It took Capcom five years to bring the Super Famicom game Rockman and Forte to the USA, but it's finally here. Released for the Game Boy Advance as Mega Man and Bass, Capcom has produced the first official English translation of the game. The Japanese R&F ROM has been floating around emulation circles for years and has been unofficially translated by several translation groups, but now Capcom has finally given us a real translation. Personally, I found the unofficial ones better. The official English version reads in simple English with no complex sentences or emotional tone. It's quite flat and shows how much the company didn't want to anger parents with dialogue about robots killing other robots in a personal grudge match vendetta. Furthermore, the instruction manual features a few embarassing gaffes in which Japanese character names were not translated to their English equivalents. Proto Man is named Blues, for example. However the game itself includes the correct names for the characters.

Getting past the translation news, the game is fairly unchanged from it's former incarnations. Mega Man (or Bass, depending on which character you choose) is out to stop a new robot, King, who has downloaded all of the old Robot Master data CDs. Your chosen hero must fight his way through eight stages, fight bosses, and collect the missing CDs. The CDs, incidentially, allow players to read through the database of past Mega Man robots. This is just for fun, however, and the collection task is only in the game to enhance replay value. Incidentially, I'm curious how King could have recreated a super army with this useless data. Shade Man's profile, for example, explains that he's an out-of-work circus performer who enjoys karaoke. Tremble in fear, my friends! Worse yet, the database is written in some most confusing Engrish (a problem that is common to the more recent handheld Mega Man games). The eight Robot Masters in this game are...

Following these levels are the three levels of King's fortress, and then an old foe shows up for more danger and excitement.

Both Mega Man and Bass have their own unique abilities. Mega Man is the blue bomber we've all come to know and love. He shoots, he slides, he jumps. Bass, on the other hand, sports a double jump, an aimable blaster, and dashes instead of slides. There are various obstacles in each stage that only one of the characters can pass, and knowing which path to take is part of the challenge. Furthermore, some items will be inaccessible to one character but are easy pickings for another. One a character is selected for play it is impossible to switch to the other character. Playing through the game twice is required to beat it: once with each character. Upgrades and new abilities can be purchased at Auto's shop. Bolts serve as currency.

The impressive animations from the Super Famicom are included, as are the memorable musical tunes. The music has been tweaked slightly to make it Game Boy Advance-friendly. The game also includes four save slots for game saving, plus an auto save kicks in at certain checkpoints in each level (much like the auto save feature from the Mega Man Xtreme series). The save states record your current progress as well as available lives and bolts.

Mega Man and Bass should have arrived in the USA years ago, but, as the saying goes, "better late than never". Fans of the Mega Man series who have been unimpressed with the Mega Man Battle Network and MegaMan Zero titles should definitely check this game out; it's a blast from the blue bomber's past.

Playing both Super Famicom and Game Boy Advance versions of the game

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