Mega Man 3
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 09/28/1990
    • US November 1990
    • UK 02/20/1992
Score: 85%

This review was published on 06/22/2013.

Mega Man 3 is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the third game in the classic Mega Man series created by Keiji Inafune. Due to the huge success and critical acclaim of Mega Man 2, Capcom really wanted another sequel. The development of Mega Man 3 was very turbulent, as Inafune was given tough time constraints and the development team ran into many problems. In the end, Capcom forced Inafune to release the game before he felt that it was ready. You wouldn't think that upon playing the game, though. Mega Man 3 continued the success and acclaim of the second game, though it wasn't quite as successful or as acclaimed. Most fans consider Mega Man 2 to be the best in the classic series, but another popular choice is Mega Man 3. There's good reason for that, because the game is bigger and better than Mega Man 2 in a lot of ways; new mechanics were introduced, old mechanics were refined, and the scope of the game was greatly expanded. Mega Man 3 is as important to the 8-bit games as Mega Man 2, especially since it introduces so many series mainstays. Whether you consider it better or worse than Mega Man 2, almost everyone can agree that Mega Man 3 is one of the best in the classic series.

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The story is a little on the weird side this time around. You won't be gleaning almost any of it from the game itself, as there are no real cutscenes to speak of, but you can find it hidden deep within the dark recesses of the manual. A short summary is also on the box. Dr. Wily, a mad scientist who wishes to take over the world, had his plans thwarted by a robot named Mega Man twice in a row. After facing two defeats, Wily decides to renounce his ways of evil and ask Mega Man's creator, Dr. Light, for forgiveness. For some reason that eludes me, Dr. Light actually agrees to forgive Wily and the two become friends once again. Light and Wily begin working together on a giant "peace keeping" robot named Gamma. The two doctors build 8 Robot Masters to mine for precious crystals that will help power the enormous Gamma machine. Things predictably go awry when the 8 Robot Masters go haywire and steal the crystals needed to fuel Gamma. The blue bomber, Mega Man, is then sent to bust the 'bots and recover the crystals. Oh, and Wily later defects by stealing Gamma. A mysterious masked robot named "Break Man" also appears on the scene to cause some trouble. Mega Man 3's story is pretty silly, but at least it stays out of your way.

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Mega Man is back and he has 8 more robots to deal with. The robotic warrior retains his ability to retain abilities from Robot Masters. In other words, Mega Man steals the weapon of the Robot Master he kills. The weapons have limited ammunition, but the ammo can be restored by picking up ammo refills. This time the Robot Masters are Magnet Man, Spark Man, Needle Man, Snake Man, Gemini Man, Shadow Man, Top Man, and... Hard Man. Yes, his name is Hard Man. How could you possibly not make fun of that name? It'd be hard not to, man. Just like always, each Robot Master has a stage themed after them, and each one is weak to another's weapon. Unless you spoil the fun by looking at a guide, you'll need plenty of trial and error to figure out the ideal order to tackle the stages in. The Robot Masters in Mega Man 3 are a lot harder than in the previous games, so weaknesses are even more essential than they ever were. There are times when a given Robot Master will prove difficult even when you're using a weapon they're weak to, ranking Mega Man 3 as one of the hardest 8-bit Mega Man games. The stages are very well designed and a lot of the Robot Masters are pretty cool, though a few are lame, like Top Man. None of the special weapons are as game breaking as the Metal Blade this time, but you still have a few useful ones like the hard hitting Hard Knuckle and Magnet Missile, the latter of which has slight homing capabilities. Even though the Robot Masters themselves aren't as memorable as the ones from the last two games, Mega Man 3 has far superior stage design.

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New to Mega Man 3 is the slide. Mega Man might not be able to duck, but he can now slide. To perform the slide, one must hold down on the control pad and press the jump button. The slide gives Mega Man a slight boost of speed, but its primary use is to avoid projectiles by going beneath them. It's pretty much Mega Man's way of ducking. The slide requires a lot more skill to use than ducking, because it only lasts for a few brief moments and Mega Man immediately stands upright once he's done. That means doing the slide incorrectly will actually put you in harm's way instead of avoiding it. For this reason, a lot of people don't like the slide. Since the slide functions like ducking from a mechanical perspective, it doesn't initially seem to make much sense as to why this game has a slide and not a duck. The flipside to the slide is that it's a very satisfying maneuver to pull off, because it makes you look really cool when done successfully. There are these enemies scattered throughout the game that throw maces at you, and you can avoid their attacks by sliding right under said maces. It just looks so cool. The slide also comes in mighty handy during boss fights, as a lot of a given boss' attacks can be skillfully avoided with the slide. Love it or hate it, the slide is here to stay, because it's in almost every other classic Mega Man game. The slide adds a satisfactory amount of depth to Mega Man 3, even if it's hated by some fans.

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The support items from Mega Man 2 have been replaced with a far more affectionate alternative. Mega Man now has something referred to as the "canine support unit," that is, a robotic dog. The dog's name is Rush, and he can perform similar functions to the items from Mega Man 2. Mega Man starts out the game with the "Rush Coil," an ability in which he can call Rush to the scene and jump off a spring mounted onto the dog's back to get extra height. This comes in really handy whenever something is just out of reach. Rush will gain new functions as Mega Man progresses through the game, such as the Rush Marine and Rush Jet. The Rush Marine has Rush transforming into a submarine that Mega Man can ride underwater. That particular one isn't terribly useful, as there aren't many underwater sections in the game, but it can be a life saver when water is actually involved. The best one is Rush Jet, though. This one lets Mega Man ride around on Rush like a jet, giving him the ability to fly anywhere on the screen. You can go up, down, left, right, and even fly in diagonals! It's the greatest thing of all time. If there are any platform sections in the game you don't feel like dealing with, then the Rush Jet is for you. Don't get too excited, though: all of Rush's abilities and transformations expend energy, and you can't use a particular one when the respective meter is empty. You can easily refill Rush's transformations using the same pickups that refill weapon energy, but as usual, those aren't always around when you need them. Rush continues to make appearances in the future Mega Man games, and it's a good thing he does, because he's a fantastic addition to Mega Man 3.

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After beating all 8 Robot Masters, you actually don't go to Wily's castle. This is where Mega Man 3 diverges from the formula established in the first two games. Instead of proceeding immediately to Wily's stronghold, Mega Man will have to take on 8 more robot bosses called Doc Robots. That's basically twice the amount of bosses, though not twice the amount of stages. There are 4 "new" stages with 2 Doc Robots each, one in the middle of the stage and one at the end. The reason why I placed quotation marks around that word is because these stages aren't entirely new. They're kind of like remixes of stages you've already been to, using environments, gimmicks, and enemies from those same stages, just with new level layouts. The interesting thing to note is that the 8 Doc Robots will channel abilities and attack patterns from the 8 Robot Masters from Mega Man 2. The catch is that Mega Man no longer has the weapons from his second game, forcing him to discover new weaknesses to old bosses. As a result of the Doc Robot stages, Mega Man 3 is longer and has more content than the previous two games. However, this is the most divisive thing about the game: while the extra stages do make the game longer, they ruin the pacing, plus the recycled assets make them less interesting than the regular levels. And while the Doc Robots are a neat reference to Mega Man 2, it feels a little too soon to start referencing past games. Mega Man 3's extra stages are more of a blemish than a delight.

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Mega Man 3 takes everything that was introduced in the first two games and polishes it to an incredible degree. The stages are excellently designed, the music is amazing, though not as amazing as Mega Man 2's soundtrack, and the graphics have had a nice boost. Some of the newly introduced mechanics, like Rush and Mega Man's slide move, are welcome additions that help add more personality and depth to the game. It's only in the Doc Robot stages that Mega Man 3 starts to falter. As much as some people like these stages, they come off as a cheap attempt to pad the game's length. There are only two things preventing Mega Man 3 from being better than Mega Man 2: the Doc Robot stages and the music. If it weren't for those two things, then Mega Man 3 would have easily surpassed its predecessor. As it is, though, this is still an excellent game and the second best of the NES series.

Word Count: 1,753

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