Feature by wumpwoast | July 30, 2007
Mega Man got its start on 8-bit Nintendo systems, where it gained a reputation for being fun, sexy, and repeating the same schtick every eight months. Looking back, it's amazing just how quickly the designers seemed to run out of ideas -- one year we received the Needle Cannon, and then the next we get the repackaged version, the Yamato Spear. Or perhaps ask yourself what happens to a Leaf Shield after it dies? (Answer: Skull Shield.)
It's bad enough that we have Air Man and Gyro Man and Wind Man, all with propellers and increasingly boring gust-based attacks with each new game. Capcom's ability to self-plagiarize is legendary even today. But the company even had the nerve to repeat the exact same Robot Masters and enemies in the Game Boy games. The only conceivably worse sin would be to release eight slightly-tweaked versions of Street Fighter II?.
Still, with hindsight, gamers today can look back and see where Mega Man's inspiration ends and the plagiarism begins. Read on to vicariously enjoy the series at its best, and grin as we tear the rest to pieces.
Nintendo Entertainment System
Mega Man: Where the game is actually hard, and the special weapons are actually special.
Mega Man 2: The reason you're reading this. A wizard, a true star.
Mega Man 3: Bigger, harder, with a story to tell. Mega Man is still the one.
Mega Man 4: "The bird was definitely in the air -- I could feel the beating of its wings."
Mega Man 5: Graphical highs and gameplay lows.
Mega Man 6: Gain a power suit, lose some polish.
Mega Man in: Dr. Wily's Revenge: Six stages of start-to-finish quality. Also: hard.
Mega Man II: The easiest, least-frustrating game in the series.
Mega Man III: Hard is back in style. Learn to jump like a master.
Mega Man IV: P-Chips, branching stages, and fun stereophonic trickery.
Mega Man V: Stardroids were too cool for the Game Boy.