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Mega Man

Developer / Publisher: Capcom
17 December 1987
Mega Man - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.01 / 5.0
0.5
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807 Ratings / 9 Reviews
#2,945 All-time
#15 for 1987
In the year 20XX, robots developed to assist mankind are commonplace thanks to the efforts of renowned robot designer Dr. Light. However, one day, these robots go out of control and start attacking humans, among them six advanced humanoid robots created by Dr. Light for industrial purposes. Known as the "Robot Masters", they consist of Cut Man, Guts Man, Ice Man, Bomb Man, Fire Man, and Elec Man. Dr. Light realizes that the culprit responsible for these attacks is his old rival Dr. Wily, but is unsure of what to do. His helper robot, Rock, having a strong sense of justice, offers to be converted into a fighting robot to stop Dr. Wily's plans, dubbing himself Mega Man.
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1987 Capcom  
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JP 4 976219 012089 CAP-RX
1987 Capcom  
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1989 Capcom  
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2007 Capcom  
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ロックマン 初代PSアーカイブス
2009 Capcom  
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Mega Man PS one Classic
2011 Capcom SCE  
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2012 Capcom  
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oh boy it's the mega mans

In a certain sense Mega Man is a pioneer of the changing landmark levels in platformers with the fitting fire levels, ice levels, rock levels and similarly archetypal level sequencing. The gameplay is smooth and as elemental as a jump and shoot platformer can get, and the idea of gaining new powers upon beating each boss adds such a unique flavour to the series, but I can't give it more than 3.0 because it is so mercilessly hard, even for the standards of its time. I mainly attribute it to enemy patterns and how absolutely cheap they are, heading almost without warning, to say nothing of Dr. Wily's castle.
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Clownboss 2016-07-17T22:19:37Z
2016-07-17T22:19:37Z
3.0
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This is a title that originally served as a question for me, that question being if I wanted to dedicate time to going back and beating classic video games. Since my review reads "completed" you can probably guess what the answer was. This thought was conjured because this was my second attempt at playing the original Mega Man with the first attempt being marred by immense frustration and gawking at the old game design. My second attempt at the game started no better but it surprised me with how it forced me to take time with it and master its difficulty.

The first title in this series is built on the game design of old where making the game exceedingly difficult and time-consuming was the way to extend play time. It took me a while to align myself with this type of design, which resulted in a decently long playthrough as I memorized each level and all the tricks they threw at me. The Rock-Paper-Scissors nature of the stages is genuinely a neat way to have the levels relate to one another but I resulted in just looking up the intended order. This was a result of each of the levels being a little unfair on the first run-through. A lot of my first attempts resulted in my death due to poor signposting of enemy patterns and traps. Going in with the mindset that you will have to play the levels multiple times over does improve the experience but it does not fully redeem how unfair the game design can be at times. It is obvious through the design that this was Inafune and his team's first title like this.

Though I have grown comfortable with save states, it was interesting to go back to a title that does not hold back in making you do sections over and over again. It was kind of fun to constantly go through the first Wily stage to get a chance to fight the Yellow Devil. Having to go through a gauntlet every time to fight the hardest boss in the game was stressful but ultimately very rewarding. This sort of loop would usually not work on me but for some, I had a lot of fun slowly mastering the stages. It also helps that so much of the game soundtrack remains catchy to this day.

As an opener to a classic video game franchise, the first Mega Man is rough and I can easily see most people dropping it. I had my fun with it but I also had my fair share of frustrations with it leaving my experience a bit mixed. I am curious to see how this formula of Mega Man game evolves from here as I go through all the classic titles.
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ThatOneLupin 2024-04-08T18:49:16Z
2024-04-08T18:49:16Z
3.0
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I'm a big fan of the Megaman franchise, however I'll say that none of them are perfect games as I never like the boss rush in any of them to be compelling, this being no exception.

This is where it all began for the Megaman franchise, although like most first entries, it's a but bare bones compared to its sequels as this has arguably the most basic enemies and powers in the franchise due to it feeling like a testing ground for the series. It mostly pays off even if there's a certain enemy that has gone down in infamy in the game industry (you know the one I'm talking about, that awful rock monster that can't be beaten without cheating.) Still, this is a solid introduction to a great franchise, and a game that kick-started its own genre in gaming.
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Foxylover92 2021-06-23T01:10:18Z
2021-06-23T01:10:18Z
4.0
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Mega Man is probably the most alluring video game character ever conceived on paper. Mario might be the undisputed king of the gaming medium, but can you imagine pitching the concept of Mario to a producer? Two Italian brothers stomp on walking mushrooms and turtles on a quest to save a princess from a spiky dinosaur, and who also moonlight as plumbers? The producers would accuse you of being on drugs, and not jokingly like we’ve come to do with Mario’s content. They would kick you out onto the streets for wasting their time. The Legend of Zelda’s premise is more traditional, but the high fantasy realm might have alienated potential gamers that would stick their noses up at the “nerdy” tropes associated with that genre of fiction. Mega Man, on the other hand, has a wide appeal that entices the general demographic of gamers, especially in the 1980s. Mega Man is a science-fiction story that stars a plucky robot boy who shoots other robots with blasts of energy that jet out of his arm cannon. Which of these games sounds like the money maker? Capcom most likely greenlit Mega Man in a matter of seconds. In some alternate timeline, I’m certain that Mega Man reigns supreme over all of his contemporaries as the Mickey Mouse of the medium. Here, Nintendo beat him to the punch with Mario a few years prior. Admittedly, Mega Man’s 2D platformer foundation wouldn’t have been the same if it didn’t have Mario as a template to ape. Still, there was something fresh and invigorating about how Mega Man translated that template into a high-octane experience that oozed a level of adrenaline that Mario didn’t. As it stands in this timeline, it’s evident that I’m not the only person who sees something special in Mega Man, as Capcom’s boy wonder has spawned innumerable sequels and spin offs that all capture that lightning-fueled action that initially made the blue bomber a smash success in the 8-bit era. If only Capcom had kept up that momentum, he’d still be a worthy contender today. Mega Man’s 1987 debut on the NES proved right out of the gate that Capcom had a bonafide hit on their hands, but it’s also apparent from his launch title that Capcom had a ways to go before their new IP could be confidently waved around as their flagship franchise.

On top of his gameplay radiating more pizzazz than Mario, Mega Man also matched him in mascot potential. There were other third-party 2D platformers on the NES revolving around fast-paced shooting gameplay, but the playable characters in these games lacked a certain charisma that conversely made a character like Mario stand out in the public consciousness of late 80’s gaming. Could anyone name the two dudes from Contra off the tops of their heads without racking their brains? Bionic Commando is a title, not the name of a character to get attached to. Fortunately for Capcom, Mega Man managed to be the best of both worlds. How ironic is it that a cyborg exudes the most personality from a design standpoint? His wide-eyed, Astro-Boy expression was the most detailed face on the NES in the late 80’s, and Mega Man even does an open faced smile every time he jumps. At least, I believe he’s smiling. It’s still hard to tell with 8-bit graphics. All things considered, it’s still impressive that Capcom rendered a personable protagonist with the rudimentary hardware, seeing as every playable character beforehand required a heavy suspension of disbelief that they were even human.

Mega Man should be relieved that his design is rich in charm because his origin was rife with translation complications. If you think the silly typo that changed “Monkey Kong” to “Donkey Kong” was the most unfortunate instance of a character getting muddled during their trip overseas, Mega Man’s entire identity was shifted exponentially. For those of you that don’t know, Mega Man’s canon name in his native Japan is “Rockman,” which explains why his sister is named Roll to a confused yankee such as myself. While the Japanese developers kept his original name, the English translators opted for the more alliterative Mega Man, and that’s what the Anglosphere has known him as for decades at this point. I’m not certain if it’s due to my familiarity as an American, but I much prefer the name Mega Man. The adjective “mega” carries a mighty ambiguity instead of chaining the blue bomber’s identity down to an arbitrary element/object.

I’m glad this translation snag has persisted, but I cannot say the same for the garbled mess that could’ve become Mega Man’s plot over here in the west. Mega Man’s story, like many of his NES contemporaries, is a narrative formula that has been exhausted over the course of a dozen subsequent entries. Mr. Light, Mega Man’s benevolent creator that looks like Santa Claus in a lab coat, has transformed the then futuristic 21st century into the idyllic society of robots performing 100% of the manual labor, a future that we are still striving for in 2023. Dr. Light’s maniacal colleague Dr. Wiley has exploited this burgeoning premise by turning six of Dr. Light’s robots into subservient minions that do his bidding to take over the world. To combat Wiley’s nefarious goals, Dr. Light transforms his domestic sweeping robot Rock into a soldier capable of defeating the mad man, hence another reason why changing his name to Mega Man was a spectacular idea to highlight his transformation (but the same was not given to his sister Roll? Are we to infer that women are only built for the home by the sexist Dr. Light?). The American translators follow closely, only with their world given the name “Monsteropolis” and having Dr. Wily as Light’s disgruntled lab assistant. Either way, the two iterations of the story don’t have an impact on the game, for the exposition is only detailed in its manuals. The Japanese origin story and plot for the first game is now canon across every nation around the world, ignoring the unnecessary nonsense we Americans added for no discernable reason. As for the American box art that depicts a disturbingly realistic Mega Man, I’d rather not dwell on something that gives me the creeps. It’s obvious that the Japanese one showcases an accurate illustration of Mega Man.

Another reason why Mega Man is a more suitable moniker for Capcom’s action hero is because “Rockman” could be a potential identity for a “robot master.” There are six rogue robots under Wily’s control, and they are an eclectic bunch with their own elemental themes. The player must take note of these themes because it is a substantial aspect of any Mega Man game’s progression. A monumental stride in gaming innovation that Mega Man pioneered is the player’s ability to choose any of the six levels at will from the start menu as opposed to the linear level progression with an incremental difficulty curve seen across every other game at the time. Choosing any level from the get-go is a liberating prospect, but an underlying aspect to succeeding in Mega Man is the sufficient order in which to tackle the robot masters based on their elements. The game doesn’t direct the player on the breeziest path to defeating them all, nor does it explain why a contrived order is imperative. Once Mega Man defeats a robot master, he absorbs their power to use at his own volition, coinciding with the energy meter displayed alongside his health. That’s another mark of gaming ingenuity that Capcom devised before Nintendo did. Suck it, Kirby (no pun intended). Firstly, there is the matter of which robot master to encounter when all Mega Man has on his person is his piddly pea-shooter. Cut Man is a reasonable first foe due to him taking the most damage with the standard blaster, but I always insist on pursuing Bomb Man first because of his spacious arena and simple attack patterns. The brilliance lies in the player having the flexibility to choose without a clear outline, as long as they see the stark difference in damage using the correct special weapon on a specific robot master. As for the other robot masters, Elecman, Iceman, and Fireman all have themes that the player can make an educated guess on their order based on elemental tropes. I guess Guts Man is the wild card of the bunch?

As for the levels leading up to the robot masters, they equally share the same amount of rough level obstacles that are in their own unique ways. Mega Man is a game that by all means should foster a more accessible experience compared to its contemporaries on the NES. Mega Man is responsive and can easily maintain a smooth momentum, his projectile blaster ensures a spatial divide between himself and his enemies, and he can be hit a number of times before dying, which can already be staved off by the number of health items found on the field and in pick ups from enemies. While the game doesn’t offer a save system or even a password to recover their progress, it at least offers unlimited continues. However, for all of the perks that Mega Man provides, it severely punishes the player for their mistakes. Enemy damage isn’t too much of a prime concern unless it accumulates. The game mostly penalizes the player with its array of spike pits and bottomless pits. Every other screen in Bomb Man’s stage features a sunken crater that could lead to Mega Man’s thorny demise, and the start of Guts Man’s stage involves platforming on nothing but a series of pulleys that periodically collapse when it reaches a crack in the foundation. Climbing up the towering ladders in Elec Man’s stage can be halted by the parallel shockwave blasts of green, egg-shaped robots, and the Bunby Heli enemies of Cut Man’s stage have the unpredictable airborne trajectory of a pissed off hornet. The reappearing block platforming challenges are another aspect of Mega Man’s gameplay that was cemented in the gaming lexicon for the duration of the pixelated 2D era, and their patterns in Iceman’s stage are incredibly obtuse and require steep precision.

I can’t fault the game too harshly for any of this, for none of this is any more demanding than the typical 2D platformer on the NES. However, all of this culminates to an unfair level of bullshit in the latter half of the game. Once all six robots masters are defeated, an icon appears in the middle of the screen with Dr. Wily’s ugly mug on it, and selecting this new level takes Mega Man to the climactic point of facing Dr. Wily in his daunting foretress. The ascent up to the pinnacle of fighting Dr. Wily is divided into four sections, and the first one is a rampant spike in difficulty so severe that it’s fundamentally broken. Firstly, Mega Man will be greeted by those hopping juggernaut enemies that defend the entrances of each robot master’s lair. Considering that these enemies will stomp off a hefty fraction of Mega Man’s health and the screen will hastily respawn them, a logical solution is to freeze them with the Ice Slasher. Before the player has time to pride themselves for being so clever, the game punishes them with an obstacle that involves creating platforms by freezing wavering flame pillars. If the player can’t time a perfect shot with all three, the depletion of the Ice Slasher energy forces them to waste all of their lives to restore it. The following series of screens features a spring enemy that is guaranteed to hit Mega Man and knock him off the ladder he’s climbing. Given that Mega Man tumbles as hard as a fainting goat, the player will likely be killed by the pit of spikes below. Behind a series of chunky blocks in Elec Man’s stage that can be manipulated by Guts Man’s power is the Magnet Beam, the one extra weapon in the game. This weapon makes mitigating the grueling sections featuring the disappearing blocks and other finicky parts of the game a cinch, so it comes recommended. Despite the obvious appeal of this weapon, the game dupes the player into thinking that it's optional. Unless Mega Man can spontaneously rocket himself upward like he isn’t subject to the weight of gravity in one particular room in Wily’s Castle, this item is required to finish the game. If it’s not in the player’s possession, they have to burn their lives and replay Elec Man’s stage. Harsh penalties are one thing, but fractured game design that conflicts with the game’s liberal design is unforgivable.

Once the player manages to survive all of the fractured fuckery, the dark arena at the end introduces the game’s final boss: The Yellow Devil. Obviously, he isn’t actually the game’s final boss as Wily is still the end target that ends the story. He’s figuratively the final boss because his fight is infamous for the shockingly brutal level of skill needed to defeat him. If Wily's domain is a club, then the Yellow Devil is the big bouncer with his arms crossed, ready to pounce on any undesirables. The yellow mass of globular matter has a consistent pattern of physically composing himself and opening his menacing, singular eye for a measly laser shot. However, the speed at which he reforms his body is so swift that dodging it will make the player feel like they’re trying out for American Ninja Warrior, and the opening he grants the player is as brief as a blink. I’d rather plunge down into the seventh circle of hell to face the real biblical Devil wearing Sean Connery’s costume from Zardoz with nothing but a pair of nunchucks as my weapon than fight this bright abomination fairly. That’s the key word: fairly. You see, the game offers two separate pause screens, one with the weapons menu and a more traditional still image. Millions of gamers found that exploiting the latter with Elec Man’s power decimates the Yellow Devil with some precise timing. Yes, I resorted to this infamous trick because I am a mere mortal man who should be excused for being unable to vanquish an otherworldly being like a Devil. Barely anything after the Yellow Devil is of consequence, not even Dr. Wily’s pathetic final fight. The Yellow Devil is the penultimate challenge in the first Mega Man title, exposing the faulty fabric of the game both negatively and positively.

The first outing of Capcom’s blue boy generated a whirlwind of mixed emotions. On one hand, the game introduced a bevy of stellar mechanics and gameplay attributes unseen across any other game on the NES that would greatly influence a vast number of new IPs such as a non-linear level select option and the invigorating platform challenges. On the opposite side of the spectrum, all of these are implemented very shoddily by the developers, most likely a case of overestimating one's ambitions. I wouldn’t say that Mega Man 1 is unfinished or unplayable. All the game needs is a considerable polish job, and then Mega Man can shine at its full potential. Eating a fish raw is unpleasant, but once cooked and seasoned, it is a delectable feast.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T19:06:36Z
2017-07-21T19:06:36Z
6.5
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The first Mega Man, the one that started it all! As a kid, I think I always knew of Mega Man, though I'm unsure how, since I was born in 1994 and was thus "too young" for much of the series, not really playing any video games until 2000. A little later, I would watch the NT Warrior anime on Kids' WB, not realizing the story was actually based on games, and so getting into Mega Man Battle Network 3 White somewhat late as well. I would play through four or five games of that sub-series before finally getting to "Classic" Mega Man with Mega Man Anniversary Collection, a game I was so proud to purchase, due to love of Mega Man Battle Network [ロックマンエグゼ], that I recall (cringing as I do so) having used the word "ecstatic" to describe my feeling of buying the compilation. I would learn half an hour later that the original games were way too hard for me...! I would try my best to play through the various games, occasionally "cheating" with passwords to get to Wily stages to at least check out the Robot Master boss-rushes that always happen, but otherwise the only actual RM stages I could beat were to be found in Mega Man 6 [Rockman 6 史上最大の戦い!!] and Mega Man 8 [ロックマン8 メタルヒーローズ]. Mega Man 1 was practically impossible for me, and so I would hold off from playing these older games too much, later getting an idea to try ROMs and abuse savestates, which I never ended up doing, and ultimately grabbing Mega Man Legacy Collection on Switch, making far too much use of its rewind feature.

Despite the fact that I couldn't first beat this without rewinding all my deaths and most of my damage received (I usually died from poor jump-landings rather than actually getting hit by foes), I had enough fun that I immediately replayed the game upon my first completion (still abusing the rewind...). It takes less than half an hour, I think, and so I will likely continue replaying until I gitgud, hopefully to the point of being able to avoid rewinding, if not still abusing the "pause trick," and anyway Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 doesn't have rewind and apparently the final boss of Mega Man 7 [Rockman 7 宿命の対決!] is hard, so I need to develop skill sometime.

Unfortunately, two playthroughs was not enough for me to remember the actual stages very well, other than the dropping conveyors of Gutsman's stage and I think the fire pillars in Fireman's that you can freeze. Hopefully I'll become more familiar with them as I continue replaying, but at the very least I was surprised by how "short" they all were, perhaps because of the small team who built the game, perhaps because the overall difficulty made it so the designers felt it would be too sadistic to make players linger too long among the various threats to young Rock.

I've always felt the selling-point of the franchise was in its boss battles, what with Mega's ability to use boss weapons upon their defeat, or my greater familiarity with overusing Navi Chips in MMBN, which function somewhat similarly, or Souls/Crosses, which are perhaps a much better comparison. Regardless, I think I enjoyed this game mostly for its bosses, even if I cheesed them like a punk ass bitch.

I went for Bombman first, probably not for any particular reason, but he seems very easy to kill with the Mega Buster. I'm most ashamed of using the rewind feature against him, as his attacks seem really easy to read. He would throw a bomb at my location, and toss another at my new spot after I move to dodge the first. I would always, without fail, eat the second bomb, and so rewind to place myself elsewhere in the middle of the second bomb's arc. It shouldn't be too hard to learn how to stop fucking up as I have. He's otherwise weak to Fireman's weapon, which I do use in the Wily Stage rematch.

I hate Gutsman, as he makes me hate myself. I can never seem to judge when to properly jump to avoid the stun of his buttslam-earthquake, even if dodging his Super Arm block-throw. Aiming Bombman's Hyper Bomb to hit Gutsman is also fucking awful, though luckily it only takes three hits, and I can reliably use the pause trick to make one explosion count for two. I feel it may be easier to use the Buster, but have yet to try.

Cutman is piss-easy, which is funny because his NetNavi version wrecked my shit as a lad playing Mega Man Battle Network 2 [バトルネットワーク ロックマンエグゼ2]. His weakness is Super Arm, there are two blocks in his arena to throw at him, and each takes 50% away from his health bar. I can't recall if I've bothered using the pause trick to kill him in one attack, but it probably would work.

Elecman is pretty scary, as his Thunder Beam does big-dick damage. Too many times have I eaten the attack as soon as the fight starts (by which I mean "twice," since I never have the problem in the Wily Stage rematch, and otherwise only played his own stage twice...). He seems to die in three Rolling Cutter hits, which is good because they come out fast, and they're boomerangs so you only need to launch two. The dude's pretty much a "glass cannon," and it just feels "mean" to use the pause trick, if it would even work for an attack so small as the Cutter. True to the Robot Master's own power, the Thunder Beam you get from him is insanely powerful, or at least the beam itself has a big sprite making it ideal for pause-spam.

I actually don't know what Iceman does, as I always kill him with one Thunder Beam, pause-spamming it....

Fireman... I also pause-spam with Ice Slasher. But it takes like two shots for me to do it, usually.

The Yellow Devil is notoriously bullshit, but I always cheat with pause-trick Thunder Beam. I can somewhat-reliably dodge his blobs when he's first forming, so I probably could fight him legitimately in the future, but... I don't know, it seems everyone uses the pause trick on him anyway, so maybe I'll wait until my twelfth play of the game to try fighting him like a man.

Copy Mega is actually the hardest boss for me. Dude's fast as fuck. I think I'm actually too scared of his own Thunder Beams to have ever braved using it with the pause-trick against him (I have used Thunder Beam against him, but his attacks come out so fast they make me shit my pants and I don't want to risk it), so I use Fire Storm and mostly try to clip him with the spinning shield.

I actually have no idea what the fuck is going on with CWU-01P, and I hate it. The "boss" is actually a series of seven machines with a bubble shield, who get increasingly faster as they spawn in. The strategy it seems a lot of people agree upon is to kill the first three with Buster or something, and reserve Super Arm for the last four (there are four blocks in the center of the stage). My problem is I can't dodge these things. Perhaps there's a way to trick them to spawn from the top or left, have them move to the center, then down and clockwise, so I can hide in the righthand corner while shooting? I don't know. What trips me up most is actually that the lifebar only goes down by the defeat of each machine, rather than ticking down progressively as you damage them. I've yet to try Thunder Beam pause-trick, as I think I just assumed it wouldn't work without seeing the damage tick down, but that's probably nonsense, and it may work....

Wily Machine 1 is okay. I've never not used Thunder Beam pause-trick, even in the Challenge in Legacy Collection, which I've played several times for shits and giggles. The similar Challenge for Wily Machine 2 required me to actually learn how to dodge its attacks, so I may as well fight the first Machine more fairly when replaying this game, but we'll see.

It seems this game is usually seen as inferior to a number of its sequels, but I loved it. Mostly because I cheated, and I doubt I'd like the game much if I didn't have the rewind feature, which I used as a crutch, but which I hope I may use more as "training wheels," to help me learn how to play more legitimately, rather than tapping out as I did with Anniversary Collection. The only "downside" I see is that the rock-paper-scissors of Robot Master weapons gets a little wonky with Rolling Cutter versus Elecman, which felt like a "leap" when I was younger, but which I'll now pretend has something to do with like "you cut the electrical wires" or something. Otherwise, fire ignites bombs, bombs demolish blocks, blocks crush scissors, and lightning electrocutes ice/water, and ice/water extinguishes fire. The weakness-cycle gets more nonsensical in future games, imo.
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Banana_PD 2022-07-08T23:24:19Z
2022-07-08T23:24:19Z
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Title
A compromise left unexamined.
I'm going to be pretty negative here but I only say these things because I love Mega Man. Mega Man for the NES is a video game that was made by only 7 people. 1 designer, 1 programmer, 3 artists (and the designer also did art), and 2 sound designers, and it shows. Every main stage outside of the game's last leg has its own musical theme, and both is clearly visually differentiated in color palette, tiles, and in the lively sprites of each boss.

One thing that always struck me about early NES games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda was the fact that none of the character sprites had outlines. As a kid this challenged my understanding of 2D art; any illustration I had seen that wasn't a painting featured lines of some kind, however bold, to differentiate figures and objects from their surroundings. Mega Man has a clear outline, Link does not (in the NES game). You can see the whites of Mega Man's eyes, where Mario just has a couple of dots.

The inspiration from Mega Man's different weapons came from sentai and tokusatsu shows (think Power Rangers). "A.K." saw the heroes, each with matching uniforms of different colors, each with different abilities, and thought "What if it was just one guy, and he could change the color of his suit, and thus change his abilities".

At the beginning of the game, you have no such special abilities, only a simple shot that fires straight forward. Originally, they had wanted Mega Man's default suit to be white, so that upon gathering more weapons, the changing suit color would be more striking. In order to collect the weapons, you must defeat one of the game's main six Robot Master bosses.

This is one of the core elements that has defined the Mega Man series even beyond the original "Classic" portion: once beyond the title screen the player is not dropped straight into a level, but instead is presented with a choice between six different levels, each with a unique boss that will give the player a unique weapon. These weapons will give the player an advantage against one of the other bosses, as well as often having some practical utility in the levels themselves.

In reading a translated interview with "A.K." on shmuplations.com I was honestly a bit surprised that the levels were in fact built more or less how Arin Hanson once described the level design in his "Sequelitis" video on Mega Man X. The goal of Akira Kitamura's design parameters were more or less this: introduce an element in a way that doesn't immediately threaten the player, but allows them to observe it, and once they understand the threat you can make the obstacles more actively dangerous.

One of the favorite ways of ramping up the difficulty was by reusing a piece of terrain that the player had already navigated, but placing more enemies around it, or keeping the enemies in similar positions, but making their surrounding environment more treacherous.

While this is theoretically a good way to build levels it isn't always how it happened in practice, and this is a significant problem in a game where any of six levels can be "level 1". The very first screen of Elecman's stage features a precision platforming challenge that, while pretty easy to brute force through, is very difficult to navigate without taking damage. Gutsman's stage features a level gimmick in the form of platforms which travel along a rail, and as it goes along it will run over gaps which will cause the platformer to tilt and drop an unattentive player. These platforms are without a doubt the peak of the level's difficulty, and they only appear at the very start. Iceman's stage marks the first time that one of the series' classic disappearing platform sections appears, and the floor beneath is being patrolled by a "spine" enemy, an immortal hazard; the new mechanic is introduced without giving the player a safe opportunity to observe.

One thing I do like is that this is one of (in my opinion) few Mega Man games where all of the boss weaknesses make enough logical sense that the average player could probably intuit which boss is weak to which weapon without a guide. Gutsman (the rock themed boss) is weak to Bombman's bombs, Gutsman's rock throwing ability beats Cutman's scissors, which in turn cut Elecman's cord.

Electricity is good against Ice, Ice is good against fire, which is interesting. This kind of abstract elemental advantage is ingrained enough in the popular understanding of video games, RPGs for example, that I buy it. What stands out to me is that in the later Mega Man Zero games, where there are no boss weapons and bosses are instead weak to one of these same three elements, it's the other way around. Fire is good against ice, ice is good against electricity, and to close the loop, electricity is good against fire.

Fire, of course, ignites Bombman's bombs.

I will be honest, I don't like the Robot Masters at all. I genuinely think the entire idea for these boss fights is flawed. When a typical fight begins, Mega Man and the enemy start on opposite corners of the arena. There are only two things that can happen, Mega Man and the enemy will attack each other with ranged weapons, or the boss will begin to approach Mega Man. Mega man, already being in the corner of the room, has only two options; meet the enemy in the center of the room, or stay in the corner. Either way, Mega Man and the enemy will almost without a doubt collide their bodies into one another, and when this happens the most obvious advantage that the bosses have makes itself apparent. Mega Man takes damage from the enemy's projectiles, the enemy takes damage from Mega Man's projectiles; Mega Man takes damage from coming into contact with the enemy, the enemy leaves unscathed.

On Miranda Paugh's fansite, "Mega Man Home Page", Bombman is recommended as the first boss that the player should fight, and looking at his movement patterns it's easy to see why. Bombman's patterns are marked by wide swooping jumps around the arena, jumps that give Mega Man enough time and space to find chances to walk beneath him. Most of the recommended first bosses of other classic series games (Metal Man in Mega Man 2 and Plant Man in Mega Man 6 to name a couple) have similar behavior.

Most other bosses boil down to a certain rhythm, the two characters oscillate back and forth, engaging in a periodic jousting match where only one combatant can ever win. Some battles, Elecman probably being the worst example, even start with Mega Man in the center of the arena instead of the edge, putting him even closer to the enemy than usual. There is rarely an effective way to avoid this uncomfortable mechanical intimacy (as in the X series which introduced wall-jumping for vertical options), nor an incentive for the player to want it (as in the Zero series which gives the player a powerful melee option). The Vile fight in the intro stage to Mega Man X is intentionally designed to make the player feel helpless, and its attack pattern really just an average Robot Master with infinite health.

The bosses being weak to particular weapons is only a band-aid fix for this poor design; many bosses are only ever unfairly difficult or are made trivially easy by their vulnerability to a particular type of projectile. Some people claim that the other subseries of Mega Man are more difficult, but I think that this is because later games have boss designs that expect you to learn them at all. In classic Mega Man, they knew most of these bosses were bullcrap, so they give you an easy way out (though it often feels like the only way out).

In his video "Action Button Reviews Doom", Tim Rogers makes the claim that Mega Man only has a gun because they couldn't make platforming fun enough on its own; I'm pretty sure he only meant this as a kind of game design based piece of observational humor, but it is nonetheless factually incorrect. Again I pull this from the interview I found on shmuplations: Akira Kitamura originally wanted to make something more akin to a shooting game, but Nobuyuki Matsushima's hit detection code was too slow for what the kind of game he had envisioned. They had to decrease the number of enemies on screen, and had to focus on other elements like platforming. With fewer sprites on screen, they were able to make Mega Man's appearance more detailed: Mega Man's armor and his exposed face are actually two separate sprites.

So, while what Tim Rogers said was missing the details, it was in some way spiritually correct. Mega Man is a game produced not from a well met creative intent, but from compromises working within the limitations of what this particular small team could do. What's frustrating, to me, is that Mega Man has been so endlessly iterated upon with these compromises intact, and many of the games which try to address these compromises fail to capture the same cultural sway as the original.

This, to me, is why the original Mega Man is important, not because it's a particularly good game. Honestly, it's probably bad enough that in another world I would be content to completely write it off. In some ways I do think that, given the limitations placed upon the team who made it, the fact that it turned out as good as it did is remarkable, I don't think those 7 people did "a bad job". What makes Mega Man for the NES important is that the problems which plague the series start here, they exist here as the compromised vision of a couple of guys who would only ever work on one more Mega Man game before handing it off to other creatives. Yet, even after changing hands, these compromises never really went challenged until the series exploded into spin offs, re-imaginings, and spiritual successors.

This is the first one, but you shouldn't start here, you should only come back here when you wonder where it went wrong.
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ThroughLidlessEye 2022-06-05T02:16:32Z
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snazysnail Mega Man 2024-05-29T13:26:00Z
NES • XNA
2024-05-29T13:26:00Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sadgirl2023 Mega Man 2024-05-24T17:06:03Z
3DS
2024-05-24T17:06:03Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sadgirl2023 Mega Man 2024-05-23T20:36:56Z
2024-05-23T20:36:56Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MatthewStar Mega Man 2024-05-22T13:12:58Z
2024-05-22T13:12:58Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
avoidbeing Mega Man 2024-05-21T22:41:01Z
2024-05-21T22:41:01Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Psychocow Mega Man 2024-05-21T03:05:36Z
2024-05-21T03:05:36Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gb7b5 Mega Man 2024-05-19T15:20:32Z
2024-05-19T15:20:32Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MrVektro Mega Man 2024-05-18T02:58:03Z
2024-05-18T02:58:03Z
1.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Loveless01 Mega Man 2024-05-13T07:23:40Z
2024-05-13T07:23:40Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Caerulus Mega Man 2024-05-09T00:25:39Z
2024-05-09T00:25:39Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CircoBondi Mega Man 2024-05-07T15:32:47Z
NES • XNA
2024-05-07T15:32:47Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lauracomfy Mega Man 2024-05-04T13:51:21Z
2024-05-04T13:51:21Z
7
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Also known as
  • Rokkuman
  • ロックマン
  • Rockman
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  • Previous comments (26) Loading...
  • omo_ree 2023-10-14 17:51:49.169278+00
    better than the psp remake
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  • Y2K_CDA 2023-11-06 03:02:12.079391+00
    this game would have a way better reception if it didnt have some of the worst wiley stages in the series
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  • omo_ree 2023-12-06 02:42:58.113531+00
    i do prefer this game to megaman 3 i think
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  • MuffinsFan666 2024-02-26 13:24:07.001069+00
    Funny how literally no one talks about this one
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  • renegadexavier06 2024-03-02 17:31:20.068175+00
    Pretty annoying to play but doable. The concept's pretty well done, I say. It's pretty much Kirby with guns... or is Kirby Megaman without guns?
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  • polarbearpatrol 2024-04-22 05:45:22.738564+00
    The Yellow Devil really is not that bad compared to the boss rush with Fire Man in Wily 4 that is currently making me want to saw my nuts off
    reply
    • polarbearpatrol 2024-04-22 23:06:07.525011+00
      Update:
      Wily: defeated
      Mega Man: victorious
      My nuts: sawed off
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