Mega Man 7 is kind of a weird title. It was released a year and a half after Mega Man X. The game seems to be aware of Mega Man X’s existence, but borrows most of its inspiration from the original six Mega Man games. That said, the game takes a huge visual departure from the other games in the main numbered series, and the visual jump makes the gameplay feel different from that of its predecessors. Most of the levels in Mega Man 7 are perfectly reasonable and enjoyable, except in the boss fights, where the difficulty level ramps way too high. Expect to spend hours just trying to take a boss’s health all the way down. Overly difficult boss fights are what make MM7 hard to recommend.
Once again, this game was released after Mega Man X, a pivotal and very influential game for the series. That said, this feels like an MMX game in terms of visuals, but the move-set is limited to the sorts of moves you would have in the original six games. Instead of running from one level to the next, there is a stage select screen, just like in the first six games. Mega Man can run, jump, slide, and shoot a regular shot or a charged shot. Just as in the original six games, boss fights are where additional power-ups can be acquired. On paper, the way the game is structured is nearly identical to the first six games. But because Mega Man’s sprite is so huge (as are enemy sprites), the game has a very different feel to it.
Once you reach the boss fights, you will notice a massive change in the difficulty level. This is the biggest downside to Mega Man 7. I was live-streaming this game on Twitch, and some of my Twitch streams were over an hour of me against literally just one boss. Once you reach the Dr. Wily stages, the boss difficulty seems to double. My best advice? If you’re emulating this game (which I wasn’t), plug in something like an infinite health Game Genie cheat. You’ll save yourself hours of frustration. I understand there is a community of truly elite Mega Man players out there who can get through this stuff no sweat. But I am not among those elite.
Let’s talk about the look of this game. The game really goes for large sprites and colorful levels… the sort of graphics that made SNES and Genesis games so charming. Unfortunately, in revising the graphics, the developers lost the feel of the classic Mega Man games. It’s funny how with Mega Man 9 and 10, they emulated (in the literary sense of the word) the look and feel of the classic games with slavish devotion to detail. And then with the 11th title, they went back to “anything goes” visually. I guess the series had a bit of a personality crisis. The music in 7 is above average–although the powerful SPC700 sound chip in the SNES makes this game sound light and breezy compared to the intricate jams on limited hardware in the first six games.
All told, Mega Man 7 remains faithful to the first six games in terms of mechanics, but feels so different from those titles due to the massive visual (and audio) departure. It’s a fairly short game if you don’t find the boss fights too challenging. If the boss fights are a struggle for you (as they were for me) expect to spend too many hours in the same part of the game, especially toward the end. If the boss fights were more reasonable, I’d be willing to give this game a good score. Maybe it would deserve a four out of five then. But because of the balancing issues, I have to go lower. If you’re going to play a SNES Mega Man, try Mega Man X.