More robot insanity!
A staple of the typical NES gamers' childhood, Mega Man III holds a special place in many of our hearts. It's always been up there in my personal favorite NES games of all time, but having played through it again recently, I can help but feel I was viewing it through rose-tinted glasses.
This is going to be a fairly "By the numbers" review as the game just doesn't inspire me to do anything different... Perhaps that's because that's all the game itself is -- a reiteration of previous installments.
The year is still that infamous year "200X", a year wrought with horrors in the form of evil robots going crazy. Dr. Wily is once again up to his no good tricks and betrays Dr. Light and the rest of the world (Surprise, surprise!) forcing the robots he and Dr. Light created to do his evil bidding.
Proto Man, Mega Man's "Brother", shows up during various stages to train our blue-clad hero.. though this isn't exactly explained during the game. From a gameplay standpoint, he's really just there to knock your health down a few pegs.
Once again, Mega Man tackles the robot masters in their respective stages until all are defeated. After which four new stages open up where he faces off against some familiar foes, before he is finally able to tackle Dr. Wily's villainous hideout and defeat the wicked mastermind.
Like II, the story is almost irrelevant. Mega Man is just there to blow up bad ass robots and take out the final boss. Who cares WHY he's there, as long as he's kicking ass and taking names!
III decides to roll with one difficulty mode -- hard. Stepping things up from the previous Mega Man, this was the first game in the franchise that really felt punishing at times. With monsters jumping out of practically every hole, or coming out of the very walls, Mega Man is never safe. The robot masters have also seen a boost in damage and health -- defeating them all with the peashooter is a much more daunting task than in previous Mega Mans and if you try to tackle a robot master without the right weapon, you're better off giving up and attempting a different level.
As an example, Shadow Man is frustratingly hard without the spinning top attack, as he is immune to many other weapons, is barely hurt by the peashooter, and will constantly slide into you for big damage.
The game is frustratingly hard at some points, where you'll make it through to nearly the end of an area only to get knocked off a pit by some enemy you didn't expect and have to start the whole area again. There is a TON of trial and error in III, and if you're the type who doesn't enjoy that sort of challenge, you're probably not going to enjoy this game.
The biggest issue I had with the robots of III is that it was impossible to guess which weapon any particular robot was weak to, making it become a pure effort of trial and error (unless you had Nintendo Power to tell you which order to kill the bosses in). II at least had a few weapon-to-robot combinations that made sense -- metal blades cut up wood man, leafs clog up air man, etc. III's robot masters were so random it was hard to find any link as to why one would be weak against another robot's weapon. Why is Needle Man week against Gemini Lasers?Heck, what the heck is a Gemini Laser? Why is Spark Man weak against Shadow Blades?
It feels like they pulled names out of a hat. But what could they do when none of the robots shared any sort of commonality, which brings me to the second issue -- the robots aren't all that great.
Okay so II had a block of wood and a Zippo lighter, but Snake Man? Hard Man? Top Man?! Did we really see these as bad ass robot masters when we were kids?
I will admit Shadow Man and Magnet man are pretty cool, even if Shadow Man was just another excuse for them to have a ninja (like Quick Man in II).
One cool thing is that the robots from II make an appearance again after you defeat the first 8 bosses. Though they all fight in the form of Gutsman from the first Mega Man, it was cool to see them floating down into the screen and having to face off against Gutsman using their abilities. I'm not sure why they felt the need to have them appear as Gutsman every time instead of their regular form, but whatever.
I really hate to say this but III's music is not nearly as classic as II's. The opening theme, perhaps, but the rest just isn't as memorable as songs like Quick Man's or Metal Man's stages. If a particular song stood out for me, it was Spark Man's stage. That was a catchy song.
That said, the music is still solid, enjoyable and certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination.
As in the previous Mega Man, Capcom knows how to make levels look unique and appealing. Each level has its own style and looks great. The robot swarms that attempt to thwart Mega Man along the way are also unique and well designed, with a few familiar baddies making a reappearance.
The box art, on the other hand, is still pretty bad. It's a big step up from the first two Mega Man's, but our hero still looks really creepy, and Spark Man (the one he's presumably fighting) just looks odd.
Aside from that little nit-pickiness, though, there's really nothing bad to be said about Mega Man 3's design. Eve Rush -- Mega Man's new puppy sidekick, looks great in all three available forms and was a nice touch to the game.
Unfortunately, Mega Man 3 was not as ground-breaking or amazing as I remember it being. The unforgiving difficulty of some areas is a large part of this, while the odd choice in robot masters would be another part. Nevertheless, Mega Man III is a solid game that adds some original touches to the franchise and brings back some old favorites. It's certainly one of the best of the series, though it did start to show signs of the franchise's repetitive nature and age.
I'd recommend it to newcomers of the franchise after having played II who want more, and to people who remember it fondly to give it another go and see if they would still enjoy it as much now as they did when they were younger.