Metagal is one of these Mega Man inspired games that catch your attention just for that. A lot of us like those retro looking games that remind us of fun times as a kid. As for Metroidvania, this is a genre i can hardly stay away from : 2D side-scrolling shooter. It’s one of the old genres i still love to this day, and i give a try to a lot of those nice looking indie games. The Mega Man feel is just an added nostalgia bonus. Time for a fun platforming trip !
It starts out with a prologue cutscene playing out and admitting it right of the bat : this game will be heavily inspired from the Mega Man series, to a point that could come across as a copy. In about 5 minutes, we learn about the antagonist, who makes use of robots for military and world domination purposes, the “gals”, who basically are the heroin’s sisters and soon to become stage bosses in robot suit versions, and the creator of the gals, who is a good natured scientist working for peace but happens to create the most powerful combat robots in his free time out in the wilds… Can’t help but think of dr Wily and dr Light right? That’s probably what they were going for. Then Mega M… I mean Metagal comes back from picking up mushrooms in the forest and discovers everybody is gone but thankfully a Hologram of dr Li… um Dr Ray explains the situation to her and releases her abilities through some device so she can come and rescue everyone. Well, time to shoot some robots for peace and justice !
This kind of opening cutscene where everybody gets kidnapped by the bad guy reminds me so much of old arcade games. Simple and efficient.
After a short tutorial, we come to the main screen of the game where, like for Mega Man games, we get to choose the stage we want with one of the bosses shown for each. All of them have an ability we can learn from them so the order in which we choose to beat them can make stages easier or harder. It’s also important to note that there are some optional areas or bonuses to find and those require specific abilities such as jumping higher or air dashing, so replaying them lets you find more stuff if you didn’t have the required powers the first time around. Finally, true to the Mega Man tradition, a new set of stages appear once you have beaten all the basic ones and gotten all different powers. This is the equivalent of wily’s fortress.
SIMPLE AND FUN
Now to the heart of the game : gameplay. I have to say i’m always a bit worried about that part when it comes to retro looking games, as some do it right and some just miss the mark. And this game was a really pleasant surprise : the gameplay is nice and smooth, pretty simple (much more than a classic Mega Man game) and quick to get used to. Again, it’s pretty much the same as a Mega Man game as you have a button to shoot, one to jump, and one to dash. Dashing can also be done by tapping a direction twice quickly, which i tend to prefer, and can be used to perform long jumps to get across some gaps. You can also cycle through acquired powers to use them quickly. Speaking of powers, these are much easier to use here as the power energy bar recovers over time unlike classic Mega Man games where you need to pick up recharge items to recover them. All of this makes gameplay fairly simple and quick to master so you can focus on playing the game instantly, which is always one of the appealing features of such games to me, as you don’t have to go through long tutorials just to know how to move around. While i enjoy much more complicated games, it’s always a welcome change of pace to play games like these where you just pick it up and play.
NOT JUST A MEGA MAN CLONE
I know i’ve been saying this a lot already, but it’s a fact that this game was built with the Mega Man franchise blueprint. It plays the same, looks similar and even characters are not very different to say the least : Metagal is a girl version of Mega Man, dr Ray is the equivalent of dr Light (Ray, Light… Even names are close enough). While all of this is most likely intentional to appeal to Mega Man fans, the atmosphere of the game is pretty different in my opinion. There is a lot of humor in the dialogues where the game makes fun of itself such as how dr Ray doesn’t like war yet makes combat oriented mech, or how Metagal complains about her combat outfit showing off too much skin. Also, most of the bosses here are not just random creations that you don’t care about destroying but Metagal’s sisters made to fight against their will and you’re here to save them, not wreck them (even if gameplay wise that’s still what you’re gonna do).
Not Difficult, But…
This game is clearly not very difficult, especially since the gear mechanic is there. Those allow you to use the “rebirth” feature when you die and start from the beginning of the area you died in, instead of going all the way back to the last checkpoint. Those gears are pretty easy to find and collect (they are even dropped randomly from enemies), and you can even recollect them when you die, giving you an almost infinite supply of retries. They can also be used to recover life, giving you the edge you need to finish a boss or reach a checkpoint for instance.
That being said, there are quite a few die and retry sections in the game that will get you killed the first time if you don’t pay enough attention, and reaching some of the bonus items and areas can get a bit dangerous, bringing enough difficulty to the table to keep you on your toes, but nothing rage inducing.
Our heroin ! She sure looks and plays like Mega Man but she’s got a personality of her own. She feels like a normal teenage girl discovering she has super powers and only her can save the day.
The game’s genius scientist who created all this tech and the “Gals”. A peace loving man who spends his days with Meta and her sisters but somehow can’t help creating tech that can destroy the world. Go figure.
One of Meta’s sisters who got abducted by General Creeper and made to fight for him. She’s got great defensive skills that reflects your attacks when not timed right. Hold that fire.
The second sister is literally on fire ! She’s quick and leaves flames in her trail while dashing. She leaves quite an opening in her attack pattern though <hint hint>.
The third sister is like a small military platoon with an arsenal of mines and grenades and can also turn into a tank ! Pretty tough to approach.
The forth sister looks like a clumsy helpless little girl but she’s the worst for me. Her warping skills make her an annoying foe until you get the hang of her patterns.
The cool rebellious sister of the happy cyborg family. Unlike the others, she enjoys fighting and using her abilities, making her the best ally of General Creeper and a proper enemy of Meta.
There he is, the proper bad guy, the cliché military guy who wants to conquer the world with powerful weapons. He abducted the Gals in order to fuel his military force and keeps Dr Ray as an important asset. Did i mention he was bad?
My favorite bits in this game
Since I bought this game because of its Mega Man feel, it shouldn’t be surprising that most of my favorite bits are closely related. For instance, I loved the passage where you have to quickly run through tight corridors before beams instantly kill you if you’re too slow. I also liked those moody platforms that open up regularly and reminded me of the vanishing blocks. The boss fights were nice too with patterns to learn and powers to use for effectiveness. Stealing powers from your enemies is also something you don’t see that much anymore outside Mega Man classics and games such as Soul Reaver or more recently Malicious. I like that kind of boss progression where you learn new abilities from the foes you defeat along the way. All that with pretty easy to handle and dynamic gameplay.
My Personal Rating
- Gameplay 80% 80%
Great gameplay overall. Actions are quick and fluid, i particularly love the possibility of dashes and juper jumps to give you more control over movement. Most powers are also used for movement purposes (especially the flame dash for mid air dashes, very cool and useful). My only regret is the amount of powers which is a bit too low.
- Audio 70% 70%
While it’s not something that will stick in my head forever the audio was of good quality. It was nice enough to carry me through the whole game in a pleasant way. Sound effects are simple and effective, most of them reminding me of Mega Man.
- Graphics 70% 70%
Pretty good as far as retro styled games go. It’s pixelated enough to give a retro feel but it looks pretty good at the same time. Very colorful, some art for cutscenes along the way, nice cute chara design, and overall satisfying animations.
- Lifespan 70% 70%
This is a thorny subject. It depends of what your goal is with this game. Trophy hunters that are here only for the quick and easy platinum won’t even play an hour past the first stage… People like me will want to finish the game and reach most of the secret areas. And people who like maxing out their ranks will have some work ahead of them. the game has it, it depends on who plays it.
- Writing 70% 70%
While not the type of game with great developed scenarios, the cheesy little story and characters are pretty cool. Dr Ray comes accross as a funny pervert genius, Meta as a enthousiastic teenage girl, The fire Gal as a hot blooded fighter (lol?), etc… All of that helps having a good time in this game, rather that just slaying mindless machines.
- Trophies 20% 20%
Now this is where i have a problem… As a trophy hunter, these are also part of what makes me enjoy a game. And this list was just made to appeal to people who just care about a quick platinum. You don’t even have to spend an hour to get it: there’s not even one to finish the game! While for some people it will be a good point, I personally like trophies to mean something: beat an optional boss, find secret areas, get high ranks in stages…. This game had everything to make a good list but doesn’t use any of that. A shame. Great game, but bad trophy list for me.
The final word for Dr Ray
“ We are talking about science! Sexy or embarassing has nothing to do with it! ”
Metagal is one of those fun little games appealing to our nostalgia of Mega Man games in the old days. I used to love these games as a kid, and i still enjoy that kind of simple yet energetic gameplay. I have to admit I first thought this would just be a cheap clone of Capcom’s series and probably not very interesting to play, especially when I saw how low its price was. But being a sucker for these 2D platforming games, i just couldn’t resist getting it at some point. I hope people give it a chance and get as pleasantly surprised as I was. My only real regret is the trophy list (yes this is a trophy hunter’s review so it’s part of the game for me though not essential to play a game) which has been made as a selling tool rather than something that adds to the lifespan and challenge of the game. Great small budget game overall for anybody who loves Mega Man games like i do.
It really has a soul of its own, and i enjoyed my short but fun time alongside the Gals.
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