Why Mega Man?
Mega Man is my favorite franchise in gaming. Period. Although I'm not a giant fan of every single sub-franchise (Star Force comes to mind), I can't think of a bigger Mega Man fan on the web outside of Destructoid's own Tony Ponce. Specifically, my forte is what I refer to as the "Classic" series, consisting of the properly named Mega Man games, like 1-10, and Rockman & Forte.
My Mega Man fandom isn't something recent, however. I still remember to this day the very first time I played Mega Man on the NES. Funnily enough, I was almost turned off by the goofy cover, but I'm glad I braved it anyways, as I would rent every single game in the series after that day.
But the fandom also doesn't stop there. When I was in seventh grade, I learned HTML, and started a Mega Man fansite with a friend of mine. He did most of the coding, and I provided the content. I wrote boss strategies for every robot master and Wily stage, for every Mega Man game that was currently released.
Every year for many years, my friend and I would beat Mega Man 1-8 in marathon form. When that friend and I grew apart, I met someone else who indulged my Mega Man fanaticism. We would constantly play Mega Man X speedruns (with two TVs and two SNES units) -- both full upgrade and non-upgrade runs. One day we even ran Mega Man 1 all the way through X5, which was greatly assisted by the Mega Man Anniversary Collections.
Mega Man often emphasize music through and through, and it's not just because of the meticulously created soundtracks in each game: the entire series is rooted in music. Rock Man, Mega Man's original and Japanese moniker, is literally a play on Rock and Roll (which is his sister's name).
There are characters named Blues (Proto Man in the US), Gospel (Treble), Forte (Bass), Tango, Enker (named after a style of Japanese music), Beat, and many more facets of music. Series father Keiji Inafune really put a lot of heart into the series, which shows.
I'm also a huge Bass (known in Japan as Forte) fan. As in, he's one of my top five favorite characters of all time. If you're ever looking for a gift for me, I'd accept anything Bass related (hint hint).
Since there are many more Mega Man games out there to play, I will be doing a separate Quest for the X series, including Command Mission, the Zero series, and the ZX series.
Everything else will most likely be lumped into a third quest, including Legends, Battle Network, and Star Force. At the end of this, there will be three Quests, and I will own every Mega Man game ever released in the US.
Also, the Game Boy games are in a weird state of kinda sorta remakes, but they're still technically considered in the Classic era, so I'm including them here.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now.
If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Mega Man - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PSN (PsOne Classics Import) [Owned], PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
I've had an affinity towards platformers ever since I played the original Mario Bros., but it wasn't until Mega Man that said affinity really came alive. The non-linear nature of the game (that allowed you to select which stage you wanted to do in order), which was pretty much unheard of at the time, took my little brain quite a while to wrap around.
The concept of earning new abilities (essentially RPG elements inside of a platformer) blew my mind, and having to "figure out" the correct order of bosses to exploit their weaknesses was like a mini puzzle game.
I also think it's one of the hardest games in the whole franchise -- entirely due to the difficulty of the Wily levels. While it's not always my first choice for constant replays, the impact the original Mega Man had on the industry is well known even today.
Mega Man 2 - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PSN (PsOne Classics Import) [Owned], PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
The second entry in the franchise is often regarded as the best in the series by most fans. If you ask people what their favorite Mega Man game is, nine times out of ten they'll probably say "2."
Having played it many, many times, I can see where they're coming from, even if it wouldn't be my own personal choice. It hosts one of the best soundtracks of all time, the level design is top notch, and the robot masters included in the game are wholly more interesting than the first time around.
I really can't say much about Mega Man 2 that hasn't been said a million times already. It's platforming gold. You need to play it.
Mega Man 3 - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PSN (PsOne Classics Import) [Owned], PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
Mega Man 3 is my favorite of the NES series. I know, it's not a popular opinion to enjoy it over 2, but screw it. I think the robot masters are more interesting, the levels are more varied, and the introduction of Rush helps add more character that would really let Mega Man come into its own as a series.
Also, for the first time ever, Mega Man could slide, which added a lot of depth to core gameplay. It was at this moment that I became a fan -- not just someone who played Mega Man casually -- but a hardcore fan who couldn't get enough of it.
Mega Man 4 - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PSN (PsOne Classics Import) [Owned], PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
Ah, Mega Man 4. Although it wasn't really remarkable in that it didn't do a whole lot to change the face of platformers forever, I still enjoyed it, and it's a solid entry in the franchise that still holds up today.
Pharaoh Man is my favorite robot master ever, and the level design is fairly top notch. Although I wouldn't mark it as a "must play" entry, any platforming fan owes it to themselves to at least try it out.
To add on top of his fancy slide move from 3, Mega Man could now use his charge buster, which allowed him to store up energy and unleash a more powerful blast. The adorable Eddie was also introduced.
Mega Man 5 - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
I never really had that deep of a connection to Mega Man 5. I don't know what it is -- the lack of robot master characterization, or the lack of innovation in general, but I kind of just slept-walk through it a number of times.
Even still, Star Man, Wave Man and Gravity Man are three of my favorite robot masters to date, and the inclusion of Beat added a lot of enjoyment to Mega Man 5.
Although I've played it a ton, I'm double checking my memory banks here with an extended section after I've completed it.
Mega Man 5 has some swarthy Robot Masters (Star Man is one of my all-time favorites), but there's literally no "wow" factor involved. It enhances the "locating secrets" mechanic in the form of finding the letters "MEGAMAN V" to unlock Beat, but that mechanic isn't truly fleshed out until 6.
As a result, it feels a bit bare-bones, and almost forced in. On top of that, it has the slide from 3 and the charged shot from 4 -- as a result, nothing is really unique to 5. It isn't a bad game by any means, but it's not really special, like most other Mega Man games are.
Mega Man 6 - NES, Wii Virtual Console [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
I've always had a love/hate relationship with Mega Man 6. The music was rad, the level design was great in that it added more secret exits, and the suit-switch mechanic was pretty fun.
Still, the selection of robot masters was fairly dull, and although it was a solid platformer, it kind of just lacked heart -- even after playing it close to fifty times.
I know Tony will kill me, but that's ok. Stay tuned for a closer, fresher look at what I think of Mega Man 6.
I never realized how great 6 really was until I beat it twice for this Quest. It just feels so...clean. I don't really know how else to describe it aside from the fact that it's a blast to play from start to finish, and it doesn't really drag like some other games do.
Once you unlock the Rush Jet and Power adapters, you can basically play the game the way you want to play it. As a more versatile yet weaker Mega Man (Jet), a stronger but bulkier Mega Man (Power), or a balanced version.
Changing your boss order to net these powers even earlier makes it even more fun, and the addition of the very welcome Energy Balancer item (which automatically refills weapon energy even if you don't have a weapon equipped) is something that would be carried into nearly every game following it.
It also expands upon the "secret location" mechanic in 5, and adds full-fledged additional paths and exits, rather than a mere few secret rooms. These secret exits truly make the game feel less linear, on top of the fact that you already have the non-linear choice of your order of the stages.
Mega Man 7 - SNES, GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
Fan reaction was not good when Mega Man 7 was released. Graphically it wasn't that big of an upgrade, and mechanically, it felt a bit sloppy. Sound wise, although the music wasn't bad at all, the sound effects felt tinny and a bit cheap. Although it was a solid effort, the damage had been done, as many people (even myself at one point) swore off of Mega Man 7.
It took me a few years to really gain respect for it. The introduction of Bass was a highlight for me, as adding a new "main" character helped increase the fresh factor a bit (it was tiring to keep staring at Mega Man, Proto Man, and Wily), but the secrets are what really got me eventually.
Even though there were only a few real meaty extras in the game, they were fairly mighty. An entire 1v1 fighting game was part of the package, as was the ability to earn the flying rush module from Mega Man 6, and Proto Man's shield.
It may not be one of the best Mega Man games to date, but I can still play it to this day and get some enjoyment out of it.
Mega Man 8 - Sega Saturn, PlayStation [Owned], GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
8 is entirely underrated. Yeah I said it! If you haven't played 8 yet, you absolutely need to: ignore everything else you've heard about this game (as long as you skip the "Dr. Wiwy" terribad dub).
Animation wise, it's superb. Although the actual gameplay doesn't stray too far from classic entries, the new anime style in-game graphics all help forge a brand new experience that feels more like a Treasure game than a Mega Man game -- and I can dig that.
The Mega Ball trick is something I figured out fairly quickly (probably on my third playthrough or so), which increases the enjoyment of the game tenfold as you search for hard to find bolts and secrets. This was also the first Mega Man to break levels into multiple sections, complete with their own loading screens.
It also adds a new character named Duo. While he isn't the most interesting character in the franchise, his addition isn't really offensive, and he's pretty fun to play in the Arcade fighting game, Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters.
Rockman and Forte (Mega Man & Bass) - Game Boy Advanced [Owned]
This is my favorite Mega Man game, plain and simple. No, it's not just because I can finally play as Bass -- it's because of the solid level design, the insane amount of collectibles, and the amazing replay value you get with both Mega Man and Bass in tandem.
While the storyline isn't award-winning material, there's enough here to trump pretty much any other Mega Man game before it. Graphically everything was clean, and the compromise of old and new ended up with a much better visual presentation than Mega Man 7.
The sad part is, not many people have played it. It was a Japanese-only SNES release, so the Game Boy Advance version is the only way to play it in America (as a side note, the Wonderswan had an exclusive sequel: Megaman & Bass: Challenger from the Future). If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking up the GBA version -- this is an unsung hero of the Mega Man franchise.
For years, fans thought the unofficial title for the game was "Mega Man 9," and that it bridged the gap into Mega Man X . That is, until Mega Man 9 actually came along and turned that theory inside-out.
Mega Man 9 - PSN [Owned], XBLA, WiiWare [Owned]
Mega Man returned to his roots in Mega Man 9 -- and boy was it a comeback. Featuring some of the best level design in the entire series, MM9 was near platforming perfection. I can't tell you how many times I replayed level after level in the game's time trial mode just to top my previous score by a few seconds.
Every time I made a new attempt, I learned something new about the level I never knew before: that's staying power. When you add in the "endless mode" DLC, the possibilities in MM9 are literally endless, and allow for more constant play than any game in the entire franchise.
Everything worked out fairly well for Capcom. It was on nearly every platform, it sold really well, critics adored it, and they could sell DLC for it without too many people complaining. So far so good right? Why not make another one and keep these good times going?
Mega Man 10 - PSN [Owned], XBLA, WiiWare [Owned]
Things didn't work out so well for our blue friend this time. Capcom pretty much forgot everything that made Mega Man 9 magical, and "10" didn't do very well at all commercially or critically.
As a result, we haven't had any announcement of a possible continuation -- instead, we're left with fan games to fill the void.
Since I've only beaten Mega Man 10 twice, I'll provide some extra thoughts below to help you in your potential purchasing decision somewhere down the line. I can pretty much say with certainty though that this is a "miss."
Mega Man 10 presents a whole lot of ancillary ideas, like a playable Bass (DLC), and awesome challenge levels that pay homage to the Game Boy games (DLC), but the core package is wholly uninteresting.
The Robot Masters feel dull, levels lack the spark that made Mega Man 9 so well designed, and after it's all said and done, you don't really feel compelled to play it again.
Unlike Street Fighter X Tekken, which would be the next "official" classic release, 10 doesn't really set out to shake the franchise up, and I think that's why so many people kind of wrote this one off.
Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge - Game Boy, 3DS eShop Virtual Console [Owned]
The Game Boy Mega Man series would introduce a lot of elements that would either be incorporated, or paid homage to in later games.
The characters of Enker (Mega Man I), Punk (Mega Man III), and Ballade (Mega Man IV) would later appear in DLC for Mega Man 10. Elements of the Game Boy games would make their way into the NES titles, like the concept of a shop, for instance, which would become a heavy part of the series from 7 onward.
Despite the fact that some of them were outsourced projects, most of them were decent titles that augmented the Mega Man Classic series -- even if the first three didn't fundamentally change the formula in the slightest.
This one uses elements from Mega Man 1 and 2 on the NES, including an improved Item-1, called "Carry." It also uses passwords, which Mega Man 1 didn't utilize.
Sadly, after the cancellation of Mega Man Mania (which would have collected all five games on one GBA cart), it's pretty tough to find these outside of the 3DS eShop.
Mega Man II - Game Boy [Owned]
Mega Man II was sort of a disaster, and a dark highlight of the Game Boy games. Unlike the first game, which had a project leader that Inafune referred to as a "huge Mega Man fan," this one was outsourced to Biox, which did an all-around terrible job.
In fact, I'd probably outright make the claim that this is the only "bad" game in the Mega Man Classic franchise. Let's see if it's as bad as I remember it.
Mega Man II uses elements from Mega Man 2 and 3 on the NES, including Rush Jet, Rush Coil, and Rush Marine (like MM3).
Yep, this is one of the worst games in the entire franchise. Not only is the level design sub-par, but the game really doesn't try to do *anything* different on top of some weird design choices.
It also features Quint, one of the worst original characters in the series, and probably one of the worst in all of videogames. How did Quint come about you ask?
Wily goes forward in the future and captures a peaceful Mega Man, only to reprogram him for war. The kicker? He gives him a pogo stick as a weapon.
Yep, this is a real thing that happened. I'm glad Quint only made a cameo in Mega Man V, and was erased from franchise canon forever.
Mega Man III - Game Boy [Owned]
Everything past Mega Man II on Game Boy is kind of a haze. I remember playing them, but they were so hard to find (even back then), that I didn't know anyone else who really liked them.
As such, it was hard to get into them. Despite my hazy memory, I do remember Punk being pretty cool. Expect some extra thoughts after I tackle it.
In terms of recycling, this one uses elements of Mega Man 3 and 4 on the NES, including Rush Jet and Rush Coil.
Mega Man III is the definition of "alright." Like Mega Man I, it's not a bad game per se, it just doesn't really do anything different. Back in the day as a kid, having Mega Man on the go for family road trips was one of the coolest things ever.
Today, I don't see much of a reason for playing the first three Game Boy games. Mega Man IV and V on the other hand...
Mega Man IV - Game Boy [Owned]
See my experience for Mega Man III.
I'm at a loss for this one, although I'm aware of Ballade's impact on the franchise, as well as the in-game shop, which was included for the first time in a Mega Man game.
You'll find parts of Mega Man 4 on 5 on the NES in IV, including Rush Coil, Rush Jet, Beat, and more, in addition to the Energy Balancer found in 6. Half of 5 and all of 6's Robot Masters (NES) would never be incorporated into a Game Boy game, as the last GB title, V, had a wholly original cast.
As previously stated, Mega Man IV makes little tweaks that fundamentally change the feel of the series, even if it reuses assets and bosses. It has a new stage-select screen, a shop, new items like Mini Energy Tanks, a new kickback mechanic for the Mega Buster, and the ability to pick up P-Chips for the shop (P-Chips would later become screws).
Mega Man V - Game Boy [Owned]
One major reason why I love this Quest series so much is because I'm able to rediscover some of my favorite franchises all over again.
Beating Mega Man V for what I think is the first time is no exception. As far as new elements go, this one added Tango, and it was Super Game Boy compatible (remember that?).
Despite how great Mega Man IV was, V really shook things up, because it had a completely original story, and completely original Robot Masters.
In fact, V kind of exposes the fact that Capcom had been reusing assets and bosses, because of how original it is. Robot Masters (called Stardroids) are named after planets, such as Mercury and Mars, and their levels are all new.
You also fight Enker, Quint, Punk and Ballade at the end, and it's one of the only games in the entire franchise where Wily is *not* the final boss (!).
It's a wonderful game that highlights how much of a shame it is that Capcom stopped producing classic style portable games outside of Rockman & Forte. This was outright one of my favorite games of the Quest.
Mega Man Soccer - SNES [Owned]
I'm not a huge fan of soccer. But what about a soccer game that lets you turn balls into giant death traps? Or fireballs? Yep, long before Mario Strikers came along, there was Mega Man Soccer.
I'll tell you outright: I would not recommend "Soccer" to pretty much anyone out there but the most dire of Mega Man fans. All in all, the controls get in the way too much for it to lend itself to a quick pickup and play affair.
Often times you'll be fighting the controls to get them to do what you want, and after a while, a lot of the robot masters tend to blend together in their play-styles.
If you like soccer in general, you'll get more out of it, because you can strategize each position by choosing certain Robot Masters for the job (such as the quick Gemini Man as a Forward, or the hefty Wood Man as an OP Goalkeeper).
In fact, I actually brushed up on my soccer knowledge just to play this game again, which was a pretty cool unintended experience.
Mega Man Battle & Chase - PlayStation, PS2 (Mega Man X Anniversary Collection) [Owned]
Capcom really took some chances with the franchise -- with a sports game, a racing game, and two fighting games, Mega Man really tried to spread his wings, to mixed success.
I've only played Battle & Chase a scant few times, making it one of the only games in the franchise I don't have a vivid recollection of. Still, it does take place in the classic universe, so I opted to include it in this Quest.
The reason being, it was only released in Japan and in the PAL region until Capcom opted to randomly include it in the Mega Man X Anniversary Collection. Although the X games aren't included in this particular quest, I also happen to own that very same collection, so Battle & Chase is good to go!
Stick around for extended thoughts below.
There's not a whole lot I can say other than the fact that it's a serviceable, yet ultimately "meh" kart racer. If you can pick up the X Collection still, it's a worthy free addition to the set that is basically a cherry on top of the already stellar X series.
Graphically, it isn't terrible looking for a PS1 game, and it's a nice little "what if" side distraction for fans of the series. A remake on a system like the 3DS would be a great way to reintroduce people to the Mega Man franchise.
Mega Man: The Power Battle - Arcade, GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
A Mega Man fighting game? Yep, it happened. It was also really, really fun. It wasn't a fighting game in the sense that Mega Man, Proto Man and Bass kicked and punched their way to success -- you still use your trusty blaster abilities -- but it worked surprisingly well.
But yeah, it had Bass in it, which means I had to get my hands on it at some point. I love the Power Battle/Fighters series, and it's even more enjoyable with a friend.
Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters - Arcade, GameCube (Mega Man Anniversary Collection), PS2 (Mega Man Anniversary Collection) [Owned], Xbox (Mega Man Anniversary Collection)
Power Fighters is pretty much the same as the last game -- just with different robot masters and bosses. It adds Duo from Mega Man 8 to the mix, and attempts to vaguely explain the connection between the Classic series and the X series, with a special ending involving Wily's plans to create Zero.
Like the first game, it's also really enjoyable, and a nice way to spend a quaint afternoon. If you can find a way to acquire the Anniversary Collection, pick it up, if only just for these two games.
Mega Man Powered Up - PSP [Owned], PSP (Powered Up and Maverick Hunter X Double Pack) [Owned]
I can't say enough good things about Powered Up. It's everything that's right about the Mega Man franchise, distilled into a contemporary portable.
Naturally, Capcom had to kill it. Although many fans would be content to eat up Mega Man Powered Up 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, there are currently no plans to develop the Powered Up series further. Low sales in America contributed to this decision, despite the extremely solid reception it received.
It's a shame, because a lot of love went into creating this Mega Man game that not only fit the current market, but also had elements of tradition, and tons of content to boot.
Not only can you select from an Easy, Normal, or Hard mode like Mega Man 10, but you can also play as robot masters, create and share brand new levels (two years before LittleBigPlanet), tackle 100 challenges, and play both the "New" and "Old" style versions of the game.
Time Man and Oil Man would be added to make the original game's six Robot Masters a full cast of eight. Both had serviceable levels that felt like they would have fit into a classic style game.
Street Fighter X Mega Man - PC [Owned]
Due to my obligations to cover contemporary games as much as possible, I couldn't wait the two required weeks to play this game -- so I beat it -- twice.
While I do have mixed feelings about it (no save or password system, a few hiccups, and a few uninspired levels), overall, I think this is a really solid release with some quality boss fights. Expect more thoughts as I beat it in 2013.
I really enjoyed this very well made fan game. The bosses are challenging, their animations are stellar, and although a few sections could use some work, the fact that this was made by basically one person is amazing.
With a few tweaks and an XBLA/PSN/eShop release, this could be a classic entry into the series.
This is probably my most enjoyable Quest so far, because it allowed me to rediscover my favorite franchise all over again. I was able to experience a new game (SFxMM), play a few games I missed in the process (Mega Man IV and V), and learn to appreciate a few ones I didn't like as much before (4 and 6). I even went back and beat a few of them again (namely 4 and 6), directly after I completed them. It was a pretty enlightening experience to say the least.
What was really interesting is seeing the evolution of tiny nuanced mechanics throughout the franchise. Like how the Rush Jet changes its functionality from broken (MM3) to useful (MM4) to balanced (MM6).
Or how the brief invincibility frame from hitting enemies or bullets doesn't spare you from insta-kill spikes in the first game, but works in subsequent titles. Obvious changes include things like the introduction of the slide in 3, and the charge shot in 4 -- having to cope with that and constantly up your game as you play each title is really fun, and something that's fairly unique to the Mega Man franchise
Overall, I feel like my knowledge of Mega Man is much stronger, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds. Now, my near future holds Mega Man X and Mega Man Spinoff Quests, but outside of that, perhaps there will be a new Capcom game in the cards!
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