The Destructoid Institute of Critiquing Kusoge
Here at the Destructoid Institute of Critiquing Kusoge (DICK), we attempt to be thorough when categorizing games. Hyperbole is avoided when possible, so we don’t make it a habit of using phrases like “worst game of all time.”
With that said, “Mega Man 3” is the worst Mega Man 3 of all time.
You might have heard that some people claim that Mega Man 3 is the best Mega Man game in the series. Not only are those people wrong, but they are also wrong. I’ve never personally been big on Mega Man 3 on the NES. Mega Man III on the Game Boy is okay, I guess. Mega Man 3 as a standalone Tiger Electronic handheld is fine if you’re trapped in a collapsed tunnel and are waiting to starve to death. And then Mega Man 3: The Robots Are Revolting on DOS is only slightly worse than self-immolation.
Guess what the DICK is looking at today?
They sure are
Mega Man 3: The Robots Are Revolting is the follow-up to Mega Man on DOS. Note that there was no Mega Man 2 on DOS. I have no idea why. The first DOS game was released in 1990, the same year that Mega Man 3 was released. Robots Are Revolting was released in 1992; the same year as Mega Man 5 on NES. It seems really arbitrary to claim it’s the third game, when it bears no resemblance to the NES equivalent.
The DOS version of Mega Man 3 is its own thing. You have six robot masters, which is two fewer than the series standard of eight, but three more than were featured in the first DOS title. None of these robot masters are featured in a mainline game, but some of them are visual rip-offs of bosses from the series. You have Bit Man, Oil Man, Shark Man, Wave Man, Blade Man, and Torch Man.
The levels aren’t based on anything from the NES games, either. They’re not even linear, instead being sort of a maze. The level design isn’t very good, but it’s not egregious either. Enemy placement is sometimes unfair, and it has a habit of concealing deadly hazards where you can’t see them. On the other hand, I found that I was able to read them easily and could find the best path to the boss without difficulty. This was nice because exploration was almost always an annoying bust. I found it better to just make a mad rush to the end like I was trying to find the washroom at the mall. Plumbing for E-tanks and lives would usually just result in taking more damage than I actually gained.
Homemade Robot Oil
The levels are a special kind of boring, though. They’re mostly oil platforms, a tanker ship, and sewers. The sewers have this part where you can see the houses on the street above, and all I could think during that moment was how much I’d rather be up there.
It’s so bad, that at about the time I hit the sixth stage, my fight or flight kicked in. It was like I was trapped in Mega Man 3 with no escape. At that point, I had maybe only been playing for 45 minutes, but in that moment, I just couldn’t fathom tolerating one moment more. I pushed through because I’m dedicated to the DICK and felt the need to fulfill my role as chairwoman, but I haven’t been this close to a panic attack while playing kusoge for quite a while.
Anxiety-inducing boredom aside, Mega Man 3 makes some improvements over its predecessor. I just can’t think of any, because I’ve already mentioned there are now six robot masters.
If anything, this is worse than the previous DOS game, if only because it’s longer and more painful to play. This might partly be because the programmer, Steven Rozner, first conceived the game as an unrelated title called Eco-man. The publisher, Hi-Tech Expressions, had the license for Mega Man, so their stipulation for publishing the title was that it be converted to a Mega Man title.
This is where the themes of oil rigs and acid pools come from. It also explains why Mega Man spends so much time swimming. The change-over is rather convincing, as the bosses still have weaknesses to weapons acquired from previous battles. If I wasn’t aware of its concept, I probably would have just guessed it was a misguided facsimile rather than having an unrelated progenitor.
I mentioned that Mega Man on DOS showed signs of talent on the programmer’s part, and the same is true for Mega Man 3. The mostly smooth four-way scrolling is still rather impressive, given the platform and time period. There is an issue where it’s locked to the system’s CPU speed, however. It will slow down in some parts, then speed up in others, which makes the game difficult to play in parts. It’s still possible to conquer it, it just can be annoying.
You also have to look at games that were released for DOS and microcomputers at the time. While Mega Man 3 is pretty bad, so were a lot of games. We like to remember Commander Keen and Duke Nukem, but those games were outliers amongst bad arcade ports and games that coyly skirted copyright. My old IBM PC-Compatible from when I was a kid was loaded up with games that were barely games, and I probably would have been happy to have Mega Man 3. It’s the ultimate “we already have Mega Man at home” title.
That said, I stand by my statement that it’s the worst Mega Man 3. I managed to get through it without cursing at my screen too often. I’d file it under the category of “not the most excruciating pain I’ve had to endure.” That’s just the sort of quality analysis you can expect from the DICK.