Less Than a Demake
Mega Man 3 Tiger Electronics Handheld
We covered recently the Mega Man 2 Tiger Handheld game and now it's time to suffer through the other release from Tiger. Yes, while the original Mega Man wasn't adapted into a Tiger release (thankfully), Mega Man 3 did get the LCD "port" treatment. Tiger had a brand, and a license, and they were going to do all they could with what they had.
For those unfamiliar with Tiger handhelds (and if you haven't read out review of the Mega Man 2 edition) in short: Tiger Electronics put out a ton of little, handheld games, back in the early days of electronic gaming. They started before Nintendo had out the Game Boy and, in fact, Tiger had been making (frankly rather cheap and limited) electronic games since the 1970s. Nintendo did as well, with their Game and Watch line, the Tiger's games were along the same lines. Cheap graphics, simple controls, and not a whole lot of "game" to these games.
Tiger Mega Man 3 follows the basic construction of Tiger's Mega Man 2 port. You play, of course, as Mega ManIn 1987, Capcom released Mega Man on the NES, a game featuring a blue robot that fought other robots and took their powers (so that he could then fight other robots with those powers, and on, and on). The series went on to release over 50 games in 30 years and become one of the most famous gaming franchises in the world., the Blue Bomber (rendered in cheap black and white graphics here), and your goal is to navigate the six robot master stages -- Snake Man, Gemini Man, Needle Man, Shadow Man, Spark Man, and Magnet Man -- killing each of those bosses and collecting their weapon. Then you make your way through the Dr. Wily stage (with boss refights along the way) until you face off against the Mad Doctor. Defeat him and you win the day. That is if you can really feel like winning after playing this game.
Credit where it's due, this game isn't just a straight re-skin of Tiger's Mega Man 2 with different enemy graphics. Since the NES edition of Mega Man 3 featured Rush, Mega Man's robot helper, this Tiger edition he the robot dog as well. At certain points throughout the stages you will be tasked with diving under water, leaping up to a high ledge, or floating along above spikes (I think it was spikes but it could have been lava as the graphics are just not good). Each of these instances requires you to call on Rush and perform the task.
I get what Tiger was going for with these sections. The goal, clearly, was the break up the game play of just running and shooting (which was all Tiger's Mega Man 2 had to offer). Thus the Rush sections do change up what you do. While Rush Coil just involves you pushing the select button to be bounced up over an obstacle, both the Marine and Jet sections act like mini auto-scrollers. You ride the vehicle, shoot at enemies, and try to avoid taking damage. And then it's back to the running and shooting once more.
The issue, though, is that none of these sections are all that interesting. For Rush Jet, you cruise along he flat ground shooting at enemies instead of running along the flat ground, shooting at enemies. Functionally it's not really all that big of a change at all. Meanwhile, in the Rush Marine sections, you start in the upper corner of the screen while enemies swim to you, but if you don't move they don't hit you. Sit there for a few moments and then the section is over without you having to do anything. It's basic to the point of boring.
What makes this worse is that these sections pop up constantly. Whether you get a Coil, Marine, or Jet section is random (I played through Snake Man once and got three Marine sections, the second time I got a Marine and two Jets), but they'll show up constantly. This game has a formula and it sticks to it hard: run, then use Rush, then fight a mini-boss. After that run, Rush, mini-boss. Then run, Rush, mini-boss. Finally, after doing all of that three times you come to the boss. But once you kill the boss you have to go through that whole pattern again in the next stage. And the next. Ad nauseam.
Maybe this would be more interesting if there was any variety to the mini-bosses or, really, the bosses either. There isn't, though. For the mini-bosses you get either a Giant Snake, the Yellow Devil, or some weird floating brick platform. All three are fought the same -- jump and shoot, hit three times to kill -- so while they look different they all work the same. And that goes for the Robot Masters as well. Whichever one you choose first you'll have to shoot them 10 times with your lemon gun, jumping to avoid shots. You don't move forward in the boss or mini-boss fights, so it's' just a matter of jumping and shooting. Each boss is the same, and they don't move, so the only difference between any of them is their graphics. That's it.
Making it worse, there's very little guessing to the bosses. The boss order is the same as weakness order, so you can just go horizontally along the stage select and know that each new level you find will use the weakness of the previous cleared stage. And then, when you get to the boss fight, you just have to shoot them three times with their weakness to win. The game will take you about 15 minutes to clear (assuming you make it that far) and you'll go through the same tedious loop over and over again until it all ends.
About the only thing that changes up the formula at all is Wily. When you get to his boss fight he will float at the top in his capsule, not moving. But he will fire three little platforms that you have to jump on before you can then shoot him three times to kill him. A couple of extra jumps are the big innovation for this fight, and it's not really much at all. But for a game that doesn't really task you to do anything except mash buttons randomly until the game ends, this is something. Not enough by any measure, but something.
Tiger's rendition of Mega Man 3 is an absolute chore to play. I though their version of Mega Man 2 was bad, but it was at least blissfully short. Here, though, you have to slog through a repetitive set of stages, forced to pause and fight over and over again without any way to really speed it up. All so you can shoot Wily three times and get a "Game Over" message. It's a disappointment on every level, and I feel sorry for any kid who got this back in the day. This was not the game you were expecting (unless you liked self torture).
But hey, at least Tiger never made their own version of Mega Man 4. Someone, somewhere wised up and saved us from having to suffer through yet another of these travesties. Whoever you were, brave soul, we thank you.