I first played Mega Man 2 on the floor of my parent’s living room, playing on a 13in TV with turn knobs for volume and channels, with a chipped NES controller broken from a temper tantrum by my brother Brian. I remember laughing at turning stars into birds by hold a+b when selecting the boss, I remember enjoying the game immensely and liking Mega Man 3 too, and then nostalgically purchasing Mega Man X and wondering how I missed 4-9. It wasn’t until writing this review I discovered X was a different series and actually the sixth release in the US.
If you have at least that level of fondness for Mega Man, you will enjoy this cooperative game for 1-4 players that offers gameplay as a single game or as a campaign mode. If you have less familiarity with Mega Man 1-3 games, skip this one and stick to an IP that hits your sweet spot more directly.
While Mega Man is a cooperative game, it functions more like multiplayer solitaire with a little help from your friends. Players either randomly draw or intentionally select one Robot Master Card and two-to-four Stage Cards from one of the first three Mega Man games to face off against.
Each stage card has three challenges, that you advance across from left to right, in a unique and very thematic way, mimicking like the side scroller in the video game on which this game is based. You then either complete the challenge or suffer damage. Much like the video game, you do not have to beat each challenge on a stage, but simply survive until the end of the stage. While you are crossing the stage card, each Robot Master has a unique ability that makes the challenge more difficult.
Once you have completed each stage, you reach the Boss. You select a Boss Pattern Card, which presents a challenge you need to complete, based on the abilities on the Boss side of the Robot Master Card. If you complete the challenge, you defeat the boss. In single-game mode, if all players beat their assigned boss, the players win. In Campaign Mode, like the Mega Man video game, when you beat the boss you gain his weapon and progress to a new level with a new Boss. Once all players have beaten two Robot Masters, they face Dr. Wily –The Final Battle, in which players must each defeat one Wily Boss (from a pile of Powered-up Boss cards) to win the campaign game.
Now you may be asking how do you actually play the game and beat the challenges and how do you help your teammates. Well, I am glad you asked.
Each Game Round consists of four phases resolved in order:
- Draw Phase: Each player draws 4 action cards. The action cards are unique to each character, and each has a Support Slot and a Hero Skill. Support Slots are used to help teammates on the active player’s left or right by giving them a die or two to add to their dice pool. Hero Skills either give you a dice for your dice pool or provide bonus effects like preventing damage.
- Planning Phase: Players discuss strategy and which color dice they need to complete their challenges.
- Action Phase: The active player rolls their action dice, each with a higher chance to perform one skill (Red=Shoot, Yellow=Run, and Blue=Jump). Then they use the icons they rolled to defeat the challenges that require those skills, or they get damaged for failing.
- Clean-up phase. Players discard their action cards and the next stage, or boss stage, is revealed.
Players repeat these steps until either they have completed each stage and the boss or they are defeated by Dr. Wily’s robots.
Mega Man Adventures simulates the side-scrolling experience of the video game Mega Man as well as any board game can. As a cooperative game, it excels at keeping all players involved on each player’s turn, as you need to determine which dice you want to share with each player, what dice you need from them, and who/when to help with the boost card in your hand.
You are really cheering for your teammates to succeed and need to work together as a team to win. I enjoy the strategy of determining when it is the right time to take damage instead of wasting resources on a challenge and when to choose to refill your energy with one of your limited energy tanks. The randomness of the dice rolls adds to the fun and challenge of the game or adds to the frustration depending on your temperament.
The campaign mode sticks to the theme of the game by acquiring the weapon of the boss that you defeated. It is well balanced while still making each level slightly more difficult without becoming frustrating. The variety afforded by the number of bosses (22), weapons (26), and random draw of 20 stage cards adds great replay value to this game. Also, the components of the game are great. The standees are plastic and give a shrinky-dink feel that adds to the nostalgia of this game, the cards are on good quality stock, the dice are unique and well made, and the box resembles the old NES cartridges.
There is also a solo version of the game, for those of you that like that. It does an even more realistic job of portraying the Mega Man series, as the first three games were single player, and has Dr. Light from the game assisting you (he also helps out in the 2-player game).
For Mega Man fans, Mega Man Adventures is great. You will not be disappointed, go out and buy it right away. For non-Mega Man fans this game is really well designed, the art is excellent, the game play is fun and engaging, but the theme will not be appreciated. As positive as this review is, I am not sure that I will play this game very often because I have so many cooperative games whose themes I like more, Marvel United, G.I. Joe, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Aeon’s End, etc… That being said, it is really fun and with so many bosses in one box it feels like you are getting Kickstarter stretch goals in the base game. If you don’t have a ton of cooperative games this one is well worth the money.
Final Score: 4 Stars – This really is a great cooperative game, but might be a hard sell for non-Mega Man fans.
• If you aren’t a Mega Man fan, it lacks some intrigue
• The dice rolls can frustrate your best plans, and especially in campaign mode can derail your entire game