Dr. Wily resurrects one of his old inventions from his university days and uses it to steal the latest set of Robot Masters (after blasting his way into Dr. Light’s lab to deliver his “message”). As usual, he bypasses Mega Man entirely (despite the blue bomber being present in the room), which of course will be his undoing. Naturally, to counter this new threat, Dr. Light installs the same invention in Mega Man, who in turn goes out to take the fight to the enemy.
After a long hiatus (it hasn’t been too long...only eight years...), Mega Man is back with a main series game and an entirely new look. Ditching the “nostalgic” routine of the previous two games, Capcom’s developers decided to go old-school with a significant update in style.
The graphics are noticeably different, but this still plays like a Mega Man game. For those of you who are new to the series and are picking this up as your first game, be sure to read through the Strategies page which is still relevant even after 31 years.
As becomes obvious immediately, the Double Gear is this game’s gimmick. It’s divided into Power Gear and Speed Gear; in all honesty, Speed Gear is arguably the more useful of the two. It keeps you alive by making it easier to dodge incoming attacks, whereas Power Gear just increases the damage you do. Having said that, Power Gear is the only mechanism for charging special weapons in this game. Also, if you charge up for long enough (to just about as Power Gear is about to overheat), you get a massively-sized super-shot reminiscent of the X series.
However, it’s not just the hero that gets the new toy in this game; all of the bosses will use either Speed Gear or Power Gear against you when they reach half health.
- Rush’s energy meter is visible at all times when you aren’t using a special weapon. Weapon energy you pick up while using the Mega Buster goes to Rush (absent any Energy Balancer parts). Rush Coil and Rush Jet share a weapon meter. If you press the button for Rush a second time while he’s already visible on the screen, he just teleports away without using weapon energy.
- When you hit shielded enemies with a super-shot they stagger briefly, making them vulnerable. Speed Gear lets you get some extra shots in.
- There’s a button to quickly switch back to the Mega Buster regardless of what weapon you had equipped.
- You can return to the stage select screen even if you haven’t completed whatever stage you’re in by going to the system menu (not the subscreen) and then selecting it from there. You keep any items you’d collected along the way.
- Continue points are visually marked in this game. But unlike Powered Up (where they were also visible), they are automatic here.
- You can test out special weapons (and the Double Gear) on the Got Weapon screen as well as off the subscreen when on the stage select screen. This is an interesting feature and what is particularly notable is weapons don’t require energy and the Double Gear doesn’t overheat during testing mode. (Also, any parts you may have equipped don’t take effect in testing mode.)
- There are power-up drops that cycle rapidly before you pick them up. Presumably you’re meant to use Speed Gear on them. They include E-Tanks.
- The game has a gallery that records enemies you’ve encountered in stages you’ve beaten. For Robot Masters and Wily you can listen to their voice clips so it also serves as something of a sound test. Somewhat mysteriously, some of the enemy names were translated and some of them weren’t.
- Mega Man has an idle animation. He doesn’t just blink his eyes!
- If you get a double-KO it doesn’t count as a win. (Not that I speak from experience or anything...)
- You know the first thing old-timers are going to do is jump through the gates. Ironically, the developers almost thought of that here; Mega Man freezes momentarily, but then drops to the ground and walks through the gate. (You can however, do the midair scroll-screen-horizontally thing.)
- Yes, Mega Man looks different in this game without explanation, and changes his appearance when he equips a special weapon. I don’t really care about this gimmick, personally, though it does make it easier to tell which weapon you presently have equipped.
- Which version to buy? I haven’t yet had a chance to try the others, but I’m guessing you’ll want to aim for a console version if you can. It’s great that there’s a PC version, but the PC version is subject to your computer’s hardware and can suffer slowdown at times (free Speed Gear?) which is likely not something that’s going to be quite as much of a problem on a console.
- Play Control:
- So far I’ve only been able to sample this game on the PC, but the game plays shockingly well provided you have a game pad. The controls are solid and just feel near-perfect in your hands. All of the buttons defaulted to right where I expected them to be (again, at least on the PC version); I didn’t even have to look at the control setup screen before I started playing—muscle memory took care of it for me. As a bonus, you can customize the controls. The game even plays reasonably well with a control stick, except that the down+jump slide combination doesn’t tend to register very well. I sacrificed Rush Jet and put slide on the X series dash button for this reason. (The downside to using an Xbox controller is its control pad is horrid and basically unusable. Other systems probably won’t have this problem.)
- The artists used all the right flair in all the right places. The graphics are colorful without being overly gaudy, while also being crisp and clear. All the energy glows; the programmers used additive materials like they were on clearance sale. You can even light up the dark areas in Torch Man’s stage by shooting. Explosions are complex and flashy and remarkably detailed. And they did all of this without obscuring the game play too much; the environments are generally pretty clear regarding where you can walk and where you can’t. This game uses a straight-on side view for most areas, making it easier to eyeball your jumps (with exceptions for places like boss rooms and Dr. Light’s lab where jumping precision is not as critical).
- For a perfect demonstration of what I meant regarding the super-deformed style of Powered Up, compare the sprites there to here. The proportions here are much closer to the original NES games and artwork. I do find it curious that Mega Man’s legs in particular are quite a bit smaller and thinner than is usual; the Robot Masters have more traditional proportions in this regard. But overall the characters look nice, with good cel-shading, and animate reasonably well to boot. Mega Man looks goofy while climbing ladders, but at least his hands and feet actually match the rungs which is always a nice touch. Also, the character artwork used during cut scenes is well done, managing to capture the original style while being clean and updated.
- Some of the tunes are designed to remind you (either blatantly or subtly) of other games in the series. Overall I don’t have any complaints here, though I haven’t gone out of my way to record any of the songs yet.
- Sound Effects:
- Generally well done. They didn’t use the cool de-dit sound effect of Mega Man landing, but at least he doesn’t squish either. The voice acting is also good; I like how Dr. Wily in particular sounds different in the flashback scenes where he’s younger. (In fact I think Wily’s voice is my favorite in the entire game.) I do find the Robot Masters’ voices to be oddly muted compared to everything else most of the time, but I’m not sure why.
- The plot is basically Mega Man V without the Star Droids (Mega Man faces a foe he can’t beat, so Dr. Light installs a power-up in him that proves to be the game’s new mechanic). There’s nothing at all unexpected in the story; it’s an extremely straightforward plot (almost to a fault). However, the story is certainly executed well, as is fitting for such a modern game. They ditched the all-uppercase font and also used voice acting for all of the dialogue. Furthermore, there are some flashback scenes giving some more insights to Dr. Light’s and Dr. Wily’s pasts. (Honestly, this plot is more about Dr. Light and Dr. Wily than anyone else.)
- Difficulty: (normal to hard)
- I found the difficulty to be pretty typical of classic Mega Man series games. (And by “classic” here, I mean the NES and GB games.) Like most of them, the first time you play you’ll probably feel like you’re dying a lot in every stage, but with some experience you’ll start breezing your way through. The difficulty modes allow you to fine-tune the challenge to your liking.
- Replay Value:
- There’s a clear game save which offers you extra toys to have fun with; plus you can revisit any stage (including the fortress stages!) at any time. Granted, the game is rather short; there’s no intro stage, and only one fortress. (I know, I know, I normally complain about two fortresses, but that’s only because you had to do them in one sitting.) But it’s not a huge deal here. Really, the main restriction to the replayability of the game is you have to make it through the stages first before you can revisit them!
- This game’s got head-nods all over the place to the classic games, particularly the earlier ones in the series. (I’m pretty sure playing Mega Man 3 was a prerequisite for working on this title.) You can tell the developers did their homework. Also, the menu systems are fairly well done, with quite a bit of detailed explanations. (I’m amused that on the subscreen the weapon names are abbreviated like later games in the series in the list itself, but the descriptions at the bottom of the screen show the full name.) They could have added paging controls to the enemy list in the gallery, and if I’m being really nitpicky, the ability to build multiple 1-Ups and other such items in one go would have saved a bit of time. (Not that I’m buying lots of 1-Ups or anything!)
- Overall: 90%
- Capcom finally captured the feel of the classic games while improving the technical quality significantly. I’ve long said that the classic Mega Man games were good because they were good, not because they used 8-bit graphics, and this one proves it.
- + Plus:
- Saved games remember your progress through the fortress. Wait, I used this one already. Okay, okay: Speed Gear lets you tailor the difficulty; you can ignore it entirely if you want a challenge.
- - Minus:
- I would have liked to have seen Proto Man and Bass at least show up and be involved in the plot (even if not playable).
I’m not sure I strictly like this order because Acid Man’s stage has some sections with spikes that can chase away newcomers and Bounce Man’s stage is best left for last so you don’t throw your controller out the window before you beat all the other stages.
So—seriously—if you get frustrated on a level, just leave it for later and go try another stage. If worst comes to worst, you can blow the Robot Master away using Speed Gear (and if necessary Energy Tanks) even if you are lacking the correct weapon to use on him.
Funny story: The Steam achievement icons imply you’re supposed to do Block Man, Acid Man, Blast Man, and Fuse Man first. I actually ended up doing this the first time I played, not because I was following the achievement (I didn’t even know what the icon would look like until I’d earned it), but because I didn’t know what to use on whom so I was just taking them in order.
- Block Man (use C.Blast or M.Buster)
- Acid Man (use B.Dropper)
- Impact Man (use A.Barrier)
- Bounce Man (use P.Driver)
- Fuse Man (use B.Ball)
- Tundra Man (use S.Thunder)
- Torch Man (use T.Storm)
- Blast Man (use B.Torch)
The teleporting hatches are in the third station of the fortress, which is a very short stage: it consists of the hatches and little else.
It should be noted that you can select your fortress stage off the stage select screen. You can even visit Dr. Light’s lab in between stations. And the saved games remember your progress through the fortress. I’ve only been griping about the do-the-entire-fortress-in-one-sitting thing since Mega Man 4 or so, so you can imagine this is one place where I’m reeeeally happy they broke with tradition.
- Yellow Devil MK-III:
- You start out on the left side of an empty room. Do move right, because the first wave of blocks are coming from the left. At first this battle is pretty traditional. After he finishes assembling himself, his eye opens, he fires a shot that is aimed toward your location when it fires, and then the eye disappears. That’s how much time you have to damage him. (Aim for the eye—obviously.) But of course the developers couldn’t just leave it at that. As the Yellow Devil gets lower on health, he’ll start using an attack where he splits into lots of little guys (only the final one has the eye) that bounce across the screen in a wave (use Speed Gear to find a safe place to stand; you can shoot the one with the eye when it hits the ground right before it bounces); then they circle the room a couple of times (jump them); then they drop from the ceiling in a row (there is one corner that is safe). Get out of the corner after this is done because the Yellow Devil will be reappearing shortly. Also, as he gets lower in health he starts using larger shots in a fan formation.
- In terms of weapons, I didn’t find any of them to really be terribly useful here. (No Thunder Beam—sorry!) Honestly, I think you’re meant to Power Gear this guy. Switch it on and charge up as the last few bricks are flying (unfortunately the last few are low which occupies you dodging them, complicating matters) and you should have a dual super-shot ready to go once he opens his eye.
- It’s a dragon head inside a ball. It circles the room shooting energy orbs at you. You can dodge these fairly easily if you stay in motion since they shoot where you are, not where you’re going. Circle the room yourself, moving from platform to platform, to keep from trapping yourself. At times the dragon will stop, open its shell, and attack. This is when you can damage it. Bear in mind that sometimes it teleports and reappears in a new location. When the dragon gets low on health, it goes to a corner, sparks red for a bit, then fires a large red laser diagonally upward toward you. It fires several lasers in this manner, then disappears and teleports to another corner and fires more lasers. B.Ball appears to knock its shell open, so this seems to be the weapon to use.
- Wily 1st time:
- A flying helicopter skull tank. The key to this battle is to note that you can stand on the horizontal missiles that it fires. Use those as stepping stones to shoot at the eye screens on the skull. (The vertical missiles show target cursors where they will land, but this warning is very brief so you’re better off just staying in motion.) Occasionally the tank will charge you; slide under it, then get out of the way because Wily always returns to the right side of the screen. When you get the tank down to half health, the red windshield covering the eyes breaks and you can see Wily inside controlling the tank. Gear wheels extend beneath the tank at this point, and rather than using the vertical missiles, it now shoots orbs that fly in a winding circle pattern. Keep jumping to dodge and keep shooting the eyes of the skull.
- Wily 2nd time:
- He comes back inside a small gear-pod. Thankfully, it’s not the appearing-disappearing routine. (I like nostalgia, but not that much nostalgia.) Instead, he moves around the room semi-randomly shooting gears at you in fours, in a diamond formation like a wheel. Sometimes the gears just fly straight at you, one after another. You can destroy the gears, and also of course blast Wily to damage his pod. Wily can use both Speed Gear and Power Gear during this fight. When he uses Speed Gear, he moves in circular motions shooting singular gears at you. When he uses Power Gear, he glows red and his gears turn into two hammer-like shapes on either side of him and he slowly moves forward. He keeps trying to angle in your direction but he only moves horizontally. He’s trying to hit you with the gear-hammers rotating around him. You can slide under him with good timing. At low health, he seems to use both at once and starts zipping across the screen in various formations—straight across, diagonally, up and down—with his gear hammer preceding him. You can jump the horizontal, dodge the diagonals, and shoot him when he does the vertical. I suggest Speed Gear on the vertical fly-bys in order to land your shots properly.
Unlike the passwords of old, saved games here remember everything: how many lives you had, your stock of tanks, your progress through the fortress (!), and so on. You have eight slots to save to (at least on the PC version). Note that you can only choose a difficulty when you begin a new game; saved games remember the difficulty level, and there’s no mechanism to change the difficulty during the game.
Note that the game doesn’t save for you. In classic games you would be shown a password screen after beating a stage, but here you have to manually select to save. You can do so off the stage select screen (or the continue screen, for that matter).
Be sure to leave a slot open for making your clear game save when you beat the game.
- Rush Coil: You start the game with this.
- Rush Jet: After clearing four stages, Dr. Light will provide you with this.
This game uses the Bolts and Item Replicator (not named that here) system from previous titles. Dr. Light’s lab is separated into three pages. All prices and limits are assuming Normal mode with no bonuses.
Not all parts are available to be built from the start of the game. Instead, they become available based on how you play the game (reminiscent of Dr. Light giving you the Turbo Accelerator in MMIV and MMV). I haven’t narrowed down the exact prerequisites for some of them, but I list my guesses.
Parts Page 1:
- 1-Up: 50 Bolts. Limit 9.
- Energy Tank: 100 Bolts. Limit 6 by default.
- Weapon Tank: 100 Bolts. Limit 6 by default.
- Mystery Tank: 300 Bolts. Limit 1.
- Super Guard: 100 Bolts. Limit 1 by default.
- Eddie Call: 20 Bolts. Limit 1 by default.
- Beat Call: 50 Bolts. Limit 1 by default.
- Pierce Protector: 50 Bolts + die to spikes a lot. Limit 3.
Parts Page 2:
- Energy Balancer: 100 Bolts.
- Energy Balancer Neo: 250 Bolts + use the EB for a stage?
- Auto-Charge Chip: 300 Bolts.
- Buster Plus Chip: 300 Bolts + (?).
- Power Shield: 300 Bolts + suffer a lot of hits?
- Spike Boots: 300 Bolts.
- Shock Absorber: 300 Bolts.
- Speed Gear Booster: 300 Bolts + use Speed Gear a lot?
- Energy Dispenser: 1000 Bolts.
- Awakener Chip: 3000 Bolts + clear game save.
- Bolt Catcher: 500 Bolts + (?).
- (?) *
- (?) *
- Cooling System: 300 Bolts + use Double Gear? (Might be related to letting the Double Gear overheat.)
- Cooling System ∞: 3000 Bolts + clear game save.
- Mystery Chip: 500 Bolts.
- Buddy Call Plus: 200 Bolts.
- Tank Container: 200 Bolts.
* I obviously haven’t died enough yet to unlock these...
General Notes and Tips
Miscellaneous Stage Tips
- This game has four (count ’em, four) difficulty modes available from the start:
- Newcomer: You get everything from Casual mode in addition to infinite lives (that’s right, infinite), infinite Beat Calls (making you immune to bottomless pits), infinite Super Guard items, and infinite Pierce Protectors. You start the game with the Energy Balancer (though it’s not equipped by default). Double Gear appears to overheat more slowly in this mode, and it feels like standard enemies have lower HP and probably deal less damage to Mega Man.
- Casual: You start with 5 extra lives and there are more continue points throughout the stages. Oh, and you benefit from the Power Shield regardless of whether you actually have it equipped. Also, your weapons are fully recharged when you use a 1-Up. And I think there are some places where there are slightly fewer enemies than in Normal.
- Normal: You start with 2 extra lives in reserve (3 lives total), just like classic games.
- Superhero: Minor enemies take noticeably more hits to defeat (they have more HP). There are few, if any, power-up items found lying around in the stages. (In fact, Anti-Eddie still appears even where there are no power-ups for him to steal.) Mega Man seems to suffer more damage from hits as well, and it feels to me like the Double Gear meter fills faster and drains more slowly.
- From a standing position, and starting from the middle of the block, Mega Man can jump across 3 blocks horizontally and land comfortably on the fourth. However, with a running start or if you move slightly off the block before you leap, he can clear 4 blocks. At times it feels like Mega Man can jump slightly farther in this game than usual. You may find yourself making some leaps of faith and being surprised at what you clear.
- Toggling Speed Gear in short bursts can help extend its duration of usefulness, especially once you’ve purchased the Cooling System part. The same holds true of Power Gear: switch it on, fire a super-shot, switch it off, wait for the next opportunity.
- Switching on Power Gear cancels any charge you had active, so you have to charge up all over again. Be sure to factor this in to your strategy. A fully-charged shot with Power Gear active fires two super-shots in a row. Among other things, you can use this to get through shielded enemies—the first shot knocks away the shield, the second one blows away the enemy. Don’t forget to turn Power Gear off when you are done.
- If you lose all your lives on a stage, check out Dr. Light’s lab from the continue screen and see if any new parts have become available. If not—assuming you save after every stage—you can check whether reloading would put your further ahead than continuing, based on whether what you gathered during the stage offsets what you lost (since you’re going to be restarting the stage from the beginning either way).
- Block Man’s stage: Remember you can shoot through walls. During the grinder sections, keep shooting as you move ahead to blast the blocks out of your way before you even get to them. Don’t forget your Speed Gear.
- Acid Man’s stage: In tricky areas, don’t destroy the enemies. Take a hit and run across the spikes. You can also use Speed Gear to make your jumps more precise (assuming you don’t have the Speed Gear Booster part equipped).
- Blast Man’s stage: The red laser sensors set off the explosive boxes, so trigger them only when ready. Also, you can use Speed Gear to race the box explosions. (Are you sensing a pattern?) Remember that the little Shimobey robots hurt other things when they explode. Knock them into stuff that you want them to damage. Finally, B.Torch can set off box explosions too, on your schedule.
- Impact Man’s stage: This one’s an obvious callback to Guts Man’s stage. Keep in mind you can jump upward through the moving platforms, if need be. If you have weapon energy for it, Acid Barrier is handy on the platforms immediately after the mini-boss.
- Fuse Man’s stage: Watch the lasers and take note of their patterns before you try to navigate them; they always leave safe places to stand, but you have to time your movements correctly to be in the right spot at the right time. (The same applies to appearing-disappearing blocks, of course.)
- Bounce Man’s stage: Be conscious that you bounce to different heights based on whether you are holding down the jump button. You may need the smaller bounce distance to navigate certain obstacles. The direction you come in from also matters. Also, super-shot the balloons, not the Bunby beneath them. (Your regular shots will bounce off, but super-shots do damage them.)
- Tundra Man’s stage: Obviously, build Spike Boots before coming here. There are a few instances of ice block jumping puzzles where you’ll be thankful to have them. Remember to work with the wind, not against it. It can extend the distance of your jumps impressively.
- Torch Man’s stage: You can freeze the walls of fire with a Power Gear-powered T.Storm. This is especially worth it in the latter portion of the stage where the wall is very difficult to race. Absent that, your friend here is obviously Speed Gear; the developers even added in lots of Gear Recovery items to reinforce this. In the dark areas, you’re meant to keep the Lampers around, but if you do destroy them, the S.Thunder works really well to not only light your way but also to point out bottomless pits.
When Dr. Wily is defeated, his war machine blows up, dumping him on the ground. He declares it’s time for Plan B, evidently uses Speed Gear on himself (since his body glows blue), and...falls down and begs for mercy. (Ha!) Even more amusingly, Mega Man says he’s not going to be fooled by the begging routine this time around. Wily rants that Mega Man didn’t really defeat him—he claims it was the Double Gear, Dr. Wily’s own invention, that enabled him to win.
Then out of nowhere Dr. Light walks in. (How’d he get past all the spikes and pits?) Dr. Light points out that Mega Man himself was a combination project between Dr. Light and Dr. Wily, and he urges Wily to come back and start working together with him again. But Wily jumps into his saucer, says one of the truest lines in the series, and takes off.
Naturally, at this point the fortress starts to collapse (because that’s what Wily’s fortresses do—well, normally they explode, not collapse, but sometimes they collapse). Auto runs in (perhaps providing a hint as to how Dr. Light got there) and the three high-tail it out of there.
The credits start out bracketed by Mega Man flying on Rush Jet over the ocean, with the blue sky in the backdrop (and eventually a green flying vehicle that probably is carrying Dr. Light). After that the credits start rolling upward with various enemies displayed on the left side of the screen.
After the credits there’s an epilogue: Dr. Light has installed the Double Gear temporarily into Auto while they are fixing up the eight Robot Masters that Wily stole this go around. When Auto burns out from all of the extra work, Eddie tosses him a Gear Recovery item. And that’s the end of the ending.