Rockman Battle & Fighters

Release: July 26, 2000 | Size: 16megs 

Author: M.E. Williams

In the year 2000 it was impossible to think that any Capcom game would ever appear on SNK hardware, but that's exactly what happened here with Rockman Battle & Fighters. This dual pack of games is the first time we'd see the Rockman (Mega Man) arcade games playable outside of a cabinet. While there is some content missing from the arcade originals, these ports perfectly capture the spirit of the Mega Man series. 

Capcom's two Mega Man arcade games, Rockman: The Power Battle and Rockman 2: The Power Fighters released on their CPS line of arcade hardware; the first game released on the CPS 1.5 board and the second on the CPS 2. Rather than create a traditional Mega Man platformer for the arcade, these games are boss rushes that feature bright, colorful pixel art in the vein of Mega Man 7 on the Super Nintendo. Neither game is particularly difficult, even on hard, and they are even easier when played with two players. While the second game has more features, bosses, music, and competitive options, both games are still quite shallow and can be beat in less than 10-15 minutes. 

There is little sales data for these games from the 90's, but one can assume the first one did decent enough to warrant a sequel. The sequel, despite being a bit more robust overall, didn't sell quite as well. Still, for the die-hard Mega Man fan (like myself), these games are a real treat as you get to see some of your favorite boss masters redrawn with arcade quality sprite work and loads more animation. That said, it was certainly a surprise when Capcom, as part of their turn-of-the-century deal with SNK, decided to port these games to the humble Neo-Geo Pocket Color in mid-2000 with both games bundled on the same cartridge. Despite some mixed results, the fun and brisk nature of the arcade originals are captured here, and each game is still loads of jump-n-shoot fun.

This review will be a bit different. I'm going to tackle the unique mechanics of each game first, then cover the graphics and sound collectively as each game in this package shares the same assets across the board. 

Rockman: The Power Battle

Rockman: The Power Battle is a brisk experience that takes away all platforming elements of the original series and replaces it with a rather mediocre boss-rush. Upon pressing start you select from one of three heroes: Mega Man (Rockman), Proto Man (Blues), and Bass (Forte). Rather than randomize the boss order, you will choose from one of three different boss gauntlets comprised of bosses from Mega Man 1-3, 4-6, and 7 by it self. Once you choose your boss track, you are presented with a world map in which a cursor automatically moves around the board to each stage. Pressing a button on the desired stage will whisk you away to that stage's boss battle. 

When in battle you have your standard shot, charged shot, jump, and slide. Each character has a slightly different variation of these mechanics, but they all work relatively the same. In addition to the traditional jump-n-shoot mechanics, you also have the ability to triangle jump off of the two arena walls to jump over the boss if they get too close. And - that's it. Unlike the console series, bosses are a push over with larger attacks that are pretty easy to dodge. Even the new Wily Machine isn't much of a hassle. Once you have cleared all the bosses, you are presented with a short but unique ending for each of the three characters. 

The Power Battle is a fun game, but it's too short and shallow to draw you back in when you can easily play the far superior second game from the cartridge's main menu.

Rockman 2: The Power Fighters

Rockman 2: The Power Fighters takes the same core elements from Power Battle but adds additional mechanics to make the game feel more robust overall. Rather than select a boss track that follows a set of Mega Man games, you have three storyline options: chase Wily, save Roll, or recover a device (slide projector?). Each option has its own boss gauntlet of six robot masters to defeat before you arrive at Wily's castle and have to face off against the Rock Monster and finally Dr. Wily himself.

In addition to the three characters from the first game, Capcom also added Duo from Mega Man 8. This time around, each character has the same basic control set up but their attacks are more unique. For example, Proto Man's charged shot is a huge plasma ball he holds out in front of him rather than a projectile blast. Each character also has a secondary charge attack when you hold Up on the controller and let go of your charge. For example, Mega Man does a Street Fighter style Dragon Punch that does a decent amount of damage to bosses, hits twice if you're close, and scores a hard knockdown. You can also safe roll out of the way when you are knocked off your feet. You still retain the ability to triangle jump off walls, and each character has a unique slide/dash mechanic with different properties.

Capcom added some light competitive elements to the game despite its co-op nature. When a boss is defeated they explode in a shower of life capsules, point drops, and weapon refill capsules, but they also drop their weapon. When playing co-op, each player makes a mad dash to capture as many of the drops as possible, and only one player will get the boss' weapon. What's more, if you're not fast enough you can miss the boss' weapon entirely. 

Each character also has a helper bot that will activate when certain battle conditions are met. The screen will flash, and Eddie (an item generating helper bot in the Mega Man series) will warp down and pop out a mystery ball. When you run over the ball your helper bot will come out and will attack the boss along with you. Mega Man's helper bot, for example, is his robo-dog Rush. When you charge your Mega Buster and unleash your shot, Rush will quickly transform into Rush Jet and ram the boss along with your attack. 

While The Power Fighters is a larger, more fully featured game overall, it is still pretty shallow and lasts only 10-15 minutes before the credits roll.


In the arcade series, each of the two games has a unique sprite set. The Power Battle pulls sprites directly from Mega Man 7 on the SNES for the most part, and Capcom created new sprites for the boss masters not represented in that game. The Power Fighters sees a rework in sprite design by taking the set from the first game and adding in additional animation and flourish across the board. While both games look great, the added animation and re-worked art in the second game place it a few notches above the first in visual flair.

Despite the arcade versions having a unique sprite set for each game, the assets are shared across the board in this Neo Pocket double release. Rather than try to recreate the vibrant sprites for a handheld console with limited color and resolution, Capcom chose to demake the game to fit the 8-bit style of the original NES series. While there is some novelty in this approach, the big, brightly colored sprites of the arcade game are missed. That said, the heroes and bosses all retain a fair amount of animation making these tiny, 8-bit styled sprites move with a surprising amount of fluidity. It's a neat visual style overall, and Capcom should be commended on this choice as it brings a unique flavor to this release that makes it stand alone against the arcade originals.

Each game also retains a fair number of backgrounds from the arcade versions, which are highly detailed and colorful for the little handheld. Probably due to sprite restrictions, the enemy bots that infiltrate each boss battle in the second game are needlessly small, though, and are hard to see on the tiny screen. Each game shares a common (rather ugly) character select screen in this version despite each game having very different and much better character select art in the arcade. Still, the games look great overall in this 8-bit style. 


Sound design is where I have the most beef with this dual pack. Each game in the arcade has a unique soundtrack with various tunes from the classic Mega Man series remixed in full Q-Sound stereo audio. What's more, the second game has even more music tracks than the first. If you're a fan of the series' music, these games are a treat in their original arcade incarnations. Sadly, this dual pack has a paltry 3 basic tracks that play over and over again. 

Despite having different select screen music for each game in the arcade, both games on this port share Mega Man's theme from Mega Man 2 when selecting your character and robot master to fight. This is a shame as the remix of the Mega Man 5 select screen music found in the arcade version of Power Fighters really rocks. To make matters worse, there are only three stage themes that are shared across each game: another remix of Mega Man's theme, Cutman's theme from Mega Man 1, and Shade Man's theme from Mega Man 7. The music in the Mega Man series has always been a highlight, and to have this dual pack recycle only three themes over and over again is a real travesty for long-time Mega Man fans. 


Rockman: Battle & Fighters is an overall great package that reduces two slightly obscure arcade classics into one on-the-go cartridge for pick up and play fun. Despite being solid overall, the super-repetitive music and some questionable art work mar what could have been the definitive to way to play these games. Given that the Power Fighters is a more fully featured version of Power Battle, I would have rather seen Capcom port only the second game so they could have dedicated more cartridge space to music and sound design. You'll be spending the majority of your time with the second game anyway as it's hard to go back to the first after getting used to the second. 

Sadly, this obscure Neo Pocket release will most likely never again see the light of day. It's a bit pricy as well, as it was only released in Japan shortly before the collapse of classic SNK and in pretty limited quantities to boot. A loose copy will run you around $80-$120 while a complete copy runs upward of $280. 

If you have access to the arcade originals, the double pack that came out on the PS2 (which is a straight up arcade port), or the PS2/GameCube/Xbox Mega Man Anniversary Collection, there is little need to own this game on Neo Pocket unless you are a die-hard Mega Man or SNK fan that needs to have all the things. Make no mistake, this is a great little package, but it misses the mark in a few key ways that could have easily been addressed. Still, it's a worthy purchase for your Neo Pocket if you don't mind ponying up a bit of cash.