Man 8's Wily Fortress Stage 1 and it is the hardest, most unfair level in any of the games. F*** this.

Like, seriously. The level itself requires nanosecond execution and pixel perfect precision. Without using that difficult ball jump trick it's nearly impossible.

Then there's that boss...no matter where I stand the ball doesn't go consistently go up the correct area to hit the him, and I just can't get the positions right.

This is the worst Mega Man ever and I'm considering dropping it in my list. Take that, Capcom.[/QUOTE]
MM8 is really awful. I somehow doubt much of the original team worked on it.
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Post by New! Tazy Ten » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:34 am

Oh god, MM8. I feel like there was a moment in every stage that was awful. Or maybe it was the two slide sections that ruined an ok platforming game.

But at least I got the Dr. Wily Prize! Hahahahahahahahahaha- :wail:

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Post by DarkZero » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:41 am

MM8 had a lot of things about it that I liked but I just never found it as fun as any other Classic game.

MM&B improved upon most of those things anyway.
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Post by Marilink » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:09 am

MM8 is just OK. It's an obvious dip in quality that isn't consistent with the rest of the series.

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Post by ScottyMcGee » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:36 pm

Hey I liked Mega Man 7!

I remember breezing through all 7 during college in my Mega Man Anniversary Collection.

Then I started 8 and promptly shouted, "What is this ****?" And turned off the Gamecube.
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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:36 pm

Mega Man 8 is bad compared to most of the rest of the series but I still think even the worst Mega Man games are "good" games in general.

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Post by X-3 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:52 pm

I dunno about that. To this day, I know of only one person that liked X7.

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