This was the first Mega Man game I ever played when I was only (I think) nine years old, so I’m not sure I can be entirely unbiased here. Still, it has a strong place among the other games. It’s not as good as MMII or MMX2, the best of the NES and SNES games (there’s some games later on that I haven’t played), but it is pretty good in its own right.
Plot: 7 out of 10
Here is where they start throwing us curves on the storyline. We’re told — although only in the manual — that Dr. Wily has changed his tune and is again working with Mega Man and Dr. Light to find energy crystals that are necessary to create what is called the Peace-Keeping robot. But the crystals have already been found by robots that resemble the ones
that Wily used in his evil days in every way.
It’s pretty obvious where they’re going with this. There actually are a number of later games that used villains other than Wily. But if a Mega Man game was made in the series’ first several years, Wily will be the bad guy.
There is a genuine surprise, though. An enemy in this game does turn good. It’s a great twist, one that when I first played the game, I never saw coming.
Graphics: 9 out of 10
Like MM2, this looks very nice. Yet there’s not much to say that I didn’t say about that game, I’m afraid. Still, it’s more than acceptable to not get any worse.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Another touchdown. The music is something I remember well from childhood. From the electrical beat of Spark Man’s stage to the panicky tune of the boss songs, these songs are forever locked in my head. Not that I’m complaining.
Gameplay: 9 out of 10
Mega Man now gets the ability to slide. Also, you get a maximum of nine (which refill your life) energy tanks instead of four.
The biggest addition by far is Rush, Mega Man’s new robo-dog. Replacing the item-_ tools from MM2, The Rush Coil, Rush Marine, and Rush Jet allow you to boost your jumps, jet through the water, and fly.
The level designs are fantastic. There’s lots of unconventional stuff like platforms resembling spinning tops that spin you around and around in Top Man’s stage and three clones of Mega Man as one of the final bosses.
The length of the game has been increased, for after you play though the first eight stages, you’ll have to do altered versions of four of them before moving on. All four of these ravamps have harder versions of two of the first eight bosses from MM2 locked in a bigger robot (Nintendo Power magazine called him “Doc Robot,” presumably because he gave these smashed robots new existence). So it’s twelve stages to Dr. Wily’s Skull Castle instead of eight. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend that you try to play this game in one setting unless you’re doing a gaming marathon. Passwords are your friend.
Challenge: 4 out of 10
A moderately challenging game. The first eight stages range from easy to average in difficulty, while the next four get a lot harder before the game moves in between the former and latter in difficulty. In other words, the difficulty is inconsistent. In fact, if you know what weapons to use, both battles with Wily are actually rather easy, whereas some Doc Robot battles might actually require energy tanks. A very unbalanced difficulty makes it difficult to feel challenged.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Inconsistent difficulty aside, This game is rock-solid. It’s got very fluid gameplay and there’s a lot of extra features. It just doesn’t know whether it wants to be easy or hard.