My favorite game series of all time is perhaps the classic Mega Man series. I’m talking about the games that the original Mega Man starred in, the numbered games 1 through 10, plus Mega Man and Bass. No X. No Legends. No Battle Network Pokemon Competitor series. Just good old Mega Man. I’ve wanted to rank these games for a long time, from worst to best, so here is part one of a three part series.
Mega Man and Bass
As great a game as this could have been, Mega Man and Bass just kind of doesn’t live up to its potential. MM&B is the first game in the original Mega Man series to give players a choice of two playable characters, Mega Man and his rival Bass. Capcom had previously hit a home run with Mega Man X4, which gave players the ability to choose between Mega Man X and Zero as playable characters. But MM&B just didn’t quite work out the same way.
Stages are long and tough if you don’t play as Bass, and bosses are hard if you don’t play as Mega Man. The game just feels incredibly unbalanced no matter which character you play as. Bass has a dash ability similar to what is seen in the X series, while Mega Man retains his slide. Bass can’t charge his weapon, and instead has a rapid fire blaster. Bass’s rapid fire blaster seems to work great on regular enemies in the game, but as Mega Man, enemies just take way too many shots to be destroyed.
The bright side is that this game looks great for the Super Nintendo. At the time, it was super impressive that Capcom was able to essentially use the graphics and animations present on the PlayStation’s Mega Man 8 on 16 bit hardware. Of course, it was released in Japan only on the Super Famicom and didn’t see a Western release until a few years later on the Game Boy Advance.
Mega Man and Bass is truly the only classic series Mega Man game that I don’t enjoy playing. I’ve been putting off a full video review of this game for years because of how unentertaining the game is as a whole, which is a shame due to how great it could have been.
Mega Man 8
Mega Man 8 was released around the same time as the aforementioned and globally loved Mega Man X4. Unfortunately, it was completely overshadowed, and rightfully so. Mega Man 8 is the weakest entry in the numbered series, and I love to give it a hard time for various reasons: the terrible voice acting, the need to have some sort of stage gimmick that takes away from the platforming the series is known for, and the incredibly child friendly cartoon approach to the art direction and sound design. Those “plop” noises Mega Man makes when landing are the worst.
But for as much crap as I like to give Mega Man 8, it’s actually a pretty decent, if not good, game. It’s an enjoyable romp through the Mega Man universe, and while I don’t particularly care for the art direction, you can’t deny it’s a gorgeous game. The robot masters all have a ton of personality and are really fun to battle, the inclusion of obstacles that are designed to be tackled by robot master weapons, and heck, even some of those gimmicky sections I complained about earlier all give the game a unique identity that lots of players really love. Mega Man 8 is far from a bad game, and it just goes to show you how great this series really is.
The original Mega Man is probably one of the weakest in the series due to the lack of fully fleshed out ideas, difficulty, and overall jankiness. The game just doesn’t feel anywhere near as solid as Mega Man 2 or anything that follows it.
When Mega Man falls off platforms, he drops like a ton of bricks. He doesn’t get invincibility from spikes after taking a hit from an enemy. There’s a bug that affects the select button where if you hit an enemy with a large weapon and press select to pause the game, when you unpause it’ll continue to hurt it. It’s useful to the player but it’s still a weird bug. Mega Man also only has six robot masters, but those six robot masters are some incredibly iconic mofos.
Later games would incorporate more ideas to help the franchise become the popular series it is today, but at the time, things like the lack of energy tanks to refill health and a spread of platforming assistance items kind of made the game less than perfect.
Honestly, this is personally one of my favorite Mega Man games, but I realize that it’s not one of the better games. It’s got a lot of charm; fun enemy designs, good music, and iconic robot masters and their weapons, all contribute to a great time.
Mega Man 10
Mega Man 10 is the last game of the classic series, and the last Mega Man game of any of its spin off series to be released. It’s also the second game, after Mega Man 9, to use graphics styled after the original 8 bit NES games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to Mega Man 9. The game does allow you to play as Proto Man without the need to buy a DLC add on, as well as the ability to play as Bass. Mega Man lost his ability to slide in Mega Man 9 and retains that restriction here. Proto Man is able to slide and charge his weapon, while taking twice the damage Mega Man does, and Bass has the same abilities he was equipped with in Mega Man and Bass.
For whatever reason, the robot masters and the level design just don’t seem nearly as inspired as in Mega Man 9. The developers did add an “Easy” mode, which made platforming a lot less difficult, and gimped the robot masters of abilities, but kind of made the entire game a joke to finish. But even the normal mode was a lot less challenging than Mega Man 9, and not in a good way. Dr. Wily’s final form is laughably easy. And the biggest disappointment is the usability of the robot master weapons after Mega Man 9’s stellar outing. Weapons just aren’t that useful, and you end up relying on your main buster most of the game.
The thing is though, the gameplay is still solid, and Mega Man 10 is still fun to play through. It only ranks low on this list because the other games in the series are so good. The gameplay and control are as solid as ever. There are some REALLY interesting ideas, like the robot master library in the first Dr. Wily stage. And it IS an overall good time, it just doesn’t really build off the previous games.