Mega Man 3 cemented video games as something I could call a “passion”. Sure, Super Mario Bros. 1/2/3 and Legend of Zelda left a very strong impression on me, but my imagination imploded with MM3. I devoted hours upon hours into learning the various Robot Masters, their weaponry, and the password system. I made my own strategy guide, detailing all of my findings into a physical format with art and extensive commentary. I wish I still had it. But this was my first Mega Man and it stands as the second best 2D action game ever made (and in terms of pure 2D action, this is #1).
Here I think Capcom managed to create 8 Robot Master levels that are perfectly balanced. There isn’t a moment like in MM2 (Quick Man, Heat Man, hi) in these early stages that feels unfair or mean-spirited. So the player has plenty of time to work through those levels, and there isn’t a single part that the level design feels questionable (I’m not arguing for the Doc Robot or Wily levels, where the dev team clearly made up for lost time…but those are mostly set up in a way where the player’s skills will have been honed over the earlier stages to be better prepared…save the mandatory Rush Jet segments). The bosses themselves are pretty solid all the way around, with a decent pattern at worst and super crazy hard at best (although Shadow Man may be a bit much). And the music! It does so much to make every stage stand out. No failing tracks here. And Mega Man moves so good! And the powers are mostly great (Top Spin’s tendency to trade hits or drain rapidly notwithstanding). OMG game much grand!
Mostly. Mostly grand. As I mentioned, the Doc Robot levels and Wily’s Castle have some bullshit moments revolving around the mandatory use of the Rush Jet, which punishes players unfamiliar or unlucky midway through. And you can tell the game was hastily put out, as there’s some elements that feel less polished than others (perhaps the reasoning we have the aforementioned Rush Jet segments as they stand). Keiji Inafune looks back poorly on this game’s development, stating the new director wasn’t in tune with the franchise and that the timeframe was condensed…so that’s a shame the game isn’t as good as it could be, but it still is amazingly damn good regardless of that. It is a testament to the team at Capcom that a rushed game under a unfamiliar lead turned out so spectacularly.
To revisit my earlier picks, check out this tag.