Over the years, there have been many, many different video game heroes. Some have been in several games, some in only one, and some that could have an entire store dedicated exclusively to their games. Some of the most famous franchises have come from Nintendo, including Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Kirby, the Pikmin, and hundreds of others. Mario alone has reached a level of familiarity with the world that more people know him than even Mickey Mouse. He’s appeared in literally hundreds of games, playing both big and small roles, even making cameo appearances in several other companies’ games. While no other video game superstar has come anywhere near the record that Mario holds, there is one who is gaining ground very rapidly.
That one character is my personal favorite, MegaMan. The little robot has starred in well over 40 games by now, and even has games named after him that he only has one or two lines in. As a single character usually has trouble getting over the 10-mark, MegaMan has been reincarnated several times, each time spawning a whole new series with a brand new plot and mountains of new secondary characters. MegaMan has been around for about 15 years now, and I know because Capcom’s been promoting the 15th anniversary for a while now. The little guy has been on almost every major game system conceived after the days of the Atari, and has seen the likes of every Nintendo system (except the Virtual Boy).
MegaMan has plenty of experience in different genres of games. His forte (Ha! Forte! You’ll get it later…) would be the side-scrolling platform game, but he’s also seen fighting games, racing games, shooting games, and has even a couple of RPGs. Not only that, but Capcom has also spliced genres and created unique games that defy any solid genre. Most notably, the infamously popular Battle Network series. But now the question is begging to be asked, “Why is MegaMan so damn popular?” That’s what I’m going to explain in today’s article. There are tons of reasons why MegaMan has persevered for so long, and these are the 12 most noteworthy points that I could think up. I’m going to assume that everyone reading this has a slight idea of what MegaMan is all about, since you should have read my MegaMan 4 article by now.
Known as RockMan Dash in Japan, the third MegaMan series may not have been the giant hit that Capcom wanted it to be, but for what it was, it did incredibly well. This series placed our blue hero in a new world, where nearly everything had been covered in water, and people got by by exploring ruins of ancient civilizations and finding treasure. Sounds a lot like what I imagine Waterworld was about. Since I never beat Legends 2 I’m not sure whether this MegaMan was a human in a “digging suit” or a robot, and I’ve never bothered to ask anyone who has.
The general public seemed to be rather disappointed with this series, as it totally changed the MegaMan universe. For one, it was a 3-D adventure game, which was way off from the norm. It also got rid of the standard type of boss enemies and just added in some new villain character and made most bosses run-of-the-mill robots. The one thing they did keep intact was MegaMan’s ability to equip new weapons, but they weren’t drawn from defeating bosses, but instead they were developed by Mega’s partner, Roll. She also changed (perhaps for the better) from a robot to a human. She the only character (aside from MegaMan) who survived into the Legend series, and only in name at that.
Aside from the fact that it wasn’t too well received by the public, the Legends series managed to go on for two games, and there was even a spin off featuring the main villain, Tron Bonne. She and MegaMan were also featured in at least one fighting game, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. All the Legends games were Playstation exclusive until Capcom decided to port the first to the dying Nintendo 64 as MegaMan 64. To this day we haven’t heard of any new Legends games in development, and we probably won’t, even with Capcom’s tendency to drag on franchises forever. But in exchange for it, we got the Battle Network series, which is a more than suitable replacement.
This is where it all started. The original series bore to us the blue robot that the world would fall in love with almost immediately. Back in ’89, we got our first taste of MegaMan, and apparently it went over pretty well, because the original series managed to be carried over into over 20 games. Most of them adhere to the MegaMan rule of selecting bosses and completing the level in the standard run and gun format. Some were a little more original, such as titles like MegaMan’s Soccer and Super Adventure RockMan (RockMan is MegaMan’s Japanese name), which were totally different than what the casual Mega-fan would be used to, but still retained the charm of the more common titles.
The bulk of this series is the basis of almost every MegaMan game. The game starts with an evil mastermind, Dr. Wily, plotting world dominance, and MegaMan goes in to save the day. Before he can confront and capture the demented doctor, he has to go through eight robot masters, each with their own stage. After defeating an enemy robot, MegaMan acquires his special ability, which can be used to exploit the weakness of another robot. This formula is the most used for the MegaMan games, and only differs when the genre of the game changes. It may seem repetitive and boring, but considering the number of sequels, it obviously works.
Behind every great hero is a cast of loveable sidekicks and other secondary characters. In every series of MegaMan games, there are plenty of supporting characters. Some good, some evil, some still on the fence. There are no characters who survive the transition to every series, but Roll comes close, and appears in three of them, only absent from the X series. Roll is MegaMan’s sister robot in the original, his partner in the Legends series, and his possible romantic interest in the Battle Network series. Appearing in only the original games is Dr. Light, the good doctor who created MegaMan, Roll, and countless other robots. MegaMan’s first rival, ProtoMan, appears in both the Battle Network and original series. He acts as MegaMan’s brother in the original, and as a true rival in the Battle Network games. While his personality changes only slightly, he drops the gun arm from the original games and uses slick sword attacks in Battle Network.
Zero is one of the most loved MegaMan X characters. At first he played a small part, but as the sequels were made, he took the steps to become a star in his own rights. He’s even got two of his own games, MegaMan Zero and (obviously) MegaMan Zero 2, which could debatably fit into their own category. Like the battle Network ProtoMan, Zero uses a sword as his main attack and only uses a buster in a couple occasions. Zero’s allegiance is clearly with the good guys, but he was designed by the main villain from the original series, Dr. Wily. Wily managed to reappear as the main villain in the battle Network games as well, and leads the crime syndicate World Three. In the X series, the big bad guy is a robot named Sigma, who keeps coming back to life due to some strange virus that was passed to him by Zero. As for the Legends baddies, MegaMan encounters a family of pirates called the Bonnes, consisting of leader Teisel Bonne, tech wizard Tron Bonne, baby Bon Bonne, and a whole lot of little Lego look-alike ServBots.
As for the Battle Network co-stars, there are far too many to list, as the series is mostly an RPG. The biggest one would be Lan Hikari, who is more the main star of the game than a supporting character. He is MegaMan.EXE’s operator, and you’ll play as him almost as much as you will MegaMan. Other characters include Lan’s friends, Mayl, Dex, and Yai, his dad, who created MegaMan.EXE, and MegaMan’s Navi friends, GutsMan, Roll, and Glyde. Seeing as almost every enemy Navi in the game has an operator, that easily doubles the amount of characters in the game, and every game boasts about eight different Navis (some are independent though), meaning that there are at least 6 new characters introduced in each game. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many characters are in the games.
MegaMan’s robotic animal friends are almost exclusive to the original series of games, and there are plenty of them. The most popular is the cyber canine, Rush. The little red robo-pooch could transform into many things that helped MegaMan, including a spring, a spaceship, a motorbike, and a submarine. In a couple games, MegaMan could even combine with Rush to create the Super Armor, which allowed MegaMan to fly for short distances. Rush appears in almost every original MegaMan game, either as an active ally, or just a side character. Rush is technically in the Battle Network series, but only in the anime version. He was a Popup virus that could call other viruses to aid if one of the Navis needed help.
Rush’s feline counterpart, Tango, was MegaMan’s aid in a couple of the blue robot’s GameBoy adventures, providing a special attack power or something like that. I never actually played the game(s) with Tango in it/them. Beat the bird was a great help in the later games of the original series, he would help MegaMan out of bottomless pits, and he might have done other stuff too, I just can’t quite remember. In Legends, MegaMan had a small monkey-like companion named Data, who could give him tips, save the game, and restore life. Data played a much bigger part in the story than any of the other animals, and he was definitely the coolest too!
If you hadn’t realized it yet, MegaMan and most of the characters are named after elements of music. MegaMan’s original name, Rock, is linked to his sister Roll, hence Rock and Roll. The animals are musically named too, with Beat, Tango, and Rush (which is either a pretty good band or some kind of music lingo). ProtoMan’s original name was BreakMan, and I know that “break” is some sort of musical term. Mega’s rival is also named in such a fashion. In English, he’s Bass and his dog is Treble. In Japanese, he’s Forte and the dog is Gospel. With all these references to music, the actual music in the games must be good, right?
Most of the music is rather upbeat techno stuff, and really helps set the adventuring mood. As the games evolve and get deeper story lines, the music also becomes more fitting, it gets dramatic if someone dies, and energetic and/or foreboding just before the final confrontations. Best of all are the actual theme songs composed just for the games. In MegaMan X6, we’re treated to a couple of great Japanese songs by Showtaro (search ‘Moonlight’ and ‘the Answer’) and a cool credits song (search ‘I.D.E.A.’). Best of all are the original theme songs for the RockMan.EXE (Battle Network) animes. At first I thought that the first show’s theme, Kaze wo Tsukinukete, was just awesome, but then RockMan.EXE Axess came around and wowed me with another kickass song, Futatsu no Mirai. Both can be found for free at RockMan.EXE Online under “music and videos”. Another great idea would be to check out the remixes of the various tunes at OverClocked Remix.
The X series was the second to be born and links directly to the original games’ storyline. At last I checked, nobody is sure whether MegaMan X is just an upgraded MegaMan or a completely different robot altogether. What we do know is that MegaMan X is much more versatile than his previous incarnation. While he still has the ability to take the weapons of defeated bosses, he can also cling to walls, dash, and collect different armours, which enhance his powers even further. Every new X game features at least one set of armor for X to collect, and the Playstation games have at least 2 each. The X games started on the SNES, then moved to the PSX and now the PS2 and GameCube, with spinoff series MegaMan X-treme on the GameBoy Colour, and an entire spinoff series, MegaMan Zero, on the GameBoy Advance.
The story of the original games continues hundreds of years into the future, when MegaMan X is found and is then used as a mold to created many new “reploids”. Eventually, they go berserk and X is charged with stopping them. Eventually he meets Sigma and destroys him, giving the illusion that the threat has subsided. But then Sigma comes back time and time again, each time twisting the plot a little more. Probably the biggest reason that the X series is so popular is because of Zero. Most people absolutely adore the red sword toting badass. The only drawback, and stupid plot advancement device, is that Zero dies four or five times total. This is why it’s either a love or hate decision with him. If you can look past his constant dying you’ll love him, if not, you’ll hate him.
The X series started strong, and kept up the pace until MegaMan X5, when new gameplay devices started appearing, changing the winning formula around until it was very different and very complicated. Not that they really made the games worse, but by the time X6 come out, it was starting to feel somewhat stale. Strangely, this never happened with the original series, and there are no signs of it happening to Battle Network either. In the future of X, however, is a completely new game, for the PS2, MegaMan X7. Only instead of reusing the side-scrolling formula, it’ll be in 3-D. At first I was worried, but now it seems like it might have been a step in the right direction. Capcom has also announced RockMan X Command Mission, which seems to be a more traditional RPG for both the PS2 and GameCube. They certainly aren’t giving up on this one.
At about 2500 words, this is getting awfully long, so I’ll quit here, and start on a fresh new page.
Pretend there’s a link to a second page here, will ya?
The best thing to do in this situation would be to pick up where I left off (as opposed to writing up a new intro for Page 2). It’s not like there are many other things that I could do. So now that you’ve seen the first six reasons why I prefer MegaMan over any other video game franchise, I guess you should continue down the line and find out what the next (and debatably more important) six reasons are. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for the rest of the ride.
As I’ve stated several times, for the most part MegaMan games are simple side-scrolling adventures. But there are plenty of other games featuring the blue bomber that break the mold. Most obviously are the Legends and Battle Network series, which take the game in two totally different directions, but are able to retain the general feel of the MegaMan series. The next most prominent genre that MegaMan has starred in is the fighting genre. He manages to appear in several Vs. Capcom games, both in the arcade and console versions. The best that I’ve actually played being the arcade version of Marvel Vs. Capcom. There really is no more satisfying super hero team-up that MegaMan and Spider-Man. Go on, try to think up a better team-up. It just can’t be done, plain and simple. There were also a couple games subtitled Power Fighters and Power Battles where one would choose from a set of heroes and battle enemy robots to defeat Dr. Wily. Never played ‘em, but they’ll be in the MegaMan Anniversary Collection released sometime in Q4 2003 or Q1 2004.
Besides fighters, MegaMan has also starred in a few sport-type games. The first, and more notable is MegaMan’s Soccer for the SNES. Back in the glory days, we didn’t get a whole lot of good soccer games. And I’m not saying this game is exception. The only thing that makes it better than other soccer games is that it stars MegaMan. Maybe I’m so harsh because I’m not a big fan of soccer. But it was great, because you could make a team of robot masters like ElecMan, BubbleMan, and even ProtoMan. What it lacked in fun, it made up for in fan appeal. Then there was the racing game, RockMan Battle & Chase, or something like that. I’m not sure if it ever hit Western shores, but I sure as Hell hadn’t heard of it until a few years ago. I don’t even know what platform it was for. You’d probably be better off with Super Mario Kart though. Finally there is . I don’t know what it is, and I’m not up to doing the research, because I’m not gonna tease myself with another game that I’ll never have the chance to play. All I know is that it was some kind of shooter.
I personally don’t have a huge crush on him like most of his other fans (I don’t swing that way…), but I thought it would be an injustice to not put him on the list. Forte is one of the greatest characters in the MegaMan universe. He is featured in both the original and Battle Network series, always a total badass. Created by Wily, the original Bass (or Forte for those of you in the know) was a tool made to destroy MegaMan, but he often rebels and does what he wants. His personal mission is simply to defeat MegaMan in battle, and he usually doesn’t stop until he’s beaten or MegaMan runs away. He was introduced in MegaMan 7, made an appearance in MegaMan 8, was a contender for both Power Battles and Power Fighters, and got a starring role in MegaMan & Bass. His robotic wolf buddy, Treble (Gospel), performed a similar function to Rush’s Super Armor, and combined with Bass to create the Treble Boost.
While his alter ego was itching for a fight with our blue hero, Battle Network’s Bass was a fearsome Navi looking to fight anyone. He’s a very shady character, appearing in all 4 installments of the game, and only in Battle Network 3 have we come to understand where he came form. But I’m not gonna spoil it for youse who haven’t played through it. Bass is a feared opponent to anyone who hasn’t played the games and haven’t found the easy ways to kill him. Still, if you weren’t going to use Program Advances (Play the games and you’ll understand), he’d be more than a challenge for even the best of players. In Network Transmisson, a hit worth 150 HP would barely even dent his life gauge. While Gospel (no name change this time) doesn’t play the same role as he did before, the two still manage to team up and create a very powerful problem for MegaMan.
MegaMan has enjoyed a nice lengthy stay in the video game universe, but his influence doesn’t end there. He’s even managed to score two different TV shows! The first one aired many years ago, long before the X series was out, so I’ll give you one chance to guess what series it was based on. The show would have been great, but it had just one problem: it was bad. Maybe not bad to the point where it was unwatchable, but even I can see that it wasn’t up to the standards of cartoons of that time. There were tons of plot holes, the cheesiest jokes and puns ever, and some very big inaccuracies (Read: ProtoMan working for Wily). Did I say one problem? I actually meant to type two. The second thing that killed the appeal was the opening song. It consisted of “Super fighting robot (da da da da) MegaMan!” Over and over and over again. Once or twice it wasn’t so bad, but after the third time it started getting real annoying. After his first try, one would imagine that Mega would be banished from TV Land. But in thinking that, one would be very wrong.
Last year, the world was overjoyed as a new MegaMan cartoon was brought to life. This time around, it was an anime, and the Japanese certainly did a better job than their American counterparts. RockMan.EXE was a huge hit in Japan, leeching off the already impressive popularity of the Battle Network games. It was so big that even us Westerners were swooning over it, downloading as many fansubbed episodes as we could and loving it. Recently, it has been dubbed and shown on a couple American channels. The only drawback is that the censors really screwed it up, changing some key elements, like character names and messing with some story elements. Changing ColoredMan to WhackoMan is apparently something that we can’t see past, and the dub hasn’t seen nearly as much success as the original Japanese episodes. I really hate how the pronounce Chaud as “Chod”. Ugh.
Oh, and there’s even a continuation of the EXE series called RockMan.EXE Axess which is just as good as the first shows.
The Battle Network series started just about 2 years ago, and already there are 8 games based on it. The series has enjoyed its extreme popularity, and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. I own BN2, Network Transmission and 3(Blue version), and I’ve played through BN1. Battle Chip Challenge is due out sometime near the end of the year and BN4 will be out sometime next year. I can’t wait! Oh. Back to whatever I was talking about. The BN series is more like and RPG, where you walk around, talk to people and fight random battles. The catch is that the game takes place mainly on the internet. The main character is not MegaMan, but a 5th grader named Lan. In this world, everyone’s got a little thing called a Pet, which acts like a cellphone, e-mail thinger, and plenty of other stuff (ED: here in 2011, It’s called a smartphone). Inside each PET is a NetNavi, a program which is like a little friend for the operator.
Lan’s Navi is, conveniently enough, MegaMan.EXE. The general story is centered around Lan and MegaMan trying to stop the evil netcrime organizations World Three and Gospel. The game’s layout is a disguised version of the general formula. There are approximately 8 story bosses in the game, and you have to fight through their levels as the story develops. The only difference is that you have no choice in the order of which you’ll face the bosses. I should also note that (excluding NT and BCC), the battle system is very different, taking place on a 3 by 9 field rather than on the level itself. Battles can be fought with the standard MegaBuster, but it is preferable to use Battle Chips, which give MegaMan a huge assortment of attacks and abilities. The best part of these games is that they are huge. After completing the story, you’d only be done half the game, and maybe not even in BN3’s case.
Network Transmission uses the same type of Battle Chip system for fighting, but gameplay-wise, it is a closer relative to the original and X games. It’s a side-scroller all the way, and you never have to switch between Lan and MegaMan. Between levels you go to Lan’s room to play with the options, but other than that, it’s all MegaMan. The only problem with it is that it’s too short, with only about 10 levels, and 137 Battle Chips, whereas the other BN games have between 150 and 300 chips. Battle Chip Challenge, on the other hand, seems to more of a card game than an RPG or action game. I don’t have a great idea of how it plays, but I’ve gathered that it is a lot different that anything we’ve seen before. One of the pros I’ve found is that I can finally play as SharkMan! Hooray! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what it’s all about.
One of the most obvious points of why the MegaMan games have been so successful is the plethora of enemies. In each game, there are approximately 8 boss robots. The exceptions to this rule (that I can think of at the time) are MegaMan and the Battle Network games, which feature far more than 8. In the original games, all the bosses’ names ended with -Man, some of the best being ElecMan, FireMan, and of course, SkullMan. The Battle Network bosses are mostly reincarnations of these robots, but there are plenty of original enemies like ColoredMan, DesertMan, and SharkMan. In the X games, all the enemies are based on animals and plants. These enemies include Chill Penguin, Tornado Tonion, and Commander Dragonfly. The only games without similar boss patterns are the Legends games, which have more generic robots as bosses (if robots inspired by Miyazaki films could be considered “generic”). I think that’s one of the reasons that they weren’t so popular.
Somehow, all of the MegaMan characters were able to inherit some kind of ability from the many robots. MegaMan, X and newcomer Axl all had the power to absorb the powers of any bosses they were able to defeat. Just like Kirby. Zero couldn’t really take the bosses’ powers, but he did learn special sword techniques in their stead. MegaMan.EXE didn’t absorb powers either, but if he was able to delete the boss Navis quickly enough, he could obtain their Navi BattleChips and use their powers that way, although they were used more like summons from normal RPGs than regular attacks.
The greatest part about the bosses is that they’re all rather likeable despite their allegiance to evil. A lot of the time, you’ll probably find yourself saying “Wow, ShadowMan is so cool, I really wish I didn’t have to kill him” or something along those lines. The only one I have a problem with is BrightMan. He’s always been a bit of an asshole, even as a NetNavi. Him and his damn “Lighto-beams”. That about concludes this portion. I really need better ideas for transition phrases.
The number one reason that I am so loyal to MegaMan is because… he’s a robot! OK, that’s not really the best reason, but it is one of the 12 reasons, and I’ve already done the other 11. Sure it may seem weak in comparison to some of my other points, but damned if I don’t think it’s a great way to end this. Now I think we can all agree that robots are pretty much the coolest thing ever. And MegaMan has all the makings of a kickass robot. He’s got the helmet, the giant feet, the gun-arm, the booster shoes, and the happy demeanor. Sure, he changes a bit from series to series, but in the end he’s always the little blue robot who fights for good. The rest of the point really sums itself up, and I feel I don’t need to write any more paragraphs about this particular point. Just rest assured that robots rule and MegaMan is the greatest of them all.
I said I didn’t need another paragraph, but after rethinking it a little bit, I think that maybe I don’t like MegaMan so much because he’s a robot with a gun-arm, but just because he’s MegaMan. Just look at the little guy, look at his versatility, look at how many games he’s been in. This guy has a number of starring roles that rival even Mario’s count. And the fact that he’s made it this far without getting stale is a good enough reason to like any character. Well, that’s my mama! …It didn’t work for Peter Griffin, and it didn’t work for me. Oh well. That’s the end. Read the conclusion and bye bye.
So there you have it folks, that’s why I think MegaMan is the coolest thing since sliced bagels. Which, by the way, are far superior to sliced bread. (Yeah I said it!!) Some of my points might not have been as influential to you as they seem to me but it’s all about my opinion, so technically it’s all right.
It’s funny how long this actually took to write. Seeing as it’s two pages, the actual writing process took about 3 days, but I was able to span it out over about 3 months. The main reason (which you probably know) is that Paint didn’t work and then my PC got fried by a virus (several times). But now that all is well and good I’ve been able to finish the conclusion and get the pictures done too. Sorry it took so long, but we’re slaves to circumstance. Now that it is done, I can finally move onto other normal projects, not just Mini-Reviews and other text-only stuffs. And with that little note, I leave you and head for my next assignment, which probably won’t be as long, but will most likely be more entertaining.