Original Release Date: 1987
Mega Man is a rather unusual figure. Most of video gaming’s icons have retained their presence and influence in the industry up to the present day thanks to the more recent entries in their respective series. Mega Man, on the other hand, has not had many games at all in recent years. As a result, he has faded into obscurity, with his only major activity lately being his appearance in Super Smash Bros 4. Has this loss in visibility been because his games weren’t actually that good, or was it just bad luck on his part?
The original Mega Man game, like many games for the NES, is an action platformer where the goal is to reach the end of each level. Like Super Mario Bros, it has tight controls, memorable music, and a simple but appealing aesthetic. There are a number of things that make Mega Man its own beast, however.
The first major difference is that the player can tackle the stages in whatever order they choose. Each stage has its own boss at the end, and if you can defeat the robot master, Mega Man will gain their ability. This gives the game a lot of replayability, as it allows for the player to experiment with different methods of tackling each stage. Each of the abilities gives Mega Man new ways of solving problems, and can make seemingly impossible challenges more manageable.
As I mentioned before, the music and the visuals are quite appealing, but one thing that sets them apart from Super Mario Bros is that there’s a bit more variety from level to level. Each stage feels unique, and avoids the trap of feeling repetitive and samey.
On the flip side, some of the challenges, while never exactly unfair, do sometimes feel rather cheap. The floating platforms in Iceman stage and the UFO-like enemies in Elecman stage are good examples, as they’re hard to get by unscathed, and can make the game feel more tedious and frustrating than necessary. In addition, the game isn’t always very clear about how to overcome certain obstacles, and thus necessitates a fair amount of trial and error. Finally, the iterations times can be rather ridiculous, as the game has a nasty habit of punishing players for dying by requiring them to wade through minutes of content they’ve already mastered just to have another try at the section that was giving them trouble.
On the whole, Mega Man is a solid and fun platformer, and while it suffers from some archaic design choices that drag the experience down, it is still worth playing even to this day.
How well it holds up 3/4
Overall quality 7/10
For further information about the game: