Outside World: Mega Man

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It’s pretty incredible to think that one of my favourite games is also one that I am absolutely rubbish at. But that’s how I am with Mega Man.

What I like to do is watch other people play it properly. How that way might be varies from showing off every little nook and cranny that is relevant to going absolutely flat out. That’s one big sell for the Mega Man games, always – they make for magnificent speed games.

If I’m honest, the best of the bunch are TASes, though. Every one of the main series games has been TASed, as have the five Gameboy games. Oh, and Mega Man DOS.

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TASes are simply at their very best when on a Mega Man game. Nothing proves this quite like the original game, which has been broken beyond all belief. This is quite simply one of the best of its kind.

Mega Man 2 is the consensus fans’ favourite, being what brought the series its popularity most of all. It isn’t my actual favourite these days, but I quite understand why everyone else would see it as so. It is the one Mega Man game that is most referred to, such is its status.

If MM2 isn’t someone’s favourite, Mega Man 3 is the most likely to be it otherwise. Certainly, I prefer the game over its predecessor, seeing as it has quite a cool aura about it and some bits do just feel so right. That said, it still didn’t feel very stable in terms of the series, as if it were still in the process of chopping and changing features and characteristics. Still, it is action-packed, for sure.

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Mega Man 4 is my favourite. It seems like an odd choice, but to my mind there is an inherent rightness to it all when both playing it and watching it. It just has the best feel to it, in my opinion, in terms of gameplay, music, graphics, everything really. It’s a fairly irrational reason to love it, really, but such is the way with many things in life. I suppose I should mention, back on the subject of TASes, that MM4’s got an update pretty recently, with a tactic that will bring joy to many a player.

Mega Man 5 is certainly a very slick, quick feeling game. They nailed gameplay, for sure, and I quite like it myself. It’s not the absolute best, but it’s probably like Touhou in many ways – you can appreciate it more if you’ve played the older games first, just like you should. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Unfortunately, most reckon Mega Man 6 was when the series rather hit the wall – and they’re right. I’ve gained a bit more respect for it over time but it just doesn’t feel quite epic enough, or right. It’s got a very confused feel, and the Wily Stages are particularly weak here I feel. Sure enough, after this period the Mega Man series got a little bit odd – although there was likely a good reason, one which will need another piece to cover.

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Now Mega Man made the transition to SNES with Mega Man 7. This wasn’t perfect either. It had some odd factors about it, albeit some also rather superb ones as well. Unlike the Mega Man games most recent before it, the game started off weakly but then got stronger. That was one positive. But this series wouldn’t last long here…not for the moment, anyway.

Instead the PSX was the next stop with Mega Man 8. Mostly this is remembered as the series’ black sheep thanks largely to the very silly voice acting. (OK, well mostly Dr. Light.) This time, the game seemed to be more balanced in terms of how well it fared, but it still wasn’t the series’ finest moment.

However, somewhere along the line, another SNES game came about – and it was so evidently a game like the rest that it might as well have been called Mega Man 8.5. But it wasn’t, this was Mega Man & Bass, and it was terrific. In spite of a slightly bizarre method of going about the 8 Robot Masters, and short Wily section, it was really a superb game from start to finish, and had the Museum section to boot. That, and it proved to be as hard as a Mega Man game has yet been – with Mega Man, anyway. Bass mostly had a massive edge since it was fundamentally his game.

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Then, the series lay dormant for a decade. And then Mega Man 9 came and brought it all back, on the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3…only this time, it was back in 8-bit. The fanbase rejoiced, although I see it in a less good light since it did make rather too many references to MM2, showing a fair bit of neglect for the rest of the series.

But Mega Man 10 really was all unique and much better for it. That was the Mega Man game when I was most into the series and therefore it holds some great memories for me. That’s all we’ve heard from Mega Man for now, though. And as we know, Capcom are not inclined to change that.

I suppose I should also mention the Game Boy games that I touched upon earlier. (They are numbered with Roman numerals.) The first two weren’t that special, especially II, which was done by a different team and was basically just very odd. But III, IV and V were all done well. III was the closest to vintage Mega Man, whilst IV was very much its own game and V had Stardroids, an entirely different kettle of fish compared to the mix of Robot Masters the other four games before had. They’re worth a try in their own right, mostly.

But is there more to it than just the games themselves? Yes. Definitely. While the characters are nothing special (Proto Man is probably my favourite), they do all bear significance, most especially the Robot Masters of the different games.  Similarly, graphical fidelity is also a strong point at times, even if I am mostly not bothered about graphics. That doesn’t mean I won’t notice good graphics, though.

But by far the most inescapable positive in the series, above the gameplay even, is the music. So much of it is just so immensely perfect. There are so many songs within and you are bound to like a bunch of them. If you haven’t heard any songs from it, go and find some right now! There’s so much goodness within it I’m gonna need rather a long list to put all my absolute favourites down after this.

Really though, the essence of Mega Man is just all down to it being a super speedy game that is massive fun to watch, and, if you’re any good, play as well. It’s a challenge, so that’s always a fun thing too. The fact is, Mega Man is blessed with some of the best gameplay we’ll ever see – and the music shines along with it. But if you think this is all the Mega Man name has to offer, there’s way, way more than just this ‘Classic’ series here… However, only one other side of the franchise is worth my time. As I said earlier, that’s for another piece.

My favourite Mega Man music

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