The Mega Man series is not entirely a revolutionary one, but it is one of the premier game series. This is where it began. Although it would be throughly improved upon, this game proves to be a very good starting point.
Plot: 8 out of 10
A game this old is difficult to judge in this category, since games didn’t actually have storylines back then. Even multiplayer games tend to have major backstories today. From what I’ve read, the manual (which I don’t own) apparently says that two scientists, Dr. Light and Dr. Wily have built many robots designed to benefit mankind. Wily Betrays Light, stealing the robots and reprogramming them to help him conquer the world. The exceptions are housekeeper Roll (who we won’t see until the end) and Mega Man, who sets out to stop Wily.
Not Great, but compared to what? At least it goes a little beyond the basic “fight the bad guy” cliche by including a betrayal subplot. That was worth a high rating.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
A very solid graphical scheme. The cartoonish world of Mega Man comes to life very effectively. Until the jump to the SNES and X games, this would serve as a constant model for the series.
Sound: 7 out of 10
The sound isn’t quite as good. Some of the music is memorable, but not all of it. Some of it is quite bland. Still, the sound effects are very good. Like the main graphical scheme, they’ll be used throughout the series.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
First off, I should note that Mega Man doesn’t numerically list its stages. The first six stages can be chosen in any order. For fun, you can redo any you’ve already completed if you like. There’s a specific order so hit GameFAQs if you want to play this game.
This is a side-scrolling shooter in which Mega Man uses an arm cannon to destroy the other robots. He handles quite well and shoots quickly. For each of the first six bosses you beat, you’ll get a weapon. This is why doing them in the right order is imperative: you need to use the right weapons against the right bosses. Also, there’s a tool that creates temporary platforms and will be required at some point. You need a specific weapon for it, so you may need redo stages if you did them in the wrong order.
Upon beating all the first stages, the Dr. Wily stage will be available. This is actually multiple stages that have six of the first bosses, along with some bigger and badder bosses — Wily among them.
If you played the later ones first, as did I, you’ll notice that energy tanks, the ability the slide, and the Mega Buster are gone. It’s not really fair to hold the later improvements against this game, but it does take a little getting used to.
Challenge: 7 out of 10
A pretty challenging but not impossible game. Going in guns-blazing won’t win you the day here. Strategy is required. Luckily, the bosses, are (mostly) not as difficult as the paths to them if you know what weapon to use.
All that said, this game does have an unbelievable cheap trick/glitch available to the player. Since most weapons pass through the enemy, you can repeatedly pause the game with the Select button and every frame of animation with one of these weapons that pass through an enemy will count as hit. If done just right, one shot will score several “hits.” I don’t know if Capcom left this in place in later remakes. I wouldn’t.
Overall: 8 out of 10
The beginning of one of my favorite series Mega Man starts the party with a bang. While hardly the best in the series (sorry if saying that about what started it all is unfashionable), it’s well worth your time.