Mega Man (Nintendo Entertainment System)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Visuals
  • Audio
  • Entertainment
Also available on Genesis, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii, 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Android, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/22/2019 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Mega Man is for Capcom what Mario is for Nintendo, what Sonic is for Sega, and what a blinking red ring is for Microsoft.  He’s their most recognizable and iconic image, and while that image is more than a little disturbing on the box art for the series’ first release on NES in North America, the game itself holds up surprisingly well today.  It’s not without its bullshit to be sure, but it’s still a good time for those who enjoy action platformers.
Mega Man is, at its core, an action platformer.  This first game in the series is an extremely unbalanced action platformer, but the gameplay itself is simple – make your way across a level, shoot the bad guys, avoid the traps, and then beat the boss.  Each boss has a special weapon that it drops upon being defeated, and each boss has a specific boss weapon to which it’s weak.  The levels can be played in any order (except for the last area), but given that the bosses are WAY easier if you exploit those weaknesses, there is a “best” order in which to play the game’s levels.
The biggest issue I had with Mega Man was the balance.  Some levels would seem brutally difficult only to be capped with a total pushover boss.  Other levels would be a breeze but end with a boss that left me wanting to snap my controller.  There would be abrupt difficulty spikes in the levels followed by a return to a more normal difficulty.  Maybe I just need to git gud (I definitely do), but it seemed like the balance and enemy placements could have used just a little more tweaking.  From what I’ve read and heard from other fans, though, it seems like the first game is pretty widely known for being rough around the edges with regards to balance, a mistake that later entries don’t make.
Mega Man definitely isn’t a perfect game, but it definitely is a good game, and the series that it spawned is truly fantastic (for the most part).  The difficulty balance could use a bit of work as parts of the game are downright inhumane, but all in all, it’s a solid action platformer.  The original NES cartridge is somewhat valuable (though not nearly as much so as the later releases), but it’s readily available on just about every system under the sun in one form or another given how many collections it’s been included with, and I absolutely recommend playing this one however you can.

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