Mega Man: A History

A brief history on the original Mega Man series.
October 02, 2008

Mega Man is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. I don't know why, it just always has been. Maybe it was the wide variety of robots you fought with all these different abilities and getting their powers after you defeated them, maybe it was the awesome music, or maybe it was just the fact that you played a robot who looked like a human wearing blue armor and had a plasma cannon for an arm.

Mega Man happens to be a favorite franchise to a lot of gamers. It was created by Capcom, and aside from "Street Fighter", it's Capcom's most recognized franchise. There was a new feature introduced in each new game. I think the best way to start this article is to give people who are unfamiliar with the franchise a little backstory.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Dr. Thomas Light. One day, he invented two robots, one male and one female. The male robot was named Rock, and the female was named Roll. They were programmed to be house-keeping robots and assistants for Dr. Light (he was technically their father).

Dr. Light also invented six more robots and originally planned for them to help mankind. However, Dr. Albert Wily, Dr. Light's former lab partner, stole those robots and reprogrammed them to do world destruction. Wily also kidnapped Rock and Roll intending to do the same to them. Rock managed to get them out of there by telling Wily that Dr. Light built super warrior robots. After getting back home, Rock apologized to Dr. Light for telling a lie, and as a way of accepting his apology, he rebuilt Rock into a super warrior robot and granted him the name: Mega Man.

That's all basically backstory to the first "Mega Man" game released on the NES in 1987. In this game, you play the role of Mega Man and are sent out to fight the six robots that Dr. Wily reprogrammed (these robots that you see throughout these games are known as the "Robot Masters"): Cut Man, Guts Man, Ice Man, Bomb Man, Fire Man and Elec Man.

Since this was Capcom's first crack at the series, it wasn't all fully developed. The graphics are quite good, and the music is good for an NES title but not primitive for a Mega Man classic. It's the only game in the series to have a score board. Most notably, the game is extremely hard. The main thing that makes it hard is the fact that there is no password system, so you can't save your game in the process.

It was a good game for its time, but compared to the later games in the series, it lacked a lot. One thing I often wondered, though...If Dr. Light invented those six robots to help mankind, then what was Bomb Man's purpose?

In 1988, Capcom released "Mega Man 2". This game was a vast improvement over the first game, and many consider it to be the best game in the entire series. While the game did set most of the standards for the series, I don't think it is quite the best.

"Mega Man 2" introduced a lot of new elements such as a password system, Energy Tanks (which made the gameplay a lot easier), Wily's castle, and in addition to gaining each Robot Master's powers, Dr. Light also supplies some items to help you get around places (which are essential to use in Wily's castle). The game also has one of the best and most well-known soundtracks on the NES.

From this point on in the series, Dr. Wily will be inventing new Robot Masters (eight in each game), and this game had the following: Metal Man, Quick Man, Wood Man, Heat Man, Flash Man, Bubble Man, Air Man and Crash Man.

We had to wait two years until "Mega Man 3" came out, and I gotta say, it was well worth the wait! This 1990 NES game is what I believe is the best game in the entire franchise. While "Mega Man 2" may have set most of the standards in the series, "Mega Man 3" went beyond my expectations by delivering even more!

This is the game that introduced Rush, Mega Man's little sidekick, and Proto Man, Mega Man's mysterious brother. Proto Man's theme song is undeniably the best video game music in history. Not to mention, Mega Man is now given the ability to slide.

I think this game is the best because it had the best...everything! The best controls, the best music, the best animation, the best replay value, and all the coolest Robot Masters in the entire series: Snake Man, Gemeni Man, Needle Man, Hard Man, Top Man, Shadow Man, Spark Man and Magnet Man!

This game also had something that the other Mega Man games didn't; after fighting all the Robot Masters, you'll get to revisit the Robot Masters from "Mega Man 2" and then fight Proto Man one more time all before going to Wily's castle! Wow! How can you not say that this one blows the other ones away?

In 1991, the Super NES hit the markets, and while it was getting more popular, the NES continued to release games. "Mega Man" was one series that continued to make NES releases, and I think that was a smart move for Capcom. "Mega Man 4" came out that very year, and this is usually the point in the series where gamers started to lose interest.

While Mega Man 2 and 3 were relatively easy and a lot of fun to play, 4 brought the difficulty up a lot. The bosses in this game are a lot harder. On a definite plus side, this game introduced Mega Man's Mega Buster, which gave him the ability to charge his arm cannon, and it also introduced Eddie, a handy little robot who appears in some levels to give Mega Man a handy item. As far as some of the negatives go, the music is kinda washed out and tingey; in other words, I didn't like the music that much. Also, this is the point in the series where the Robot Masters started to get some lame names (Toad Man and Dust Man are the prime examples).

The story of this game states that eight more Robot Masters are destroying the planet that were sent by a Russian guy named Dr. Cossak; these Robot Masters are: Drill Man, Pharaoh Man, Bright Man, Dust Man, Ring Man, Dive Man, Toad Man and Skull Man. Eventually, we find out that Dr. Wily was behind all this afterall. Oh, and I also gotta point out my favorite thing about this game, which is the fact that it has one of the most ludicrous lines in video game history: "I'm gonna break you, Mega Man!"

Now, it is 1992, and here comes "Mega Man 5". Many consider this to be the worst game in the series. I don't blame a lot of them. I mean, for me, I don't think there is such a thing as a worst Mega Man game, but there can be a least best, and this is one I'd nominate for that category.

The cons for this game include complete butchering of Rush's abilities, the music is not as memorable as the other games, and what's up with the Robot Masters? We've got Napalm Man, Gravity Man, Stone Man, Wave Man, Gyro Man, Star Man, Charge Man and Crystal Man. Who came up with a name like Napalm Man? Do you think any kid would know what a napalm is? And what's with Stone Man? As if we didn't know that Mega Man's Japanese name was Rock Man? Also, what the heck is this? Star Man? A name ripped right off of a character from "Super Mario Bros."? I'm surprised they didn't make a Super Man or a Bat Man for this game!

Anyway, most of the game focuses on Proto Man, who we find out in this game is actually evil. The new feature introduced in this game was a new character, Beat, a robot bird who comes in handy for some boss fights.

Now we come to 1993, and now, here's...*GASP!* "Mega Man 6?" So how does this one turn out? Well, aside from some lame Robot Master names, this game was considerably an improvement over "Mega Man 5".

Pretty much all the great features from the previous games are all here. Mega Man can still slide, he still has his Mega Buster, and Beat is back, but the biggest change is Rush. Instead of the typical Rush Coil and Rush Jet moves, in this game, Rush transfers himself into Mega Man giving him a jet suit and a power suit.

The story behind this game is that a mysterious man named Mr. X has sent Mega Man and Rush out on a mission to take out the eight newest Robot Masters: Blizzard Man, Wind Man, Knight Man, Plant Man, Centaur Man, Flame Man, Tomahawk Man and Yamato Man. Eventually, Mega Man will find out that Mr. X was really Dr. Wily in disguise!

Two specific Robot Masters I should give a lot of credit for are Knight Man and Wind Man, as they were by far the only Robot Masters designed by Americans. (No offense, Japan, all the others are just as awesome.) In case you guys didn't know, ever since Mega Man 3's production, Japan has been holding these special Robot Master design contests where kids got to submit ideas for Robot Masters they want to see in the upcoming Mega Man games, and the winners end up on the games; the contest for "Mega Man 6" was the only one so far to be held in North America as well. This was sadly the last Mega Man game to be released on the NES since the system retired about a year later.

1995 soon dawned upon us. Since the NES was retired, Capcom had no choice but to release "Mega Man 7" on the Super NES. This game was much different from the previous games because this game started out with an intro level, then you got to fight four Robot Masters, go to another mini level, and then fight the other four Robot Masters.

This game also introduced three new characters: Auto (another robot who assists Dr. Light), Bass (Mega Man's rival) and Treble (Bass' dog). One thing that kinda bothered me about Bass is that everyone seems to pronounce his name as if it were referring to the fish. I think his name is pronounced "base", since his dog is named Treble, and it refers to treble clefs and bass clefs, it should make sense. Anyway, the game also introduced a new shop where Mega Man can buy items and upgrades to his abilities; the items could be bought through bolts that are found throughout the levels. The first four Robot Masters you meet are Burst Man, Cloud Man, Junk Man and Freeze Man, then, later, you'll meet Spring Man, Slash Man, Turbo Man and Shade Man.

As far as how I think of the game, for the Super Nintendo, it's actually pretty good. I mean, a lot of the music in the game sounds really nice, the gaphics are bright and colorful (despite the large sprites), and the sound did kinda suck, but it was appropriate for the SNES. The controls could have been better, and Rush is back to doing his coil and jet thing in addition to that jet and power suit, which have combined into one in this game. Overall, "Mega Man 7" is a fun game to play, but I usually shut the game off by the time I get to Wily's castle, as from that point on in the game, it gets boring, and Wily is impossible to beat! I don't reccomend the game to most people unless they're hardcore fans.

Well, 1997 came, and Nintendo announced that they were retiring their Super NES. Capcom then decided to release "Mega Man 8" on the Sony Playstation.

Being that this was a new generation console, the graphics have greatly improved in this game, but thankfully, it was still a 2D side-scroller (as all Mega Man games should be). As for the sound, the music, in my opinion, is the worst in the series; none of the tunes are memorable, and the instrumentation used just didn't work out.

Most of the voice acting is horrendous, but it was fun to hear the Robot Masters taunt you and react to their failure. This game is also pretty hard. The shop has some useful items, but you have to buy them with screws that you need to find hidden in the levels, and unlike in "Mega Man 7", there are only a few screws in the whole game! As far as the main characters go, we have all our favorites from the past games, and the only additional character is a robot named Duo.

If you play the Mega Man games chronologically, you'll notice that Capcom kept running out of ideas for Robot Masters. The Robot Masters in this game are Clown Man, Frost Man, Sword Man, Aqua Man, Search Man, Astro Man, Grenade Man and Tengu Man. Tengu Man? What the heck is a tengu? Who came up with a robot like that? Despite all the flaws I mentioned, "Mega Man 8" is still a pretty good game, and if you can get your hands on it, I say check it out.

For the next ten years, Capcom put the Mega Man series to rest and focused more on a few Mega Man spin-off series' they've been working on. Throughout the late 90's and a majority of the 2000's, nobody would have guessed that a "Mega Man 9" would come out.

There actually was a game released in Japan shortly after "Mega Man 8" on the SNES called "Rockman & Forte", which if translated into English would be "Megaman & Bass". This game gave players the choice to play as either Mega Man or Bass. There are some people who believed that this game was "Mega Man 9", while others argued that it didn't count and was it's own seperate game.

Like any other classic Mega Man game, it featured a series of Robot Masters: Cold Man, Pirate Man, Burner Man, Ground Man, Magic Man and Dynamo Man, but for some reason, they recycled two Robot Masters from "Mega Man 8": Tengu Man and Astro Man. There's really not much else to say.

In 2008, an announcement had been made that Capcom would be releasing "Mega Man 9", a game that would be featured as a downloadable game on the Wii's Virtual Console and on X-Box Live, and it was going to be made as an 8-bit 2D side-scroller. A lot of hardcore fans flipped with excitement when they heard about this, but there was also some controversy going on. A lot of people had been making videos on YouTube saying that this game was a bad idea and should have been scrapped. Well, being a hardcore fan, I didn't listen to those ranters and downloaded the game, and I was satisfied.

Well, what is there to say? "Mega Man 9" is the first time in 15 years that the Blue Bomber was in an 8-bit game. The graphics are brilliant, the music is good, but the controls go a little too far back. Mega Man not having his Mega Buster or the ability to slide was a little too much, but at least he still had Rush. There was also a shop like in 7 and 8, and it's really easy to pick up bolts in this game! As for the difficulty, man, it is ridiculously hard! This game makes the first Mega Man game seem as easy as playing the triangle!

Going back to the YouTube users who made those videos ranting about the game, most of them were not hardcore fans, and they knew that the entire series was tedious and that this game would have some even lamer Robot Master names. I must agree, the Robot Masters in this game all do have some pretty lame names, but take a look at what we've got: Plug Man, Hornet Man, Tornado Man, Galaxy Man, Jewel Man, Magma Man, Concrete Man and Splash Woman. Yes, believe it or not, Wily actually came to his senses and made a female Robot Master. If you're a hardcore Mega Man fan as I am, I strongly reccomend downloading this game onto whatever virtual console you have!

Well, what else is there to say about Mega Man?

Some of you may not know this, but in the mid 90's, Mega Man had a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon series. Only 27 episodes were made, most likely because it was getting a lot of bad feedback. I must admit, the series was really corny, but it was still a very memorable show. I think they should make a new Mega Man series based on the original franchise except make it darker, more action-packed and more suitable for a new generation of kids...kinda like what they did with the Ninja Turtles. In fact, I can think of a lot of things that should be done in the VG world!

If they could recreate Mega Man by making "Mega Man 9" as if it were an NES game and make it a downloadable game, they should do that with other franchises! For instance, I think they should make a Zelda game in 8-bit for the WiiWare and call it "Zelda 3", which would follow where "Zelda 2" left off in the timeline.

I also think they should make a "Mega Man X9" and make it a 16-bit game for the virtual consoles. Actually, better yet, they should just continue the "Mega Man" series like this and bring the Robot Master Design contest here to the States! I've come up with like over 60 different Robot Masters, and it would be so awesome if any of them were used in any future games!

Okay, that about wraps up my Mega Man article. I hope you all enjoyed it. Stay tuned for my next article where I'm going to recap the Mega Man X series!
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