Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of... Mega Man

The Best of... series is one that isn't the most featured... feature of SuperPhillip Central. It is saved for the anniversaries and celebrations of video games. This year we have multiple anniversaries, so we've had a lot of Best of... articles.

Today, coming off the Top Ten Mega Man Games, comes Best of... Mega Man. I list my favorite games, the best weapons, the best Robot Masters, and so much more. It's a celebration of all things classic Mega Man, so sit back, pop open an Energy Tank, and start drinking while you read!

Note: This article was a collaboration between myself and my older brother. Enjoy the brotherly read!

[Best Weapon Lineup]

Runner-Up: Mega Man 8 (PS1, SAT)

When you think about good weapons in Mega Man titles, 8's arsenal might not be your first choice. Well, it wasn't ours either, but it was a close second when you think about how good the majority of them are for a moment. Tornado Hold can take out flying foes, but it can also propel Mega Man into the air. Thunder Claw's good for its reach, but you can swing across pegs Indiana Jones style. The Mega Ball could be kicked away or used as an instant Rush Coil. Then you have more practical weapons like Flash Bomb that hit foes multiple times, Ice Wave which tears up foes along the ground, Homing Sniper that can be semi-rapid fired and lock on enemies out of reach, or Astro Crush which causes a screen-clearing attack. Sure, Water Balloon and Flame Sword aren't all that great, but seven out of nine ain't bad, especially when the seven mentioned here are really, really good.

Winner: Mega Man 9 (WiiWare, XBLA, PSN)

You mean it isn't Mega Man 2? Of course not. As good as Metal Blades were, how often did you really use Crash Bombs, Atomic Fire, or Time Stopper anyway? That balancing issue is something that Mega Man 9 manages to get just right. Much like our runner-up, some weapons serve multiple purposes, but all of them do have a purpose. Concrete Shot makes platforms, stops magma, and stuns enemies, Tornado Blow extends Mega's jump height while flying foes up off the screen, and Hornet Chaser can grab goodies out of reach and sting sentries from far away. Laser Trident can break through shields, Black Hole Bomb instantly engulfs almost every enemy, Plug Ball serves as your go to ground weapon, Magma Bazooka's range and power is perfect for minibosses, and Jewel Satellite is the best shield in the series for how many attacks it can block. Out of all of Mega Man's classic adventures, this is the only game where you can and probably will use every weapon in some point just to see how many different ways you can show Wily and his bots who's boss.

[Best Robot Master Lineup]

Runner-Up: Mega Man 8 (PS1, SAT)

Perhaps it's because the jump to double the bits to the PlayStation and Saturn when compared to the Super Nintendo made for Robot Masters that could be more detailed, but the runner-up for best Robot Master lineup goes to Mega Man 8. You get cool designs like Tengu Man, Sword Man, and Search Man, as well as creatively designed Robot Masters such as Aqua Man, Clown Man, and Grenade Man. The added bonus of hearing Wily's robots yak for the first time gave the characters an extra layer of charm.

Winner: Mega Man 2 (NES)

Mega Man's rogues gallery in Mega Man 2 is a veritable treasure trove of memorable Robot Masters. Metal Man alone gives Mega Man one of his most overpowered weapons in series history. Quick Man impresses with his swift speed. Flash Man stops time in an instant. Bubble Man was cool before Burst Man was even a concept in Dr. Wily's mind. Wood Man had a freaking body made out of a huge log. Heat Man and Air Man add to the fun, and Crash Man is one of the more popular Robot Masters when it concerns the Blue Bomber's fan base. There isn't really a stinker in this bunch, and it is for that reason why Mega Man 2's list of Robot Masters is numero uno.

[Best Robot Master]

Runner-Up: Elec Man (Mega Man)

As taken from my Top Ten Mega Man Robot Masters article from 2010:

"Short for and pronounced the same as electric, Elec Man is one of the only stages in the original Mega Man that's completely vertical. He fears Cut Man's Rolling Cutter as it can kill him in just a few hits. Thankfully, he isn't helpless. His Thunder Beam can destroy anyone in seconds with its electrifying power. I picked this up from the Mega Man Wiki, that this bot is actually Keiji Inafune's favorite robot master from the original game. Now we can see why!"

Winner: Tengu Man (Mega Man 8 and Mega Man & Bass)

As taken from my Top Ten Mega Man Robot Masters article from 2010:

"Just a cool-designed robot all around, Tengu Man is the not-so soft-spoken yet ever cocky at the same time robot master with lines such as "Kid, you're almost not worth the effort" and "Are you worthy of my challenge?" He comes from an underrated Mega Man game, Mega Man 8, and his weakness is the Ice Wave, Frost Man's weapon while his own is Tornado Hold. He was so popular that he returned for a rematch in Mega Man & Bass (SNES, GBA) where he had a new level, new attacks, and a new weakness."

[Best Wily Stages]

Runner-Up: Mega Man 7 (SNES)

A problem with many of the NES fortresses is that most of them would only have one stage worth mentioning. Maybe it's the unique look, that every stage finally has its own song, or the fact that Mega gets to finally have a true face-off with his new rival in Bass, but Mega Man 7's fortress proves to be a memorable one.

The opening act sees the lights go out when you step on various platforms here, and it's not long until you're doing this over a bottomless pit or spikes. These track-based platforms occasionally will try to dump you into said perils if you aren't paying attention to where you're going. After that, you get to face Bass for real and then yet another incarnation of Guts Man just after that. Wily 2 gets interesting right when you meet up with Bass and face off with him combined with Treble. Once you make it past him, you have to deal with these containers from Turbo Man's stage that will shoot out fire. It's pretty crazy if you try to go without the buster, but if you use weapons or collected the Super Adapter, you can make it by just easily. The third stage is the most forgettable, but it still has a split path to choose and a rare auto-scrolling boss fight against a giant demon head. Of course, most will remember this game's castle for Wily himself. This fight is one of, if not the hardest final boss fights in the entire series. It takes precision, planning, and sometimes a bit of luck to escape from this one in one piece. It was a pretty great conclusion to a great set of stages.

Winner: Mega Man 10 (WiiWare, XBLA, PSN)

The moment you step foot at the grounds of this fortress, this ominous tune is playing while it's raining heavily. The moment you make it past the opening guards, you're met with a blast from the past when you go up against the Wily Archive. Beating three bosses here lets you advance into the next section where the real theme of the stage begins. This is also where the level splits apart in so many directions, and it's kind of crazy how many ways you can progress through this opening stage. Still, having to battle nine bosses spread out over three encounters makes it a classic.

The second level has conveyor belts in the early going, but it's the crushers in the second half of the stage that will be the main thing you recall about this one... until you make it to the giant enemy crab at the end of the stage anyway. The third stage has a couple of elevator rides with buttons that you'll have to step on to make sure you avoid the floating spikes only to throw at you an underwater section with more spikes and only a couple of platforms for safety. Then you get the unholy combination of a Devil and Pico Pico Master (Mega Man 2's Wily 2 boss) in a crazy struggle. After that, you get to face off with Wily again, but the game does make sure to throw in one last hilarious moment before you reach the credits. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you will when you're about to enter the final stage. No, the final final stage. It's a series of stages with very few lulls. It's because of the high quality in the game's cumulative conclusion that Mega Man 10 earns top honors for having the best set of Wily stages around.

[Best Music]

Runner-Up: Mega Man 4 (NES)

While I like the original 8-bit themes of Mega Man 2, I prefer the Complete Works soundtrack of Mega Man 4, and it ranks right up there for me among the great Mega Man soundtracks. Themes like Skull Man, which has several terrific official remixes, Bright Man, which certainly brightens up my day with its slap bass, and Dr. Cossack Stage 1 are quite nice. Toad Man gets my toes tapping too. All around it isn't the greatest soundtrack in 8-bit form, but Complete Works-wise, it more than does its job well.

Winner: Mega Man 2 (NES)

From the uptempo title theme that kicks in as the Blue Bomber overlooks the city as he stands atop a building to the ever-popular Wily Stage 1/2 theme, Mega Man 2 sports an unquestionably good soundtrack. You get familiar tunes like Air Man, the wonderful Flash Man, and the ultra-catchy Wood Man theme. These songs aren't just appreciated out of nostalgia-- they are tried and true themes that have withstood the test of time.

[Best Overall Game]

Runner-Up: Mega Man 3 (NES)

Introducing loads of new things into the Mega Man gameplay and canon world such as Mega's trusty dog Rush, Mega's brother Proto Man, and the ability to slide, Mega Man 3 is my second favorite game of the classic series. While it is most certainly true that the development period for the game was especially trying for the team behind Mega Man 3, I feel the end product is a sensational game. I loved the level ideas presented-- a greenhouse, a sewer, a stronghold built to resemble snakes-- it goes all over the place. The game also felt longer than past installments, but not needlessly so. These attributes make Mega Man 3 the runner-up in the best overall game category.

Winner: Mega Man 2 (NES)

What else could it be but Mega Man 2? You probably saw this coming miles away too. Well, it helps when yesterday's top ten list names it as the best classic series game. Regardless, Mega Man 2 set the gold standard for the series. All other classic Mega Man games followed the formula Mega Man 2 laid down and perfected. The rest of the classic series was just those games grasping for the golden ring that Mega Man 2 had grabbed. The level design is superb. The music is the series's best (see above). The gameplay is pitch perfect as well. If you are somehow new to the Mega Man franchise and you have yet to pick up and play this game, find a way to [legally] play it. You won't be disappointed, and you will find out why all us old farts keep championing it.


That wraps up this celebration of all things classic Mega Man. What would your picks be if you were awarding honors to each Mega Man game? Let your nominations be read in the comments section!

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