All 10 Mega Man games ranked!

Let’s not goof around. Mega Man is the greatest character and video game series and probably the greatest thing in general to ever exist in the history of everything. Maybe David Bowie is better, I don’t know. The point is that I just played all 10 original series Mega Man games back to back, some for the 20th time or so. This along with the fact that I love lists and giving my unsolicited opinion about things made me want to give my opinion in list form about the greatest blue boy to ever live. And, so, here are all 10 Mega Man games ranked from worst to best, although it’s Mega Man, so even the worst is pretty fantastic.

10. Mega Man 8

This is the only game in the original series that’s on the Sony PlayStation, a significantly more powerful system than the NES, yet it’s the worst game in the series. It looks sharp and colorful, but it feels slow and clunky like you’re constantly playing under water. Some of the levels, Clown Man’s for instance, are too busy and disorienting. That can be said for the inventory screen as well. The puzzle area of Astro Man’s level is annoying and has no business in a Mega Man game.

The music and overall tone of the game seem juvenile and the cutscenes, along with their terrible voice acting, impede the momentum of the gameplay. The worst part of this installment, though, is the addition of a Battle Toads-like level at the start of Dr. Wily’s castle.

In all honesty, this is the only Mega Man game I haven’t beaten because of this stupid level involving Mega Man jumping over and sliding under obstacles while on a hover board as the level moves progressively faster. I actually got through this part once, but had to leave and when it came time to do it again I just gave up. It’s still Mega Man, so the game’s fairly enjoyable, especially the boss fights, but it’s definitely the worst in the classic series.

9. Mega Man 5

Altogether, this isn’t a bad game. After four installments, the creators really tried to be innovative with the levels, as in Gravity Man’s stage where you can play upside down, Wave Man’s stage where you ride a jet ski or Star Man’s zero gravity stage. Collecting hidden letters in each level is a nice touch as well and the little robot bird, Beat, you receive upon collecting said letters really helps you through some tough spots in the game. However, Mega Man 5 loses points for the continued use of the mega buster, awkward weapons and a pretty forgettable selection of music.

The absolute worst aspects of this game, though, are the two castles at the end, Proto Man’s base in particular. Getting through the series of levels that make up these castles is a grueling, if not infuriating, experience. It doesn’t help that you have to do it all in one sitting lest you start from the beginning. This is probably a better game then its placement on the list suggests, but the difficulty level in this section is brutal and will make you want to avoid the game in the future. No joke, I was literally screaming at my television.

8. Mega Man 7

To be fair, after playing six games in the series with 8-bit graphics, it’s really cool to see Mega Man and his surroundings get a makeover with a sleek 16-bit Super Nintendo presentation. It feels fresh and intriguing. Some of the levels are also really creative; the challenge of navigating the countless springs in Spring Man’s level or experiencing the chilling atmosphere of Shade Man’s horror-themed stage are standouts. But the gameplay is still slower and less thrilling than most other installments and the music is mostly forgettable save for Shade Man’s suspenseful theme that still feels like it belongs in another game.

Mega Man 7 is also the first game in the main series to feature bolts which you can cash in for power-ups. You can also use Rush to dig up items or use other weapons to interact with the environment to uncover even more special items. These somewhat neat but ultimately unnecessary game elements lead to a dependence on strategy and exploration in a game that’s supposed to be about pure skill. It’s also frustrating to get to the castle and then read somewhere that you forgot to get a dozen well-hidden items that will be essential for upcoming levels. Oh, and it’s all but impossible to defeat the final boss without at least one energy tank. That’s just bogus!

7. Mega Man

It might be a shallow argument, but you still have to give praise to a game for starting it all. This might be the quintessential platforming series and truly one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. This game introduces Mega Man himself, the robot masters, the idea of using said masters’ weapons following their defeat, the ability to choose the order of the levels, the castle following these levels, the infectious music and the general quick and straightforward gameplay requiring unparalleled reflexes and patience.

It’s all there in Mega Man, but the game still needed to be refined. The difficulty level is a bit too high, there’s a useless scoring system and it’s missing two extra robot masters that would be included in all subsequent games. Most of all, the game suffers from some bland level design and an incredibly drab color palette. It’s obvious that this is an early Nintendo title. It’s a solid game and building block for a legendary franchise, but it just doesn’t look or feel as enthralling as other titles in the series.

6. Mega Man 10

You can’t really talk about Mega Man 10 without talking about its predecessor. Mega Man 9 was the first game in the main series to be released in more than a decade and it revived the traditional 8-bit graphics and simple gameplay which made for a spectacular experience that rejuvenated the series. 10 follows this outline, eschewing the gizmos and gadgets for a traditional Mega Man experience. It’s a wonderful game, but it just feels like the creators tried too hard to make the game challenging and the levels perfect in their minds while forgetting about the fun of it all. It’s like watching a movie that you know has meticulous directing and brilliant performances but is ultimately boring.

Now, this entry is definitely not boring, but it’s pretty grueling at times, especially with the addition of mini bosses in every level, an aspect that hinders both momentum and player self-confidence. The game also suffers from the lack of great and memorable songs. This game has incredibly creative level design and maintains the feel of a great Mega Man title, but it sacrifices a little too much fun in the process.

5. Mega Man 4

Image result for mega man 4

The fourth installment in a movie series is usually redundant. ‘They just finished a trilogy. The story’s complete. Why do we need a fourth one?’ It’s not necessarily the same for games what with some amazing #4s out there (Resident Evil, Uncharted, etc), but it’s still a cause for skepticism. And Mega Man 4 somewhat fits the bill.

It’s still a great game. It’s a well-rounded platformer with a very respectable difficulty level. The music is decent but not stellar. Having two castles for the first time is a neat touch that extends the gameplay and makes the narrative more complex. What’s unfortunate is that many of the levels aren’t entirely interesting to look at and some, like those of Toad Man and Pharaoh Man, are oddly depressing.

Not that it’s a terrible feature, but a notable flaw in this game is the introduction of the charged mega buster. It’s powerful and effective, but it becomes tedious stopping every few seconds to charge it. It hinders the momentum of the once hyper-paced series and it discourages the use of other weapons. But, it’s there, so you feel like you have to use it. This is a superb game in general, but a mediocre one in the world of Mega Man and #5 is obviously the perfect spot for it.

4. Mega Man 9

As mentioned earlier, Mega Man 9 was released more than 10 years after the 8th installment at a time when most thought the main series was dead. Considering how warped the franchise got with the previous few installments, 9 goes back to basics with the focus on fast-paced action involving simple running and shooting. It wisely omits the charged mega buster and even leaves out the slide move, though maybe not so wisely.

Though seemingly impossible what with the years separating this title and the older games and all the technology available at the time of its release, with meticulous attention to detail, the creators of Mega Man 9 somehow made a game that feels like it comes from the late ‘80s with traditional 8-bit graphics and sound. What’s more, the game may have the best level design in the whole classic series and, though the same can’t quite be said about the music, the selection of songs is still the best since the 6th installment.

To be clear, the game is very difficult. It’s not as frustrating as 5 or, to a lesser extent 10, but it does sacrifice a bit of fun in the name of challenge. Nonetheless, the game rewards persistence and you can sense improvement with every attempt. It’s not the easiest experience, but there’s an incredible sense of accomplishment with every vanquished robot master. This title is a true gift for those nostalgic for the early days of great platformers.

 3. Mega Man 2

Alright, I know that hardcore fans of the series aren’t going to like this placement, but I stand by it. Most of these people would have Mega Man 2 as the best game in the series and it’s hard to argue against that. The game has, without a doubt, the best music in the series with at least half of the tracks deserving a spot on a theoretical top ten list. It also improves upon the elements from the first game. Its levels are more elaborate and vibrant, it eschews the useless scoring system, it adds two extra robot masters and it provides a less frustrating experience.

Altogether, it looks and feels so much better than the first game. Like Assassin’s Creed, the first installment feels like an imperfect experiment with nonetheless great potential with the second installment living up to said potential and perfecting the formula upon which all subsequent games would pattern themselves. However, the game is just a tad overrated. Think about the levels: take away the great music from Flash Man’s stage or Wily’s Castle Stage 1 and you have some pretty bland layouts with few enemies or obstacles.

Also, while we’re nitpicking, the fact that you need to use every single crash bomb available to defeat the Boobeam Trap is just ridiculous. Waste just one and you have to start the whole level over. Also, using metal blade makes the game way too simple. Let’s be clear, though, this is a near-masterpiece with only minor flaws. The feel you get after turning on the NES and hearing Metal Man’s music to kick off your journey or the Wily Castle theme to commence the final chapter is pure bliss.

2. Mega Man 6

At a time when the Mega Man franchise was starting to show its age and the NES was all but finished in place of the more powerful Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, Mega Man 6 came along as a breath of fresh air. This might be the best-looking game of the franchise with some truly bright, beautiful and detailed environments that range from a medieval castle to the American West to some kind of Himalayan fortress.

The robot masters are a visually stunning and eclectic mix of enemies from all around the world. The game has a perfect difficulty level, inventive obstacles and, surprisingly, some of the best music in the series, considering the lackluster offerings of the previous two games.

It might be surprising to hear, considering my earlier comments, that many of the aforementioned gizmos and gadgets are actually highlights of this game. Admittedly, I can take or leave the Power Mega Man Rush Adaptor, which allows you to destroy blocks revealing items and hidden areas, but the Jet Mega Man tool, which allows you to fly to otherwise unreachable areas, is incredibly fun to use and adds an extra element of strategy in negotiating obstacles. Some levels have alternate routes and this tool allows you to access them. These areas add replay value for certain levels and allow you to collect letters to earn Beat once again.

Most of all, although it doesn’t have the absolute best music or level design, Mega Man 6 may very well be the most fun game in the series. And, in the end, isn’t that what this is all about?

1. Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3 isn’t number one in terms of music, like Mega Man 2, or in terms of level design like, you could argue, Mega Man 9. But all of its elements approach perfection and create an experience that’s not only more than the sum of its parts, but a truly perfect platformer. Save for the music, Mega Man 3 takes everything from its predecessor, such as design, detail, gameplay, difficulty, value for money and special features, and improves upon them ever so slightly.

One of the biggest improvements is the slide move, which would become a staple of the series until the last few games sadly omitted it. The move adds an extra level of strategy to the gameplay in the form of a quick dodge and feels like it completes Mega Man’s range of movement. We’re also introduced to Rush, the robotic canine that allows Mega Man to reach new areas he otherwise could not. The addition of Proto Man offers a narratively complex enemy and a sense of mystery when coupled with his alluring whistle theme.

This is also the first game that offers more content besides the robot master stages and castle with four of the stages being revamped before the castle, providing extra gameplay with a neat take on familiar settings and two bosses from Mega Man 2 returning in each of these remixed levels. That’s 16 robot masters in one game! This is the quintessential Mega Man experience and possibly the best platformer ever made. If you could only play one Mega Man game before you die, it has to be this one.

Now, go play every single one of these games right now and write about it like I did, you lazy person!

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