Game 4 – Mega Man 3 (NES)
Whenever I hear the topic of Mega Man come up, it most often comes down to everyone agreeing on how great Mega Man 2 is, and after that everyone seems to have their own favorite. Some people prefer one of the other NES staples (1-6), while some people just love the SNES games (Usually 7 or one of the Mega Man X games), and even others think Mega Man Legends is the way to go. I know others that even say that the new ones, 9 and 10, have improved the games enough that they should be considered among the best. The interesting thing is that there’s a good argument to hold up for all of these games. I consider the Mega Man fanbase to be one of the most tolerable, as I don’t find that people really dislike many of the games, except maybe some of the spin-offs.
But still, there is this kind of agreement between fans that Mega Man 2 is this crowning achievement. Even if they have another game that’s their favorite, people tend to say that 2 has some of the best music, most iconic stages, and some of the best weapons.
Hearing nothing but good things, I played Mega Man 2 a while ago, and I’d have to say it lived up to the hype. It’s a fantastic game, and a solid entry to the series as it lays the groundwork for the many games to follow. The improvements over the original are astounding. I’ll probably dedicate it’s own post to it eventually, as it’s plenty deserving of one. But it’s just the backstory to the next game I decided to break out. Taking 2 as the starting point, and not wanting to take a step backwards in the series quite yet (I’ll save the original for when I’m feeling a bit more nostalgic), I popped in the next game in the series.
Mega Man 3, released in 1990 (2 years after Mega Man 2), doesn’t do too much to change the success that preceded it. Really, MM3 looks very similar to MM2, compared to the sharp contrast between MM1 and MM2. But although the gameplay is so similar, there are plenty of neat things they added into MM3 that really expand upon the series. The first very noticeable thing is Mega Man’s new ability to slide. This in itself vastly changes the way the platformer is played. It’s interesting playing any Mega Man after this, considering that sliding is just another part of the game. But when you go back and play MM2, it really makes you miss it. Dodging attacks is much easier, and it gives you a sense of satisfaction with how smooth it works into the combat. Another noticeable addition is Mega Man’s robot dog, Rush. Again, he seems like a staple of the series now, but he’s missing from MM2 in favor of the simpler items. Although I can’t say it really adds any more abilities the items didn’t already have in MM2, but it doesn’t hurt to add some extra fluff. Especially considering how light on story a lot of these NES-era games were. Speaking of adding fluff, the biggest fluff addition in MM3 comes in the form of the introduction of Proto Man, Mega Man’s prototype brother who appears in the game as a mini-boss in multiple stages.
Beyond actual new additions to the gameplay as compared to MM2, the game just…feels a bit different. You can see MM3 as the point where you start to see some of the…uniquely themed bosses and stages implemented. I guess you could consider the previous robot masters to be boring or generic by comparison, but that’s all personal opinion. Air Man, Heat Man, and Metal Man (and their stages) seem a lot more normal and realistic than Snake Man and Top Man.
But it’s easy to concentrate on the weird. Even with a couple “uniquely themed” bosses, MM3 has some good ones as well. I was personally a fan of Magnet Man and Shadow Man. Although I will say that Magnets run out WAY too quickly (You only get to shoot a total of14 before you run out). But they’re cool while you get to use them. As for Shadow Blades, they’re probably the equivalent of Metal Blades from MM2, but not quite as good.
One thing I really loved about this game, though, is after you defeat the 8 robot masters. You don’t just go directly to Wily’s Castle to defeat Wily like you did in MM2. First, you end up going through alternate versions of 4 of the stages and fight 2 robot masters in each. Except instead of fighting the same robot masters you encountered before, you find the Dark Lord, who channels the powers of each of the 8 robot masters from MM2 to fight you with. So you get this great sense of nostalgia coming off playing MM2, where you get to fight them all again. I think that MM2 has one of the best groups of robot masters of any game in the series, and it’s really cool seeing them all again. It’s also interesting to compare how much easier the fights are just because of the ability to slide to dodge their attacks. It gives an even sharper comparison of how much the mechanic was missed in the game before.
After these 4 stages, the game transports you to Wily’s Castle like normal, and you trek through 4 more stages, fighting unique non-robot master bosses in between. Although I’m not trying to make a spoiler-free blog here, I’m also not trying to ruin the final bosses and endings of games, either. Also, I don’t have any screenshots for anything beyond the first 8 stages. So there’s that.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself with Mega Man 3. It really feels like a proper sequel to an already great game. It defines itself plenty by doing things the 2nd never tried to, all the while staying true to the things MM2 fixed in the series. I wouldn’t be one to say it’s an overall better game, but there are some people that would. And I’m okay with that.
Because really, every Mega Man game is going to come with things you like and things you don’t like. There are going to be bosses that seem a bit wacky, and ones that feel more normal. There will be weapons that are useful throughout the game, and ones that you never even try to use because they don’t really have a use. That’s Mega Man. That’s what you expect. I really don’t believe that any Mega Man game is perfect. There is going to be one that is your favorite. It may be the one you played first, or the one that has the coolest boss. It might be the one where you get the most fun weapon to use. But really, every game has parts that you can pick out that are like that. Each game in the series has a best boss, a best weapon, a best stage, and a best song. So it makes sense why so many people can look at a series with so many different games and be okay with all of them. There’s something appealing in all of them. And they know that their own favorite may not be rational, but there’s something in it that just makes them love it more than anything else. And it’s the same for every other person who plays and likes the series.