Mega Man is back, and so with new features.
So this is the third installment in the classic Mega Man series for the NES. The story is not the best I've ever seen, as doctor Albert Wily seems to not have taken his lessons last two times and created 8 robot masters again in the hope of taking over the world, but Mega Man will go stop them. Anyway, this is a nice excuse for a game, and don't worry because it's the last time in the original Mega Man series the story is that simple.
Nevertheless, Mega Man 3 has all its predecessors had (you gain the boss ability after defeating them) with some enhancements. First, you get a friend dog robot, called Rush, who can help Mega Man to jump to otherwise inaccessible places. After some bosses are defeated you get Rush Jet and Rush Marine, whose can help you to reaches other places as well. Additionally, Mega Man can now slide, by pressing down+B, he can pass in narrow places, and this is useful as hell in boss battle to avoid their attack. This is a great innovation.
Now the graphics are top-notch for the NES, and are definitely more detailed, but also darker than in both previous games (even if some sprites haven't changed, especially Mega Man himself). They still have their ski-fi look pretty much everywhere, and each stage looks rather unique. Now the stage are less elemental than in the first two games, as the robot masters themes are a bit different, they don't follow plain elements, but are a bit more varied, which can proof to be fun. The game is overall as inspired as the first two, which means it's very inspired.
A notable addition as well is the mini-bosses, whose you have to defeat first before continuing to progress. Most of them were large, detailed and fun (never I'll forget those cats in Top Man's stage throwing mouses at you, nor those giant penguins in Gemini Man's stage). Also, it's a nice fact that all enemies of the game are brand new and none of them ripped from any of the first two games (the traditional mets are still there, and you get a couple of different versions of them !).
The soundtrack is fast-paced and excellent. It sounds less techno than the first two games, and more "fast-rock" style. It feels a bit nostalgic at times. This suit the game well, and follow its change from overall style as well. The sound quality has greatly improved from the first two games, and all sound effects were reworked as well. Capcom did a great job in the sound department, as excepted.
In addition to the traditional 8 robot masters and the 4 doctor Wily's fortress stages, they added 4 intermediary stages, which are "short but hard" versions of 4 already beaten stages, whose contains two bosses each : Each time a robot mimic one of the bosses from Mega Man 2, but is harder to defeat than the real one in Mega Man 2. In short, those 4 stages are very hard, and you have to re-beat all 8 bosses from Mega Man 2 again. In addition to this, if you loose against one of them, you have to restart the whole half of the stage over, which can become frustrating. They also added a couple of battles against Proto Man inside some stages, for a mysterious reason (none of them is really hard).
Fortunately, the E-Cans (cans that can refill Mega Man's lifebar) come in useful, as you can collect up to 9 of them (unlike 4 in Mega Man 2), and the password keeps track of them. It's also easy to trick the password system to get more E-Cans. Those are almost necessary to defeat some of the harder bosses of the game (the Mega Man 2 bosses imitated by that weird robot comes to mind, as each hit from them removes a lot of energy to Mega Man).
The only real annoyance is the places where they forced you to use Rush-Jet or Rush-Marine, but make it very hard to pass, and if you failed all your energy would be gone, and you'll just have to waste all your remaining lives to suicide in order to redo the stage with full energy on the Rush items again.
I also didn't like how most of the 8 weapons you get are not very useful. Only the Hard Man and the Magnet Man weapon has proof to be useful at all to me, I used the 6 others only inside boss battle. I know it's hard to make all 8 weapons useful, but still I found myself switching weapons much less often than in the first two Mega Man games, and when I had to switch it often was to use Rush instead to use a weapon.
The game is harder than the first two (except that the E-Cans really make the battles easier), and some boss battles, especially the last one, can become a pain in the ass if you're not prepared (especially on the PAL version, where the last boss glitches a lot due to bad programming by Capcom). If you don't use the good weapon you're going to just fail at your task.
Last but not least, the graphical glitches and flickering is extremely frequent, and a bit annoying sometimes.
The Bottom Line
Mega Man continues his was pretty fine, and as Mega Man 3 is not my personal favorite for some reason (but it's the personal favorite of a lot of people), I still like that game very much and think it's a good game overall. It makes a better use of the NES hardware than most NES games, and add a lot of stuff in the Mega Man series. If you like 2D platformers, I'd recommend getting it, or downloading it from the internet if you can't. As a plus, it's the first Mega Man game to have a decent cover !