July 26, 2013 10:10 AM | Anthony Swinnich
It seems as though Capcom has put the Blue Bomber on ice, so those looking for a new Mega Man fix have learned they need to look elsewhere. While quality fan games such as Mega Man Unlimited are few and far between, Frog The Door Games latest release, Vintage Hero, should help fill the gap left by Rock and his friends nicely.
As the janitor Floyd, you'll blast your way through six stages, four of which are freely selectable at the beginning. Many of the tenements of early Mega Man games are present here. You can't duck, you can fire three bullets at a time, and you hold your arm out when you jump.
While there are some level design elements that are direct call backs to Capcom's series (walking up to a pit and an enemy jumps up, for example), Frog The Door does a good job creating some unique mechanics that would fit at home in the games that provided inspiration. Standing on a mine cart and using your blaster as a makeshift booster by shooting in the opposite direction is a nice touch, as are the hover boards you have to ride in a different level. Being able to level up your character's attributes is also something not found in classic Mega Man games and should help folks who find this style of game to be difficult succeed.
Of the four main level bosses, only one is anything like a Robot Master. The other three are a bit more unique. Luckily, these boss fights are a lot of fun and give the game a bit of its own identity, so the deviation from the pattern isn't a misstep.
The music is also a little different. The soundtrack is reminiscent of Takashi Tateishi's defining work, but the instrument choice is a bit softer and synth-ier sounding than the 2A03 of the NES. It would be awesome to hear how they'd sound tracked out authentically, but they stand well enough on their own, regardless.
The only real complaint I have about the game is that there's next to no reason to use the special weapons you get from defeating bosses. While you use the default spring-board powerup quite a bit, there's only one type of segment in one of the later stages that you can't pass without one of the boss abilities. I didn't actively have to use any of the others once. Granted, I usually try to use the main blaster as much as possible in Mega Man games, but it felt like the game's only missed opportunity in terms of design.
Frog The Door Games has worn its inspiration directly on its sleeve for all to see, making Vintage Hero one of the best Mega Man styled games since Capcom released Mega Man 10. The game is available through XBLIG for 80 Microsoft points ($1).