Mega Man: Rock Force

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PineappleBomber
PineappleBomber

If there’s one word that describes Mega Man Rock Force, it’s “unique”. Right from the intro cutscene alone, it’s extremely obvious that Rock Force is not a traditional Mega Man experience, nor is it really trying to be. If you want a traditional experience, I’d quickly suggest you look elsewhere.

In Rock Force, the plot is dark and a bit dreary, with no Wily in sight and one of the most unusually pragmatic Mega Mans we’ve seen in a fangame. Not quite Mega Man X levels of angsty, but definitely not Classic levels of sunshine. The villain of the game (who is extremely obvious, despite the game’s attempts to hide it) is best described as a dogmatic lunatic, and the game honestly attempts to tackle some of the issues Mega Man 9 touched upon in a lot more detail, for better or for worse. Even a few of the levels are downright morose, particularly the first of the final stages.

Beyond the plot, you’ll find that the gameplay is very solid. Mega Man controls very solidly, the enemies are generally well-balanced, the stages generally avoid trying to surprise you with random bullcrud, every single weapon in the game is useful (itself a rarity), the difficulty stays consistent, the graphics are solidly done for the most part, and the soundtrack (while a bit odd in places) sounds pretty nice. The only constant weakpoint is the boss design, while most of them are well-telegraphed, every boss in the game still operates on RNG, which can get dull after a while.

However, the game has a metric ton of assets that encourage replayability in a more natural manner. Going into the options menu, there are a LOT of ways to tweak the game to suit your tastes. From mechanical details like your slide strength and whether the game pauses while refilling your bars or not, to details like checkpoints, weapon strength, invincibility time, and separate counters for boss and stage difficulties. If you want to have an absolute cakewalk of a game? Max invincibility, Max weapon strength, Cut enemy strength, Set everything to easy mode, and laugh. If you want to play a rage game? No invincibility, Half weapon strength, No checkpoints, Instant Death hard mode, and weep.

Additionally, the game itself has two different ways to create a radically different experience. For starters, whenever you rescue a member of your Rock Force team, you unlock the ability to play as them. With 8 different Rock Force members to rescue, that’s a total of 9 playable characters, each with their own unique abilities, and even unique dialogue in the cutscenes. Some of the character’s reactions to the villain are downright hilarious, or awesome, depending on your tastes. It’s not every day you see naive little Cut Man (MM Powered Up) get in a dig on someone, after all.

Beyond that, the game also has a set of Not-Doc Robots, which most everyone refers to as the “Fusion Masters” that also add an element of replayability. Depending on which robot master you kill last, it completely alters the next 4 stages you’re going to playing. One set still provides a fairly traditional experience, the other set throws tradition out the window and uses concepts that most fangames wouldn’t dare utilize again. Personally, I enjoy both sets equally, and have a lot of fun playing either of them. But the two sets of Fusions are as different as night and day, meaning you’re far more likely to enjoy one or the other.

For reference: Defeating Pulse, Fuse, Photon, or Circuit last gives you the traditional set. Defeating Crypt, Virus, Shock, or Charade last gives you the crazy set. This way you don’t have to look it up, which is good because fangames don’t usually come with things like GameFAQs guides.

However, each of these unique replayability aspects is a double-edged sword that hurt the game’s quality.
-On the options end, the alternate difficulties feel like an afterthought, meaning the design of the game will drop considerably on those modes. Additionally, the enforced checkpoint amount is not something every stage is designed around, and the ones that don’t really account for it (particularly ones where you’d want more than 4 checkpoints) suffer drastically.
-On the Rock Force end, the characters in the Rock Force feel hilariously unbalanced with each other. Some of them, like Elec Man and Fire Man, are incredibly powerful and can demolish the game with some practice. Others, like Knight Man or (in some cases) Nitro Man, struggle a lot with the game’s various challenges. In particular, if you’re playing as Knight Man you MUST use the stronger slide, otherwise one of the final stages is practically impossible.
-For the Fusion Masters? There’s no explanation of how to choose your fusion set AT ALL. This means, unless someone like me outright tells you how they work, which set you get might as well be random. Considering one set is mostly traditional and the other set murders tradition? Yeah, this perceived random hampers the quality of both sets and can easily destroy your entire experience. It also doesn’t help that each set has a dud stage. Plague Man is basically Virus Man 2.0, making his stage feel very dull compared to the others (and Virus Man’s gimmick is extremely aggravating). Port Man’s stage is lacking a metric ton of Quality of Life elements, causing the stage to quickly become a drag if you aren’t some superhuman puzzle solver.

However, despite those flaws, I still consider Rock Force a very solid game. It’s far from perfect, and it won’t ever be a perfect game, but it’s probably one of the best fangames out there if you’re willing to stretch your disbelief a little further than normal. I just hope the glaring flaws with its unique aspects can be fixed at some point.

Game Rating
8,0
GamerFromTheWeb
GamerFromTheWeb

Mega Man Rock Force is an absolutely fantastic fan game, even with its few quirks. There’s just so much to unpack with this game. You have the Rock Force, which lets you play as 8 robot masters from the original games with plenty different playstyles (my favorite is Nitro Man), an absurd amount of difficulty customization, an extra 8 robot masters after the initial 8 (which are divided up into sets of 2) and the pretty grim story compared to other Mega Man games.

The Rock Force is probably my favorite part of the game, the 8 robot masters really do add a lot of replay value to the game, and on a blind playthrough, is a very nice reward for beating the Robot Masters besides the weapons you can use as Mega Man, which are pretty decent in this game even though the game basically has the MM5 charge shot. But my biggest issue with the Rock Force is that they can either cheese the level/boss, or make the level/boss infuriating. For example, Elec Man can avoid any attack from almost any boss in the game with his insane wall jump, and can equally cheese the levels with his agility and jump height. And on the flipside, beating Crypt Man with Nitro Man is almost nearly impossible, especially on hard mode, as Nitro Man has a cathartic weapon with little effective range. But even with the slight imbalances, the Rock Force do add a lot to Mega Man Rock Force’s greatness.

The Fusion Masters, oh boy. Even though the two sets are completely different, there’s still a lot to love here. The first set, Terror Man, Power Man, Plague Man and Flare Man are fairly traditional, adding more to the themes of the established 8 robot masters, while the other set, Thrill Man, Port Man, War Man, and Thermo Man obliterate any form of tradition, which is a good thing in my opinion as they’re very memorable and unique. Not to talk trash about the original ones, they’re still very good, especially Terror Man and Power Man. I honestly love the Fusion Masters much more than the original 8 robot masters, and my only problem is that you don’t get any special weapons after defeating them. Also, it would be nice if I could have all 8 Fusion Masters in one save file rather than them being split up.

The level design of the game is pretty great, not once did I think it was unfair, and there were a lot of cool ideas like the Minecarts in Boom Man’s stage. However, sometimes the levels and the bosses can seem a bit dull. But most of the time, you have really neat segments like the final stretch of Charade Man and the water segment of Shock Man’s stage.

Overall, Rock Force is a fantastic fan game and is severely underrated in my opinion. Sure it isn’t completely traditional, but that’s not what makes a game good, and what Rock Force deviates in, it does it very well. Besides some lack of polish and unbalanced characters, Mega Man Rock Force is a fresh take on the Mega Man series.

Game Rating
9,0
Roiler
Roiler

Mega Man: Rock Force is a unique fan game. It’s unusual in terms of characters and story. You’ll never find a darkish story like RF in any other fan games. But it’s acceptable.

As for the gameplay, it’s all good. Controls are fluent, enemies well balanced, a very few unfair moments (at the last parts of the game), weapons are all useful in each different situation (probably a few of them are kinda overpowered) mechanics are simple but challenging and the soundtrack is very well done! Basically what you would expect from a good Mega Man game. There are a few negative aspects, like the design of the bosses, a bland ending and “four puzzle stages” that might not be appealing for a Mega Man game that can ruin A LOT the game experience.

The most exciting thing about this game is the replay value. Everytime you defeat a Robot Master, you save one of the members of the Rock Force, one Robot Master from the original games, and you can decide if you want to play as Mega Man or as a member of the RF! This makes the game long enough for you to play in a lot of different ways! Little advice: you might find different bosses based on the last Robot Master you defeat, after the main eight stages 😉

Mega Man: Rock Force is a good fan game. It might not be the best one, but it’s enjoyable. The replay value makes the game worth to be played a lot of times. Give it a try! You won’t regret it!

Game Rating
7,3
Vucious Creed
Vucious Creed

Rock Force is a fan game that feels kind of hit or miss. When it hits, it hits hard. Of course, when it misses… well, at least the good things still shine on through.

The game seem to have pretty decent physics. Character control is stable and not too much more can be said on that. The music is a mixed bag. It’s to the point where you can distinctively tell which tracks would be good and which tracks are “meh”. Not to mention some of the tracks can sound same-y or just plain lack energy. The weapons are surprisingly strong though. A lot of weapons can tear through enemies in a few shots and a few can serve extra funtions (like the Crypt Cloak not setting off specific enemies nearby). However, while powerful, some of the weapons don’t really distinguish themselves from one another.

Level design is pretty decent in most cases. There are cases where enemies/obstacles could be better, but nothing too glaring… at least for the first 8 robot masters. The second part with the fused masters kinda drop the ball here. The first main set (Terror, Plague, Flare and Power) aren’t as bad, but it reuses assets from prior stages. It’s not all that bad, but a little more exposure of unique gimmicks could help. The second set of newer fused masters (War, Thrill, Thermo and Port), are a bit too gimmicky for their own good. Port Man with its contrived (yet admittingly unique) puzzles and Thrill Man and War Man with its “escort” aspects stand out. The final stages aren’t too complicated, either, all things considered. That said, the underwater segments of the first of the final stages can be a bit too tight for comfort. Also, the very final stage is nothing more than a re-tread of the gimmicks of the first 8 robos. It’s up to you to decide if this is a nice creative gauntlet or a lazy tack-on instead of something more original.

The bosses are rather simplistic and their designs are not very memorable and a bit out of place in comparison to your standard Robot Master designs. Keeping this in mind, these bosses don’t really have varying attack patterns (though that changes in higher difficulties). This makes some battles pretty dull and uninsnpired. That’s not to say that a few of them are not without some neat touches like Crypt Man being an honorable boss giving Megaman an L-Tank or the second half of Port Man’s fight (which while neat, can also drag due to how the gimmick in the second half of the fight works). Nothing really stands out among the bosses and can be described as “okay” at best.

The replay value is there in some fashion. The fact that you can have two different set of four fusion bosses after the first eight robos (depending on who you kill last) is pretty cool. Also, the amount of options you can do is pretty extensive. From being able to set lives, checkpoint amounts, and even spike damage, this may be the most detailed set of options in any Megaman game and can extend replayablility with them alone. The added inclusion of the Rock Force members being playable also help with this game’s overal experience as well.

Overall, Rock Force is a pretty decent game. Its value increasing with the amount of updating it gets. However, in comparison to other fan games out there, it’s somewhat lacking. Even so, it’s still a game that worth picking up and trying.

Game Rating
6,9
Lavaman
Lavaman

Rock Force is a solid fan game title that, while atmospherically strange, unconventional, and considered a general fan game afterthought by some, manages to own its weirdness wholeheartedly and deliver simplistic yet appealing gameplay; there are some hills and valleys, but in the end, there are certainly a higher quantity of hills. It’s analogous to MM3, in this sense, except without the glitches or weak weapons. I sometimes regard it as Mega-Man-Eternal-If-The-Developer-Actually-Cared-About-His-Project (as several concept-related similarities can be drawn; despite both being a GMS game with the MM5 charge/puzzle elements/references to other NES games, RF’s design and execution set it apart completely).

Let’s get its shortcomings out of the way, as like MM3, there are indeed numerous minor things that hold it back. Going to settings to revert default easy-mode attributes to traditional settings is a bit of a chore. The tippy-toe is solely cosmetic, which can (while rarely) lead to over- or understepping tricky jumps, where there are any. The graphics range from official Capcom quality to something found in Mega Man 42, as Goldwater’s graphics, while mostly original, clearly evolved in quality the more he worked on the game (Compare Crypt Man’s stage graphics to Photon Man). The Puzzle Robot Masters will not necessarily tickle everyone’s fancy, and those who wish to avoid them must never defeat a corner Robot Master last. While the amount of gimmicks Goldwater managed to come up with are impressive, several are under-utilized or are only applied to a few enemy-less screens instead of being gradually worn out. Justice Man’s stage partially makes up for that, though I would have hoped for such gimmick combination to be used in the actual Robot Master stages.
There are a couple stinker bosses as well; Virus Man is easier to fight with the buster instead of his weakness (due to his stages of unsignaled invincibility), jumping over Shock Man’s attacks can be repetitive, and Charade Man’s damage output is ridiculously unfair for the amount of projectiles he puts on-screen. Some stock enemies behave abnormally (Shield Attackers ding shots when turning AND have 6 HP; Mets open from too far away), though others (like Joes and Battons) are improved. The atmosphere for the game, though it goes without saying, is more gritty and morose than the typical Mega Man experience, which may leave some unsettled. The MM5 charge shot combined with long boss i-frames means fighting them with the charge is significantly easier than just using lemons, and there is an indication that the charge, at least in relation to the lemons, is slightly overpowered. Not enough to negate every enemy, but certainly around enough to encourage using the charge over lemons. The final boss is also a major anticlimax (though the stage leading up to that is a satisfying challenge enough).

In spite of these flaws, however, Rock Force is a more-than accomplished fan game when it comes to level design otherwise. Elements are always taught to the player and combined fairly interestingly; enemy designs are creative and fun; and most importantly, it has a fantastic flow to almost every level… though many heavily encourage the convoluted age-old art of pacifism and nothing else. Bosses have mostly RNG-generated moves, like most Mavericks, but when not telegraphed, they are always slow enough to react to. Weapons are always fun, and stages are often built around them. Boom Man and especially Crypt Man are particularly fun to fight against no-miss buster only, having quick reactionary moves and evenly-paced up-and-down movements, and the constant suspense of hitting the player. Many of the other bosses, when having simplistic patterns, have high damage outputs to compensate, demanding that said simple patterns be learned to the pixel. Said weapons are also significantly powerful, and while said MM5 charge shot may out-compete lemons, it does not negate the viability of the weapon arsenal like MM5 itself did.
In my opinion, Hard Mode can truly bring out the potential complexity of the level design, with the mechanic of reflected shot damage only really playing into this mode specifically. Stages such as Boom Man and Circuit Man can be particularly more fun and challenging on Hard Mode. Not all of the others, though; Hard Mode Virus Man will truly make you realize how evil Yoku Blocks can really be.
The pacing of the game feels reasonable; each stage is distinct (though maybe Terror and Plague are sometimes confused with Death and Virus, respectively), and the stages never start to feel like pointless filler. Death Man is a refreshing change of pace from the slightly repetitive fusion stages prior (which have some exceptions and are a major step up from Doc Robot stages). While the stage is nothing but one-hit hazards, and can be initially frustrating, the fairness of the level design makes the player want to beat it that much harder.
The amount of polish and “nice touches” in the game (ignoring the absence of polish in a few certain boss fights) are fairly present. Faults in Goldwater’s engine are worked around with the level design. Blank transitions lead to pitfalls? Add a wall too high to scale. Can’t program Yoku Blocks to be head-jumped? Place them in a position where it won’t be required. Not sure how to program spike collision? Make them solid blocks on Mega Man’s i-frames and slightly smaller otherwise. Phantom Fuse skips, Charade Man boss select antics, and the backgrounds for the Robot Masters in the refights are proof of this attention to detail as well. The game was certainly refined over the course of several years, and, unsurprisingly, the developer intends to refine it further.
The playable Robot Master bonus mechanic exists, and the stages are appropriately worked around them as well, though they were clearly designed more as a fun diversion than a requirement to beating the game. They provide slight story variation upon their use in addition to this, which may add to the replay value for some. As the game is mostly refined otherwise, there is nothing particularly wrong with the addition.
If you’re up for something simple yet creative, strange yet moderately enjoyable, and with good-flowing stages, I would recommend giving it a play or two. “GoldwaterDLS”? More like, “Gold star, my mang. You did alright.”

Game Rating
7,2