Oh yes friends, it is time for our top 10 Mega Man games! Iíve recently posted top 10 game lists for Mario and Metroid, which added to the Zelda, Kirby and Castlevania lists that we already had, all of which you can see here. With Mega Man primed to make his Smash Brothers debut in the near future we hope, it felt like the right time to talk about his best games. And the way Capcom has been handling Mega Man lately, this may very well end up being a list of the best Mega Man games that stands up to the test of time. Please make it not so Capcom.
In making this list, Iím going to stick to the platformer / shooter games, which is to say, the original NES series, the X series, the Zero series and the ZX series, as well as any other assorted games that fit that description. As much as we all love the Battle Network games and others, some of them will be outside of the scope of this list, and therefore will not appear on it.
If you already know how these lists work, just skip to #10 now (youíre probably going to skip there anyway, arenít you?) Otherwise you can read the boring description below of how we do things here.
This is not a list of my personal favorites, or a list that a small group of Negative World editors have put together. Instead, this is a list based on the average scores of the Mega Man games as rated by Negative World members in our video game database. Unlike a lot of past franchises that we have made these lists for, there are a bunch of great Mega Man games that only have a handful of user ratings, so I had a difficult decision to make; where to cut off the minimum number of ratings that a game could have and still make the list? After looking at the raw data, I decided to go with 10 minimum ratings, as the result was a list that seemed to include the most quality games without giving too much weight to any one opinion.
And exactly like last time you will see a few numbers in the header for each game in the list. The first is the average score (out of 10) for that game calculated from all member ratings, and the number in parenthesis is the amount of members who have scored this game (IE the amount of ratings that went into the calculation.)
Alright, letís rock Ďní roll! See what I did there?
For awhile Mega Man 5 was my favorite of the NES Mega Man games, due in no small part to the fact that it had a train boss in Charge Man (I love trains, Iím probably the only person in history to write a top 10 list about their use in video games.) Mega Man 5 also has what I believe was the first flying robot master in Gyro Man, and that seemed pretty sweet to me at the time as well. Trains and helicopters, what more can you ask for?
However, upon recently playing through all of the NES Mega Man games on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, I now believe that my placing of Mega Man 5 at the top of my NES Mega Man games mental list might have been a mistake on my part. Donít get me wrong, itís still a great game, taking the basic Mega Man formula and churning out another fun romp, which is why it has a spot in our top 10 list. But it was also generally considered to be a bit too same olí same olí, and as you shall soon see, there are many other NES Mega Man games that we prefer here at Negative World.
Mega Man ZX (DS) - 8.55/10 (11)
Mega Man ZX can probably be considered a spiritual successor to the Mega Man Zero series, although it borrows heavily from the X series as well, and throws in some Metroid-like progression to boot (albeit with a decidedly terrible map system.) It is also the only Mega Man platformer / shooter series which has you controlling humans instead of robots, although they are humans that can merge with biometals to essentially become robots.
Both of the Mega Man ZX games are generally considered very good Mega Man games, but the series never quite took off, and it died (as far as we know) after only a single sequel, making it one of the most short-lived Mega Man series ever. Personally Iíd love to see a Mega Man ZX 3, but Iím not getting my hopes up here.
Mega Man Zero (Game Boy Advance) - 8.58/10 (12)
Mega Man Zero, helmed by developed Inti Creates, is often considered to be the first great Mega Man game to break a series of misfires in the mid to late 90s. Speaking of supporting characters stepping up to a playable role, Mega Man Zero is also the first game that takes the Mega Man X series helper Zero and makes him the primary star of the show. Did I say helper? I meant the most obviously badass character in the series who also has an awesome name.
Set a century after the X series, Zero had been sealed away but is awakened to help the Reploids who are being hunted by the Neo Arcadian government. And where is X during all of this? Hmm. Good question...
Mega Man 4 (NES) - 8.76/10 (18)
Iíve heard people make the argument that Mega Man 4 was the beginning of the end, the first Mega Man game in the original series that didnít really add much new to the mix, spurring on an endless stream of sequels that just got worse and worse over time (until the series was revived with Mega Man 9.) This may or may not be true, but whatever the case, Mega Man 4 is still a pretty darn good Mega Man game.
Besides, itís not like it didnít add anything new. Mega Man 4 was the first Mega Man game that included the ďMega BusterĒ, allowing you to charge up your regular shots for a more powerful blast, now considered to be a staple of the series. It also introduces a new villain in the Russian Dr. Cossack, with the evil Dr. Wily nowhere to be found. Iím sure he doesnít show up out of the blue at the end or anything, that would be ridiculous.
Mega Man X3 (SNES) - 8.77/10 (15)
Itís difficult to understand why the X series lost popularity so quickly. The first X was one of the biggest 3rd party games on the Super Nintendo, while the second struggled to keep up pace and the third was practically ignored. Releasing right before the Nintendo 64 came out probably didnít help its sales potential very much. Itís a shame though, as Mega Man X3, while not particularly groundbreaking, is still a wonderful X game, and well worth playing.
Mega Man X3 is also the first game where Zero is a playable character, and Zero is, as we have already established, awesome. Unfortunately it is difficult to find Mega Man X3 nowadays without paying an arm and a leg for it (although you can pick it up as part of the Mega Man X Collection), and it is also the only one of the X trilogy to not appear on the Virtual Console. Yet.
Mega Man 9 (WiiWare) - 8.83/10 (31)
When Capcom announced that they were going to do a retro revival of their classic Mega Man series, creating a new game in the style of the NES games, I honestly didnít know what to expect. Retro revivals are neat in concept, but few of them ever really live up to their promise. However, with the developer of the Zero and ZX series Inti Creates on board, I had high hopes.
And they nailed it. From the gameplay to the graphics to the music (Mega Man 9 has one of the best soundtracks of any recent game) and more, Mega Man 9 was not only a good addition to the franchise, but is often considered one of the better games in the original series, period. Mega Man 9 also introduced the first female robot master in Splash Woman, proving once and for all that women can be just as evil as men (provided that you buy the concept that robots can have a gender to begin with.)
Mega Man 3 (NES) - 8.90/10 (31)
As noted above, Mega Man 4 is often considered the beginning of the end of the classic Mega Man games, which puts Mega Man 3 in the position of being considered the last big step forward for the series. While 2 may ultimately be more beloved (totally unpredictable spoiler alert: Mega Man 2 will appear on our list as well), 3 polished the core gameplay up tight and introduced enough new such that itís not a crazy suggestion to state that it may very well be the apex of the original series.
So what exactly did it introduce? Well, Mega Man 3 was the first appearance of Mega Manís trusty canine sidekick Rush, for one. Itís also the first Mega Man game to introduce Mega Manís slide move, giving him greater mobility. Finally, it the first Mega Man game where the North American box art actually shows Mega Man as a robot complete with an arm cannon and not some weird, deformed human holding a pistol (Mega Man 2 is notorious for its North American box art, but the first Mega Man was essentially the same thing, human with a pistol.) Isnít that something?
Mega Man X2 (SNES) - 8.91/10 (26)
I am both surprised and ecstatic that Mega Man X2 appears so high up on our list (barely edging out Mega Man 3.) Although it was a personal favorite of mine at the time, it didnít have nearly the same success that the original Mega Man X had, and I always thought the masses were just kind of down on the game in general. I guess I canít speak for the masses, but here at Negative World we (apparently) love ourselves some Mega Man X2.
Right from the start I knew I was in for something great, as the intro music and scenes blast you forward into an action packed first stage. The gameplay was excellent, building on the Mega Man X formula while adding a few new tweaks such as more complex vehicles to utilize and being able to dash off of a wall slide. Mega Man X2 also offered an interesting side quest which had you tracking down the various parts of Zero, and whether you obtained them all or not by the end of the game determined how a certain showdown played out. The wireframe technology stuff was a bit gimmicky, but it certainly didnít take away from an excellent package. If youíre one of the many who ignored this game the first time around, it is on the Virtual Console now so you really have no excuse.
Mega Man X (SNES) - 9.09/10 (51)
Mega Man X2 may be superb but you just canít top the original Mega Man X. Mega Man X was the first Mega Man game on the brand new Super Nintendo console, and it did pretty much everything that a Super Nintendo sequel to an NES game should do. With a new story set years after the original series including all new characters, updated graphical and music styles, and more versatile controls, Mega Man X took what worked in the original series and cranked it all up a notch. Some people still prefer the original Mega Man games, and I canít blame them, but for me X was a clear step forward.
It also introduced Zero, whom we have already established is one of the best video game characters ever. And it included what was to become the first in a series of Street Fighter-based power-ups in the X games, allowing players who discovered the (fairly convoluted) path to a hidden capsule to obtain a Hadouken power-up, which was easily the most powerful attack in the entire game, destroying practically every enemy in a single hit.
Mega Man 2 (NES) - 9.31/10 (44)
This is actually the second time in recent memory that Mega Man 2 is appearing at the top of one of my lists, as it took the number 1 spot in my list of the top 10 NES original soundtracks. I also put it at #4 in my list of the top 10 most improved same platform sequel list. I feel like Iím running out of original things to say about this defining game, but it has topped another list, so here goes.
I actually remember my first time seeing Mega Man 2 being played, which was at a friendís house in grade school. The very idea of a level select screen kind of blew my mind (I know Mega Man 2 didnít invent this idea, but at the time it was new to me), and once my friend got into a stage (Flash Manís) and started playing the game, I instantly knew that this was something special. The graphics and music were awesome, of course, we all know that by now. But it felt to me like an adventure in the truest sense of the word; you never quite knew what to expect next. Whether traversing through the woods, falling down a waterfall, or climbing up into the stars, each stage offered something truly unique to it, and the bosses themselves punctuated that uniqueness by having a power related to the theme of the stage. To this day I can still name every boss in Mega Man 2, something I would be hard-pressed to do for many other games.
Mega Man 2 was and still is a spectacular game, and is easily our highest rated Mega Man game here at Negative World. I canít say that I disagree.
Neat list and write-up, I enjoyed reading it and I enjoyed all of these games. But I sure have to say that I'm disappointed in NW for Mega Man 3's placement. Tsk, tsk. Oh well, it'll always be number 1 in my heart.
I have NO beef with Mega Man 4. Why do people feel its the beginning of the end? If its the Mega Buster (which is awesome), the X series should be stained too, which it isn't. I think thats poppycock, Z. Who says that 4 is the beginning of the end? I totally missed that stuff.
This is pretty different from my top ten, the Metroid and Mario ones were closer to what I think. I haven't played Mega Man ZX, Zero, X2, or X3 though, so I'm also unfamiliar with close to half the list.
The biggest problem with Mega Man 5 is in its weapon set, most of them are just so useless or weak, there aren't really any fun weapons to use like other games. And the charged Buster is so powerful in this game that it gives even less reason to use anything outside of for boss weaknesses (and even then, sometimes the charged Buster is still better if the other weapon is something difficult to use, I.E. Charge Kick). Aside from that though, the game has some nice stage design, from the gravity-switching of Gravity Man to the water riding of Wave Man. I also like some of the music in the game, Wave Man's theme is one of my faves from an NES game.
Mega Man 4 is all around good though, and has one of the best weapon sets in the whole series. They took a lot of MM2's weapons and made them not only usable, but versatile and powerful in certain situations. The stage design feels more consistent than the previous games as well, and the music is still top notch. I'm unsure why the game has a negative stigma of being the beginning of the decline for the series when it has so much going for it, I say that started with MM5.
I didn't really like Mega Man 9, it felt like it was made by a group of amateurs who didn't understand why people liked Mega Man to begin with. It tries and fails to mimic MM2 with mostly uninteresting or poor stage design, and ignores all the refinements introduced after 2. MM10 was a much better game for me. Except the music, that was the only thing I liked about 9. 10 could have used some of that, its music is mostly plain.
Mega Man 3 is a bit of an interesting game. It was apparently a bit rushed, and I'd say it shows, as it feels a little incomplete in the later stages. The Wily stages are pretty plain and empty, and the reused MM2 bots don't feel play-tested as their movements seem impossible to dodge at times. I really need to look up to see if there are any no-damage Buster-only runs in this game to see if it actually is possible. In any case, I still like this game because the first 8 stages are pretty interesting, the music stands shoulder-to-shoulder with MM2, and there are some nice weapons in the game even if most don't have enough ammo. I think if this game weren't so rough around the edges then it would surpass MM2 for me, but it doesn't feel as solid as most other MM games. Despite saying that, it's still my number 2.
Mega Man 2 is a bit of a odd game. I play it now, and I really notice problems like the abundance of infinitely-spawning enemies and the emptiness of many stages, not to mention how unbalanced the weapons are to the point where hardly anything else is worth using besides the Metal Blade. And yet, to this day, I still find it the most replayable of the bunch. I can't really figure out why that is... Maybe it's because I played it first, maybe it;s because I know it so well, maybe it's because it's some of the best music around, I really don't know. Whatever the case, despite all the design issues I've come to realise, it remains the most enjoyable game in the series.
I gotta admit I'm surprised Mega Man 4 made the list. I really like that game, but I thought I was fairly alone in that opinion.
That said, I'm NOT surprised the Gameboy Mega Man games didn't make the list. Which is too bad, since Mega Man IV and Mega Man V in particular are amazing games. I love those games, and I'm pretty sure I'm fairly alone in that opinion. Turns out I was right.
Disappointed Mega Man X didn't rank higher (#1 console game IMO) and only the original Mega Man Zero game ranked in at all? Hm.
Still not a bad list overall, Negative World. I give you a C +.
@GameDadGrant Mega Man Zero 2 had pretty good ratings but it didn't meet my semi-arbitrary limit of 10 ratings (it only has 7.) Mega Man V on Game Boy got good ratings too but only has 4 ratings so I dunno.
I've beaten 6 of these games and played X2 but lost interest. Maybe I'll give it another shot some time, but I found X to be pretty weak and the sequel to be more of the same. I definitely need to give the Zero games a try though.
I'm not sure there's anyone I've experienced who's opinions clash with mine so strongly. When you say things like what you said about Mega Man 9, I find it physically revolting. Which is stupid because it's all subjective. Strange beings we humans are.
@GameDadGrant I don't know if it makes it any better, but it would seem the Game Boy Mega Man games didn't make the list because so few people played them rather than people not liking them. That's certainly the case with me, having not played MM3, 4, and 5 on Game Boy. I wonder if the rankings will shift a bit once these games appear on the 3DS VC... if they ever do.
@Jargon Do you mean in general or just with Mega Man? I recall something with Mega Man between us, but other than that we seem fine. And I see I forgot to mention Mega Man X in my post, which I have played, and didn't think it was anything special and doesn't match up to the NES series. So there's that.
Yeah I felt like Mega Man 9 was brilliant, it is true they kicked it back a bit further than they had to (were shooting for Mega Man 2-level play?) but otherwise it felt perfect on almost every level to me.
I also find your opinions on Xenoblade and Smash Bros. Brawl repellant. Maybe some other stuff. I'm sure there's plenty of people I actually disagree with more on. How do you feel about Resident Evil 4?
@GameDadGrant Aw, I'm sorry! I think it's better, because it means people still might like the games if they manage to try them. Which more people will if they come out on the 3DS VC.
@Jargon Ah, well I probably don't recall the SSBBrawl one because there's a huge list for that. You can find a spot in line behind that guy holding a board with a nail in it and that other person brandishing an aluminum baseball bat. As for Xenoblade, I don't recall that one either and just went back to glance through the thread. I didn't find anything that we disagreed on there regarding the game... and in fact, I agree with the things you said in your most recent posts in that thread, though I didn't mention that in a post.