Mega Man 3 is a 2D run and gun platformer for the Nintendo Entertainment System developed by Capcom. This is the third installment to the series so I’ll assume you’ve been keeping up with my previous reviews or know something about Mega Man in general to start with, though a lot of it is relatively similar. The story is strangely absent from the game’s opening, but doing some research you’ll find that basically Dr. Wily has turned over a new leaf and begun working with Dr. Light in order to create a robot to keep the peace. In order to do so, they need to collect elements that are guarded by robot masters. It’s up to Mega Man to collect them for the good of the mission. Let’s just hope this is the end of Wily’s trickery… hmm… nah, it’ll probably be fine. What could possibly go wrong? Essentially it’s just a way to set the stage for fighting more robots anyway.
The gameplay is very comparable to the previous installment. Go through stages, jump around, avoid obstacles, shoot enemies, fight bosses, get their powers… the usual. However, there are a few new things involved. For one, you now have the robot dog Rush as a companion that can turn into three different forms to help you out in various stages, similar to Items 1-3 in the last game. You start with Rush Coil, which allows you to use him as a springboard and reach new heights. By beating certain stages you can unlock Rush Marine and Rush Jet. Rush Marine allows you to ride Rush through water sections like a submarine while also being able to fire. You can jump out of the water as well, but you cannot propel yourself other than by jumping when on land. Rush Jet turns Rush into a hoverboard, allowing you to control his movement freely through the air while you can shoot atop him. You can also jump off of him as well. Both of these run on ammunition bars just like your weapons. They run out as long as they are active but can be switched manually by changing weapons. Rush Coil only runs out of ammunition upon use, but the basic concept still applies. The game also introduces the slide mechanic, where hitting jump while holding down allows you to slide. This is often used to fit into paths that are too narrow to walk through. You cannot shoot or jump while sliding, however it does also second as a dash mechanic. This game also introduces four extra stages after beating the standard eight. These reuse the assets of previously visited stages but are more difficult and house two robot masters returning from Mega Man 2 in each. After that, the typical set of linear stages continues to the end of the game, though you will fight a recurring character called Break Man for short periods during certain stages, so keep on your toes.
Mega Man 3 was pretty damn impressive. Both the detailed, colorful visuals and the awesomely cool soundtrack were a definite step up from the second one. The controls feel even tighter and more responsive while also implementing the slide technique to make you more agile in evasions. The stages aren’t terribly difficult, but they are definitely longer and more varied, which makes them even more enjoyable considering the visuals and music are so good. I also thought the bosses were balanced pretty well. They can be pretty tough even if you have their weaknesses. So you can’t just run in and destroy them in a few seconds, nor can they do the same to you. You’ll need to actually still avoid their patterns and hit them in order to win. This is a much needed change. I also like that there is a variety of effectiveness. Some weapons can do massive damage, some do slightly more damage than usual, and some are completely ineffective. It certainly makes the bosses more dynamic and allows for more flexibility in picking your boss order. I also loved that they included the bosses from Mega Man 2 in here. The additional stages to get to them are a fun extension that goes beyond expectations. If you never played the previous game then you just get eight new bosses to fight. If you DID play Mega Man 2, then you have their patterns down but need to figure out what their new weaknesses are and how to hit them with said weaponry. It’s just a nice way to have an extra set of boss battles where you are fully equipped without just recycling the same ones you just beat. It even had some cool plot stuff happening at the end. Oh, and the introduction of Rush to give some character to your cool assisting abilities is a nice touch. There’s just an extra layer of finesse here that goes over really well along with the great balance and surprising amount of content.
Of course, perfection is rarely achieved in the eyes of even the most human of critics. The lack of an opening set of scenes to set the stage is very odd considering the previous game did it and that there is an ending set of scenes which seem almost out of nowhere if you didn’t brush up from the manual or something. The bosses were balanced well, but trying to understand their weaknesses seems more like a guessing game than one of logic. This is mostly due to their designs being a bit less basic, but it can be frustrating to play the guessing game sometimes. The teleporting back after unpausing thing is STILL here and never ceases to bother me a tad when I’m on a ladder. Also, I feel like the boss rush of the eight new robot masters near the end was unnecessary since we already fought eight robot masters while fully equipped. This could’ve easily just been removed, but I guess they liked their staple and it still offers a slightly different set of circumstances to make it not feel like a blatant waste of time. The password system is also a little odd, this time having both blue and red dots on a grid of letters and numbers. It was just kind of weird to write down effectively is all.
So I guess I don’t have a ton of complaints on this one. Mega Man 3 is pretty damn good. It has all the Mega Man tropes in a well-done package that has a surprising amount of content compared to its predecessors. I would very much recommend this to Mega Man fans that somehow missed it, fans of retro NES games, and anyone looking to try out Mega Man in general. I’d even say it’s worth up to 30 bucks, but in various forms you might get a better deal on it than that if you’re looking for something other than the original cartridge. Check it out, man. After the cliffhanger at the end and how impressed I was by this game… I’m pretty antsy to see what Mega Man 4 has in store.