Since the vast majority of the Mega Man games play in a similar manner, the Game Hints deal with only general hints on where to find items and accomplish tasks in that particular game. I have compacted all of my general strategies, tidbits, and tips into this file, along with some other details that may be helpful to people.

This page describes what I call the “traditional” genre, meaning the one that Mega Man debuted under. It describes how games of this type are played, for those who may have never played a Mega Man game before, then goes into details about items you may see lying about, and any general tips that apply to the game genre as a whole. Note though that of course this information does not apply to any Mega Man game that is not of this style (the Game Hints pages will identify these).

Please note that most of the descriptions below use just “Mega Man” to stand for whomever your player character happens to be; in some games you can control other characters (Bass for example), but their control is generally the same as is outlined here. So just substitute the name of the character you happen to be playing as anywhere you see “Mega Man.”

Most of the Mega Man games—the ones I am covering here—are side-scrolling action games, A.K.A platform games.
The biggest difference between Mega Man and any other platform game is the fact that you can choose the order in which you tackle the main levels of the game, and you also usually acquire one or more weapons in each of these levels, which adds some strategy to the order in which you choose. Note that in all Mega Man games, all of the initial stages can be completed without any items or weapons (unless that item is given to you at the start of the game). Because of this, you can complete the stages in literally any order, although many cannot be fully explored without certain items, and some are more difficult to complete without certain items—though never impossible.

Stage Select

The player takes control of a little blue robot by the name of Mega Man (natch) or, occasionally, various others. On the stage select screen, you choose a stage by selecting the robot boss that ends the stage (these bosses are known as “Robot Masters”). At this point, Mega Man is teleported to a predetermined spot, and the level begins.

Most levels travel from left to right. Mega Man must move through obstacles—jumping pits, avoiding spikes, climbing ladders, and fending off foes—to find the boss which closes the level. There, he must face off in a one-to-one battle in an enclosed room, where the battle does not end until one of the two combatants is destroyed.

Continue Points and 1-Ups

Should Mega Man perish along the way, and he has an extra life (“1-Up”) to spare, he will be teleported back to the nearest continue point and can attempt the stage again. Should he be defeated when his lives are at 0, the game is over. At this point the player can usually choose to retry that stage (this option is usually labeled “Continue” on the game-over screen), or pick a new one (typically called “Stage Select” or something similar).

Intro Stage

Some games have what I call an “intro stage” that you must play before you can actually choose your stages on the stage select screen. You only need to play this stage when you start a new game; however, in most games you can go back into the intro stage again later if you wish.

Fortress Stages

After the initial selectable stages, the game usually advances to fortress stages which are played out in a predetermined order. There might be one or two fortresses in a game, each usually with four levels. Rarely are items or weapons acquired here. Usually the major bosses of the previous levels must be fought again in the fortress. Then, the game ends when the player wins the final battle against Dr. Wily.


The Mega Man games are applauded for their superior play control, detailed graphics, and catchy music. The play mechanics are simple but polished. Mega Man doesn’t have a lot of moves, but what he has suffices. Below is a list.

Mega Man stands roughly one and a half blocks high, so this means his helmet can be clipped by anything under two blocks. He doesn’t need much to stand on—usually one foot on firm ground is all he needs to remain standing, though exactly how far off a ledge you can go and still remain standing depends on the game. Experiment with each new game you get to learn his limits in that particular one.

Mega Man runs at a decent clip; though it’s not especially fast, he can run continuously hours on the end without tiring. In his games Mega Man runs at only one speed.

From a standing-still position, Mega Man can jump three blocks high. When you do the calculations, this comes out to almost nine feet. That is a lot by human standards, but in his games, Mega Man actually cannot jump very high at all, relatively. Most video game characters soar to heights much surpassing the blue bomber—actually, Mega Man is one of the lowest jumpers in the industry. But that’s okay, because we still love him.

Twin plasma cannons are Mega Man’s principle method of attack. He is equipped to be able to turn either arm into a cannon and fire spheres of energy at his foes. The type of plasma he uses normally emits a yellow-white light, though sometimes it turns blue or even pink depending on its strength. In his games, Mega Man can fire at any time except while sliding. Usually he can have three shots on the screen at any one time. Shots that are busy hitting a target do not count. In some games, a super-shot counts as the three shots, which means he cannot fire again until it strikes something or disappears off the screen.

In most of his games, Mega Man can “charge” up energy before firing in order to increase the size and strength of his shot. Hold down the fire button to begin accumulating energy in Mega Man’s system. Watch his colors change until you have reached the desired level, then release the button to fire. In most games, Mega Man can reach three levels of charge. The first level is his normal arm cannon shots. The second level is a slightly larger sphere of plasma that usually doesn’t do any additional damage, it’s just bigger. The third level is the “super-shot” which is both larger and more powerful.

Mega Man can climb ladders and certain other structures by pressing Up on the controller with Mega Man positioned so that he’s standing in front of the ladder. If you press the jump button while clinging to a ladder, Mega Man will let go and begin to fall. (In some games, this also happens if you open and close the subscreen.) Press Up while falling over a ladder to grab on again. Press Up to climb up, Down to climb down, Left and Right to control which way Mega Man aims when you press the Fire button. Note that in some games, you can pause in Mega Man’s “getting off the ladder” stance at the top of a ladder—this can be used to avoid projectiles.

Only Mega Man can slide in his games; everyone else dashes instead. To slide, hold down on the control pad and press the jump button. I admit this can be an annoying operation, as often you will slide when you meant to jump, and jump when you meant to slide. Still, the slide is useful for getting a burst of speed, fitting through one-block passages that Mega Man cannot run through (he needs two blocks to walk), and for ducking obstacles. While sliding, Mega Man is only one block high, which means anything over that block will not touch him.

This is the nifty stuff that refills Mega Man’s “energy meter” which is the yellow/white bar at the top left of the screen. An “energy unit” is a single bar in his meter. He usually has a maximum of 28 units, though some games are different. Energy capsules are the large yellow spheres you often find during the game. Energy pellets are the smaller ones. Capsules give you more energy than pellets. Colored capsules or pellets are weapon energy, which refill Mega Man’s current Master Weapon, if he has one equipped. They will also refill weapons with which he is not equipped in certain games.

Master Weapons
Mega Man can grab weapons from certain enemies. They appear on his weapons screen (also known as a subscreen) and each has its own energy meter. Think of this as ammunition. When a weapon’s meter runs out of energy, Mega Man can no longer fire that weapon, although he still has it. Refill Master Weapons with weapon energy. Mega Man changes colors when he equips a Master Weapon so you can tell what weapon you are currently using.

The various Mega Man games introduce various “tanks” though their general purpose is always the same. Tanks store supplies of energy which Mega Man can carry around until needed. (Energy capsules and pellets cannot be carried but instead are absorbed on contact.) Energy Tanks store a full supply of energy for Mega Man which will refill his energy meter at any time. Weapon Tanks hold weapon energy to refill Mega Man’s Master Weapons. Mega Tanks and Super Tanks carry compressed energy which is capable of refilling all of Mega Man’s weapons and his own energy—all in one shot.

Extra lives. In the game they look like Mega Man heads or helmets sitting on the ground. Collect these to earn extra chances at completing a level. When you lose a life, you go back to the latest continue point that you had passed. Most levels have three continue points—one at the very beginning of the stage, one somewhere around halfway, and one between the gates that lead to the stage boss. In most games, continue points are placed in empty rooms where you will not be blown away as soon as you reappear.


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Last update: March 12, 2007