Rockman World (Gameboy) Prototype Cartridge

Ahh... Rockman. Capcom's finest hour.
My favourite game ever is Mega Man 2, so when a prototype (or possibly sample) cartridge of Rockman World for the Game Boy appeared on a Japanese auction site, I jumped at the chance to buy it. Surprisingly, the price didn't go very high (perhaps because Gameboy isn't much of a collector's system) so within a few days it was mine.

And, completely unexpectedly, it was a bit different from the release version too! I played through the game on my Super Game Boy, and noted differences between it and the release version of Rockman World quite easily. The biggest differences are the layout of many of the levels, the adjusted brightness of some of the graphics, and the music that is slightly different. Oh, and the missing final level of Dr. Wily's stage.

The different music is quite intriguing. Only a couple of the tracks are different: the boss selection music with its downtempo beat; and the boss intro music, which is the same tune as the one from NES/Famicom Rockman 2. In other words, it's totally different. It isn't actually that good a rendition, however, so I can see why they changed it.

So, let's get this show going with a pictorial rundown of the differences between this proto and the final game. I've tinted the proto pics slightly blue, and the final pics slightly red, for easier recognition. Finally, at the bottom, I'll post a list of further differences between the two versions.

Sorry, the ROM is NOT available for download from this page due to copyright reasons.

First off, the proto completely lacks any password feature. It can't be selected on the title screen; you don't get a password after defeating a boss; and when you lose all your lives, you're unceremoniously kicked back to the title screen.
Cut Man Stage
The most apparent difference at first is that the levels have all been brightened-up in the release version. Either Capcom's programmers suffered eye strain from the (ever slightly so) dark backgrounds, or Nintendo made them do it as part of their "outer-space is white on the Gameboy" policy.
And, ooh! There are level layout differences aplenty!
They closed off this ledge with the power-up on it for the release version, for some reason.
No ladders, no safety lines for you!
And so the final version gets TWO of the fast-moving buzzsaw enemies with no power-ups in sight!
Thus Capcom decided that the whole game needed an overall boost in difficulty for the release version.
The proto is pretty tough already!
The end-of-level gates in the proto version are placed generally a bit earlier than in the release version.
Plus the gates in the proto don't even open!
It's obvious that in the proto, they had intended for Rockman to enter the boss' lair from the left. (But in the proto he just clumsily falls through the ceiling from the room above!)
In the proto, defeated bosses' levels have not been blocked off and can be revisited.
Ice Man Stage
Not much is unusual in this stage, except for the placement of some enemies and the aforementioned boss lair gates.
Elec Man Stage
These electric beams deflect your shots in the Proto.
Here is the only real difference in this level's layout.
Fire Man Stage
Fire Man's stage has been given greater contrast, thank goodness.
Some blocks were added to the final version. It does make it a bit less hectic when you drop in.
Power-ups have become less stingy in some places, and more stingy in others. Why change them at all?
Dr. Wily Stage 1
Which do you prefer, Wily as a grey man with white hair, or a white man with grey hair?
Or how about a grey man with darker grey hair?
Now the Wily stages are really different between the prototype and final release versions of this game!
Much of the layout is changed, as are many tile graphics for the backgrounds.
And as usual, most screens have been made more difficult in the final game.
I find the flat layout of the final's "mole attack" section quite boring.
Here, the final version has far more vertical screens than the prototype.


The proto has a time-waster; the final, a life-waster.
We can see the epitome of the proto's differences here. The power-ups have been made more generous, and the enemies in the proto are strictly from Rockman 1. The final has an enemy strictly from Rockman 2.
Proto Rockman is thinking "I'd love a power-up, if I could actually get over there! The proto doesn't have the "CARRY" platform at all.
I like the diabolicalness of the trap in the proto version better.
From this point, the final version has several more rooms than the proto.
The proto doesn't even have those birds from Rockman 2 in it.
Oh, so dark! You'll fry the Gameboy's screen for sure!
Flashman has a sprite glitch in the proto. Also, in the proto he just fires bullets at you. In the final, he uses his flash stopper as well.
And after defeating the four bosses in the proto, you're just sent back to the title screen! Game over.
Of course in the final, you fight Enker and go on to the final level.
Dr. Wily Stage 2
After hacking the game to get to the final stage in the proto, things REALLY start getting weird. The proto's final stage is unpopulated by enemies up to the end of the first room. As you can see, this level has a bunch of blocks scattered around the screen. It's very difficult to avoid falling to your death.
At last! An enemy!
OK, from here, it just gets insane. These screw enemies in the proto seem to have been removed from the final version; I don't remember them. The level layout of each version of the game is almost totally different from this point onwards, so just follow the screens to the end.
More differences between the games:
  • Weapon power is not changed or refilled when a stage is completed.
  • After a boss is defeated, game jumps straight to the "get weapon" screen.
  • Falling icicles in Ice Man's stage make no sound.
  • "Big Eye" enemy makes no jumping sound.
  • Elec Man takes more hits with the Cut blade.
  • The Ice shot has no effect on Fire Man.
  • When Fire Man is defeated, Rockman gets the Fire Storm.
  • After the Wily Castle scene, you have to press start to begin the stage.
  • There is no power-up or teleport after the RM2 boss battles.
  • The music in the teleport room changes to a new tune after one battle.
  • Weapon power is refilled and changed to the regular shot.
  • After a boss is defeated, Rockman warps up first.
  • Falling icicles make a "ping" sound.
  • "Big Eye" enemy makes a "twink" sound.
  • Elec Man takes less hits with the Cut blade.
  • The Ice shot kills Fire Man quickly.
  • When Fire Man is defeated, Rockman gets the Fire Storm and Carry platform.
  • After the Wily Castle scene, Rockman warps up and the stage begins automatically.
  • After the RM2 boss battles, Rockman gets a power-up and must go to the teleporter.
  • The music in the teleport room is the same as the Wily Level music.
And sadly, the proto version doesn't seem to have its final boss accessible.
Rockman just walks through the gate and into a black room. Nothing happens after that...