One fairly obvious but nonetheless important distinction has to be made right off— Frog The Door Games’ Vintage Hero (80 MSP) is Mega Man by another mother. Everything, from the visuals to level design, the protagonist’s iconic arm cannon to his ability to absorb (and subsequently use) the powers of his defeated foes, reeks of several shades of the blue bomber. It’s also important to note that this is not a bad thing.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Vintage Hero absolutely loves what Capcom did before it. That also makes this game more of a homage or ‘inspired by’ than an original production. That can be partially forgotten if the game is fun, and Vintage Hero is. When the world’s resident superhero goes Hollywood, aliens turn opportunistic and invade the planet. Someone has to step up, and this is exactly the moment Custodial Engineer (or Janitor, if you’re a dick) Floyd has been training for.
Newly… ahem, armed, you’ll need to gather the elementals (said superpowers) from four bosses, each with their own visually distinct levels and enemies. Though it’s entirely a platformer, there is a novel RPG aspect added, letting you earn XP and spend it to upgrade your stats, like added hit points and attack power. This is essential if you plan on beating the game on anything above Easy, and there are a few spots within the stages where you can farm experience if you so wish (…I did).
It must be said that the controls are nigh flawless, and nostalgia can be found in droves. Ditto for the Mega Man-nerisms. Upon death, you explode into rays of energy, you can only fire a set amount of pellets at one time, player / boss health meters, enemies respawn immediately once you leave. Even the screen transitions all old-school. It’s hard to hate on a game with classic sensibilities.
With the initial story scenarios and two endgame levels, making for six stages in total, the game runs a good length. The bosses feel slightly generic, and none of the elementals you acquire are really required equipment (your inherited high jump shot will be used a lot, strangely), but they do occasionally make your fights and progression a little easier. The story, which strays into campy once or twice (awkward romance?), is pretty decent, and it too, is another reason to recommend the game.
Vintage Hero does a whole lot right with a little bit. Familiar as it may be, it’s a worthy platformer with an excellent soundtrack, solid design, and tight controls. And it’s probably the closest we’re going to get to another traditional Mega Man outing for the immediate future, so enjoy it.