|Guest post by RockmanCosmo|
During the early 2000s, feature phone gaming gained popularity in Japan, with some of the first cell phones connecting to mobile internet providers like DoCoMo's i-mode and KDDI's EZweb. Each provider had its own storefront for downloading and purchasing video games, many of which were designed specifically for on-the-go gaming. The Rockman franchise was no exception to this trend.
Today, I'll be observing some of these obscure Rockman games with insights from NAO, who owns the hardware for many of these old titles. Although his phone is currently out of commission, he recorded some great gameplay, embedded below.
(Huge thanks to dada7864 for helping me with translation.) Let’s get started!
You may be familiar with Mega Man Battle and Chase, but did you know there was another racing game featuring the Blue Bomber? Rockman GP was released in 2004 for i-mode internet services, as well as for EZweb and Vodafone Live. However, according to NAO, it differed significantly from Battle and Chase.
NAO remarked, "While the PSX version [Battle and Chase] felt like Mario Kart, this game felt more like Outrun or a good NES racing game. You have to compete with other racers, but hitting checkpoints is also essential to avoid getting a time-out. It was a little different from the PSX version due to the time limit game-over aspect." The game featured three playable characters: Mega Man, Roll, and Bass, each with a unique vehicle handling style. Additionally, the background music comprised "nice rearrangements of the PSX version," suggesting that some of the tracks were adapted from Battle and Chase.
For instance, X could be unlocked after completing a specific tournament. As for the soundtrack, NAO mentioned that "the background music changes depending on the character you pick, such as Roll having the 'Kaze Yo Tsutaete' theme. The tracks were very well arranged despite being just for mobile phones." You can hear one of the arrangements in NAO's gameplay recording. Presumably, other characters' themes were also rearranged versions of their respective stage themes, judging from Cut Man's theme in the same video recording. NAO found the game to be more challenging than expected and was unable to beat it.
“When you look at it from today's perspective, it almost looks like today's Puzzle & Dragons game. It's a game where you clear stones by collecting ones of the same type together. You can reduce the boss's health in accordance with the amount of stones you erase. If you wait for too long, your stones will pile up and it becomes harder to know which ones to erase, so it's a game that requires quick thinking and reflexes. However, as you erase more stones, there's a meter that fills up and eventually lets you use a special killer technique that matches your character, with which you can turn the tables.”