The classic 8-bit Mega Man games are generally well-regarded, so it’s totally understandable to want to play them. I remember getting the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the first time and being super excited to see all these Mega Man games I’d never seen before. However, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to get into Mega Man games for the first time. I’m sure if you grew up with any of them, you have a pretty good memory of how to play them, but for the newcomers it can be a rough time. So I figured I would share some of my personal tips to help you get into the series a little easier.
Pick Your Battles
This applies as much to each individual game as it does your overall selection. If you’re having a lot of trouble with one of the Mega Man games, perhaps trying a different one will be easier on you. As for the NES titles, I find that they generally get easier as they go on, so there’s no shame in going in reverse order. When you’re playing each game, keep in mind that you have the freedom to play any of the bosses in any order. Try to find the one that’s easiest for you to fight without any special weapons and work from there. The wheel of weaknesses will fall into place as soon as you get one of the bosses’ weapons. You have options.
Practice and Patience
These two things will help you a ton, no matter how simple they sound. You shouldn’t expect to master a stage the first time you play it, much less a boss. You need to learn the ins and outs of each level and battle in order to effectively fly through the game. Keep at it. Don’t jump around TOO much or else you’ll never get the hang of it. This is aided by patience. You might have a lot to learn, but taking your time will keep you from making tons of simple mistakes. You don’t need to speed through this like Mario or Sonic or something. The more time you take to start with, the less time you’ll take learning from deaths in the end. So be calm and careful.
Use it or Lose it
You get lots of special weapons and items to use in the games, but often times we can get into the mindset of conserving them for the bosses. This isn’t such a bad idea when you’re unsure which one will be effective on the boss, but after learning that you should feel free to use the other weapons at your disposal to make quick and/or easy work of otherwise difficult enemies. Some sections have enemies in places that are hard to reach with your buster, so maybe using a weapon that has an arc or trajectory can take them out and let you focus on the platforming. Maybe a bigger enemy is taking too many hits and giving out too many opportunities to do damage to you. Don’t hesitate to blast them with the heavy artillery. Especially make sure not to underestimate the use of your items. Things like Rush Coil, Rush Jet, or the Magnet Beam can effectively allow you to bypass tricky obstacles or even entire difficult sections. Be open to experimenting until you find a strategy that works for you.
Beware of Instant Death
This is related to the practice and patience part, but I feel it needs its own section because taking damage is not as harsh a punishment for mistakes as death. There are essentially two main ways you will die instantly. The obvious one is death by spikes. Sometimes your temporary invincibility after getting hurt will keep you from dying upon them… other times it will not. Touching these will result in immediate death. Avoid them at all costs and be extra careful around them. If you know you CAN damage boost over them with the invulnerability frames, then use that to your advantage in tricky situations. It’s better to take some damage than to totally die. These will often be found underwater and on continuously falling screens. Be very mindful of their placement and never disregard them just because they aren’t after you. The other form of instant death is a bit more subtle but just as deadly… meaning instant. Bottomless pits. Sometimes you can jump down screens, but it will usually be quite obvious. Don’t just go jumping down random pits. Also, approach every pit and the corresponding jump with caution. Often times you will be bombarded with an enemy or obstacle around these high risk areas. Many times they will be easily defeated enemies, but they are placed in a way that will make your jump difficult. You take knockback when you are hit. So if you get hit on the edge of the jump you just made, not to mention in the air, you will most likely get pushed right into a death pit. Be wary of icy platforms. Learn the way things like appearing platforms and moving platforms act before making blind jumps. And also approach every edge for the first time with care. Not only because of the things already mentioned, but also because sometimes enemies will jump up out of the holes when you are in close enough proximity. Study the interval and proceed accordingly. Do not let instant death be a beginner’s trap if you can help it.
Embrace the Grind
Not that there’s inherently much grinding in the games, you can certainly do some to make things a little easier on yourself. If you find yourself lacking some ammo or health, find a screen or part of a screen where you can easily kill an enemy. Go back and forth killing them until they drop what you need. Some of the games will allow you to get currency this way or even things like extra lives. In fact, some stages will restock precious E-tanks for you to go back and collect. It might seem a little tedious, but it’s one more step in keeping you from repeating entire levels over and over again. It’s totally optional, of course. Playing through the whole thing again might even make you more skilled and not need to waste your time this way, but it all depends on what you’re looking to do.
Well, that’s about all I could come up with for general tips. These things might not make you a pro, but they should help you feel a bit more comfortable and get more used to the games and allow you to get into them enough to put in the extra practice on your own. And I hope you do because the Mega Man series, even just the classic ones, is filled with a lot of solid titles that will keep you playing for a long time. Let me know if there are any other tips you’d like to share or anything you thought I got wrong in the comments below. Stay Mega and Rock on!