Back when the Mega Man franchise started with the release of the original NES game, Capcom never thought it would do well — the first game was expected to bomb horribly, as almost nobody at the famous developer thought people would like it. Fast forward to today, and Mega Man has become one of their best-known franchises.
In 1990, Mega Man 3 on the NES was released in Japan; as the previous two games had both enjoyed great success, Capcom looked into expanding the series to other platforms as well. The most logical choice was, of course, the Game Boy, which yielded Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge. As the first departure for the franchise on Game Boy, it is no surprise that it is the first of these titles to grace the 3DS Virtual Console.
Capcom, apparently, was not very keen on trying to change up the gameplay formula, as the game is pretty much like the first NES game. You battle through four stages, at the end of each you defeat one of four Robot Masters, who will be familiar to veterans of the NES original; two of the six bosses from the NES game are, however, missing in action. From each of these you'll receive a special weapon which you can then use in the remaining stages, which also targets the weakness of another Robot Master.
After all four stages have been cleared you go to Dr. Wily's fortress, which consists of just two stages in this title. At the end of the first, you won't re-battle the four Robot Masters that you just defeated, which is the norm for the series. Instead you'll fight four from Mega Man 2; once these enemies are vanquished you fight a completely new boss. At the end of the second and final Wily stage, you'll have to deal with the evil genius himself.
The first thing you'll notice is that the sprites in the game are enormous — Mega Man takes up quite a bit of space on the screen and his enemies aren't exactly small either. Although not game-breaking, this does lead to some very annoying situations; the sheer size of the characters means it's sometimes very hard, or in some cases even impossible, for Mega Man to dodge an attack. The Robot Masters are, of course, the same size as Mega Man, so you’d better make sure every shot you fire at them counts, because there's no way to avoid bumping into them constantly, and they'll kill you fast.
The stages themselves are completely new: some elements from their NES counterparts, such as disappearing blocks, are still there, but for the most part the layouts are totally different. For example, ‘Cut Man's’ iconic stage no longer takes place outside, but rather inside a factory, with a lot of conveyor belts. Mega Man 2 elements can also be found in all six stages, to make up for the fact that none of the four Robot Masters from that title have their own stage. As a result of this title having just six stages, the 3DS Virtual Console restore point feature isn’t particularly important. Some may find it useful, however, if a particular stage causes them trouble.
The game's graphics are fairly decent for a Game Boy game, looking pretty much exactly the same as their NES counterparts. The only real flaw with them is that the sprites seem to be too big for the Game Boy's small screen; while the game display is bigger on the 3DS, the issue of sprite size remains. The music in the first four stages, as you might expect, tries its best to sound like the matching themes in the NES game, but the melodies have changed slightly and the Game Boy sound makes them sound far less impressive. The Wily stages, however, have two completely new songs, which actually sound pretty good.
Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge is a decent first attempt at a handheld Mega Man game. It's fairly fun, but you may have the feeling you're playing a watered down version of the NES games, which will end up making you want to play them instead. The game is over in a flash - with just six stages, it's shorter than every other game in the entire franchise. Thankfully, Capcom noticed this and kept it in mind for the remaining four Game Boy Mega Man games, each of which has ten or more stages and are, overall, more impressive than this first attempt.