Even to this day, a part of me can’t believe this game ever actually happened. Known as Rockman & Forte, Capcom released it on April 24, 1998, well after the SNES was essentially dead. I guess there was a big enough Japanese market still for them to do this. Whatever the case may be, I’m damn glad they did. Because it’s one hell of a Mega Man entry, and a nice bow on the original series.
The original Japanese version is perfectly playable, but there is a bit of Japanese dialogue. Especially for the item shop and the character bios, it sure helps to be able to read it. Crazed and dedicated fans felt the same way as they worked on an English translation. As a result of that, we have been graced by Mega Man & Bass.
Bass and Treble made their series debut in Mega Man 7. Treble is a wolf and is basically to Bass as Rush is to Mega Man. But for those who don’t want to backtrack to the Mega Man 7 review, here is a quick summary…
Prophetic words indeed from the Blue Bomber. The duo did get their own game and surprisingly it was on the Super Famicom (April 1998). After releasing Mega Man 8 for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn in December of 1996, Capcom wanted to create a new Mega Man game specifically for loyal SNES fans who hadn’t yet made the jump to 32-bit. Further proof that Capcom was the best back in the ’90s.
MEET THE GOOD GUYS
SAY HELLO TO THE BAD GUY(S)
MEGA MAN OR BASS?
Players get the choice to play as either the good old Blue Bomber or the relative newcomer, Bass. Similar to Zero from Mega Man X³, this adds greater longevity to the game as both characters play vastly different. It’s also a blast trying to beat the game with both Mega Man and Bass.
Differences range from small to big. Cosmetically, it’s cool to see the health refills and what not are in the character’s respective color. It’s a nice little touch that I appreciate, even if it’s completely minor.
However, Mega Man as you know has his classic shot. He can only shoot straight ahead. Bass, on the other hand, can shoot in all directions except for straight down. If you’ve ever played a Mega Man game and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish he could shoot up or diagonally…” then you will appreciate Mega Man & Bass. Or at least, Bass anyhow. To compensate for Bass’ shooting ability, he can’t move while he’s shooting (bummer) and his shot isn’t very strong.
Another difference: their personality and disposition. Mega Man is more compassionate and an all-around goody two shoes.
Meanwhile, Bass is a bit more “robotic” [har har -Ed.] and edgy. Hey, he is technically a bad guy. He’s only teaming up on the “good side” temporarily to knock off King.
Checking in with Bass later — for now let’s use good ol’ Megs.
There’s something strange happening at the Robot Museum. Mega Man sets off to figure out what’s going on. I like how the READY sign is big and blue — it reminds me of Mega Man 8.
Museum serves as the standard Mega Man introductory first level you must beat before getting to select from the robot masters. Right away you can see while it’s no Mega Man 8 in terms of visuals (duh), it’s damn impressive for a 16-bit console.
WHEW!! With the whipping rain and wind pushing against you, you manage to barely clear the jump. Make sure you jump at the very edge there.
Proto Man attempts to slay KING — the game’s big bad — but to no avail. OUCH!
Remember the Green Devil from Mega Man 8? He’s back. It’s a different version of the Yellow Devil which appeared in the very first Mega Man title back in 1987.
Reminds me of the bubble boss from Gradius III in that you have to blast away until you expose its core.
Simple, satisfying introductory boss battle that will wet your appetite for the main game coming up. By the way, isn’t it the best feeling in the world to beat a boss with only a health bar or two remaining? Always provides a nice little rush!
WHOA, IT SAVES?!? Yes, it does. It’s the first and only Super Nintendo Mega Man game that uses a save system over passwords.
Purists were a little disappointed when they found out in Mega Man 7 you could only select from four robot masters first instead of all eight. You only get a paltry three here. Once you beat those three, the other five open up. Let’s pay Cold Man a visit first.
Gotta love the animation of Mega Man as he’s zapped magically to the beginning of a stage. It somehow reminds me a bit of Astro Boy. See that CD over there? Throughout the game you’ll find CD’s lying around. Collecting them gives you a character bio card. It’s fun to collect and read (at least if you’re playing a fan translation or if you can read Japanese). Right now you can’t collect that CD since that ice block is, er, blocking your path. But maybe if you beat Burner Man a bit later on and use his Web Burner… hmmm…
Other CD’s are more instantly accessible. They’re not necessary to collect but of course it’s fun to try and collect all 100.
Beginning to look a lot like Christmas [TOYS IN EVERY STORE -Ed.]. No, I mean it’s almost December. That and this gigantic snowman mid boss [Oh, ahem, I knew that… -Ed.]
Slightly tricky bit where you have to time your jump correctly to catch a ride.
Cakewalk city with Cold Man. Jump over his Ice Wall and blast him with your Mega Buster.
Beware of his Sub Zero-esque ice puddle attack, however. He also sends forth an annoying cloud that can really bog you down and leave you ripe for the taking. Best to shoot it down early to avoid that possibility altogether.
Ahhh, what’s better than getting the last shot in and seeing the boss explode with that sweet visual and sound effect? It never gets old, I tells ya!
Speaking of never getting old, I also like seeing how Mega Man earns the boss’ weapon. Just sit back and enjoy.
Alright, we got Ice Wall! But, um, what does it do, exactly?
WHOA!! This game actually gives you a demo preview of each new weapon you steal! Why Capcom didn’t think of this a long time ago remains a mystery.
Ground Man, huh? To Capcom’s defense, after NINE titles you would be running out of ideas too [Oh yeah watch this! Er, um, Cup Man! Hmm, OK, I’ll cut Capcom some slack -Ed.]
There’s a ton of sand everywhere here. You’ll be wondering if there’s an instant death pit or a helpful item hiding in the sand. Find out for yourself…
Creepy robotic worms fall from a pod located up top. Meanwhile, don’t stand still for too long as you’ll sink to your death.
You’ll quickly discover you can’t kill it. So hold onto that ladder there and wait for it to pass by. The ladder doesn’t take you to a new screen. It’s just there for you to safely wait it out. Well isn’t that thoughtful of Ground Man? Helping out the good guys. Just don’t let King know about this…
Better high tail it as the nasty critter quickly reappears. Whew, just barely slid home safe here, eh?
MAJOR FAIL on the first pic there. You can’t run back to a previous screen so get ready to eat some damage. Second pic, the race is on! Who will get to the ladder first? Oh the tension…
Although not the same creature (it would be cool if it was), it’s definitely related. Tough mid boss. Its pattern is somewhat erratic so it’s a bit of a pain to deal with. Close call there, Mega Man!
OUCH. I bet that stings like a you know what. Look at the attention to detail. When your health is low, Mega Man is visibly injured. Nice, Capcom. Nice.
Watch out for its little babies. You can only kill them with the Mega Buster since they’re so small. Gotta love the classic flashing.
SAFE!! Silky smooth, that Mega Man.
Shots sail harmlessly off Sniper Joe’s shield. I’ve always liked the detail of the shots flying backwards. Sniper Joe likes to launch grenades. Give him a taste of your Mega Buster to put him down for the count.
Puzzle time! Each pillar destroyed causes the spikes to fall one more notch. It starts out simple but…
Doesn’t take long before it gets a tad trickier. Sorry about that, Mega Man.
ProTip: Not all treasure chests are helpful. A little RPG-esque here, eh? By the way, see that match there? See what happens when you revisit this level later on with the Web Burner in tow…
Speaking of boss weapons, here’s Mega Man riding the Ice Wall to victory. Sick.
Astro Man, no relation to Astro Guy from King of the Monsters, is next. If he looks familiar to you it’s because he was a boss from Mega Man 8.
Cursory glance and I might believe you if you told me this were a PlayStation or Saturn Mega Man title. It speaks volumes about how gorgeous this game looks and how silky smooth it is.
Meggers giving it the old college try.
Bonjour, Joe. That CD taunts you but after you get your hands on Burner Man’s Web Burner, you’ll be the one who gets the last laugh.
Strange birds and creatures fly out of that inter-dimensional portal screen. Part of me almost expects to see Shredder and Krang!
Interesting bit: study the light pattern and repeat it. If done so correctly, the door magically opens. If not, well, you can figure out what those guns might do…
Tricky bit with the elevating platforms. Keep moving along, Megs!
D’OH!! OK, let’s switch over to Bass now.
Firing off rapid plasma shots for a little “purple rain” action.
Double jump like a ninja. Bass can’t slide, but this is decent compensation.
Shooting diagonally in a Mega Man game? I’m so there.
Reminiscent of Mega Man X, Bass can also dash. It’s fun playing this on a cold rainy December night.
Green Devil is definitely an easier boss when using Mega Man. C’mon Bass!
“THIS IS SPARTA!” Bass battles Green Devil to the very bitter end.
SHOP ‘TIL YA DROP
Remember Auto from Mega Man 7? He’s back. He’s sometimes known as Rightot. Whatever you want to call him, call him helpful. He runs this shop where he creates useful items in exchange of bolts (the game’s currency). Throughout the levels you will find small and big bolts. Collect them to buy power-ups. There are lots of items; they range from extra lives to auto charge (!) on the Mega Buster shot. Selecting the right power-up for the right stage is all part of the strategy.
GOTTA COLLECT THEM ALL!
Throughout the game there are a total of 100 CD’s strewn about the stages waiting to be collected. These open up character bios. This is where playing an English translation pays off. I mean, it’s nothing fancy but it’s certainly fun to be able to read the silly little text. It’s a nice piece of Mega Man history, you know?
Character bios span the entire previous Mega Man universe. Knight Man from Mega Man 6, Freeze Man from Mega Man 7, Frost Man from Mega Man 8, and yes even Saturn from Game Boy Mega Man V! Impressive. True diehards will definitely make it a point to collect all 100. By the way, Saturn hates video games? BOO!
I remember when I first found out about Rockman & Forte being a real thing. It was during the mid 2000s and I was thinking, “Seriously? Capcom released this great looking Mega Man game on the Super Famicom in 19-freaking-98?!” That they did. Whatever the reasons were, I’m damn glad they did. It’s easily the Super Nintendo’s second best Mega Man game, only trailing the epochal Mega Man X. Being able to use Bass, with his double jumping and diagonal shooting, brings a whole new dimension to the table. The items present a bevy of strategies one could take and the game presents a fairly decent challenge. The 100 CD’s are fun to collect and read — it’s basically a little Mega Man compendium. Oh and perhaps best of all, you can now save. What a fantastic swan song for the Super Nintendo from the fine folks at Capcom. If it weren’t for 1999’s Sutte Hakkun, I’d say this is easily the last great Super Nintendo game ever crafted.
Stunning visuals, classic Capcom audio and vintage Mega Man gameplay cements Rockman & Forte (or Mega Man & Bass) as one of the best Super Famicom games to never appear in North America. Thank you Capcom for giving us loyal SNES fans one last bang. Capcom’s SNES swan song turns out to be one of the Blue Bomber’s finest 16-bit outings.