The year was 1987, and the Nintendo Entertainment System was in the prime of its life. Game developer, Capcom, already had a number of prolific and successful games for the NES under their belt, and they were about to introduce a new one who would become one of the most popular video game characters worldwide. In Japan, for the Famicom, he was introduced as Rockman, but in North America, for the NES, he was introduced as Mega Man.
Despite what has gone down in gaming history as some of the ugliest box art of all time, the little blue robo-boy enjoyed a low-key success with his first game. He followed up that premiere with a breakout success in ‘Mega Man 2’, which people just couldn’t get enough of.
The original game was the story of a robot boy built by the scientist Dr. Light to combat the evil Dr. Wily and his army of rebel construction robots. The non-linear platformer was uncommon and the challenging nature of the game intrigued gamers, as did the innovative idea of stealing the abilities of defeated bosses. The clever gamer would figure out that gaining Ice Man’s powers would allow them to more easily defeat Fire Man, whose abilities would allow them to more easily defeat Bomb Man, and so on.
The second installment had similar game-play and the same basic components, but with more bosses, new upgrades for Mega through Dr. Light, and an iconic soundtrack that many gamers can still identify in 5 seconds or less. It’s not difficult to see why ‘Mega Man 2’ quickly became a fan favorite. In fact, for lots of gamers of my generation, this installment is still the series favorite to this day.
Of course, such a popular character wouldn’t lose steam after only two games. Eight more games of a similar formula (‘Mega Man 3′ through ’10’) were released between 1990 and 2010, enjoying successes across several different gaming consoles. In 1994 a separate line of games began adjacent the original one, starting with ‘Mega Man X’ as the first of the franchise to break into the Super Nintendo market. This side-series gave Mega a makeover and introduced another character who would become well-loved: the red robot named Zero. The X-series would enjoy seven sequels (‘Mega Man X2’ through ‘X8’) over several consoles as well. And that’s not even the end of it. There were several more offshoots of the now-classic franchise, including the ‘Mega Man: Battle Network’ series, which enjoyed success on Nintendo’s handheld systems. And on top of all that, Mega Man has been featured in his own cartoon series’, and now holds a coveted spot as a playable fighter in ‘Super Smash Bros.’ for the Wii U. In short, it doesn’t look like this little blue bot is going to be going away any time soon.
My own experience with Mega Man is almost embarrassingly limited. As a kid I never really played any of the iconic installments because I was more interested in RPGs at that time. Later in life my husband introduced me to the franchise via the X-series, and I played a couple of the handheld ‘Battle Network’ games, but this was during my college years when I was more interested in drinking with friends and not flunking my classes (prioritized in that order). The honest truth is that I never really got that into Mega Man, but that’s not to say that I don’t understand his place in video game history. In fact, I understand it so well that two Halloweens ago this happened:
What is your experience with Mega Man? Do you prefer the older games or the newer ones? Classic Mega or X? Or maybe you’re more of a Zero person? Please share!
Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out some of these other participating blogs?