Mega Man Retrospective

Mega Man 1-8





The announcement of Mega Man 9 came as a shock to many. Not necessarily because it’s a Mega Man sequel on the next-gen systems, but because Capcom have decided to take a step back in time. It is effectively a NES game, with all the glitches and slowdown you’d expect from such a thing (these authenticities are optional however). It’s a brave decision, many people won’t understand what they are seeing, but if you’ve played the originals you’ll know that assuming they get it right, it’s something to look forward to. If you haven’t played them (I suggest you do), here is a quick run down of the games that (numerically at least) lead up to Mega Man IX.

Mega Man


Released in 1987 for the NES and famous for its hideous US boxart. Very little changed gameplay-wise from this initial instalment, so it’s a good place to begin if you’re looking to play a few Megaman games. The story goes that Dr Wily has modified six industrial robots (known as Robot Masters) to do his bidding and he is intent on world domination. Each Robot Master represents a stage, and you can pick any stage to start from and all can be completed from the off. However, the magic of Megaman is that defeating a Robot Master gives you his primary weapon which will then be strong against a different Robot Master, making that battle much easier. Picking the correct path through the game isn’t necessary, but it will save a lot of stress.

It does have some differences from latter games, such as a score counter which was never seen again, the ability to replay levels over and over again and only six robot masters to every other game’s eight, but the basic gameplay and level set up has never really changed. Arguably the hardest of the series due to less moves and a lack of password or save feature, but you do have infinite continues (which reset your score to zero). Well worth checking out.

Mega Man II


The original Mega Man was not a huge success but Capcom produced a sequel anyway, and it ranks as one of the greatest games of all time for many. Despite coming only a couple of years after the original the music and graphics are both greatly improved on the original and there are a few minor changes to the gameplay as well. A password system was implemented which would keep track of which Robot Masters you had defeated (again created by Dr Wily, who’s back, which is all the story you need to know), and also the number of E-Tanks you had. E-Tanks could be found at specific points in a level and basically allowed you to refill your energy completely at any time from the weapon select screen. Also, as well as the Robot Master’s weapons you could gain there were three ‘items’ to collect by defeating specific Robot Masters. These could then be used in levels like a weapon, but their function was to allow access to hard to reach spots.

Despite only being the second in the series it solidified what was to come from the rest of the series as very, very little changed from this point. There is a negative for me though, which puts it behind the next game in the series, and that is that some areas require multiple playthroughs simply to progress as instant death occurs a matter of seconds after entering the screen if you don’t know where to go (see Quickman’s stage). This should not put you off however as this is still and excellent game and should be checked out.

Mega Man III


Ah, Mega Man III. My personal favourite, maybe because it was the only one I played as a kid, maybe it truly is the best. It often competes with Megaman II for best game in the series and best music, but in the end it depends who you talk to. Definitely the longest Mega Man at this point, with eight regular stages, then four more stages (where you’d fight variations of the original Megaman’s Robot Masters), plus Wily’s Castle, but it keeps the password feature from Mega Man II so you don’t have to play it all at once. It introduces the slide move, useful for sliding under enemies or small gaps and Mega Man’s robo-dog sidekick, Rush.

Rush replaced the ‘items’ from Mega Man II and could transform into three forms: a spring, a hovering platform and a submarine. You start with the spring ability but would gain the other two from defeating specific Robot Masters. Protoman is also introduced, attacking you half way through certain stages (accompanied by a whistled tune). Once he’s sustained enough damage he will open a pathway for you and you can continue on with the level.

If I personally had to recommend just one Mega Man game to someone, it would be this one. There are definitely challenging sections but it never seems unfair. One of my favourite games of all time.

Mega Man IV


Mega Man IV tried to shake things up a little by not having Dr Wily as the main villain for a change. Enter Dr Cossack (Russian, don’t you know), who unleashes eight Robot Masters on the world and taunts Mega Man to try and stop him. Equipped with his new ‘Mega Buster’ Mega Man goes forth into a now almost over familiar adventure. Unlike Mega Man’s old arm cannon the Mega Buster could be charged to unleash a powerful single shot, which also applied to any special weapon equipped at the time. Other than a little helper droid who appears at certain parts of the game to drop a random item at your feet, that’s about it for innovations.

It’s still a good game, no question there, but compared to the previous instalments it just doesn’t hold up. You get a bad feeling upon loading up the game, where you are greeted with Robot Masters titled Toadman and Dustman, but the gameplay is still here even if it’s not as fresh as it used to be. Visually there are some excellent touches here and there (see the rainy opening to Toadman’s stage), but the music isn’t as memorable as II or III’s either. Play the previous games first, and if you are still enjoying the series then give this one a go.

Mega Man V


While Mega Man IV was generally seen as the start of the downturn for the series Mega Man in my eyes cemented the feeling that Capcom were in fact running out of ideas. Don’t get me wrong Mega Man V probably would be more well received if it did not have the it’s previous games to compare it to but Capcom appeared to take everything we liked about Mega Man and threw it out of the window for this instalment.

Instead of the evil Dr. Wily we had Protoman and instead of Rush the dog we had this stupid bird thing which you would gain access to after collecting each of the letters that would spell M E G A M A N V. One of the most disappointing things about this game though is the difficulty or the complete lack of it. Mega Man V was way, WAY too easy. Although most of the bosses had weaknesses they could all just as easily be defeated using the Mega Buster thus rendering the other weapons a bit pointless. Overall I would say this is one of the more disappointing games in the series.

Mega Man VI


When do you know if a company thinks a game is so bad that they don’t have the confidence to sell it? Well when they refuse to publish the game of course and that’s exactly what happened to this Mega Man title. Capcom did not want to publish this title thus Nintendo stood up to the plate and published the game for Capcom. This game contained two robots who were designed by some Mega Man fans in a contest and a Magazine. Knightman and Windman were the only two western designed robot masters in the entire series.

Gameplay wise Mega Man VI was not doing anything we have not seen before in a Mega Man game. Beat, Mega Man’s bird companion makes a return in this title. This was the last NES Mega Man and it was made in 1993 so Capcom had a full grasp of the machines technology by now and the levels are pretty well made. It’s just a shame that Capcom could not up the stakes with the music and robot masters who all seem a little uninspired compared to the rest of the series. Overall I would say that this game is worth playing as it’s an improvement over the previous two games but only after you have beaten the original trilogy of Mega Man games.

Mega Man VII


Mega Man VII was the only “original” Mega Man game to come out for Nintendo’s SNES system way back in 1995. Two years after Mega Man’s final NES outing. This game introduces a whole bunch of new features and has some very humorous touches to the game. (See the game’s 1st level and see what I mean!) The most noticeable difference is the graphics and sound which has been improved over the NES counterparts thanks to the new technology that the SNES brings to the table.

Other changes in the series include a new selection process for the robot masters. You have to defeat four of them first then beat a clown like robot then beat the other four robot masters. Also this is the first game were Bass and Treble, rival bounty hunters(?) that are also after the evil Dr Wily. This Mega Man title also has a store where you can buy stuff just like the Gameboy versions of Mega Man IV and V. While this title may seem a little weird from the NES standards we are used to this Mega Man title is not too bad, although make sure you play the SNES version as the anniversary edition has some stuff either missing or cut out of it due to technical problems.

Mega Man VIII


Mega Man VIII was to be the last original Mega Man, or so we thought. Mega Man VIII was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mega Man series. This Playstation and Saturn title was the first to have anime cut scenes in the game which were of very high quality I might add. It was possible to upgrade Mega Man thanks to the shop but this time you had to collect special bolts but due to the limited amount of space and bolts the player had to choose their power-ups carefully. Bass and Treble also return in this title as well as Roll and the gang. The game has much more of a dark tone to it than the last, again this is thanks to the cut scenes.

The gameplay of Mega Man VIII was not bad. It has some well thought out enemies with some decent puzzles although like the Starwars movies most people will tell you that the newer titles pale in comparison to the original trilogy. That said one thing this title gets right over all others in the series is the controls. Being able to use the Mega Buster while holding a special weapon is a good idea and having the change weapon buttons as the shoulder buttons is a stroke of genius. It’s interesting to note that Capcom were originally going to only make this for the Saturn hence it has more bonus material than the PSX version. Overall all if you can find the PSX or Saturn version cheap you might want to check this out, it’s different but at least it gives the impression that Capcom tried with this title.

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