Original Release Date: 1990
While Megaman 2 is widely regarded as the best in the series, Megaman 3 is typically placed right alongside it. Megaman 3 is generally considered to also be an excellent game, with some ranking it even higher than Megaman 2. But how does it actually compare?
In some respects, Megaman 3 is a clear evolution from Megaman 2, introducing many new features and expanding on what Megaman 2 did. One major difference is that Megaman is now given a new slide ability, which allows for new level layouts and new methods of solving problems and approaching enemies. It adds to Megaman’s mobility, and is a welcome addition. The extra items from Megaman 2 return, but this time are supplied in the form of Rush, Megaman’s robotic dog. It’s definitely an improvement, as Rush is much more memorable than the blank, generic items from Megaman 2. The aesthetic of the levels is also still very good, with a noticeable increase in graphical fidelity over Megaman 2. And of course, Megaman 3 introduces new story elements, such as Protoman, and expands on the established lore fairly well. In many respects, Megaman 3 meets and even surpasses Megaman 2.
Unfortunately, there are a number of areas where Megaman 3 falls short. The level design is not as good as in Megaman 2, and the difficulty feels more reminiscent of the original Megaman, which isn’t a good thing. While Megaman 2 focused on having tough but fair challenges, Megaman 3 has a greater emphasis on trial and error gameplay. Nothing the game throws at the player is unfair per se, but it’s so relentless that there’s no way a player will be able to get through the levels the first time around. It’s only once they know what to expect that they’ll be able to overcome the challenges with ease.
Each of the robot masters is pretty memorable, but defeating them requires more trial and error. Unlike Megaman 1 and 2, the robot masters and their weapons are a bit more obscure in design. Consequently the weakness of each boss is completely unintuitive, and can only be discovered through trial and error. And once you do get the weapons, they’re not actually that useful or fun to use. Most of them are just variations of horizontal projectiles, and aren’t much more powerful than Megaman’s default blaster. Some of them can be useful, but they tend to run out of ammunition much faster than in Megaman 2, so you can’t rely on them.
And then there are the doc robot stages, which are a shameless tactic to pad the game out and reuse the robot masters from Megaman 2. While an interesting idea in theory, in practice the levels aren’t that fun, and fighting the old robot masters when you have a completely different arsenal from Megaman 2 isn’t much fun either. Megaman 1 and 2 were a bit short in length, but this was not the right way to go about lengthening the experience.
I know I sound really negative, so don’t misunderstand me. Megaman 3 is by no means a bad game. Overall it is well designed and fun to play, and if you enjoyed the other Megaman games, you will almost certainly find something to like in this one. But on the whole Megaman 2 just felt more memorable and better put together, and was pure fun start to finish. Megaman 3 just feels kind of flat by comparison. It’s good, but not as good. It’s fun, but not as fun. It’s worth checking out, but there’s a reason why Megaman 2 is generally considered the better game.
How well it holds up 3/4
Overall quality 7/10
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