Here's to you, Blue.
We're doing a week of Mega Man-themed content! Why Mega Man, you ask? With the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection releasing recently, I figured it was the perfect time to look at the series as a whole. I'm very excited to share this week's features, and I hope you are just as excited to see them!
I am a Nintendo fan through and through. Nintendo has created some of my favorite game franchises across the whole industry. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and so on. These are top-tier brands that Nintendo continues to deliver on, which is why they've been around for so long. With that said, there's another franchise I hold in the same high regard, but it doesn't come from Nintendo. It's the brainchild of Capcom.
My first introduction to the Mega Man series came from Mega Man II. I honestly don't recall the series of events that lead to me playing Mega Man II before the original, but it doesn't matter. Mega Man II was the entry that introduced me to the Blue Bomber, and made me a lifelong fan. While the spin-off franchises have been anywhere from fantastic to ho-hum, the mainline Mega Man games always deliver a strong gameplay experience that I can't get enough of.
My favorite types of games are ones that have very simple gameplay mechanics, but create an addicting loop within that experience. Mega Man perfectly displays that approach to video games. The idea of running, jumping, and shooting wasn't invented by the Mega Man franchise, of course. It's just the way those elements are used that make each installment so damn fun to play.
While the gameplay of Mega Man is straightforward, it's the variety within the gameplay loop that keeps me interested. You know you're going to take on a robot master at the end of a stage, but you never know what they'll throw at you. You're prepared to visit 8 different stages for these robot masters, but each one is going to have a wildly unique theme compared to the others. There'll be plenty of jumping and shooting on your way to victory (hopefully), with level designs and enemy placement crafted in a way to give you a sizable challenge. Everything works so well together because it's simple to play, hard to master, and gives you a ton of satisfaction when you clear a stage. Then the fun begins again with another stage and robot master.
This is why the Mega Man gameplay loop has inspired countless other franchises, and lead to numerous copycats. The mechanics may be bare-bones, but the variety of ways they can be used/exploited to create unique experiences is pretty much limitless. I have never tired of a Mega Man game in the gameplay department. When a new Mega Man game isn't in sight, I'm always looking for something to scratch that itch. Other franchises have given me a temporary fix, but nothing delivers like Mega Man himself.
One of the elements a Mega Man game does so well is the action/reaction with Mega Man and enemies. Controlling Mega Man feels ridiculously accurate. The character has some of the most precise controls in gaming, making you feel like you're really in charge of the action. The shooting mechanic is satisfying on a level hardly any other games meet. There's something about the explosions, the connection of Mega Man's bullets, and the sound effects all combined together that feels so damn good. Battling enemies is a quick, punchy, crunchy exchange that keeps you on your toes. It's an action franchise that really delivers on the pulse-pounding moments and excitement.
Today's games like to focus on deep stories, nuanced mechanics, total hours of gameplay, and so on. There's nothing wrong with any of that. I love those games as well, and I think the game industry is a better place for having as wide a variety of experiences as possible. That said, for me, there's simply nothing like a Mega Man game. That focus on pure gameplay fun with no frills resonates like none other. Fans of the Mega Man series know that's why the Blue Bomber has been around for so long, and will continue to provide amazing experiences for years to come.