For this weeks Throw Back Thursday were going with a Plat-former/Shooter and one of the more challenging game franchises of the 8-32 bit era. The “Mega Man” franchise (Rock Man as it’s called in Japan) was one of Capcom’s first games release straight to console for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The series is known for its challenging game-play and memorable music. The series has always provided great action and excitement for players and high replay-ability in the form on speed runs, no-hit play through’s, and no-power-up use. The Japanese names for the main characters are all musical references, for example Rock Man and is sister Roll, his “older brother” Proto Man is called Blues, and rivals Bass and Treble being called Forte and Gospel. While sale numbers of the first game weren’t that impressive, Capcom was convinced enough by them and their developers to press on with Mega Man 2 and from there it was a massive success. Having spawned over 50+ games in a franchise (that’s including spin off’s, portables and remastered versions) that include The Mega Man X, Mega Man Legends, Mega Man Battle Network, and the Mega Man Zero series just to name the more popular ones and a history that’s been going for more than 25 years.
INTERESTING FACT #1 – Mega Man’s nickname as “The Blue Bomber” comes from his blue colored body as you probably figured on your own. What you probably don’t know is that the only reason he was colored blue is because the NES had a slightly larger color pallet of blue compared to all the other colors and the developers wanted him to be very distinguishable from the other Robot Masters
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The story of any one game if this franchise isn’t so important in the immediate sense. This franchise is all about the action and challenge of the game-play A quick overly is that in the first Mega Man your creator Dr. Light and his partner Dr. Wily create the the first sentient robot (Proto Man) and become world famous. After this they make 2 more as helpers (Rock as a aid and his sister Roll for cleaning) in the lab and make 6 for doing dangerous activity for humanity. Dr. Wily get jealous and tired of living in Dr. Lights shadow and reprograms and steals the 6 Robot Masters and tries to take over the world with them. Rock volunteers to stop them and is modified into the super fighting robot Mega Man. In the starting of the 2nd game, a quick intro before starting the game states states “After being defeated, Dr. Wily builds 8 more, newer and more powerful Robot Masters to defeat Mega Man and get his revenge”. That’s it, nothing more to it, at least not in this specific game. The story builds with each additional title in the franchise. After defeating his 8 Robot Masters, you take on Dr. Wily’s fortress and battle him himself, were after defeat he surrenders, you are then treated to the ending, games credits, and get a “THANK YOU FOR PLAYING” message before being taken back to the mail title for another go at it.
INTERESTING FACT #2 – Mega Man 1 is the only game in the franchise to have a Scoring System. Later titles have Grading System, that didn’t appear till 9 and 10 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
HOW DOES IT PLAY?
The basic controls are simple, The D-Pad controls your movement, one button jumps and another shoots. When you defeat a Robot Master you get its power as a new weapon. Use of it is limited but it can be refilled with large or small blue tanks dropped by defeated enemies. Sometimes these powers will open up different paths along a level or can simple make it easier to get past a difficult area. You can also collect “E Tanks” throughout different levels. These are usable at any time and will refill your health completely, but are gone when used but be warned: there’s only a few spread throughout the entire game. The franchise has a interesting “Paper, Rocks, Scissors” aspect to it. When you defeat a Robot Master, you get its power, which can defeat another one with ease. The problem is that there is nothing to help you chose where to start other than their names or to help you figure out their weakness. Some of them are obvious, like Bubble Man’s beats Heat Man, others will make you wounder why that actually works at all. Yes you can use the internet nowadays, but I suggest giving it a try on your own first as that’s part of the main fun of the game and also that there isn’t any one order to tackle the Robot Master in for any of the games. The levels vary greatly in design, sound, and can be challenging on there own. When starting a new stage, your powers are refilled fully, except when you start Dr. Wily’s fortress, from there its consider as one constant play action so you’ll have to remember to refill your powers regularly with the blue tanks. The game lacks a saving feature, but has a password recovery system that’s quick and easy to use.
INTERESTING FACT #3 – Most of Mega Man’s Robot Masters weren’t created by the developers, but a lot of them were made by Mega Man’s own fans. Capcom held contest where fans would submit their creations by mail and a few lucky were selected and had them Robot Masters put into the games with their personal names in the credits of the title. This was started with Mega Man 3 and has happened with at least 9 games that I’m positive of.
LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON GAMING
The Mega Man franchise’s long-term effects are massive. Mega man 2 pushed the NES hardware to limits that no one had previously before when it was released. it spawned a few knockoffs games in its time but they never stole any of the franchises thunder. The franchise was one of the few that managed to grow with the constantly changing market and industry of the 90’s, with Capcom releasing the Mega Man X series on the SNES, with Mega Man X 4 – 6 being some of the best selling games on the PlayStation, which was quite a feat then for any 2D title to outselling any 3D title of that time. And with 2D games seemingly having vanished from home consoles when the millennium started, Mega Man games moved to the portable market and dominated the GameBoy Advance with the releases of the Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Zero series. With modern Indie game makers releasing 2D games that are every bit as good as many of gaming past titles and Capcom’s recent release of Mega Man Legacy Collection, plus with Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No.9 (considered Mega Man’s creator as he did the art work for Mega Man and most of the franchise’s main characters) release only a few months away, its easy to see that the Blue Bombers effects on gaming have been large and will continue for years to come.
INTERESTING FACT #4 – The musical themed names continued, inadvertently, with the localization of Mega Man X5 in North America. Alyson Court (known for her voice work as character Clair Redfield in the “Resident Evil” games), who worked on the project, admitted on her twitter in late April of 2011 that she changed the names of the Mavericks to references members of the rock band Guns N’ Roses because her husband at that time was a big fan of the group.
Mega Man 2 is one of the best 8-bit games and probably the best place for newer players of the franchise to start as the very first title is extremely difficult and akin to a NES “Dark Souls” by comparison. I personally love Mega Man 2 and 3 the most and have them on my 3DS and Wii U for fast and quick game fixes that I still love as much today as I did growing up. So hop on your system of choice and download this game to your library and enjoy this killer title. It’ll be a great warm-up for Mighty No.9 and will probably lead you to the other great games of the franchise, all staring the Blue Bomber himself.