Mega Man 2 & Mega Man 3
Yes, I’m combing two games into one slot. It’s my list, I can do what I want. And despite this entry containing two games, it is going to be a short one. Because I have written about both of these games before (two and three) and I don’t really have anything to add. I did spend some time trying to choose which of these two games I liked better; then I had an epiphany: I don’t have to choose. Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 are equally excellent and I can love them both.
Mega Man 2 was Inafune’s (and his team) masterpiece. The original was good, but 2 took that solid foundation, sanded down the rough edges and polished it to perfection. It was proof that the makers were masters of their craft. Mega Man 3 made only one significant change, adding the slide ability, but is significantly bigger than its predecessor. It is almost too big, but makes the game feel sufficiently epic.
My first experience with the series was the Mega Man 2 issue of Nintendo Power. I had owned an NES for a while, but we never really got many games past Mario and Zelda. But seeing Mega Man 2 in that magazine, all the different bosses and enemies and powers and I knew I had to have that game. Once I figured out I could rent games from the grocery store I checked for Mega Man 2. They didn’t have it. However, they did have Mega Man 3. So I rented that. It was everything I could have hoped it would be.
The NES Mega Man games have my some of my favorite 8-bit sprite art. The blue bomber is the perfect size, not like some characters that were too big for the screen. For my money, no one did NES music like Capcom. Giving the players 8 stages to choose from right from the start was brilliant. Most game you could only play one or two levels, never seeing the rest until you got good at the game. With Mega Man any player could see most of what it had to offer, even if they weren’t good enough to actually beat any of the stages.
One of the more brilliant parts of the game, one that doesn’t get talked about enough, is that the bosses are the same size as the player. Each of the robot masters seems like just another Mega Man. They may have better innate offensive capabilities, but they are just like the player. It also helps make the bosses in Wily’s Castles seem even more menacing. Almost everything you’ve been fighting to that point was roughly your size, now you are being chases by giant dragons and bulldozers made out of old bosses.
Really these are just two particularly excellent games.