For those about to Rock (we salute you)
A diving slide is when a human being, running with full force, lowers his upper body to the floor and allows the built-up momentum to drag his or her form across the floor, feet first. For decades, great people have been risking high wedgies and ounces of detergent, sliding across pants-ruining terrain in the name of survival and scoring runs. The slide is a viable technique for stealing bases in baseball, narrowly diving under the giant closing trap door in the cursed Mayan temple you may be exploring, and…well that’s just about it actually. So it should come to no surprise that Dr Light would go to baseball all-time base stealer Ricky Henderson when looking for the necessary means to upgrade his Rock Man project. After long hours of studying the baseball legend’s sliding and egotistical behavior, Dr Light has developed the knowledge necessary to defeat the forces of evil.
Rock, Dr Light’s completely heterosexual manservant-turned-defender of justice can now add “baseball slide” to a list of abilities that includes “run, jump, climb, blink, shoot”. By pressing down on the d-pad (whatever d-pad you may be using) and the jump button, the boy wonder can enter a sexy pose as he dashes forward. Mega Man even surpasses Ricky’s best abilities with the power to do a baseball slide without the running start! If Rock Man were to make a career in baseball (as opposed to, well…soccer) then many a bases would be stolen and many infielders would have their abdomens shot off. This dashing attack, ideal for crawling under narrow passages and evading danger, made its official debut in Mega Man 3.
Currently available on mobile phones, the Wii shop and the Mega Man Anniversary Collection (the version you should get if you want to save money) Mega Man 3 feels considerably more refined than its two predecessors. Levels are more visually appeasing, enemies are illogical yet are ideal challenges/canon fodder, Dr Light makes his first visual appearance IN a Mega Man game, and you’ve got the debut of Rush. Cashing in on the Lassie fad and those replacing assist-thingys “1”, “2” and “3” from Mega Man 2, Mega Man can summon a charming canine companion to assist his journey. You start with Rush Coil, wherein the dog appears and Mega Man can spring off his back in a non perverse manner. Rush Jet is a versatile jet that flies anywhere on the screen and can make any tricky platforming sequence a laughing joke. Finally, Rush Marine lets Mega Man insert himself into Rush (oh my) as a mini-submarine for the game’s entire three underwater sequences.
The game also marks the debut of Protoman, who spends most of the game disguised as “Break Man”. The whole “disguise” gimmick must be some kind of excuse made by Capcom to cover an initial translation failure because really, who the hell is Break Man? That’s like the Joker disguising himself as the Evil Clown. Protoman is, within the Mega Man canon, the first robot creation of Dr Light, and in this game makes sporatic appearances to “test Mega Man in combat”. Like all of the information in this paragraph and the next, this is all information discovered from Wikipedia, because I never could figure out why this enigmatic person would randomly appear and fight. In fact, I don’t even know if “fight” is the right word. He has a very primitive AI program, as he just hops from left to right, firing his gun in the air aimlessly, rendering this test of might the most pathetic boss in the game. No wonder he never passed the prototype stage.
In fact the whole storyline is a bit suspect. As a child, I assumed the plot here was the same as any other Mega Man game; Wily has 8 evil robots, Mega Man gives them a golden shower from his yellow laser gun, he goes to Wily’s Skull Fortress Summer Home, trounces the evil giant robot at the end, Mega Man saves the day. But Wikipedia reveals that there’s a bit more to it. Apparantly, Dr Light and what he thought was a reformed Dr Wily were working together on that evil giant robot, a sizeable fellow named “Gamma”. The Free Encyclopedia claimed that this giant machine with spiked knuckles, gun turrets heads and an oversized jaw was a “peace-keeping robot”, perhaps some kind of deterrent. That was the same justification for the Manhattan Project. Notwithstanding Dr Light’s sheer stupidity in being conned into making a Godzilla-like machine by his arch-nemesis, eight new robot masters who were also designed as peace-keepers go berserk and steal the eight power crystals needed to power this machine. So Mega Man has to clean up this mess. I never quite grasped this whole “power crystal” concept since you never actually see any of these “power crystals”, you just destroy one robot, nick his power and move on. It’s fortunate that Mega Man 3 is an NES game and whatever story sequences are actually present will only waste mere seconds of your life before you get back to waging war with the peace-keepers.
And my, what peace-keeper robots Mega Man will have to piece apart. If you’ve been following the Mega Man series up to now, then you should know this series stopped trying to be logical with robot threats around the time Bubble Man threatened the world with his savage soap attacks. Or when Ice Man armoured himself with a parka. With that in mind, here are the eight robots designed to prevent conflict in the .
Magnet Man: If there’s one robot from this game that I’d want with me in the frontlines, here’s the guy. Besides sporting the unique look of a ninja with a Looney Tunes horseshoe magnet on his forehead, this robot possesses the literal power of Magnetism. Decades of Marvel comics have taught us the strength of such power. He also fires missiles that home in on their targets, making him a powerful adversary in times of war…even if the missiles look like horseshoe magnets that you’d only see on Bill Nye.
Shadow Man: The other ninja robot. Except Shadow Man is more of a ninja robot (in the stereotypical sense) being that he sports a shuriken on his forehead. Presumed a keeper of justice on the streets in the same way that The Shadow fights evil from, well, the shadows, Shadow Man presents a dire threat to Mega Man in that he too has mastered the all-important technique of the tactical baseball slide.
Hard Man: Judging by his stage, Hard Man is the keeper of peace on the local construction site, protecting citizens from unionization. Standing erect at the end of a stone-filled stage, Hard Man is a tall, firm adversary that battles Mega Man by leaping into the air and thrusting himself head-first into the ground, causing the earth to climax with throbbing pressure. His rocket-hands are also weapons, which he uses in an attempt to fist
Snake Man: The protector of zoos and reptile farms everywhere. Snake Man is long, oily and continues the string of Freudian robot masters (and we still have ) This was indeed a sexually frustrating time in Dr Wily’s life. Or perhaps Snake Man is Capcom’s attempt to create a robot from the year 200X, as Snake Man is the perfect tie-in boss for Bruno’s theatrical release. In any event, Snake Man’s flaw is that he has the same buggy AI chip as Protoman, and is content to jump around, randomly firing his gun. What would happen if, say, Snake Man and Proto Man were to have a boxing match?
Needle Man: And then we have the short, thin Despite his size, Needle Man can thrust his needle-head forward with incredibly pleasing power, proving that size doesn’t always matter. Presumably the peace-keeper of the local rehab clinic, Needle Man is an imposing figure that encourages kids to say no to drugs. I think.
Top Man: The peace-keeper during Chanukah. Top Man is Dr Wily’s inside joke towards Dr Light’s Jewish background. Had Dr Light not chosen the path of science and created so many robots that ultimately turned traitor and terrorized mankind, he would’ve made a fine rabbi. As for Top Man, he challenges entire armies with tops of terror and a spinning assault that would punk out Lebron James on the court. I love this boss.
Spark Man: Continuing from his previous work with Elec Man, Spark Man is an upgrade of the perpetual energy source theory that Dr Light invented. Hell, if Dr Light just settled on his laurels and rode with the perpetual energy source instead of trying to create other machines (such as a perpetual source of tops,) then he would be something of a multi-billionaire. Spark Man is the peacekeeper of…don’t know, lets just say Turkey for now, but Spark Man battles enemies with mighty electrical power stemming from the two dicks on his hands.
Gemini Man: Finally, we have the peace-keeper of the constellations, Because lord knows we need someone to keep Perseus at bay from the wrath of Ursa Major. Gemini Man earns his name from his ability to split into two forms, both of which share the same AI programming (as in “they’re both really stupid”) More noteworthy is the Gemini Man stage; some kind of dark cavern containing large quantities of eggs that, when shot, reveal a floating robot sperm cell. Perhaps this stage takes place in a giant robot womb.
In fact, the stages are littered with some very strange but not very threatening adversaries. Robots that pole-vault off plungers, evil shot-put robots, giant floating magnets with beady eyes, giant evil cute wind-up penguins, even a giant, evil Cheshire Cat. The initial 8 stages of Mega Man 3, while a bit longer, feel also a tad more easier than some of the more ruthless stages from Mega Man 2. Part of that stems from the frequent prevalence of Energy Tanks (especially in Wily’s fortress…and yes, in case you didn’t figure it out yourself, Wily does betray Dr Light and steal the giant robot), and part thanks to how versatile the Rush Jet is as a universal means to get anywhere safely. Likewise, none of the robot master weapons are as effective as the Metal Man blades or Wood Man shield thingy from the last game. I almost always stuck with the old fashioned Mega Man yellow gun, you know the one. The one that after, 3 years Mega Man still can’t aim anywhere gawddammit. But even then, I found other weapons like the Shadow Man ninja stars (they’re like the pansy version of the Metal Man blades) to be fairly useful in the right situation.
Then the game unexpectedly throws a vile curveball the likes of which would humble Ricky Henderson. Four new stages appear after you defeat the insidious eight. These new stages are destroyed, lengthier, more challenging gauntlet versions of previous stages. And within each is two boss battles with robot masters from Mega Man 2…sort of. They’re the souls of robot masters of Mega Man 2, but they inhabit the body of what I can only describe as “Mentally Handicapped Man”. But even with newfound weaknesses to your new weapons and Mega Man’s mighty baseball slide superpower, they’ll still provide as much of a challenge as ever. If I’m making Mega Man 3 out to be some kind of gentle walk in comparison to other Mega Man games, just try beating all of the bosses with only your standard yellow drip gun. That’ll provide a fairly adequate challenge.
Oh, and yellow devil returns from Mega Man 1 with a singular pose and a renewed vengeance.
The final stages in Wily’s are fairly tough but not the most challenging in the series, thanks again in part to the common appearance of power-ups. In fact, the sparse sequences in the castle that require the use of mounting Rush are made more forgiving by the frequent appearances of blue pills. These allow Mega Man to last longer (in the castle of course) with the Rush Jet, as opposed to Mega Man 2’s select few sequences where one slip-up too many would require the player to either mine respawning enemies for more medicine or commit suicide.
I figure that most hardcore fans will commit to Mega Man 2 as their favorite in the series, in part to its steeper difficulty and funkier music. Well if you’re into that kind of music anyways, I was listening to during this playthrough of Mega Man 3. So perhaps this higher score is due to Paul McCartney’s soothing vocals, but I feel that Mega Man 3 is the more user-friendly of the two games and thus comes with a higher recommendation. In my mind anyways, it’s the strongest of the NES Mega Man games (working with the assumption that 9 is a poser pretending to be an NES game.) But you may as well get both games and decide for yourself. As for the next 6 Mega Mans, well, I’ll get to those soon enough…
4 ½ stars