It doesn’t take long for the action to begin in Metagal. As soon as you start the game you witness the evil General Creeper kidnap your robo sisters and creator Dr Ray. Then if the name of the developers “Retro Revolution” and setup of the game weren’t enough to inform you of what kind of game this is, within 15 seconds of playing you should realise this is indeed a Mega Man clone.
There are plenty of indie titles that mimic bigger titles and they are always met with varying results. Wargroove scratched the Advance Wars itch many gamers had. Stardew Valley satisfied a grand multitude of gamers and their hidden farming desires. So does Metagal stand tall next to the Blue Bomber Mega Man? Or fall short?
Metagal follows the Mega Man formula pretty closely, almost as if they were following a recipe. Whereas Mega Man games tend to have 8 levels with a boss to defeat and weapon to take then ending with a fairly long final level. Metagal has 8 levels in total, but only four of those offer a unique weapon. So overall it isn’t drastically shorter than the average Mega Man title, but slightly.
The mechanics are simple and easy to master. Meta can shoot, dash, jump and make use of a more powerful special attack. This simple selection of commands work well and give the player enough options to get through each level. The collection of enemies that appear all work fairly well and in terms of designs are interesting.
So when paying homage to Mega Man there isn’t much room for mistakes when implementing a control scheme or the general outline of game progression. The true test of Metagal starts when playing the levels and how the design holds up. Each level has its own aesthetic design and they capture the feel of that classic 16 bit era. They can feel generic, but at this point after so many years of platformers in fire, forest and evil labs you can hardly blame the developers.
For the most part level design is pretty good. There are some nice and tricky platforming sections that push players, but don’t feel unfair. Enemies provide a good amount of resistance throughout and the gimmicks in most levels make them feel unique. My biggest issue with the level design has to be some that some elements feeling totally unfair on a first playthrough. As you progress through the fire level, a flaming waterfall drops down and you die instantly. Leaving me questioning, how was I supposed to know? Thankfully only a few levels feature this kind of setpiece and you don’t lose too much progression. With that being said that does lead into the games biggest weakness…
Mega Man games are fairly difficult. Particularly the NES era titles, but even the Mega Man X games offer a decent amount of difficulty. Metagal‘s difficulty does feel significantly lower than a Mega Man title, which I suppose can work in its favour and makes the game seen as an alternative to its inspiration rather than a competitor. The bosses aren’t nail bitingly difficult and unlimited lives just means it is a matter of time until you beat a level. You are graded for time taken, so for those who want to get a good rank there is a challenge, but once you’ve played a level you’ll easily navigate it in a good time.
As I mentioned above the bosses just aren’t that difficult. In fact for my first playthrough I didn’t even bother to use a weapon that each would be weak against and just opted for the standard gun and special attack. Their designs are fine, but no where near as impactful as a MM boss. I will admit that the final boss did offer a decent amount of challenge and the designs of the final few bosses were more interesting in contrast to green robo girl and red robo girl.
Overall the main game is fairly short, but it does offer some replayability. Apart from going for a better rank on each level Metagal also offers a decent amount of replayability in the fact that you can then play as Metas’ sisters after you’ve freed them. Whilst you play through the same levels, each does have their own unique mechanic and gun making the player have to adapt their playstyle as they make their way through the game. On top of that, it was only when I started playing as a different character when I found a permanent power up, so there are some well hidden buffs to find in Metagal.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Metagal was provided by the publisher.