This year has brought us two astonishing third installments with Super Mario Bros. 3 and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. It would be an incredible accomplishment for Mega Man 3 to improve upon its predecessor, which we awarded our 1989 Game of the Year. However, Capcom clearly has developed a formula that works marvelously. Mega Man 3 is similar to the previous two games, but adds just enough new gameplay mechanics to raise the bar even higher. Luckily if you’re new to the series you can jump right in with this latest game, but you might find the first two on discount and save a some money while getting a similar experience.
You play as Mega Man, who – despite his name – is actually a robot. Like the other games in the series, Capcom has taken the fantastic approach of letting you choose which of the eight stages you want to tackle first. You can play them in any order you choose and each has a diabolical Robot Master waiting to pummel you at the end of the level.
Each course is themed around these enemy robots. For example, Spark Man’s stage is full of electricity and the hazards that go along with it, Magnet Man has invisible powers of push and pull, and naturally Snake Man’s stage is full of menacing serpents. Each area is filled with robotic enemies, platforms, and hazards for Mega Man to navigate through.
Initially you are armed with Mega Man’s signature arm cannon, but as you defeat each Robot Master, you gain access to the weapon they were using against you that you can now use for the rest of the game. Most are simple to use and extremely fun to boot, but you’ll have to watch your special weapon energy bar because each time you take a shot you deplete a bit of it. Luckily you can find refills all over the place by defeating enemies. Half the fun is figuring out the best uses for these special powers, which include the likes of the Shadow Blade, which throws a boomeranged blade, the Gemini Laser that fires a powerful beam, and – the most odd one of the bunch – Top Man’s ability, which has you perform a powerful spin in close-quarters-combat. Each boss has a severe weakness against one of these abilities and it’s up to you to figure out what works best.
But Mega Man 3 isn’t just the same game with a new coat of paint. The most obvious addition here is Mega Man’s new slide move. It’s truly a game changer and makes traversing the various levels even more fun than before. In addition to his traditional running and jumping, he can now slide across the floor by pressing down and B at the same time. This allows him to avoid enemy fire and reach previously inaccessible areas of the worlds he visits.
Also new is the Rush Dog. Unlike the generic tools gained throughout Mega Man 2, here we have a robotic canine called Rush who comes in three different forms to assist you throughout the journey. With Rush you can hover, jump to extreme heights, and even morph into a submarine. These are very useful (and sometimes required), especially as you reach the latter portions of the game, but the energy depletes quickly as you use these.
There is a mysterious new character named Break Man, who will show up in particular areas and do battle with. He looks similar to yourself and his agenda and purpose are a mystery throughout the game. Far and away the coolest addition is what happens after you defeat the 8 robot bosses. Instead of moving straight to Dr. Wily’s areas, four of the stages become warped and distorted and you must go through them again, with some very cool surprises. Like the previous game, there is an easy to use password screen and a fair continue system.
The music from Capcom is almost always amazing and some of the tracks from this series (Air Man, Quick Man, Bomb Man) standout as some of my very favorite game tracks ever produced. As incredible as the music was in the first two games, I honestly think Mega Man 3 has managed to raise the bar again. Every single number is so well composed and is guaranteed to stick in your head – particularity Magnet Man and Shadow Man’s themes. Like the previous game, the soundtrack will instantly hook you from the title screen.
The unique stage design is incredible and none of the levels seem phoned in. All of them are very creative and fun to play through. The graphics are full of color and look magnificent. Very few games match the quality displayed here. Like the predecessor, there are some amazing mid-stage enemies, like a giant cat and humongous snake that take up a huge part of the screen. One of the few complaints I have is the occasional slowdown when the screen fills with enemies. This I brushed aside as minor inconvenience.
As usual, the controls feel fantastic with precision jumps and fun shooting that is both challenging yet simple to master. I would say the difficulty in this game is much steeper than Mega Man 2, especially since the bosses are a tad harder and features like light/dark changes in Shadow Man’s stage and lots of vanishing block platforming in Magnet Man’s. This game is also longer with the four extra stages.
This game is simply phenomenal and one of my favorite three games this calendar year. Whether you loved the first two Mega Man games, or you are new the series, this is a game that everybody should have a blast with this winter. Mega Man, like Mario, is a series that should appeal to every age group. Every stage is thrilling to go through and the game’s challenge is perfect. The game looks fantastic and features one of the greatest soundtracks in gaming history. This is a title I envision myself replaying time and time again.
Mega Man 3 Review
- Graphics - 9.5/109.5/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 10/1010/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
The battle wages on who is the better developer, Capcom or Konami. Two months ago, Konami delivered Dracula’s Curse and now Capcom fires back with Mega Man 3. In my opinion, both of these games are nearly deadlocked with Super Mario Bros. 3 for 1990’s Game of the Year. What’s next for Mega Man? Will we see Mega Man 4 on the new 16-Bit Nintendo or will he remain on the NES? Either way I hope Capcom keeps making hits like this.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.