Mega Man

aka: Rockman

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 77% (based on 34 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 91 ratings with 4 reviews)

What a classic!

The Good
Most people play Mega Man 1 only after playing one of the sequels. Luckily, I was able to play this one first. I was looking for NES games to rent and picked this one up. The art on the box was bad which drew my attention to it. Usually the first games for the NES had awful art so I was curious enough to take it home.

The gameplay is Megaman being able to run, jump, and shoot his gun (though never being able to shoot up). He can take damage but recharges himself with energy capsules that enemies often leave behind. At the end of each stage, Mega Man fights a boss (a similiar robot to Mega Man). Once all the 6 robots are defeated, you go through the final stages of Dr. Wily's Castle.

If this was all there was, Mega Man 1 would have been the last Mega Man. There were two gimmicks that made this game insanely addictive.

-Level Select-

There is no beginning level! First thing when you put up the game is you have a level selection screen of six levels. If you have trouble in one area, you go to another. This concept was novel at the time and greatly appealed to me (and others) since I HATED getting stuck at a single level. If I got stuck in a level, I could play another level. In effect, I had much more access to game content than a linear level design.

-Weapon Upgrades-

When you defeated a boss at the end of the level, you obtained that boss's power. So if you defeated Fire Man, you got his fire attack. Ice Man would give you an ice attack. Electric Man gave you an electic attack, etc. Cutman had a boomerang type cutter. Gutsman would give you the ability to lift giant blocks. Bombman, of course, gave you bombs.

With a new weapon, it freshened up the remaining game content. The fire weapon made Iceman's stage much easier and the ice weapon made Fireman's stage easy as well. The weapons also would trigger weaknesses in certain bosses. Bombman's bombs were very effective on gutsman. Gutsman's block lifting ability came in handy against Cutsman. This gave the game massive replayability.

The final stages were interesting too, even though they fit the standard linear level mode. The bosses were very creative, especially the big yellow one who would move across the room in small little pieces (you would have to dodge pieces of himself as he did this). The final stages featured a puzzle element as you had to know when to use the correct weapon in the right spot (and for the right bosses). You also didn't have your weapons recharge so you couldn't waste them. Right before the end, you get to fight all the robot masters again, this time you have all the weapons so wiping them out is easier this time. Then you fight Dr. Wily and its end of game.

The game's graphics were interesting for its time. They were very cartoony and looked very nice. The levels all matched the bosses. Iceman's stage was full of ice (you would slide around). Fireman's stage full of fire. Electric Man's stage full of robots and electrical shocks. Each level was unique and had its own distinct feel.

What made Mega Man a classic was, as I've said, the use of the stage select and upgrading weapons once completing those stages. Nothing like that had been done before!

The Bad
Gutsman stage was HARD!! The beginning of the level was full of moving platforms that would turn vertical (hence, dropping you to your doom) at spots on their ride. It is very difficult to get through that. The game also had annoying jumping puzzles such as with the appearing blocks. (This MegaMan game is probably one of the hardest in the series.)

The control for this game is so-so compared to the sequels. This is ok, since this was the first game. This game only had 6 robotmasters and stages compared to the standard 8 that would appear. Again, this is no issue since this was the first Megaman.

The lack of a password means you must complete this game in one sitting. However, if you completely run out of lives, you just go back to the stage select screen (with levels you have already completed stay completed). There are midpoints in the levels so if you die, you don't have to start each level at the beginning. Only if you lose all your lives does that occur.

There is a unique 'item' in Electric Man's stage that you must have in order to complete the first level in Dr. Wily's Castle. I didn't know this at the time and had to go back to Electric Man's level. Annoying.

The Bottom Line
A game designed with stage select from the very beginning, with cartoonish fun robots, environment obedient levels, with the capability for your character to steal weapons from the bosses for his own personal use? Sweet!

This game sold very poorly in the US due to bad distribution. This was not the game that launched the franchise, though. Megaman 1 did have some issues that held it from being 'blockbuster' so it was reduced to being a 'cult classic'. The design concepts were what gave this game it's well deserved sequel... it was the sequel that launched the Mega Man franchise.

NES · by Jonathan Hollas (24) · 2005

A delightful game—if you play it in the right frame of mind.

The Good
Devoted readers of my reviews (hi, Mom!) know that I do not have a great deal of respect for Capcom games in general. Capcom has an annoying habit of taking hit games (Mega Man, Final Fight, Street Fighter) and running the franchise into the ground with numerous sequels. Those games that aren’t hits (Bionic Commando, Strider) become inexplicably acclaimed cult classics, despite the fact they aren’t really anything that special.

So I had every intention of revisiting the original Mega Man title and writing a harsh review of it. But a funny thing happened along the way: I actually found myself enjoying the game! I still have reservations about it, which I will detail below. First, though, I need to eat some crow and say what’s good about this game.

The graphics are quite nice for an early NES title. Some game companies, including Capcom, tried to do too much too early in this department (I submit Commando as Exhibit A), but I think they hit the sweet spot here. There may be a little too much red and blue in the color palette, but otherwise the graphics are very well done, with little flicker or slowdown. The same praise goes for the music and sound effects. NES music/sound is generally annoying, but here it’s rather atmospheric and catchy.

As for the gameplay, it takes a little getting used to, but once you get a feel for what the designers were going for with Mega Man—puzzle-oriented platforming, alternating with cool boss battles—it’s hard to resist coming back for more. Even when you die from a cheap hit or an unexpected enemy appearing on screen, it makes you mad, but it also makes you feel good, since you’ve explored a little more of the game and now you’ll have the knowledge to help you do better in the future. Mega Man definitely dishes out its carrots and sticks at the same time.

Some of the jumping puzzles are truly devious in design. While many are straight-up mazes, some add timing elements, where blocks appear and disappear at fixed intervals in a given sequence. The player has to observe this sequence and then figure out what blocks to jump on, and in what order, to get to the other side of the screen. It’s a pretty simple mechanic, but these puzzles work really well. They are frustrating, but certainly not impossible, and quite rewarding once you’ve figured them out. The controls are more than adequate to the task, too. Modern console gamers will probably say the controls are unresponsive, but the control is actually very tight…it’s just that the jumps themselves are often challenging.

The boss battles are clearly the highlight of the game, though. Every time Mega Man defeats a boss, he gets that enemy robot’s special power. The six different robot boss characters can be taken down in any order, but there is also a really neat “rock-paper-scissors” dynamic at work here, so it may pay to go in a particular sequence. For example, Fireman might be vulnerable to Iceman’s attacks, in which case you would want to beat Iceman before taking on Fireman. Some experimentation may be necessary to find the right combinations, but that’s part of the fun of it. It’s actually a pretty nice way of adding replay value to the game without just throwing more levels at you.

The Bad
The most damning thing about Mega Man, and the reason why I originally intended to write a negative review of it, is that it seems crushingly, unfairly difficult at times. This is partly the fault of the game’s designers for not including some kind of password or save game feature. It was still relatively new for this kind of arcade game to have a clear “finale” to it, and they clearly weren’t sure how to handle it yet. Even a really good platform gamer would need 4-5 hours minimum to get through this game—but who in this busy modern world has the time (or patience) to plug away for 5 or more hours in one sitting?

I think the first lesson of Mega Man is this: you can make a good platforming game into a great game if you have a save feature, some difficulty settings, and an endgame that is humanly possible to beat. Mega Man doesn’t have those things, but Mega Man 2 does. Even Capcom can learn from its mistakes!

The second lesson is that a good game can seem really bad when you compare it to the wrong kind of game. I always compared the Mega Man games to Super Mario Bros. 1,2 and 3. In retrospect, that comparison really biased me against the MM series. Mega Man isn’t Mario; he jumps around platforms, but he doesn’t blast through them with speed or by busting up bricks and stomping on his enemies. No, Mega Man has to get through the levels with patience, puzzle-solving, and some clever shooting. It’s an entirely different kind of experience, even if the two games look very similar. In fact, I’d say Mega Man is closer to classic PC action games (Lode Runner, Jumpman, Prince of Persia) than it is to Super Mario.

Aside from the fact that the trial-and-error gameplay can turn into a grind, my only other complaint is that Mega Man is a pretty bland protagonist. He’s totally upstaged by the boss enemies, which seems a little odd for a superhero. Maybe it had to be this way, but it still bothers me.

The Bottom Line
I hated Mega Man at first, but now that I’ve played it more, I have to admit that I like it. It’s clever and charming—just enough so to offset its unreasonable difficulty level and occasional bouts of tedium. Fans of 2D platformers should definitely play Mega Man, but remember: he ain’t no Mario.

NES · by PCGamer77 (3159) · 2008

Possibly most innovative game ever

The Good
The original Megaman turned to become one of my favorites. Why ? Well, this was one of the first NES game I ever played. The year it came out, 1987 was in the early NES age. This game came out several years after the original Donkey Kong or the original Super Mario Brothers, one year after the original Castlevania, the original Zelda and the original Dragon Warrior, and the same year as the original Final Fantasy (all this stuff is based on the Japanese dates). Just in those few years, videogames has passed from the state to be hard and stupid to become innovative, fun and enjoyable. MegaMan highly contributed to this change. Now let's compare MegaMan to it's neighbors.

The Graphics : Well, old C-64 games like the original Donkey Kong just has black backgrounds with no details and stuff at all. Castlevania, that came out the same year as MegaMan, has pretty detailed graphics, but both are different because Castlevania has dark, Gothic graphics, but MegaMan has futuristic sci-fi graphics. However, look at the lava at Fireman stage, look at the snowy landscape at Iceman stage, look at the constructions at Gutsman stage. All these backgrounds are very characteristic and matches a style specific to the stage, this is the exactly opposite of Super Mario Brothers that have just the same stupid smiling clouds at every stage. Not only the background are typical, but also the enemies. All those enemies are incredibly innovative. Look at the "living helmet" at Gutsman stage that will later become a tradition of the series. No game at that time has so fun and innovative enemy. And what about Megaman himself ? Just look at him. Look how he walks. Look how he jumps. Look how he blinks his eyes when you do nothing for a small amount of time (the MegaMan series is the only series where the hero blinks his eyes until Final Fantasy 7 as far I know). Now compare the Megaman sprite to the ugly Simon Belmont from the original Castlevania (that HAD good graphics). He looks like a piece of bread with two legs ! Compare him with Link from Legend of Zelda. He looks like a vegetable ! I exaggerate a bit, but still, you have to admit it even if you hate MegaMan (in that case you're a fool), it's graphics are GREAT !!

Now, the sound. The music is dynamic, but pretty repetitive. However.... MegaMan is the first game (or maybe one of the firsts) to have special effects like pitch slides, vibratos, volume effects on the NES. I don't know if the others developers just include volume and pitch effect in order to follow Capcom or if they all had the same idea at the same time... But I can't even imagine how plain could be some great NES soundtracks without that. And what about the sound effects ? All NES games out there just have beeps and bleeps. MegaMan's SFX are slightly different (except, I have to admit it, the bleep when Megaman shoots a ball, that you'll unfortunately hear often). They're just incredibly well done and brings to the game a serious impression. Never before sound effects like that have been hear on the NES. MegaMan's music is good, and it's sound quality is just a BLAST !!

Eventually, the scenario. Willy have taken the control of the six robots, and you have to defeat all of them. It's sure not the best story out there (in comparison with the original Final Fantasy that came out one year later), but still, the story is serious. You don't have to rescue a princess or any stupid thing. You really have to save the world, heh. I know that all it's sequels won't be serious at all, but this one is. Decent scenario overall (the only problem is that it makes the opportunity to make a sequel hard).

Now.... ah, yes, the gameplay. You have to fight six robots in the order you want, the number of times you want, in order to obtain all their specific powers. Originally, you can just shot and jump, but after beating the robots, you'll be able to shot fireballs, to throw a bomb on enemies, to attack them with a cut-boomerang, to use some electricity rays, to throw ice in order to freeze some of the enemies and to trow some blocks you'll found on the field. When you beat all the robots, you'll access to the Dr.Willy stage, to fight a giant golem (it's one of the most harder boss I've ever seen in the video game history), a clone of Megaman himself that will use the same powers as you do, some bubbles, and eventually Dr.Willy himself, you'll also have to fight all the robots again before. Unlike many MegaMan games, ALL the powers are useful. That's the really great side of the original MegaMan ! Also, the possibility to recharge your energy and your weapons with capsules that monsters will randomly give to you when you beat them proves definitely that MegaMan has an innovative game play. If that's not enough, I don't know what do you want to make it better !

Controlling Megaman is sweet, he moves at the same time as you push the button but not immediately as fast as he can, he jumps just when you push the A button, he shots just when you push the B button.... it's almost perfect ! Also, the game never slows down, and that's kinda cool.

Challenge ? Oh, yes, there is. You can beat the robots in optimal order to use their respective weakness (it works just like in an RPG, for example -> Fireman is weak against the Ice, etc...), but you can also challenge a boss without using its weakness. Another example of challenge is the puzzles, you can cheat and use the magnet beam instead. That's MUCH better that choose between easy or hard or anything like that. Once you got all robots, the Dr.Willy stage are very challenging.

The Bad
The lack of password make the game very tough, but with all the innovative stuff in it, would us complain ? Not at all. One stupid think is that there is electricity like if it was a material stuff (in Elecman stage). Looks like Capcom didn't understand that Electricity can only go from a point to another point. What a shame ! But were would be the Elecman's power without this ? They could input some bolts or something.

The real sad thing about the game is that is has a lot of glitches, for example monsters does re-appear a lot.

The Bottom Line
The original MegaMan = Innovative graphics, innovative music, innovative sound quality and sound effects, innovative game play, innovative enemies, innovative challenge.... One of the best non-RPG game series ever starts with an incredible game ! Check it out ! (or if you can't don't hesitate to download it).

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2005

Another Side-scrolling, jumping adventure. It's classic, though! Definitely worth playing!

The Good
Originality. This was the beginning of a series that has went off in all sorts of directions, even to the point of making Megaman Soccer, and a Megaman RPG! Anyway, back to this game. Again, very original in most ways, good music, good graphics (for the NES, anyway) and as always, in every Megaman game, Dr. Wily's eyebrows are just hilarious.

The Bad
Difficulty, and control. This was the only Megaman game on the NES not to feature the password system, which makes each game considerably less difficult. As for control, Megaman slid around too much. The Cover art sucked, too.

The Bottom Line
Classic. A true retrogaming experience.

NES · by J. David Taylor (27) · 2004

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Alsy, RhYnoECfnW, SlyDante, Big John WV, VGManiac101, Baron79, Wizo, samsam12, BurningStickMan, chirinea, RetroArchives.fr, Jeanne, Riemann80, Patrick Bregger, Terok Nor, Seth Newman, CalaisianMindthief, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy).