Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Mega Man is the notoriously difficult 1987 game published by Capcom for the Nintendo console. This game set the tone for the 5 sequels that followed on the NES platform, with subtle differences.
Mega Man featured 6 Robot Masters, as compared to the 8 that became the standard in subsequent Mega Mans. The game also had a score counter, which was dropped for the sequels. The look and feel of the game was different, but only in subtle ways. For example, the look of the items (dropped by enemies) was different than those that appeared in Mega Man 2 onward. Enemies also dropped point-based items in the original Mega Man, but these were removed – naturally – when the score counter was axed.
The Guts Man stage, Ice Man stage, and Fire Man stage were among the hardest levels in the game, each for different reasons. The Guts Man stage had instant-death platforms, the Ice Man stage had disappearing platforms, and the Fire Man stage had traps and enemies that were nearly impossible to avoid. Among them, the Guts Man stage is considered the most difficult, and I would have to agree. By contrast, the Cut Man and Elec Man stages were probably the easiest in the game.
The most challenging Robot Master, in my opinion, was Fire Man. His attacks were near impossible to avoid, and although he was vulnerable to Ice Slasher, the weapon wasn’t so effective that you could knock him out with 3 hits (unlike some Robot Masters).
The Fortress Bosses were also tremendously challenging. The “Yellow Devil” (aka Rock Monster), in particular, was a tough battle. The monster would split into numerous hazardous pieces, fly to one side of the screen, and materialize in its complete form on the other side of the screen. Your only opportunity to get any damage in is while the Yellow Devil is in complete form. The boss will split into pieces again, this time flying to the other side of the screen, and these pieces are to be avoided if you’re to evade damage. Fortunately, the flying fragments don’t come at random, so it’s possible to memorize the pattern. The other fortress battles are also challenging, but in most cases it’s just a matter of learning a particular pattern to avoid damage. It should be noted that you will encounter all of the Robot Masters a second time, before the final encounter with Wily Machine. It’s a good idea to remember the weakness of each Master.
There’s nothing fancy or flashy about Mega Man’s gameplay. A to jump, and B to shoot. The game was nevertheless extremely challenging, with many traps and enemies along the way. Check points are few and far between, so you must persevere.
Mega Man doesn’t have the most impressive graphics in the classic series, but Capcom always had a way with 8-bit graphics that other companies didn’t seem to have. In this game, the backgrounds are extremely primitive, but the foregrounds are adequate enough to convey the “feel” of each stage.
Sound & Music
I always find Mega Man music to be well-orchestrated and stimulating. Mega Man does not have the best music in the series, but the Elec Man stage theme is fairly memorable. The Fortress Boss music just grinds on the nerves.
Mega Man is a classic. Many NES games are known to be extremely challenging, and among them Mega Man ranks high. As with any other game, it’s a matter of practice and perseverance, and it’s not impossible to beat. I found the game to be very entertaining, if frustrating at times. Give it a try!