Back in 1987, Capcom gave birth to the Mega Man series that is still going strong today. The success of the franchise is the result of clever level designs, interchangeable weapons, and unique boss fights. Today, I’m reviewing the first Mega Man game for the original Nintendo. Let’s just get this out of the way, Mega Man might have the worst box art ever but let’s hop into this Mega Man review!
Mega Man Plot:
Two doctors named Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were working together in robotics to assemble humanoid robots that could help mankind with basic tasks and dangerous jobs. Together, they created seven robots to help humanity. Mega Man was created to help assist Dr. Light in his lab, while Ice Man, Guts Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Bomb Man, and Fire Man were built to perform an array of jobs to make the lives of humans easier.
Dr. Light was credited for much of the work and to the dismay of Dr. Wily. In an act of revenge, Dr. Wily decides to reprogram the six industrial robots into killer-machines who terrorize the city. In desperation, Dr. Light upgrades Mega Man into a combat robot equipped with a Mega Buster on his arm capable of shooting balls of energy to help defeat the rogue robots.
Mega Man sets out in the year 20XX to help defeat Dr. Wily and his six robot commanders.
Mega Man Gameplay:
After defeating the six robot masters, Mega Man heads to Dr. Wily’s secret base where he confronts him. Defeating more deadly robots and clones of the original six robot masters, Mega Man faces off with Dr. Wily once and for all. Mega Man gets the best of him and in an act of mercy spares Dr. Wily’s life.
Mega Man was unique back in 1987 for having the ability to let the player choose their path in the order of levels that they play. Each robot master is weak to a specific weapon, and you can only obtain that weapon after defeating another robot master. There is certainly an easier path to play, but if you wish to be challenged you can start with whatever robot master you like. Mega Man is a challenge in itself with its brutal platforming levels filled with persistent deadly enemies. You will die, and you will die a lot. Frustration will grow, and you will curse out in anger.
To help minimize the outbursts, Mega Man can collect energy capsules for his life and extra lives throughout levels. Throughout his mission, Mega Man can jump and fire his “Mega Buster” to kill enemies. Memorizing enemy patterns and level layouts are a must if you want to beat this game.
Killing an enemy will add to your score, but personally, I never paid attention to what my score was. I just cared about advancing to the next stage in one piece. Mega Man does include a wide variety of smaller robots that will attack you. Each stage has unique enemies and themes that go along with the Robot Master that calls that level home. Ice Man will give you an ice level and Fire Man will give you a level filled with flames and so on.
After destroying the six robot masters, a seventh level will open up. It may seem like this is the “last” stage but it’s far from it. Defeating the six robot masters always gave me blue balls, teasing with the end of the game, but instead I was greeted with four more stages complete with insanely hard bosses, fighting the six robot masters again, and then finally Dr. Wily.
The music fits perfectly with each stage, giving Mega Man an encouraging tune to slaughter enemies. I recently interviewed Manami Matsumae, game composer of Mega Man. She shed some insight into how she got started at Capcom and what the process was to creating the Mega Man sound effects.
Mega Man Bosses:
Part of the fun in Mega Man is defeating the six robot masters. Let’s take a look at what makes each of them unique.
Cut Man: Designed to function as a lumberjack he has powerful saw-toothed scissor-like cutters on top of his head.
Ice Man: Impervious to chilling sub-zero temperatures, Ice Man was built to perform jobs in extreme climate conditions.
Guts Man: Perhaps Guts Man was built for construction sites as he is capable of lifting and transporting huge boulders and steel beams. Watch out as he can chuck some of them your way.
Bomb Man: This robot master gets flagged by the TSA whenever he flies. Using his large bombs, he throws them at the land for construction projects to clear the way for projects.
Fire Man: Not one to put out fires, this robot master melts, and molds metals with a flamethrowing torch on top of his head.
Elec Man: A robot master that is not electable, but electric. He uses his power to conduct electrical operations for large businesses and companies.
After defeating them, you’ll have to invade Dr. Wily’s secret fortress. Here, you will encounter one of the toughest bosses in video games. He goes by the name of “Yellow Devil”. This bastard, in my opinion, is the toughest part of the game. After the Yellow Devil, you’ll face a strange robot protected in a bubble and a clone copy of Mega Man.
Finally, you’ll face off against Dr. Wily in his tank-like machine. After defeating it, Dr. Wily will beg for mercy at the feet of Mega Man. In the first of many, many poor decisions Mega Man will show mercy at letting him live.
I never had a Nintendo growing up so I didn’t actually play Mega Man until around 2011 when I was first getting into retro games. I used to play it with my coworker on an emulation laptop in our private office while we “worked” all day. I admit I wouldn’t be able to defeat the game without being able to save in-between stages. Many, many “restarts” occurred whether I missed a jump, or ran into a nasty enemy. The robot masters are tough and Dr. Wily’s castle is insanely brutal with the Yellow Devil. I didn’t have the patience to practice until I was good enough to play the game in its entirety without saving between stages.
One key upgrade that is crucial to pick up is the “Magnet Beam” that you will later use in Dr. Wily’s fortress. I recently replayed Mega Man earlier this year and totally forgot about the Magnet Beam stranding myself inside the fortress without the power to use it. Needless to say, I was not pleased.
Mega Man Review Score:
Mega Man is a fun franchise, I have been able to beat the first six games for the NES. The first Mega Man set the stage for the following games to come. The ability to select levels was clever, the boss fights difficult but not impossible and the uniquely themed stages all give Mega Man a charm. If you are into difficult platform challenges while constantly mashing the fire button this game might be for you. So what’s the final score for this Mega Man review?
Mega Man scores a 7.1 out of 10.
Interested in owning Mega Man for the NES? You can purchase a preowned edition from eBay. The copies range from $55-$125. Don’t feel like spending the big bucks? You can download Mega Man digitally on the Nintendo E-shop for $5.
I want to hear from you! What did you think of Mega Man on the NES? I’d love to hear your memories of when it first came out or when you first played it. Who was the toughest robot master for you? What would you rate the game? Drop me a comment below so I can read your thoughts. Thanks for reading!