Monday, December 8, 2008

Mega Review #1: Mega Man (NES)

(2020 Update: So, in what seems like a really random spur of the moment idea, I'd figure it'd be interesting to repost some older writings from the old DTM Blog and expose my less-than-stellar ramblings from ages ago to a modern audience. Part of it has to do with wanting more content. Another part has to do with trying to preserve some of that stuff.

Originally posted on December 8, 2008 and the overall 1064th blog post, this was my initial barebones "review" of the original Mega Man game from 1987; intended to be the first in a series that would've eventually covered the mainstream classic series at least, to say nothing of the various sidegames. As I recall, I never got beyond Mega Man 3 in this series before it was eventually and silently abandoned. I'll eventually get around to posting the other entries down the line.

As it would turn out, it took me a few years to cover all six main Mega Man games on NES, albeit in a different format than this. But that's another story for another time...)

Released in 1987, the original Mega Man game for the Nintendo Entertainment System was known for its horrible box art. I mean, seriously, if I was a working father back then and my kid wanted this game for his birthday, I'd have his brain transplanted. It's no secret that the game's box art was one of the most horrible pieces of art ever made. Never mind the fact it had nothing to do with the actual game, but just as its own independent piece, it makes you want to puke.

Okay... so to be honest, when I saw the box art for this game back when I was a kid in 1991, I had wondered if that's how Mega Man started off with... around that time there had been three Mega Man games available with number 4 looming ahead. I was still a relative newcomer to Nintendo games, oblivious to all the wonderful franchises out there... but not oblivious that I didn't know what everything was. I've heard of Mega Man, I've played Kid Icarus and stumbled across one of those weird passwords, I've played through Castlevania 1, 2, and 3. I've touched on these more than enough times back then.

But then I look at this and wonder... "Mega Man had a gun? He wore yellow? I thought his hand was a gun?"

Anyway, all the stupid childhood memories aside, several months after that rental, my parents bought the game and I got a look at the funny instruction booklet... which had told the story of Dr. Light (then known as Dr. Wright - not Dr. Right) creating seven robots, Dr. Wily reprogramming six of them, and Mega Man being declared defender of the universe. Yeah, that's right. DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE. Don't believe me? Here's some of the story taken from the original NES manual (faithfully translated by someone else whose link I regretfully forgot):

It's MEGA MAN versus the powerful leaders and fighting forces of Monsteropolis -- that strange multi-faceted land of robot-like Humanoids. Brilliant scientist Dr. Wright conceived the construction of fully-operational human-like experimental robots to perform specific everyday duties. Dr. Wright, and his assistant Dr. Wily, encouraged with their very first near human robot -- MEGA MAN -- proceeded to develop six additional Humanoids, all programmed to perform prescribed rituals.

But, with the exception of MEGA MAN, all of Dr.Wright's near-human robot experimentation went awry. Assistant Dr. Wily turned disloyal, re-programming Dr. Wright's Humanoids, now bent on destroying opposition so Dr. Wily could control the world and its resources.

Resisting re-programming, MEGA MAN is chosen the defender of theuniverse and its inhabitants. MEGA MAN dares to single-handedly penetrate seven separate empires of Monsteropolis, eliminating the leaders and followers of these sovereignties.


Mega Man is a fairly simple platform game that gives you the option of choosing the order of six initial stages you wish to progress through. Nothing special now, but back in the day, this type of thing was rare for an action game of this style; only RPG or adventure games would feature this kind of open-endness and flexibility. Not only that, but you get their special powers too. Yay.

USELESS TRIVIA: The first boss I ever killed was Fireman. The method was just to shoot and take the heat.

Being as this is the first game in the series, Mega Man has very limited abilities at first. He can run, jump, and shoot. That's it. It sort of pissed me off when I realized he couldn't duck, but eventually I got used to it. Once he defeated bosses, he gained their weapons.

Bombman's weapon is the Hyper Bomb, which is a classic bomb that explodes after a short delay. Doesn't really do much damage and never saw much use for it because it never blew anything up.

Gutsman's weapon is the Super Arm, which allows you to pick up blocks and hurl them at enemies. Other than that, you have nothing else. No heavy earthquake landings or anything cool like that... you just pick up blocks when they flash and you chuck them... lame.

Cutman's weapon is the Rolling Cutter, a scissor boomerang. This weapon is actually kinda useful and it can be used to take out a few enemies at once from the right angle.

Elecman's weapon is the Thunder Beam, which allows you to shoot electric beams in three directions. This is pretty much the strongest weapon in the game, as far as I know.

Iceman's weapon is the Ice Slasher, which freezes stuff... and that's it. Doesn't do any damage to anyone except Fireman... a damn shame.

Fireman's weapon is the Fire Storm, which allows you to shoot a fireball... kinda lame considering he shot fire waves. On the other hand, every shot summons a temporary shield which defends against enemies (but not projectiles).

Along the way, you'll find something called a Magnet Beam, which allows you to create platforms you can climb on before they fade away forever... let's just say that after playing with this thing, I was more than happy to get something better like a Rush Jet with limited maneuvering abilities.

Once you clear the initial six stages, you get to face off against Dr. Wily... provided you clear three more stages comprising of Yellow Devil rock monsters, Mega Man clones, and those weird things in the bubbles that roam around the room and shoot pellets at you.

Some of these bosses will give you a hard time... in fact, Elec Man and Ice Man are most dangerous considering their attacks can kill you in three hits... that hurts. No other bosses will be that damaging... ever. Don't even get me started.

USELESS TRIVIA: I never knew about the Pause trick until much, much later... that is to say, when I first stumbled across the Mega Man page or something similar. For the most part, it didn't really bother me since I never needed the Pause trick to beat the game.

With ten levels total, Mega Man is the shortest of the main titles, but even so, it's a pretty hard game. None of the later extras can be found here, you have somewhat poorer traction here than you do in the sequels, and perhaps most frightening of all, the spikes will kill you... period. Doesn't matter if you're flashing or not. You land on a spike, you die. That simple.

USELESS TRIVIA: The soundtrack kicks ass. Not one lousy tune in this entire game.

So now that I'm done rambling...

Mega Man is worth a try if you want to see where it all started. While it is generally difficult and not that refined, it's still a decent title and is only a sample of great things to come out of this franchise.

STORY: 6/10
SOUND: 7/10


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