Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rank Up! - Mega Man

It's been a while since we've last encountered the Rank Up! series, but today's a special occasion. It's the 26th anniversary of the Mega Man franchise today, and while we've already covered Mega Man X (who turns twenty today), we've never listed our order of classic Mega Man games from least favorite to most favorite. Unlike the X series, however, there is no bad game in this bunch of ten titles! After you're done seeing our list, feel free to give us your own order of the games!

Here are the games we'll be ranking:

Mega Man (NES)
Mega Man 2 (NES)
Mega Man 3 (NES)
Mega Man 4 (NES)
Mega Man 5 (NES)
Mega Man 6 (NES)
Mega Man 7 (SNES)
Mega Man 8 (PS1, SAT)
Mega Man 9 (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare)
Mega Man 10 (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare)


10) Mega Man 5 (NES)

While there are definitely no stinkers in the classic Mega Man series, there are some that feel like efforts that didn't do much to try to change the formula of the series. Mega Man 5 is one of those. Its much less challenging than previous entries, and there's a lack of real innovation. Of course, if you have something that isn't broken, there's no need to fix it, as that paraphrased saying goes. In MM5, however, there is something very cool in the game. There are several optional and hidden circuit boards that when all have been collected unlocks the robotic avian helper Beat to assist Mega Man on his mission.

9) Mega Man 6 (NES)

Wacky and rather forgettable bosses aside, the final NES installment of Mega Man, Mega Man 6 is a great entry in the series, offering larger mid-bosses, more complicated enemy designs, and branching paths within levels. The addition of Rush Adapters makes it so Mega's canine cohort Rush isn't relegated to be stood on or hopped off of. Instead, Rush fuses with Mega Man to create one heck of a powerful robot, allowing temporarily flight capabilities among other interesting uses.

8) Mega Man 9 (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare)

Now this pick for our number eight spot might get a lot of controversy from passersby reading this list. That isn't our intention with this choice, so please hear us out. Mega Man 9 returned to the classic NES style roots the series was once known for. The game adds different level obstacles and gimmicks that would have been impossible to do on the NES. Our problems with the game are: 1) It's not very original, 2) A lot of the levels use spikes as a crutch for difficulty, as well as unfair placements of traps that unprepared players would easily die at. Still, don't get us wrong, as Mega Man 9 is a terrific game all the same, and we can't thank Inticreates enough for making it.

7) Mega Man 7 (SNES)

Mega Man leaped into the 16-bit era with Mega Man 7 on the Super Nintendo. It features larger sprites for characters, making for a different experience. However, the same incredible level design the series is known for is still pretty prevalent in Mega Man 7. The game is structured a little differently from past games, having an opening level at the beginning of the game and a midpoint level that occurs when half of the Robot Masters have been defeated. Mega Man 7 also introduces the awesome tag team of Bass and Treble, a shop to purchase helpful items at, and a soundtrack that compares favorably to previous entries.

6) Mega Man 8 (PS1, SAT)

Only one entry of the Mega Man series hit the Super Nintendo. The next would jump ship from Nintendo to Sony and SEGA's platforms, the PlayStation and the Saturn respectively. The budget is bigger with Mega Man 8, showcasing wonderful anime cinematics (just don't expect quality voice acting), a higher quality soundtrack, more colors, among other lovely content. The addition of bolts as the hidden collectibles within the game, makes the replay value of Mega Man 8 grow considerably. Using said bolts at Dr. Light's house to create new parts for Mega Man meant there is a level of strategy in which parts best suits the player's play style. While some might turn their nose up at the two infamous "Jump, Jump, Slide, Slide" levels, we wholeheartedly enjoy them.

5) Mega Man 10 (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare)

With the success of Mega Man 9 two years earlier, Capcom and Inticreates took the proper steps to capitalize on that game's success by releasing a sequel. Mega Man 10 offers a lot of content for players to sink their teeth into. For one, there's the main story, giving players multiple difficulties to choose from, which allows veterans as well as beginning players to fully enjoy the game. The difference between difficulties is based on different platform placements and level setups (e.g. spikes are covered by platforms), a challenge mode that gives players 88 unique, much more bite-sized stages, and Proto Man and Bass (the latter is DLC) as playable characters. It's a great Mega Man game, and we're deeply depressed that Mega Man 10's respectable sales did not garner more installments in the series.

4) Mega Man (NES)

Despite having two less Robot Masters in the game (unless you play the PSP remake, Powered Up), the original Mega Man is pure, old-fashioned fun with less flourishes and flash than future games. For the only time in the series, players earn points for defeating enemies and bosses. The game introduced the original groundwork for the rest of the series, a rock-paper-scissors-like Robot Master weapon system, where one Robot Master's special weapon would be powerful against another Robot Master. Finding the right order to take on each Robot Master and their stages makes the game much more manageable. However, if you want a challenge, you can always play them out of order. The original Mega Man has stellar design, creative levels, and still stands up today as excellent.

3) Mega Man 4 (NES)

Introducing a new villain for Mega Man to overcome, Mega Man must take on a new scientist named Dr. Cossack. The formula remains unchanged for this fourth installment, having the player choosing which order of Robot Master stages they wish to attempt to beat and gaining each fallen boss' special weapons. The big additions to this entry in the series are the ability to charge up Mega Man's signature weapon, the Mega Buster, as well as the arrival of the flip top robot Eddie. While many consider Mega Man 4 the start of the decline in quality of the series, the game has many clever level elements thrown in, great music, and a lot of end game content to justify its place on our list.

2) Mega Man 2 (NES)

This might be a sin in gaming, but we actually don't find Mega Man 2 as the best in the series. It is definitely the most important game in the entire legacy of the Blue Bomber, as it introduced many concepts and mechanics that subsequent Mega Man games would use. Mega Man 2 has incredible level design, music that is highly memorable and storied by old school gamers like ourselves, and the Robot Masters are some of the most creative and iconic. However, certain things are detrimental to the overall package. For one, there is a boss in Dr. Wily's stages that requires a certain special weapon. When the special weapon's energy has run out, you basically must die on purpose because the boss in that stage is vulnerable only to that weapon. Also, the normal difficulty is a bit too easy, while the difficult difficulty is a bit too hard. There is no middle-of-the-road difficulty. Regardless of these nitpicks, Mega Man 2 has a wonderful reputation for very good reason, it's phenomenal.

1) Mega Man 3 (NES)

Mega Man creator Keiji Infaune has stated multiple times that working on Mega Man 3 was much stressful to him. In the art world it is said that a little suffering helps the creative spirit. ...Or something like that. We don't dabble much in the art world. Anyway, Mega Man 3 much more content than its predecessors, giving the player more levels to run, jump, and shoot through than ever before. It's not just quantity either, as there's a substantial amount of quality present as well. Mega Man's trusty canine companion Rush makes his debut, as does a helmet-with-a-visor-wearing brother in the form of Proto Man. Mega Man 3 is also quite challenging, but it's seldom ever unfair. For these reasons we have come to the minority opinion that Mega Man 3 is the best that the classic series has to offer.

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