Video Game Review
Mega Man 3
Nintendo Entertainment System
There is a furious debate between hardcore Mega Man fans about which game is the best in the series. Some argue that Mega Man 3 is the best Capcom ever put out. If that’s the case, then the series as a whole is not as good as its reputation makes it out to be. As a NES platformer, it is a respectable effort but as a staple of the series, it is far from it.
The story is not unlike the main plot for all the other Mega Man games. Sometime in the future, a bunch of evil robots are running roughshot all over the place. Normally it would be Dr. Wily causing all these problems but he’s allegedly stopped promoting evil and is even working with Dr. Light to carry out peaceful work. Mega Man busts into action to stop the robots and whomever is controlling them.
The controls are easy enough. A to jump, B to shoot, and the d-pad to move around. You can change your weapon by pressing start and selecting from your obtained weapons. You earn different weapons by defeating bosses to gain their powers. You also can earn capabilities to modify Mega Man’s dog Rush (like a jump boost, or turn him into a jet or a submarine). Mega Man’s controls are quick and responsive although there is a limit to how many projectiles you can have on screen at a time (three). Jumping can be a bit tricky at times but is far from the worst on the system. However, it can still result in a couple of cheap deaths.
Graphically, the game looks good but has shown little improvement since the previous version. It’s not a bad thing since everything looks great and the levels have a nice amount of detail and are full of colour. Also, considering the limitations of the NES, it’s not like each iteration of Mega Man could feature a graphical leap over the previous instalment. Still, Mega Man 3 does little to distinguish itself from the previous games in terms of its interface. Same thing goes for the music. Everything sounds great and there are some memorable 8-bit tunes but it doesn’t feel much different from the earlier games. Capcom chose not to mess with success and on the grand scheme of things, is not a bad thing as there were games released long after Mega Man 3 on the NES that didn’t look and sound as good. It just would have been better if it didn’t feel like a cookie-cutter game.
The game begins with a level select screen where you choose which boss you want to try first. You can pick any level you want although some levels are easier than others if you have the right weapon. After selecting a boss, you have to traverse through a level that may incorporate different segments (such as platforming, intense enemy battles, and/or mini-boss battles). Some levels have you squaring off against Proto Man in a mini-boss battle. When you get to the end of the level, you face the boss. Once the boss is defeated, you gain their ability. Planning the order of level selection is beneficial if you can figure out which boss is weak against which power up. The game looks a bit short from the boss select screen but it is quite misleading. Completing the first eight levels is only half the battle as new levels open up forcing you to take on new challenges and old foes from previous games in the series. The killer level is the one that forces you to fight all eight bosses again without being able to recharge your weapons between fights. Even the fastest reflexes in the world might not be enough. Mega Man 3 is only for those looking for a challenge.
Challenge is the key word although it is incredibly easy to get frustrated. Sometimes the frustration is justified. The rock-paper-scissors dynamic is interesting but can be a pain in the ass at the beginning of the game when you don’t have any weapon upgrades. Some bosses are near impossible without the right weapon. Trial and error would be fine if the levels themselves were more interesting. Getting from start to end is like taking the subway in the height of summer with the heat on. You’re glad you got to your destination but you don’t want to have to take the subway again anytime soon. The levels in this game are like that. You’re glad you got to the end but you don’t want to play it again. Most times this feeling comes from a challenging part in a level that feels cheap more than anything else. Then you get to a boss where you don’t have the right weapon. These are the situations that lead to controllers being thrown through television sets.
Mega Man 3 is a great game for fans of the series but those who are not used to the series are in for a surprise if they’re trying it out for the first time. It’s challenging and if you can’t figure out the right combination of weapons to use against particular bosses, you may have problems enjoying the game. Despite this, it is still one of the better games on the NES and holds up well today.