Also available via 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/22/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge is the first Game Boy game in the Mega Man series and serves largely as a condensed and watered-down sampler of bosses and stage themes from the first two NES games. I don’t mean watered down in a negative way, mind you; it was just adapted from a more powerful 8-bit console to work on a weaker handheld system. Considering the hardware the Game Boy had, it’s a pretty impressive adaptation.
Basic gameplay is exactly like its NES counterparts albeit brutally difficult. This difficulty is due to a number of factors. The most immediately noticeable of those factors is how big the sprites are. Because of the small screen real estate on the Game Boy, the sprites are much bigger than in the NES games. This means that you have considerably less room to maneuver and thus dodge enemy attacks. The platforming is also pretty merciless with jumps that pretty much have to be pixel perfect and timing that has to be exact. The NES Mega Man games had some ruthless platforming, too, but some of the jumps in this game just seemed brutal. The last major factor that really ramps up the difficulty is that there are some parts that you just have to know. What’s a hole that leads to a room below and what’s a hole that leads to death? It’s usually pretty apparent, but there are a handful of instances where the only way to know is just to know. A couple of sections have enemies shooting at you the moment the screen transitions making it virtually impossible not to take damage. All of that compounds to turn a tough game into a ruthless one.
None of that is to say that it’s a bad game, though. On the contrary, this is an extremely competent NES-to-Game Boy conversion, and I quite enjoyed most of my time with it BS difficulty notwithstanding. The four Robot Masters you can fight in the beginning are pulled from the first Mega Man game, and the four that you fight in Wily’s castle are pulled from Mega Man II. You then fight a Mega Man killer named Enker before fighting Wily himself. With only six stages, the game is pretty short, but I personally think that short games work better for handhelds especially in the pre-sleep mode days of the DS and 3DS.
Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge is certainly rough around the edges, and parts of it haven’t aged particularly well, but as a whole, I still think it holds up fairly well. It has some really difficult segments, but that’s not too uncommon for the Mega Man series. If you want to play Mega Man on the go today, you’re definitely better off with one of the collections on 3DS or Switch, but his leap to Game Boy was definitely impressive for the time and the hardware. I’m not sure I’ll ever revisit this game, but I’m definitely glad I played through it once.