Also available on 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/25/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Mega Man III on Game Boy is pretty much what you’d expect from a Mega Man sequel…but worse; virtually identical core gameplay as the previous game with new bosses and a feature or two added. The only real substantive addition made here was the ability to charge the Mega Buster. Otherwise, it’s just more Mega Man on the Game Boy. That’s not a bad thing, but they don’t really change up the formula here. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unfortunately, they broke it anyway.
The charged Mega Buster shot was the only major addition I noticed, but there was a change that’s worth noting – after you beat the first four Robot Masters, rather than having the last four selected through teleport pods like in Mega Man II on Game Boy, you get a second traditional stage select screen that just has a different set of four Robot Masters. Personally, I like this change as it drives home the point that this is the second half of the main game, not the start of the endgame which is how the teleport pods in Mega Man II kind of made it feel.
Like the games before it, this is an amalgamation of bosses and level themes from two of the NES games – Mega Man III and Mega Man IV. Nothing else really new outside of Punk, the Mega Man killer boss that you fight before Dr. Wily. The difficulty feels like it got kicked up more than a little bit, but unfortunately, a lot of that difficulty feels like BS design. As my good Racketboy buddy GunstarGreen said, “They tried way too hard to make it like the NES games and fell flat on their face. That often unfair-feeling design is on top of the existing issue of sprites being so big that you can’t really maneuver well. One other thing I noticed is the slowdown; while all three Game Boy games have had slowdown, it definitely seems to be worse in III than it was in Dr. Wily’s Revenge or II. That could just be that I was avoiding enemies where I could rather than making a point to kill everything and thus allowing more enemies to stay on screen at a time, but the slowdown definitely felt a lot more pronounced here.
Mega Man III is good. It seems to have fixed the sound issues from II, but aside from that, it’s pretty much just more of the same. It’s great for a handheld Mega Man from the early 90s, but as was the case with the NES games, it starts to feel a bit stale after three games. The gameplay just fails to do anything to build on the previous game’s foundations. That’s my biggest complaint with this one; it plays it too safe and somehow still messes up. Put the ability to charge the Mega Buster in the previous game, and they’re basically identical. Still, while it may not push the envelope even a millimeter, it’s still a fun time for what it is if you can look past the bad design choices.