Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that my favorite game is Mega Man 3. It has been since the first time I played it as a little kid, and it always will be. I have easily beaten it 50 times. I have forced all of my close friends to play it. I have beaten it on the emulators, on the Mega Man anniversary collection, and even worn my ipod’s battery out trying to beat it on there. I have beaten this game so many times that I can beat levels with one hand and bosses with my eyes closed (no this is not an exaggeration). It is the epitome of what a game should be (at least an NES game) and as such I can think of no better game to be the subject of my first review on this blog.
Rather than just continue to nonsensically prattle on about all the lame memories and geeky habits I have with Mega Man 3 I think it would be better if I examined the game in terms of the elements that I think contribute most to making a game great.
The main story of this game is your pretty basic Mega Man stuff: Dr. Wiley (more commonly Dr. Wily) deceives you into helping him, you fight 8 robot masters, after beating the masters Wiley turns on you and reveals his evil scheme, and then you go to stop him. This storyline may seem stale to some (as it is basically the story to every Mega Man game) but for me it is the only way a Mega Man story should be.
Now I know you are saying to yourself “well Scott that story doesn’t really seem worthy of an 8 even by NES standards” and to that I say “shut up I am not done explaining myself!” The aspect of this story that I feel makes it worthy of an 8 is the side plot of Protoman (hey that’s where I got my name from!!!). Protoman, as you find out at the end of the game, is (20 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT) Mega Man’s brother. He is your classic tortured villain fighting an inner battle between wanting to please his master, and wanting to protect his younger brother. If you play through the game in the order I do (Top man, Shadow man, Spark man, Magnet man, Hard man, Gemini man, Needle man, and Snake man) you will see him go from fighting you on your journey, to helping you move forward, and eventually to saving you from Wiley’s crumbling fortress at the last minute. Now that is some pretty serious depth for an 8-bit prototype robot.
Score: 8 Out of 10 (By NES standards)
It is pretty obvious why this is a criterion for a good game since you know it is basically the whole concept for what the game is and all. Luckily for Mega Man 3 everyone (read: I) loves fast paced action platforming, and this game has it out the wazoo.
While the platforming and action elements are a major component of the game play, they are a pretty standard idea for the NES. What really sets this game, and all Mega Man games apart, is what can only be referred to as the “rock, paper, scissors” element. Upon defeating each boss in the game you will receive a power from them, and each boss in the game is weak to one of the other bosses powers, so the best way to attain success in the game is for you to learn what weapon is best suited to defeat each boss. This allows for hours of extra play time as you test out different weapons on different bosses to find out the most effective way to defeat your robot enemies. This gives the game tons of replay value, and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to come up with the best way to defeat each of Wiley’s dastardly henchmen.
Score: 10 out of 10
Perhaps the most important thing for any NES game is the control. Far too many otherwise good games are ruined by the fact that you slide all over the place when you stop moving, or that when you jump you have no ability to change direction, or worst of all by horrible button layout (damn to the depths whoever thought making anything other than A the jump button was a good idea). Bad control simply takes the genuine fun challenge out of a game and makes you feel less like you are battling the characters in the game and more battling the characters themselves. Luckily, this is where Mega Man 3 truly shines.
The control in this game is nothing short of perfect. Mega Man bends to your every whim. If you decide you need to bail out mid jump and try again, well that is no problem just turn your ass around in the air (provided you haven’t gone too far forward). And unlike previous Mega Man games, if you are running and need to stop quickly to dodge and enemy you can do so on a dime without any of the slight forward slides. Speaking of slides, perhaps the greatest aspect of control in this game is the newly added power slide feature. This empowers you with the ability to make a quick get away from an opponent and to add just a little bit of extra forward momentum to your jumps, making even the most difficult of situations a synch to master. The great control compliments the game play, and leaves you with no one to blame but yourself if you should die at any point in the game.
Score: 10 out of 10
As Timo mentioned in his Sound Test Blog I, like all the other members of this blog, am a musician so obviously one of the most important features of a game for me is the music. This should be obvious since the Japanese name for Mega Man is Rock Man but I think it needs to be said: This game’s soundtrack ROCKS! From the hauntingly beautiful and melodic title screen music, to the bass heavy and bluesy (read: sleazy) jam that is Shadow Man’s theme, all the way to the just plain trippy music that accompanies Gemini Man’s level; This game’s music burrows into your brain and will have you singing along and wanting to do heavy metal covers in no time. They may all be simple 30 to 40 second loops but those little loops go a long way toward making this game achieve total pwnage (obligatory use of the word pwn in a video game blog).
Specialty Awards for Each of the 8 Main Songs:
1. Top Man: MOST ROCK AND ROLL (What guitar player wouldn’t want to play this song?)
2. Snake Man: MOST FUN TO SING ALONG TO
3. Spark Man: MOST APPROPRIATE DRUMS (The hi-hat sounds like sparks to me)
4. Hard Man: MOST AWESOME BASS PART
5. Shadow Man: MOST AWESOME INTRO RUN
6. Magnet Man: MOST ANNOYING TO LISTEN TO FOR 10 MINUTES WHILE YOUR FRIENDS TRY TO FIGURE OUT THE DISAPPEARING BLOCK PATTERNS
7. Gemini Man: MOST APPROPRIATE MATCH TO STAGE APPEARANCE
8. Needle Man: MOST FORGETTABLE (It still rocks though)
Score: 10 out of 10
The level design in this game is superb, and diverse. Rather than simply pallet swap and change a few minor details about the levels, like some NES games try to get away with, each level in this game has its own unique feel that keeps the game from getting stale, and thus keeps players hooked.
In the interest of putting as much information into this long delayed review as possible I will go into brief detail on each of the main levels.
Top Man’s Stage: A good first level for people just getting started with Mega Man, this level, while a bit polluted with enemies in the beginning, does not have any insanely difficult jumping sequences and possesses a lot of common enemies so you can get used to fighting them early on. Most people usually find it only slightly difficult or easy, with the exception of the first cat mini-boss.
This is not the greatest stage visually, being that it is a level about tops and the entire thing looks to be built of containers of pot leaves, but hey it is still tons of fun to play and it will most likely be the one that you play the most as top man is the easiest first boss.
Most annoying part: The first couple screens. All those jumping enemies can get old real fast.
Most fun part: The jumps across the hovering tops before the boss gate. The effect of Mega Man spinning closer and further away on them looks cool.
Score: 10 out of 10
Shadow Man’s Stage: The difficulty gets ramped up a little bit more on this level. Jumps with enemies to deal with at the same time may leave some people frustrated at first. The developers did do a good job of making the play diverse in this stage. You have your intro falling part, followed quickly by a mysterious whistle toting mini-boss, then the challenge of having all the lights knocked out so you can’t see the ground, and then jumping across the platforms to the boss gate with floating enemies falling down on you.
The stage is ok visually, but I am not sure what what appears to be magma has to do with a ninja themed boss. Really who cares though lava and ninjas are both awesome so having them together is just twice as awesome. It is just a nice satisfying dark level overall.
Most annoying part: The jumps to the boss gate. The only way I know to avoid the enemies that fall effectively is to constantly jump back and forth between the platforms so I can kill them from the previous platform.
Most fun part: The aforementioned lights out part. It looks cool and it is exciting.
Score: 9 out of 10
Spark Man’s Stage: This is one of the toughest levels for a lot of people, particularly toward the end. The enemies in the level are for the most part a synch but the jumping sections can take you out if you don’t have the skill for them (which you most likely won’t your first time playing). You will be forced to jump across platforms that move upward toward a ceiling of instant death spikes while at the same time trying to dodge flying bolt enemies that can knock you off. It is pretty difficult and it may just drive you insane. Still the difficulty only serves to make it all the more satisfying to beat and this is personally one of my favorite levels to play
Visually, this stage is the first one that really hits it on the money, and when you play it it doesn’t require a huge stretch of the imagination to see that it will have an electricity themed boss. The circuit board floors and ceilings aren’t beautiful but at least they create a recognizable atmosphere.
Most annoying part: Any part with the platforms that float up toward the instant death ceilings. It is incredibly nerve racking.
Most fun part: The 4 or 5 screen falling part with no enemies. I like to put on the top spin power and ballerina spin the whole way down.
Score: 10 out of 10
Magnet Man’s Stage: While not the most difficult stage, this is probably the one that is most likely to make you stop playing Mega Man 3, because it is certainly the most annoying level. Not only does it contain the first appearance of what I believe to be the most annoying enemy in the game (the stupid guys that shoot the little missile out of their head), but it also has the most tedious jumping part of the whole game. Midway through the level you face a section with blocks that disappear and reappear and you cannot move on (unless you play the game in a way that gives you rush jet earlier) unless you make it cross these blocks. This would not be so bad on its own but all the while there are magnets that suck you off of the blocks if you stand too close to them. You can easily get too frustrated and spend 20 minutes on this stupid part, and since usually don’t die when you fall off of the blocks you have no real reason to stop trying. It can be a pest, but it is worth it to persevere and get passed as you are only a short distance away from the boss gate.
Visually, this level is hit and miss. I find that I enjoy the intro portion where you can see the sky and really like the look of the batteries that power the magnets that suck you toward them, but the color scheme is pretty gross. Putrid green backgrounds with boring gray floors. Magnet Man needs a new decorator. This is only really something that will bug you when you are stuck at the disappearing block section as you are often forced to look at the throw-up walls for long periods of time.
Most annoying part: The sound the blocks make when they appear. I have nightmares about it.
Most fun part: The beginning part with the magnets that pick you up. I know that they are supposed to be enemies but I find them fun to just play around with as only a few of them ever really hurt you.
Score: 9 out of 10
Hard Man’s Stage: Difficulty wise this stage is probably a bit easier than the previous two were. The bee enemies in it can be a bit of a hassle but you can glitch them off of the screen so they are rarely an issue. Other than the bees and the bear traps most of the enemies shouldn’t give most players an issue though. Even without the intense challenge of the previous levels this level is still exciting due to its contrast of tight areas with barely any room to jump and wide open areas with almost nothing in them.
Visually it is pretty awesome. It gives the impression of fighting in an abandoned construction zone of mine shaft, and even though it doesn’t have any incredibly complex graphics or really a theme that seems to go with a boss (what the hell can you do with a name like Hard Man though) it is still an exciting environment to destroy robots in.
Most annoying part: Fighting Protoman. The ground is raised which leaves you with no really effective strategy for avoiding taking damage.
Most fun part: Glitching the bee enemies off of the screen. I love stuff like that in old games.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
Gemini Man’s Stage: This is one of the hardest and most fun levels in the entire game. There are tons of enemies, instant death pits, and difficult jumps. This can be frustrating at first, but once you get used to it the challenge just ups the excitement and joy you get from beating it. As an added bonus a lot of the enemies in this level are unique, which adds a lot of much needed spice to the game at around the halfway point(provided you are playing it my way through at least, and are also only considering the first 8 levels). Try to get over your stress on this level because if you do it can be one of the most thrilling parts of the game.
This is the best level visually. It is insanely awesome. The beginning outside portion with the starlit sky in the background is a great way to start the level since you don’t often have night time levels, but once you get to the indoor portion it is even better. The whole level feels like you are parading around inside of a giant fish. Things are dark and look damp, and the fact that floor is constantly changing colors is a really awesome effect. This level just has a very satisfying and unique look that will immediately draw in players that may have (somehow) gotten tired of the more industrial feel of the last few levels.
Most annoying part: The part where you have to either jump over or travel through the water in rush jet. It is difficult no matter which option you choose, and even the most seasoned of players can mess up and die here.
Most fun part: Shooting your way through the weird eggs that block your path. Little sperm totally cum out of them LOLZ.
Score: 10 out of 10
Needle Man’s Stage: There is not a whole lot to say about this stage game play wise. It is pretty medium in difficulty and doesn’t have a whole lot of frustrating or memorable parts. To me it has always felt as though it were a little too short. It is not a bad level but it is probably the only level that I would ever consider adding anything too. I will say that the needles, while a very obvious tie in to the boss name, are pretty fun to dodge when they come down from the ceiling.
What this level lacks in memorable challenges it makes up for in style. This is perhaps the second most visually appealing level. It has a sweet metropolitan feel to it and the color scheme outstanding. The best way I can describe it is sort of like a space pirate ship (this is probably just because of the canon enemies). Also it probably contains the only appealing use of green in the whole game.
Most annoying part: The porcupine enemies. They always shoot their needles and block the last shot that I need to hit them with to kill them.
Most fun part: The enemies that throw the ball and chain at you. You can totally kill them below their attack range by staying just barely on the ladder.
Score: 8 out of 10
Snake Man’s Stage: This level starts out pretty basic just a few snake themed enemies to kill (oh and dumb jumping enemies that have nothing to do with snakes but are still fun to watch hop around) but gets a bit more exciting with the part up in the sky at the end where you have to jump across the floating clouds and dodge the bullet bill wannabe clouds. By this point in the game there aren’t a whole lot of surprises in the 8 main levels but this one is still well designed and a lot of fun to play.
If you are a fan of green then you will love how this level looks.
Most annoying part: The really wide jump after the second snake mini-boss. I always think that I am not going to make it.
Most fun part: The part up in the sky. It is the only part that isn’t green.
Score: 9 out of 10
Wily Stages: These stages are awesome and since I have already talked about the first 8 stages in detail I will let any potential players be more surprised by these stages. They basically compile all of the best elements of the previous levels as well as add a few challenges of their own.
Most annoying part: Memorizing the pattern to the second stages boss.
Most fun part: Beating the game. WITH TOP SPIN! (whoops should’ve called spoiler alert again)
Score:10 out of 10
Overall Score for Levels: 9.4 out of 10
(Yes, I know I skipped the second time through Spark Man, Gemini Man, Shadow Man, and Needle Man’s stages with the Mega Man 2 bosses. I am tired of writing about levels though so just imagine everything I already said only slightly more difficult.)
Ok I was gonna put a lot here, but this is getting way too long and out of control so let me sum it up for you.
These Characters get 10 out of 10 for their awesome design: Mega Man, Protoman, Top Man, Spark Man, Shadow Man, Hard Man, Needle Man, Gemini Man, Magnet Man, Dr. Light, and Dr. Wiley.
These Characters get 1 out of 10 for just looking like a dude wearing a lame snake costume: Snake Man.
Score: 9.3 out of 10
OVERALL GAME SCORE: 9.45 OUT OF 10
This game may not be perfect in every single aspect, but it is in all the areas that really count to me, control, gameplay, and music. Sure the character design sucks some times (*cough*Snake Man*cough*) and the theme of the levels doesn’t always go along with the boss the, but nostalgic value that I have for the game makes even the little flaws seem endearing to me and really boosts every category to a perfect 10.
Weighted Nostalgic Overall Rating: 10000000 out of 10
P.S. Sorry this sucker is so long. I really love this game.
P.P.S. I apologize for any lack of consistency when it comes to putting a space between the first part of a robots name and the word “man”. I am never sure how it should actually be and I generally change the way that I write it on a daily basis.