Top Five Megaman Games
With a franchise as expansive as the Megaman series, it is hard to pick out a single game that demonstrates the series at its absolute best. Older fans may insist that Megaman 2 was the series pinnacle achievement, while others may say it was titles like Megaman X, Zero or Legends built on the original's success and perfected it. Considering how the orginal series alone had eight games to its name, how can you pick one out of rest and say that it defines the series. I know I certainly don't have the right to say that being only one person out of an entire fandom, but I do know the best place to start.
After consulting my fellow Kill Streak Media writers and editors on their favorite Megaman video games and voting for one in each series, I have tallied the votes on the top five video games of each series. The game with the most votes will get the number one spot as one of the best Megaman games to date. Due to this system, it is sorry to say that a lot of games from the multiple series will be excluded if they were not voted on since we voted for one to represent its respective series. This does not, I repeat not, make them bad games and I encourage discussion on what makes a good Megaman game in the comments below. But I hope you respect my opinion and the opinions of the writers for this site who contributed to this list. The more games we discover and get a chance to play, the more fun we will have. And you can't go wrong with a series as enormous as Megaman. With that said, let's get started!
Honorable Mentions (Megaman Battle Network & Star Force)
Neither of these recent installments of the Megaman franchise received any votes from our staff and I have to say while I'm not entirely surprised (considering the following the other games on our list have) I'm honestly sad they didn't make the cut. For daring to take Megaman away from the platforming gameplay is was so famous for to a more RPG style in both set up and combat was a huge gamble especially when the games were released on the 15th and 20th anniversary respectively. The mythos behind Megaman is different, for example, Megaman in Battle Network is a program called a NetNavi which is used by the main hero to fight off dangerous viruses that wreak havok on technology out of cyberspace. Whereas in Star Force, the protagonist Geo encounters a extraterrestrial being known as Omega-Xis and the two eventually merge to become Megaman to defeat other dangerous aliens. But even though it was different from what I grew up with, I still applaud Capcom for trying something new and by some accounts, both series were a success (one of my close friends is a huge Battle Network fan and told me all the ins and outs of the series). If you are a fan of RPG games and have a DS I would recommend at least checking out these games. Different? Yes. Bad? Definitely not.
#5) Megaman ZX
Though it made the list only cause of my vote, Megaman ZX is a neat title that not only offers a new twist of game mechanics by also its story pays homage to several of the previous installments such as the Megaman X and Zero series. Canonically set 200 years after the last Megaman Zero game, the world of Megaman has become a different place, with humans and Reploids living side by side in peace. Humans now have cybernetic parts in making them more resilient while Reploids are given a limited amount of time to live like humans, making them equal in ability and lifespan. Though while it it is a time of peace, the world is never without problems. Mavricks still roam the world and have been attacking cities and towns though most have been beaten back by the intervention of the Slither Inc security force. It is here that the game introduces you to its two protagonists which you can choose at the start of the game, Vent or Aile. I really like the choice given here since both Vent and Aile (implied to be twin brother and sister) are not copy and paste heroes. Their dialogue is unique and shows that they are two different characters, making this game fun to replay if only to see how the story unfolds with the other protagonist (even though the same events occur no matter who you pick).
While on their own, Vent/Aile are incapable of fighting enemies, they both have the ability to Megamerge with Biometals (technology that grants its chosen user to gain the powers of ancient heroes). Here is where Megaman X and Zero fans will get a lot of out this game since both of the initial Biometals encountered are modelled after both former protagonists in both powers and personality. And even better, both of them can combine their abilities into one, hence the title of the series. Other biometals that appear represent several other previous characters (particularly the Zero series since this is a sequel series) and can also be combined and used with their signature moves and attacks. Other than that, there is not too much else that separates this game mechanics wise, since it is still the wall jumping, charging, blasting, and slide dashing that has been done before. However, Megaman ZX is great fun on a classic style even tries to be different while still respecting all the great series and characters that came before.
#4) Megaman Zero
Considering how popular a certain red Megaman became in the X series, it was only a matter of time till he got his own set and games. However it was at the start of this series that the traditional Megaman formula began to change. Instead of selecting a level and receiving the level boss's weapon, Zero had a set amount of weapons that could get upgraded as the game progress. The another element introduced was the use of small beings called Cyberelfs, that act as power ups that can heal, improve abilities and more. The catch is that they die after one use and in order to improve their function, you need to raise them by giving them specific items in order for them to give the best result. Older fans may also notice the different in art style compared to previous Megaman games, thanks to fact that this series (as well as ZX) where developed by Inti Creates while Capcom simply published the games.
The story is set 100 years post Megaman X series and Megaman Zero has been in stasis for all that time after helping X finally win the Maverick Wars. However, the peace he and his friends fought to achieve has become twisted thanks to the Gaurdians of the city Neo Arcadia, who unfairly brand all Reploids as Mavericks and destroy them for the sake of humanity. A small resistance group, lead by the human Ciel, looking to put an end to the violence seek out the legendary reploid Zero in he hopes that he will save them. While the first game is only the starting point of a story that has numerous twists and turns as it goes from game to game, this was the title that introduced all of the new controls and game play elements for the rest of the series (though later installments would improve on the ease of play). While there is a lot of fun to be had dashing and jumping around, using Zero's Z saber to cut things clear in half, there are plenty of moments in this game that just seem unfair (even for a Megaman game). Such as wall jumping above a bottomless pit trying to land on a small moving platform that is just off screen. That and certain bosses will rip into you in seconds unless you have their entire move set memorized. And yet even with all the frustrating problems, I can still say with complete certainty that this is one of my favorite series of games and is worth picking up if you are a fan of Megaman Zero.
#3) Megaman 8
Okay, I admit that I never had the opportunity to play this particular Megaman game, I have heard through the grapevine that opinions on this particular title is all over the place. Some, including a few of our writers love the game, and I can understand why. On top of the traditional Megaman formula, going through level after level, fighting robot masters and getting their weapons afterward (similar set up to Megaman 7), this game provided the ability to use some of these weapons simultaneously, which encouraged strategic thinking in combat. On top of that is was to be the first Megaman game to be released for the CD format, featuring new graphics, anime cutscenes and even a save feature. Some of the level designs are really inventive mirroring the gimmicks of the the Robot Masters.
The story, is your usual Megaman spiel, Megaman is doing his usual thing (kicking Bass's butt) when a robot crash lands from outer space. Megaman manages to retrieve the robot and send it to Dr. Light to repair it. But in the process, Dr. Wiley retrieves a mysterious purple orb that fell to earth as well and begins using it to power up his robots. It is then up to Megaman to stop each robot master and retrieve the orbs of energy before their used for evil. Straight forward, simple but also a bit fun with the inclusion of a new character, Duo. Not to mention other popular Megaman characters such as Bass and Protoman make an appearance. Though I have to say, as cool as it was to see the story play out in cool looking anime cutscenes...the voice acting is horrendously cheesy and poorly acted. To its credit, this was one of the first games to include voice work in cutscenes so there were bound to be a lot of mistakes trying something new but, I'm still not sure that can save it. Still it was a good installment to the franchise and tried to do something that had never been done before. How successful it was is still debated by fans but in my eyes, it did a good job.
#2) Megaman X
I can't thank people enough for voting for this game as much as they did. Megaman X was my childhood and one of the first games I ever picked up. And boy was it SO much fun. Though this game was released after Megaman 5, the story of Megaman X is set approximately 100 years after the last Megaman game. X, was Dr. Light's final creation, a robot that could think and feel just like a human being. However, in order to lessen the potential danger, X was sealed away only to be awaken when the testing program had run its course. When X does wake but, thanks to Dr. Cain, he is thrown into a world of chaos. Other robots, created by doctor Cain to match X's ability to think and feel (later known as Reploids) have integrated with society. However unlike X, they have the potential to go rouge, and by the game's start a whole army of Maverick Reploids have gathered to destroy the world. It up to the newly awakened X to help fight the Maverick forces, growing stronger and fulfilling his true purpose. Already a kind of darker story than what was normally in a Megaman game, that and the introductions to characters such as Megaman Zero, Vile, and Sigma made this the defining game for the X series.
Though Megaman X does share a few similarities to its predecessor, it added so much to the formula that was still used in later series (i.e. wall jumping, dashing, sub tanks and heart tanks), on top of incredible level design that not only taught the game play mechanics as you played but also served to get you more invested in the story. By going through the first level, learning all the new controls, only to have your butt kicked by Vile at the end of the first stage and Zero having to come and save you. Though even Zero himself says that you will one day be as powerful as he is. How do you accomplish that? You play the game, level by level, beating bosses, getting their powers which can make specific bosses easier, or alter the levels (Example: Beating the Chill Penguin level first freezes over the Flaming Mamouth level when it would normally be covered in lava). And by the time you encounter Vile again, you are more than ready to take him. It is such as satisfying part of the story, made all the more potent by the fact that it wasn't told through cutscenes or text but by having the player play through the game. Something that only a few modern games have been able to achieve. Upgrading X by finding capsules, beating bosses and even improving your play style as you go along serves to make the player relate to the hero so by the end you feel like you accomplished something big. It is a feeling that gave me a lot of confidence as a kid and it is one of the main reasons I still have my Super Nintendo. Personally, this is my favorite series in the Megaman franchise, but it is still only number two on this list. What could possibly beat out the incredibly experience of Megaman X?
#1) Megaman Legends
Throughout this list, I've had a common theme. Most of these Megaman games while true to their roots, all have had things about them that sets them apart. Whether in game mechanics, story, playable characters, or design. But out of them all, not one of them was as ground breaking or as ridiculously endearing as Megaman Legends. To be honest, I'm not really that shocked that this won in the end. This game changed a lot for not just the Megaman franchise, but also video games in general. For one, this was the the first Megaman game to be done entirely in three dimension which back in the 90's was a pretty huge deal. Though it may show its age now, I thought that the character animation was really great and hand drawn expressions of the character were charming. Add to the fact as a 3D platformer, Legends did away with the sidescrolling and went for a third person adventure game angle.
The story, while not incredibly complex at first is a ton of fun. Set at some point in the future of the Megaman world (my guess is a long time after ZX) the world has become a endless ocean, with only a few scattered islands for people to live on. The inhabitants of these islands rely on a mysterious energy source called refractors that can only be found in ancient ruins around the world. Certain groups of people, called Diggers make it there job to go into these ruins and fighting off the ruins security robots (Reaverbots) to find and sell refractors. Megaman Volnutt, Roll and her grandfather, Dr. Barrell are a team of Diggers searching for the coveted Mother Lode (a refractor treasure that is supposedly big enough to end the energy crisis). From crashing on the island of Kattelox, Megaman must search for a way to repair their ship, while stopping pirates, discovering more about the islands hidden treasure and even ends up having to save the world. That is a lot in one game but the pacing is good and very enjoyable to watch.
With the new focus on exploring the underground ruins, the game can feel a bit less like a true platformer and a bit more like a dungeon crawler, since there are no real puzzles to be found. You can find machine parts in these ruins as well as refractors that you can give to Roll and she will construct in to better equipment for you. Of course, getting these will not be easy due to the amount of Reaverbots you can encounter. It can take more than a few hits to take them down and certain bosses can only be damaged in one spot (some of them are huge so this can be plenty difficult). Though there is a upside. Remember how I said this game was ground breaking? It was in this game that the idea of Z-targeting was introduced. Legend of Zelda may have been the game to perfect it, but Megaman Legends was the first to include it, which has become a staple for a lot of games since then. It isn't perfectly executed in this game but it does help a lot when taking on a horde of enemies or keeping an eye on a boss. When your not running around in ruins, you are free to roam around Kattlox Island, talking to people, playing mini games, and even riding around on top of cars. Depending on what you do, people in the city will react to you differently as you spend more time around town and whether or not you go out of your way to help people or become a trouble maker.
There is so much that this game did its hard to simply summarize but Megaman Legends was an incredible game for its time. Becoming popular enough to warrant a sequel with deepened the plot and left off on a cliff hanger. As a result, its very dedicated fan base has been hoping/demanding for a follow up game for years. They almost got their wish but internal disputes in Capcom halted the project permanently, much to the anguish to everyone who was looking forward to it (Including me). Though we may never get the ending of the story, it doesn't change the fact of how much the first game did and how re-playable it is. That is why, after a week of voting, it is Kill Streak Media's number one Megaman game.