Mega Man Powered Up Review

Mar 13th, 2024

Mega Man Powered Up is a game that was way ahead of it's time, a victim of both the circumstances of it's platform and the state of the Mega Man franchise at the time. A loving remake of the original NES Mega Man created for both hard core fans and people who had trouble getting into the original game. It flawlessly bridges the gap between accessibility and authenticity to the original spirit in a way that alot of video game remakes simply don't.

The game's visuals are re-imagened in a cutesy 2.5D style with the new musical arrangements, complimenting them are light toned re-creations of the original NES tracks. The two main game styles are New and Old modes. Old mode faithfully re-creates the original NES stages in the new game engine retaining the origial music and even the original aspect ratio (no pause trick for the Yellow Devil though). New mode is a modern interpretation of the original game with reworked and new stages along with fully voiced cut scenes.

The story goes through the beats of the original. Dr. Wily steals Dr. Lights robots in a bid for world domination and so Light converts his helper robot Mega into Mega Man in order to stop him with his copy ability allowing him to gain the abilities of robot masters he's beaten. This is where an unfortunate localization choice is made in my opinion. Despite Rock Man being localized in the west as Mega Man, the back story in all sources (even the Ruby Spears cartoon) kept Rock as the name Mega Man had before being converted. It's not a huge deal but its a shame that the Rock and Roll pun has been erased entirely from the English side of the series.

The reimagined original stages in New mode manages to strike a fair balanced difficulty on Normal. It's more forgiving then the original but not toothless and still offers a good challenge. The easy and hard modes will make enemies easier/harder to beat and will add or have less checkpoints in each stage. The amount of options available make this one of the more accessible Mega Man titles without compromising the difficulty the series is known for. New mode also introduces two new robot masters Time Man and Oil Man which also means the weakness order has been tweaked. They fit in for the most part although Oil Man's design is a bit problematic even after being altered for North America.

Another thing New mode includes is multiple playable characters. By beating a robot master with the Mega Buster instead of their weakness you can play through them in their own campaign with their stage being taken over by an evil Mega Man. There aren't too many differences but there are specific voice lines for each character during boss encounters. Also playable are Roll and Protoman who were released as DLC characters but can still be obtained through downloading a save file. Roll includes many cute costumes and Protoman is an absolute beast who demolishes nearly everything in a single hit.

In each of the New mode stages are hidden packs that are obtained by using certain robot master abilities, these give you tools for the game's level creator. The level creation is surprisingly intuitive for it's time, even giving you the ability to share your stages with others over the internet, or atleast you could when the servers were still online.

Unfortunately despite offering so much Mega Man Powered Up sold poorly. My guess is the cutesy art style didn't really sit well with the PSP's older userbase and the over abundance of Mega Man titles released during this time period may have caused Powered Up to get burried in the shuffle, especially considering a remake of Mega Man X had just recently been released on the same platform. If Powered Up were released today it would have been a smash it, it offers so much replay value between it's multiple characters and stage creation but it just came out at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Screen caps from mobygames