Framerate slows down Mega Man Mobile (Android review)

Earlier in January, Capcom kindly released the first six Mega Man games on smartphones. Critics balked at the initial announcement, as touchscreen controls can be tricky with platformers. Surprisingly though, the controls were not the main fault when reviewing Mega Man Mobile, the Android port of the 1987 original series entry.

First of all, this game was played using a Moto Z Play smartphone, which came out last summer. It is not the best phone in terms of specs, but it handles the Sonic the Hedgehog Android ports with no issues.

Therefore, it is a shock the same cannot be said of Mega Man Mobile on a Moto Z Play because of the shoddy framerate. Most platformers require smooth gameplay because they require precise timing. Mega Man Mobile, while still playable, does not feel as smooth as it could be. The average player will simply feel there is something not right when moving Mega Man across the screen, and it will inevitably cause frustrating moments.

One specific example comes in the Gutsman stage, where Mega Man must make carefully-timed jumps in order to get from one moving platform to the next. The platforms move fairly quickly, and there are three levels of them. There are traps on the rails too, so taking a long time to think about the jumps will not work.

The part is hard enough on the original NES, or any of the other Mega Man ports on various consoles, but with a virtual gamepad it is almost infuriating. On a positive note, the other stages were not as difficult.

Also, the position of the buttons can be changed in the menu, which somewhat helps the controls. The default position of the jump and fire buttons are diagonal from each other. It feels more natural with them horizontally right next to each other, like they were on the NES controller, but this preference is possibly different for each person.

Besides the jump and fire buttons, there is one button above to change Mega Man’s weapon, which makes it a lot more convenient than having to access the menu in order to shift powers in the original.

The auto mode is on by default, so gamers can hold down the fire button in order to shoot consecutively, as opposed to pressing the virtual button one by one. For those who miss the old style, auto mode can be turned off.

Indeed, some control changes do work in favor of the gameplay. The virtual directional pad is a bit slippery, and if given a choice, most would choose physical buttons. But, it is the tradeoff for the convenience of smartphones.

Stuck in a long line? Take out the smartphone and play a Mega Man stage. If players can handle the framerate, the length of most stages is not too long. To help, the game saves automatically after each one.

Furthermore, the sound is good. Mega Man 2 had the best tunes of any Mega Man game, so do not expect this entry to reach the standard. Still, Mega Man Mobile music fits the game, even if not as memorable as the sequel.

To put things in a larger perspective, the game is Mega Man, and an unsmooth, jerky Mega Man is more enjoyable than plenty of other games out there. The Yellow Devil Boss in the Dr. Wily stage remains next to impossible for the average gamer without help, but that is not the port’s fault. Mega Man is a hard game from another generation.

Hard does not equal unenjoyable. It is just a shame the framerate will give people second thoughts.

For $1.99 on the Google Play store, gamers can do worse. Give it a download and relive old memories.

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