For some, the Mega Man series is the pinnacle of 2D platforming, beating out even Sonic and Mario in some regards, with its mix of fast paced jumps, challenging level design, and precision shooting. Many of the games are well remembered, even if the bosses in them sometimes aren’t, and there are more good Mega Man games than bad on the whole. For some though, there isn’t enough, and like its contemporaries the series has more than its fair share of fan games that attempt to ape the original formula. Rosenkreuzstilette (your guess on the pronunciation is as good as mine) is one of those games, but does it manage to scratch that Mega Man itch, or is this just another Mighty Number-best-left-alone?
The story of Rosenkreuzstilette follows Spirita, a mage in the employ of The Empire who returns home to discover that her other mage friends are instigating a rebellion against The Empire, led by (I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to) the evil Count Zeppelin. After a short intro level you’re left to tackle the 8 other mages and Count Zeppelin in a nonlinear fashion, a-la the Mega Man series this game so often attempts to ape. Taking down each boss grants you a new weapon that you can then use to try and take on the other levels before moving on the the Count himself.
Outside of short bits of dialogue with the other mages there really isn’t anything by way of plot, which is good because very little of what’s presented in this game makes any sense. Follow this logic: the game was originally created in Japanese with a lot of German thrown in. Then that garbled mess was translated into English, albeit with the original Japanese voice acting still in place. The result is that, while the English translation is well done, absolutely nothing makes any sense whatsoever. Character names are nonsensical and the bits of flavorful text scattered throughout the game are baffling to say the least. It’s probably best not to try and make any sense of anything because none of it really seems to matter.
Gameplay is largely the same as the old Mega Man games, for better or worse. It’s a mixture of jumping around, or under, various challenges while occasionally shooting at enemies when the opportunity presents itself. There’s a small variety of enemies, and many of them feel the same as each other. The controls work well enough, as long as you’re on the keyboard, and are kept simple with only jumping, shooting, and sliding by holding down+jump. The gamepad has some minor input lag that can’t seem to be remedied in the menu, and strangely only works with the joystick with no option for D-Pad controls, which often work better for this style of game.
The stages range from pretty great, like the sky stage, that offers some fair but challenging platforming, to downright terrible, such as the puzzle stage that makes no sense. Levels don’t tend to last long, maybe a few minutes at most, but checkpoints are rare and you’re encouraged to clear the stage in one go. That would be okay, were it not for the bosses, which can only be described as annoying. Boss fights just aren’t very fun in this game, even if you manage to figure out their pattern, and doing that will likely require you dying and replaying the whole level over and over again. Bosses hit like trucks and just don’t take that much damage back, meaning that even if you get the pattern right you’re still looking at overly long and aggravating fights that lose their luster very quickly. It’s a far-cry from something like Dark Souls, but it also feels a lot less enjoyable than the classic Mega Man games that it tries so hard to copy.
Graphically the game is just downright bad. Seemingly locked at a laughably low resolution with no options to change it, and absolutely terrible texture work. Levels look like they were assembled in Game Maker Studio by someone with no artistic ability, and many of the enemies look like they came as part of a stock pack of fantasy foes. The character models for Spiritia and the other mages are hilariously bad and look like they’ve been crushed down for some reason. The anime art used for portraits for the characters ranges from amateurish to kind of creepy, and one of the bosses made me downright uncomfortable when looking at her.
On the audio front we fare a little better. While the sound effects are spartan and stock, some of the music is laudable, not only for capturing that feel of older platformers, but just being awesome in its own regard. The tracks that aren’t so good, however, are really bad and will want to make you mute the game and just sub in music of your own. The voice acting might be good but its pretty hard to tell as I don’t speak Japanese for a frame of reference, and there’s very little of it to get a good idea.
Overall there’s not really a reason to recommend this game. First, because the name is really hard to say and write, but also its legitimately not that great. Even for gamers starved for a new Mega Man game there are better choices on PC, and if you’re into the anime art style of the game there are far better choices there too. It may be better than something like Mighty No. 9, and for die hard fans of the genre there is some enjoyment to be had here, but for the most part it’s just a frustrating and hard-to-play game that doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen done much better before.