Gam(e)ania continues our trek through the Mega Man series with Mega Man 3!

Mega Man 3 Boxart

After the unprecedented success of Mega Man 2, Capcom had little reason not to continue the Mega Man legacy. The Blue Bomber’s much anticipated return to the NES didn’t disappoint either, to this day it has sold over one million copies worldwide and has become a classic fan favorite among the Mega Man series.

This was a Mega Man game that I had personally anticipated a great deal. I had played and beaten Mega Man 2 numerous times and was ready for a new challenge. Something about Mega Man 3 seemed so astounding and epic to me. To all of us nineties kids the Mega Man series was a big deal and that a game as great as Mega Man 2 was getting a sequel was all the talk amongst the blacktop. Before its release everyone wanted to know who the next bosses, Robot Masters, would be next and if there was any way they could top our favorites from Mega Man 2. I was always a big fan of Metal Man and Crash Man, or Clashman depending on who you ask, I thought there was no way Mega Man 3 could accomplish that. If you must know, the one idea I remember having was Ring Man. He had two rings around him and would throw them, depending on which he threw it would either trap Mega Man for a few seconds or damage him. Obviously, I pictured his face being like Metal Man except with a ring on his forehead instead of a buzzsaw and with a gold and black color pattern. If you know Mega Man 4 you can imagine how disappointed I was in their adaptation of Ring Man.

Having said that, I think the proper transition would be to talk about the general story of Mega Man 3 and to look into the Robot Masters that, as a kid, we all speculated on and idealized.

In Mega Man 3 Dr. Light and Dr. Wily have made a sort of peace treaty. Together they designed 8 Robot Masters in order to maintain peace. They also joined forces in an attempt to create a gigantic peace keeping robot named “Gamma”. However, the eight Robot Masters Wily and Light created go berserk and they steal the eight crystals that power Gamma. It is up to Mega Man to seek out these Robot Masters and take back the crystals they stole in order to power Gamma. Of course, to get that you need the instruction manual as the game opens with the Mega Man 3 title screen and that’s it…no story explanation at all. So, it obviously lacks in story if you just pick it up and play without any prior knowledge of the Mega Man series. I recall having no idea who the hell Proto Man was when I first played this game because I didn’t have the manual, I just figured he was a mid-boss that had no bearing on the story or was meant to add a smidge of difficulty.

Mega Man 3 Stage Select

Onto the eight Robot Masters; Magnet Man, Needle Man, Top Man, Shadow Man, Hard Man, Spark Man, Snake Man, and Gemini Man. As kids we all giggled at “Hard” Man, he and Top Man always seemed to be somewhat joke Robot Masters that all of us kind of laughed at and never took very serious. This already was a disappointment for some because there were no joke bosses in Mega Man 2. The most joke boss of Mega Man 2 was Bubble Man and if you fooled around with him you could accidentally kill yourself on the spikes above. Hard Man is a somewhat tough boss without his weakness, but Top Man is the epitome of a weak joke of a boss being the easy first pick off target.

The heavy favorites among the Robot Masters are Magnet Man, Shadow Man, Gemini Man, and Snake Man. I’m about to go on for a while about why each are liked and if you either don’t want to know or don’t care then feel free to skip it.

Shadow Man

Shadow Man is loved because he looks like a Ninja with a giant Shuriken on his forehead, he also has quite a memorable track to his stage because it starts off very upbeat and fast, slows down, and then speeds up again. Kinda like a Ninja, I suppose. He is also quite difficult unless you have Top Man’s weapon and considering how easy Top Man is…Shadow Man always becomes the second easiest target because it only takes a few hits with Top Man’s Top Spin to conquer him. His stage as a whole, however, doesn’t really fit his personality. Shadow Man is a quick and deadly Robot Master that uses his shuriken as deadly weapons. His stage makes heavy use of lava and an orange hue that doesn’t suit his blue color scheme. The only part that is somewhat like him is an enemy that will disguise the entire screen in a black backdrop of stars. The only reason that even works is because it “shadows” the screen…you know, Shadows the Screen…Shadow Man?

Magnet Man

Magnet Man is my personal favorite because he reminds me a lot of Metal Man with his color scheme, red and black, and the fact that his weapon of choice is attached to his forehead. He also has a stage theme that is very popular among Mega Man fans. His theme is very upbeat as well and it has this metallic tone to it, it’s hard to describe, but you do get a magnetic/metal feel from it, but not like rock and roll. Be warned, this is one of those songs that once you hear it…you’ll be whistling it to yourself days after. He isn’t a particularly difficult boss, but if you don’t pick up his pattern he’ll eat you alive unless you have Spark Man’s weapon. Magnet Man’s stage is MUCH better than Shadow Man’s stage. Magnet Man’s stage is covered in metal and wires. There are magnet enemies that fly above you and pull you off the ground, after all Mega Man is a robot made of metal. There are even Magnet’s attached to some of the walls that will pull you towards them. His stage also features the disappearing blocks that gave so many Mega Man players a headache in Mega Man 2 from Heat Man’s stage.

Gemini Man

Gemini Man has it all, he looks like a real badass with his silver and blue colors. His stage starts off as a crystal moon like area but soon changes into a transparent group of rainbow blocks that are very pleasing on the eyes. He is also a difficult boss and can even present problems if you have his weakness. He has the ability to duplicate himself and shoot a laser beam that bounces off the walls. As you can imagine it can be a bit annoying. Gemini Man’s stage music is also heavily favored among Mega Man fans. It’s a very futuristic and outer space like tune. Considering the first part of his stage looks almost like a distant planet made of crystal, the music goes very well with his stage. It is a somewhat slow beat but memorable none the less.

Snake Man

Finally, Snake Man, who is the first Robot Master based upon an animal. Snake Man is decorated just like his name sake, green and black with his head being engulfed by a snake and a long green tail. The music to Snake Man’s stage is probably the most recognized and favored theme music of the entire Mega Man series, if you’re any kind of Mega Man fan then you know how this track sounds by heart. He is another one that could present you problems even if you have his weakness because the layout of his area is very rocky and makes it difficult to dodge him when he is streaking across the screen. Snake Man’s stage is one of the best stage designs in my view. Basically you walk across what looks like a gigantic metallic snake skin lines tube. All the platforms have this sort of feel to them and scattered across the stage are numerous snake heads that will shoot at you. When you couple that with his stage music then you have one of the most memorable Robot Masters in the Mega Man series.

Fairly easy to tell where the overall story is going, but I still refuse to spoil it for anyone. This is also the first game in the Mega Man series that features the always popular Proto Man, Mega Man’s brother that was created by Dr. Light but was abandoned because of flaws with its power management system. Proto Man was the blueprint for making Mega Man for Dr. Light. Proto Man shows up at various points to do battle with Mega Man before letting him pass onto the next portion of the stage. At one point he doesn’t even fight Mega Man, he simply blasts the path open for him hinting that he isn’t really your enemy. As a side note, Proto Man’s name in Japan is Blues…yeah, that’s another music reference for those counting. Many believe the name Blues is due to the rebellious nature of Proto Man and that he wants to live his life the way he wants, since he constantly declines all of Dr. Light’s attempts to repair him in future games.

Mega Man 3 also introduces Mega Man’s equally popular canine sidekick Rush. Rush is a pinkish mechanical dog that transforms itself into various tools to aid Mega Man in traversing hard to reach areas. In total Rush can transform into three vehicles/tools, the first is the Rush Coil where Mega Man jumps onto a spring on Rush’s back that launches him high into the air. Mega Man starts the game with this function. After defeating certain Robot Masters Rush can also transform into Rush Jet and Rush Marine. Obviously, the Jet can fly you high across the screen and Rush Marine, if water is present, can easily take you across the water without falling to your doom. Pretty much the only use for Rush Marine is during Gemini Man’s stage. Rush is a useful tool, however, in many ways just his presence makes the game significantly easier than it would have been without him.

The next new feature is the ability to Slide. Mega Man can now slide on his back on the ground to fit between spaces he normally wouldn’t be able to fit into. Now, this does add a level of difficulty because, while it will be obvious when you need to slide during the stage due to the shortened space, there are certain Robot Masters that require you to slide under them as they jump in order to avoid being hit by them. It also lets you move a little faster which is always a plus.

That being said, that was one of the things that a lot of Mega Man fans didn’t like about Mega Man 3; the decline in difficulty. You can have up to NINE E-Tanks at one time, that means if you find yourself with one bar of health or a certain Robot Master is kicking your tail…you can essentially refill your life nine times before even losing a single life. Granted, once you use an E-Tank you never get it back but considering you could only have three or four at one time in Mega Man 2…the difficulty takes another hit. Also, the stages weren’t nearly as difficult to clear in Mega Man 3 as they were in Mega Man 2. Take for example Quick Man. His stage was genuinely difficult to the point where a lot of people needed a separate weapon just to GET to Quick Man, not to mention actually kill him. Metal Man’s stage had conveyor belts that were constantly throwing you off or metallic clamps that would crush you. Crash Man’s stage had endless armies of metallic tube enemies that would harass you as you tried to ride a platform to your next destination. The infamous disappearing blocks in Heat Man’s stage that would send you plummeting to your doom unless you had Item-2. These were all little difficulties that made each stage a little harder to pass. There really isn’t anything like that in Mega Man 3. The worst thing is a glitch in Snake Man’s stage where a moving platform will knock you off the stage into your doom when it should lift you into the air.

Mega Man 3 was graphically better than Mega Man 2 and it added a lot of extra colors and depth to the backgrounds of the stages. A classic example of this is Magnet Man’s stage at the beginning, the background sky has varying colors that go from blue to purple that create a beautiful sky scene. Top Man’s stage, while being a terribly weak boss, has these interesting little glass panels that change color as if reflecting in the sun that I always take a few seconds to look at. Most of the stages retain the detail of Mega Man 2, however as I said, a few of them don’t seem to have much to do with their boss, i.e Needle Man and Shadow Man. This seemed odd because of the amount of detail that went into EVERY stage of Mega Man 2. All of them were appropriate for their Robot Master and none of them were an awkward adaptation of the Robot Master. I’d argue Top Man’s stage doesn’t fit him either aside from two top based enemies. There is a robot cat in Top Man’s stage that makes no sense as it shoots balls of yarn at you and mechanical fleas from its back. So, that was a little disappointing, but with the detail that went into some of the other stages, it was easy enough to overlook Shadow Man, Top Man, and Needle Man’s stages.

Despite the difficulty not being that difficult, this is a Mega Man that I hold very near and dear because of the nostalgia and child hood memories it invokes. It even gives homage to the Mega Man 2 Robot Masters, but you’ll have to play it and figure out how because that’s kinda spoiler heavy. While some of the Robot Masters are a little less serious, Mega Man 3 offers some of the more well known and liked Masters in the series. The controls are added upon with a slide and the new Rush functions, however, the Rush function seems to just take away from the difficulty level rather than really add to it. Also the ability to hold so many E-Tanks is a significant strike against the difficult as well.

So, there is my little review/nostalgia rub for Mega Man 3. The next one will obviously be Mega Man 4, a title that starts the downward trend of the Mega Man series. That’s not to say it becomes bad, it just never reaches the amazing idealization that Mega Man 2 and 3 made Mega Man fans look for. So, watch for it and comment on what you think as well, I always appreciate any kind of feedback.