Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mega Man III (Game Boy, 1992)

The next game in the Game Boy series is possibly the worst of the lot. How is that possible, when the first one is so barebones and difficult, and the second is ridiculously easy and shallow? Well, after the difficulty valley of the previous game, Capcom turned the difficulty back up for this one. Thing is, they cranked it. This game is HARD to the point of losing a lot of the fun factor. Add in poorly designed, frustrating stages, and the lamest selection of robot masters (at least in the second half) of any of the Game Boy series, and...well, this game just isn't that good, and Capcom missed the mark again.




As with all of the other Game Boy titles in this series, the bosses are in two sets of four. The first set utilizes the bosses from Mega Man 3 NES that the previous Game Boy game didn't. These first four stages are easily the best thing about this game. They're remixed versions of the NES levels and they're a lot of fun. The portraits don't miss a beat from the NES version, which is impressive.

Much like the NES version, I take on this guy first. He's definitely one of the slicker bosses in the Mega Man universe. I mean, look at the sheer 'tude this guy has. He looks like he belongs in a Sega Genesis game. THEY DO WHAT NINTENDON'T!

This stage is jungle-themed, and full of nefarious metal snakes. You might notice some pixel loss in this shot... that's a result of this game trying to be too big for the current technology. More on that in a bit.

There are even a couple of giant snake minibosses. When I was a kid playing the NES version, I thought Snake Man's stage was radical. This particular game may not be all that good, but it has something going for it: the coolness of the NES version is still here, even if downscaled a bit.

Oh yeah, the slide returns for this game, as it'd be from here on out. Remember how the previous game has the slide, yet features NES bosses from a pre-slide era? This game has a similar trait...

...the charged shot. This didn't debut until Mega Man 4 on the NES, yet this game has it and lets you use it against bosses from Mega Man 3. It makes Snake Man here pretty easy to defeat, to say the least.

This would be a good time to mention that most of the difficulty in this game comes from the stages. They're lengthy and frustrating. The boss fights, on the other hand, are pretty simple. Especially with the charge shot.

Gemini Man is my next target. It's worth noting that the stages in this game have slightly remixed versions of their music from the NES game. This is WAY better than the previous game having completely unrelated themes that were nowhere near as good as their NES equivalents.

Unfortunately, the hardware limitations on this game really drag it down. When there are a few enemies on-screen, you get some serious slowdown that makes it hard to play. Also, the music may be great this time around, but the limited sound channels means that the music cuts up a bit when you're firing or charging up... which kinda ruins the mood.

Gemini Man is nefarious. He has the ability to split into two and attack by running and jumping in a semicircle - an ability that would later be seen with one of the bosses in Mega Man X4.

This is one of the instances where you can really see the condensed-ness of the areas due to the Game Boy hardware when compared to Mega Man 3 on the NES. The first room of Shadow Man's stage looked a loooot bigger once upon a time.

"I AM THE GENETIC JACKHAMMER" says the last enemy before Shadow Man.

Shadow Man himself probably should have been called Ninja Man. He has a weird stage; it's full of molten lava. What does that have to do with shadows? The lights go out a few times, so there's that.

He also has a nasty slide attack. This guy is probably the most powerful robot master in the NES game, though he's easily defeated by Top Spin in that one. Since Top Spin doesn't exist in this game, what chance does Mega Man have? Well, turns out Gemini Laser is also pretty decent against this guy. Maybe it was always that way, or maybe Capcom threw us a bone here. Either way, he's the most challenging of the first four bosses.

Spark Man's stage is full of spark-themed enemies. Not much to report here. It also looks like almost every stage in Mega Man V on the Game Boy, which I'll be covering soon.

He's nowhere near as cool as Elec Man from the first game, but hey, at least this guy got to be on the cover of the NES version.

Time for Wily's Castle, which looks even more badass than usual. Though once again it's a short non-stage in this game.

The boss here is Giant Suzy, who... isn't very Giant at all. It's unfortunate for screenshots that bits of the enemies glitch out when you fire, another example of the technical limitations. It's a simple fight, and we're on to...

...the second set of bosses. These four are all from Mega Man 4 (NES). Problem is, they're arguably the worst four bosses from that game. It's almost like Capcom just wanted to get these guys out of the way so that their next game (which would fix every problem this game had and be awesome) gets to have the other four, much cooler, bosses from MM4.

You can see just from the stage select portraits that these four lack all of the attitude and "cool factor" of the three earlier bosses from MM3. The game kinda sucks from here on out, which is a shame because those first four stages were fun.

Dust Man's stage is full of ceilings that move up and down in an attempt to crush you. I'm really not a fan of this type of stage, and a lot of Mega Man games have it. The worst example is probably Metal Shark Player in MMX6, notorious for being the one stage in that game that most people just skipped. Since that game let you skip stages. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Dust Man himself is pretty simple to beat with the charged shot. I might have already pointed this out, but the charged shot gives you a distinct advantage over most of the bosses in this game. It does a huge amount of damage.

Rush Jet is important to get ASAP. Alas, this game gets the lame version of it. Rather than be able to go anywhere onscreen with it like the previous game, this one has Rush Jet only move straight forward.

Skull Man's stage is by far the easiest of this set. The other three are all brutal to get through. If the stages were interesting or compelling, the high difficulty would be a non-issue. Instead, the end result is that the three most boring stages in the game are the ones you'll probably have to play the most.

That said, Skull Man's stage is okay. Definitely the most passable of the four.

Skull Man is the keeper of the shield weapon for this game. Unlike Wood Man's weapon in the previous game, this one stays on you even if you move. The downside is that you can't fire it, but I'd hardly call that a downside.

Dive Man's stage has this bastardly whale miniboss that shows up several times. One of the things I really like about these old Mega Man games? The minibosses. Once again, they tend to be visually appealing.

Dive Man himself fires homing missiles, but he's mostly negated by the Skull Barrier (which also does huge damage to him). Due to the low gravity, this is one of the more fun battles in the game.

Dive Man also attacks with M. Bison's PSYCHO CRUSHER. Since this is also a Capcom product, it's probably no coincidence.

It might be possible to get these two energy tanks without dying, but I couldn't pull it off. Drill Man's stage is absolutely the most tedious stage in this game, but on the bright side you'll end up with full E-Tanks after two run-throughs of it thanks to this room.

Drill Man is easily beaten with homing missiles. Most importantly, this guy continues the trend of each Mega Man game having a boss with a phallic name. WHAT ARE YOU HIDING, WILY?

 "Uhh...nothing! Nothing at all!"

He might as well just go all-out and create a boss called...

"Dilll-do Baggins!"

Dr. Wily's second castle is next, which means it's time for the battle with...

...Punk.

Punk: "YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHohhhhhhh!"

"ALL I EVER! WANTED!"

"WAS SOMETHING SOMETHING! SOMETHING SOMETHING!"

Skull Battleship (Skull Marine?) continues with two more stages. Or it's just one really long stage...hard to tell.

Punk was a pretty fun fight and a memorable character, with his buzzsaw-themed attack repertoire. Lot better than Enker and Quint. Credit where credit's due.

"EVEN THROUGH THE DARKEST DAAAAYS!"

"THIS FIIIIIRE BURRRRNS!"

The crushing ceiling of doom returns here, as if the abundance of spikes that come out of the floor weren't bad enough. This is definitely one of the lamer Wily fortresses. The stage design in general isn't very good in this game and results in a lot of cheap deaths.

The halfway-point boss, Giant Suzy, returns; this time I get a decent shot. The battle is still easy.

Here's Wily's ship for this game. Maybe THIS is Giant Suzy and someone made an error in the Nintendo Power coverage... it wouldn't be the first time. As usual, Wily has two life meters; the second one has Wily exposed (not in the illegal way).

Punk's Screw Crusher (what a name) is the key to victory over Wily's second form, since it travels in an arc and can actually reach him. One thing is for sure: this game has a much more visually impressive final boss than Mega Man II's weird little Skull Walker. I'd still give the edge to Dr. Wily's Revenge's final boss, though. That weird claw-wielding metal Wily head was pretty menacing, while this thing is just cartoony.

Wily falls out and begs for mercy, etc. That's another Mega Man game in the can. It was decent, and in some ways it improved upon the previous two. The difficulty killed the fun factor, though.

Wily's Castle proceeds to fall into the ocean and explode, killing countless ocean creatures.

Mega Man goes and toots his own horn about how he has brought peace back to the world. You tell that to all the fish you killed, you bastard!

On a final note, I got a weird sense of firstness from this game earlier. Then I realized something. MMIII could have very easily been my first game. If Bioshock Infinite is right about alternate dimensions, then this probably WAS my first game in another timeline. I was obsessed with having a Mega Man game at the time that I got a Game Boy, and MMIII was the most recent one at that time.

In other words, when I got the system, if I could have had any one game in existence it would have almost definitely been this. But the store didn't have any Mega Man games, and me being an impatient youth, I needed something to play right then. Kirby's Dream Land, which I had never heard of, sold me with its box. Next trip, Metroid 2 sold itself on the box as well. Then I didn't get any more games for a few months, and by then it was time to get an SNES for Super Metroid. I lucked out by picking some pretty great games on boxart alone. I'm glad this wasn't my first game.

Still, I feel like this was the game I was supposed to get first, but in this timeline it didn't work out. Something like this would probably have huge ramifications on who I am now, weirdly enough. Good chance I would have given up on the game, and I never would have gotten into Metroid...which by extension really got me all the way into video games. After all, I only got Metroid 2 to begin with because it looked like Mega Man and I didn't have a real Mega Man game. This one would have been a colossal disappointment. If I absolutely struggled with this, the hobby might have petered out right out of the gate. Well, it's possible, at least.


MORE MEGA MANIA


5 comments:

  1. Yeah, I remember that ceiling-crushing segment of Dust Man's stage. It was incredibly difficult!!! I could only get past it a couple of times. :( So, I never was able to beat this game...

    Thanks for the review, anyway.

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  2. That section of Dust Man's stage is one of the worst spots in this series. What makes it awful is the way spikes rise out of the floor. Once you get past all of that, you better be ready to take on Dust Man...

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  3. And thank heavens indeed you didn't play this first.
    We think of computers slowing down but it's interesting to remember that games themselves are just programs and can slow down themselves if too many things are running at once.

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  4. Using the charged shot on Mega Man 3 stages/bosses still blows my mind.

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  5. The only thing I know about this game is that it had a pretty godly stage theme in it, on part with NES Wily stage : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PDdC51EDWk

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