Mega Man III is the third Game Boy installment in the Mega Man series. As such, I’ll be assuming you know about the previous two or Mega Man in general going into this review. Once again, I’d love to start this off with the plot, but the game itself gives no explanations. So rather than look it up, I figured it would make for a more realistic approach to just skip it, as that’s what most people would do anyway and also, if it was all that important then the game would’ve told me what it was.
So Mega Man III continues the tradition of taking elements from two of the NES Mega Man games. This one borrows from Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 4. You start with a select screen where you can choose between four bosses and their stages to take on in any order. These first four are from Mega Man 3. After defeating all of them you’ll go to a Wily stage with its own boss, followed by another stage select screen, this time with four bosses from Mega Man 4. After defeating these four you will then have one more Wily stage, a new boss to fight, and finally a showdown with a two form Dr. Wily fight.
Most of the mechanics from the previous game carry over, such as sliding, E-tanks, and Rush abilities. However, a few new things are thrown into the mix. Rush Coil is the same, but Rush Jet now only flies forward rather than being completely controllable. This is the Game Boy’s first appearance of Eddie, a character that meets Mega Man in certain parts of stages and offers him one random item out of his flip-top head before vanishing. The charge shot also makes a debut, allowing you to hold down your attack button to build up a shot of high damage and a larger size. And as mentioned, there are a few new sub bosses and final boss, along with a new weapon to obtain from one of the sub bosses.
So it’s a lot of the same kind of stuff you might expect. It keeps the all-new stages for the old bosses and adds a few new fights in there which I think is definitely enough to make it a worthwhile addition to the series. The music here has returned to mimicking that of the NES levels, though there are a few new songs tossed in. I really like the Wily stage music in this one. The balancing, passwords, and general gameplay are all still very good. I also think that scaling back the Rush abilities but making them more useful was a good move, and the charge shot does add a bit more of a dynamic system to fighting. The risk versus reward aspect works well, but there’s also the consideration that sometimes you can kill enemies faster by pumping them full of a lot of shots rather than trying to land a bunch of full charges. I thought the one new sub boss was pretty cool because it shows up inside the boss doors, which typically are safe areas. So it’s a surprise and also an interesting place to fight enemies in close quarters. This one also brings back the difficulty you’d expect from Mega Man, with a return of precision platforming, beginner’s traps that punish the hasty, and lots of instant death areas. So it certainly feels like good ol’ Mega Man.
However, I think they take it a bit far in the last half of the game. Dive Man’s stage has cool underwater physics which makes for a nice twist to the same gameplay, but that stage is also littered with spikes that will kill you instantly to the touch. Dust Man’s stage is full of pixel perfect jumps that will land you in bottomless pits should you mess them up. This is compounded by Rush Jet, the item that would help you avoid these pits the most, only being unlocked AFTER you beat the stage. And the ending Wily stage is not afraid to throw both the bottomless pits AND the spikes at you at once. That makes sense for the final level, but it’s still a pretty brutal… shall we say… SPIKE in difficulty. To balance that, the final boss is pretty easy even if you didn’t stock up on those E-tanks. So I think that’s a bit of a disappointment that will leave a sour taste in your mouth if you were looking for one last great fight before the end. Oh… and would it kill them to even do a simple establishment of the plot in these games!?
Still, I stand by the usual recommendations here. It’s more Mega Man. It’s Mega Man done well, regardless of hardware. If you like 8-bit Mega Man, the NES games, or the other Game Boy titles, this is easily worth 15-20 bucks. It’s more Mega Man. You kind of already know by now if you want this or not, and if you do then it’ll be worth it. Mega Man III is an excellent companion piece to add to your Mega Man collection. Besides, you’re not just going to let Dr. Wily get away with his plans, are you? What plans, you say? Well… I… the game didn’t say but I’m PRETTY sure the world is going to be in trouble if he follows them through so… ya know… get to the justice and whatnot.