Arriving on the same day as Mega Man 5 on the Wii U Virtual Console, Capcom has decided to grace us with the final NES entry to wrap up that era of the franchise. Released in 1993, when the SNES was already out and Mega Man X was on the verge of release, Capcom just couldn't let itself say goodbye to the NES and made one last 8-bit Mega Man game for the beloved system. Mega Man 6 was released so late into the system's life that the company decided to not even publish the game in Europe — it wasn't until last year that Europeans finally got to play the game officially through the 3DS Virtual Console.
Similar to those in the previous two games, the villain appears to be someone different than Dr. Wily. The mysterious Mr. X — who has suspiciously Wily-like hair but is totally not Dr. Wily — has hosted a tournament to decide on the strongest robots in the world, and unsurprisingly he's taken the eight strongest ones and reprogrammed them to do his bidding; it's once again up to Mega Man to save the world.
If you expected any major gameplay changes here, you're likely to be disappointed — eight Robot Masters, eight stages, you can tackle them in any order, beating a boss gets you their weapon which is another's weakness, and after beating all of them you must fight through a number of castle stages to reach the final boss and beat the game; it's all as before.
As you might expect, Mega Man's additional moves from Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 4 — the slide and charge shot — return once again for this game, and he gains another tool as well. Although Mega Man 5 didn't really add anything new, this sixth entry does, the biggest of which is sets of armour — called Rush Adaptors — which basically allow Mega Man to fuse with Rush into new forms.
The two adaptors available are Jet, which allows Mega Man to hover/fly short distances, and Power, which allows Mega Man to throw very strong close range punches that can be charged. While Jet is practically a Rush Jet/Coil replacement and Power might as well have been a Robot Master weapon, these new forms are fairly fun to use and can spice things up a bit.
Another new feature this time around are stages with alternate paths, allowing you to see around three or four different screens, if you so desire. While this is a cool idea that we would've expected to happen much earlier in the series, unfortunately you won't really notice this feature much until you get to the later half of the game — only two of the Robot Master stages have them, while over half of the castle stages do.
The stages and especially the boss fights are quite easy this time around, with the notable exception of Plant Man's stage, which has an incredibly annoying section with springs, pits and plenty of enemies near the end. Unfortunately, the one tool that would make this part a lot easier, the Jet Adaptor, just so happens to be the reward for clearing the very same stage it's useful in, which means you'll just have to tough it out without it; thankfully, save states should make this section a lot more bearable. An interesting tidbit about the Robot Masters this time around is that this is the only game to have some designed by development team members outside of Japan — Knight Man and Wind Man were both designed by North Americans.
As expected of a NES game released in 1993, Mega Man 6 has some of the best graphics of the series thus far. It obviously still has the same general look as the previous five games, but the stages just have a tiny little bit more detail this time. The soundtrack, while not the strongest the series has to offer, is still up there, with Tomahawk Man, Flame Man and Mr. X's castle having some of the stand-out tunes.
Like Mega Man 5, for the most part, Mega Man 6 plays it relatively safe. It once again follows the same basic idea of eight Robot Master stages followed by castle stages, it doesn't really add any big new gameplay features, and the level design (save for Plant Man's stage), music and everything else are all pretty good. Capcom didn't really go out with a bang with this final NES Mega Man game, but did create yet another enjoyable entry in the series.