All things Mega Man

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frogbeastegg
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Re: All things Mega Man

Post by frogbeastegg »

Help a newbie out? I've been wanting to get into the Mega Man platformers since discovering the world with the original Battle Network on GBA. After years of looking, wishing, then avoiding, I picked up Mega Man 11 at launch and had a blast finishing it on one of the easier settings. Picked up the legacy collections for my Switch and, while I liked what I dabbled with, I never managed to achieve much because I couldn't settle on which game to learn the basics with. There's so many varied opinions out there I've got a list of candidates rather than one title which calls to me.

I've been furloughed, so I'm trying to make something positive out of this Corvid-19 crisis. What better chance will I have to deal with my hazy "I wish ..." gaming list? I will benefit from having shorter games from different genres to play alongside my usual RPG/adventure/strategy/JRPG fare. Keeps things fresh.

The potential candidates:
Mega Man 2. Great music and generally appealing levels, but some rough edges. Losing e-tanks on gameover and being able to run out of ammo for the specific weapon which works on certain late-game bosses gives me an anxiety complex.
Mega Man 1. I like the heart which it exudes. Famously tough and occasionally unfair due to jankiness.
Mega Man 3. The other popular favourite but somehow it doesn't spark joy when I try a level or two.
Mega Man 11. I already know that I like it, the feature set is well designed to help newbies learn, the difficulty settings provide a hill to climb, except it could teach habits which won't transfer to any of the other games e.g. speed gear and weapon wheel reliance.
Mega Man X. Exploration is closer to my usual gaming choices! Health bar extensions to find! Super popular! But it's very different in play-style.

My goals are:
1. Learn the basic skills which carry forward throughout the series. It would be nice to see my skills improving, as opposed to feeling like I got lucky on this attempt.
2. Get good enough to appreciate the games, instead of needing to reply on those handy emulator features. I don't mind using them to smooth the learning process.
3. Try to tackle a difficulty hill rather than a cliff, so I can improve in realistic stages. I'm fine with replaying the same game multiple times.
4. Survey the series and get a better understanding of how it developed, grew, etc.

Which game do I start with? Feel free to recommend ones not on that list. If anywhere can provide thoughtful recommendations rather than the "This one is my favourite and it's super-easy (because I played it a billion times) and the others are lazy cash-grabs" which pervades the internet, it's this forum.

The difficulty thing is weird, I admit. It's not that I lack skill or perseverance. Not as such. Rather, shy little me grew up being bombarded by the "girls are crap at games" messaging to such a degree I have a hard time silencing that inner voice which goes, "You died twice. You should quit for the day. Even if you get past this bit you'll only die more later. Random Internet People say that this game is easy and you died twice. You're awful." I know it sounds stupid but it's a real battle to keep going once that voice starts up. It doesn't help that my platforming roots are with Prince of Persia on MS DOS, Lion King on PAL Mega Drive, etc, not the more popular Nintendo system stuff and not at full speed. So there's a lot of adjustment to do in terms of instinctive expectations for physics, control concepts etc. Irony: PoP and Lion King are now acknowledged as tough games and I could make them sing, back before marketing and the internet started to poison the water.

My bonus goal is to shut that voice up once and for all. I've finished difficult games in my time but perhaps if I can tackle a bunch of things which I've long wanted to play and have avoided due to 'knowing' I'm not good enough, it might be enough to kill it off. Maybe.

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KSubzero1000
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Re: All things Mega Man

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Welcome! I can't be of much help on this one, unfortunately, since my experience with Mega Man and understanding of the series' intricacies remains superficial at best. But I just want to express how happy it makes me to see somebody willing to put in the effort to properly get into an established and challenging series. Goal #4 in particular brings a smile to my face.

Best of luck, hope it works out. :thumbsup:

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: All things Mega Man

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frogbeastegg wrote:
April 18th, 2020, 12:06 pm
Help a newbie out?
Welcome! As someone who adored Mega Man 11 and is a lot less keen on 1-3 than the popular consensus (just so you know my biases), these are my two cents. Well, more than two. In terms of an entry point into the classic series, I’d actually recommend Mega Man 4. Its less unfairly brutal and janky than its predecessors while still being a challenge, and with the debut of the charge shot, it provides the last major piece of the Mega Man formula to be codified (apart from the shop).
Now the Charge shot is actually a bit controversial, as many MM1-3 purists feel that it “trivializes” the game, but as someone who didn’t experience the series chronologically I’ve always found it allows an middle ground between bosses being extremely taxing with the buster, and complete cakewalks with a special weapon. Plus, you can always opt out of using it.
Regardless, if you want a MM game with a formula that carries forward, this is it; from this point on, every single game across all Mega Mans' platforming franchises have charge shots, except for 9 and 10 which were conceived explicitly as stripped down Mega Man 2 throwbacks.
Beyond all that, the spritework and level design shows Capcom at full NES mastery at this point; some bosses and hazards are definitely derivative of prior games, but without any MM1-3 baggage this shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, for my money, 4 makes better use of the stage hazards it borrows.


Of the games you yourself mention as candidates, if you want to track the series development chronologically, I’d still say start with 3. Simply because of the slide and Rush, which again makes it more comparable to the vast majority of Mega Man games (Though theres still a bit of “You can’t beat this boss without this specific weapon” stuff in there). Overall, since you come from MM11, the most accessible Mega Man ever, I would suggest starting with games that share some features you’re familiar with, and eventually backtrack to the more bare-bones originals.

The X series is, as you say, slightly different, though MM11 has actually cribbed some features from it, such as the Air Dash and chargeable special weapons. The series skews a bit more in favor of the shootin’ than the jumpin’, but the transition shouldn’t be too bad. Overall I’d say the X series is more forgiving than Classic while still being quite challenging, and the first game is a fine enough starting point, though the final fights present an absolutely severe difficulty spike. X2 and X3 are better in that regard. X4 onward shakes things up a little bit. As a whole the X series also provided the fundamentals for the Zero and ZX subseries – wall-jumping, dashing, life-upgrades etc – if you’re interested in those.


Also, if your goal is to ultimately enjoy the series as much as possible, I don’t think you should swear off save states entirely, at least for the classic games. I know for sure that I wouldn’t have gotten through 1-3 without them. You can always set some rules for yourself- like, you can save before the boss after a point, so you don’t have to go through a stage you’ve already conqured every time the boss wipes you. And unlike MM11 theres no hard saves between the Final Fortress stages in any of the prior games, meaning you have to do everything in one sitting (which can take hours), unless you use save states (this feature is missing from the X legacy collection though).

I hope all this is somewhat useful, you've clearly put a lot of thought into this!

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Alex79uk
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Re: All things Mega Man

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I've got the first X collection and only played X so far, but I really enjoyed it after wanting to throw my controller up the wall for the first few hours. Beating that last boss was brilliant. And because there aren't any save states or rewinds in the X collections, you know you've done it 'properly'. And I don't mean that in a disparaging way to using save states, if that had been an option the game wouldn't have lasted me half as long because I'd have abused the hell out of them, but it was just a little bit more satisfying knowing it was beaten the same way I'd have had to do it on the SNES back in the day.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: All things Mega Man

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Mega Man X was one of my first video games, period, having first played it at my cousins' house at age 4 or 5 - the same cousins as mentioned in my Aladdin commentary on the podcast - so I obviously have some degree of nostalgic bias but... That game remains infinitely playable to me. It's the only game I've ever attempted a speedrun on (I can do 100% in just under 3 hours), but it's just so well made. It doesn't really have any bullshit moments, except maybe the Launch Octopus fight and the final boss. Just a great game all-round. From there, the games gradually decrease in quality, though X5 and X6 are a little better than X4 IMHO. X7 is a garbage fire that isn't even funny-bad. X8 is one I still need to play.

But honestly, I'm not sure I can really recommend the original NES Mega Man games. I never grew up with an NES, and while I can certainly acknowledge that the NES Mega Man games were a quantum leap above much of the NES library, I don't find them particularly fun to play, especially the first 3. I'd honestly recommend starting with MM4 if you're insistent on playing the old ones, because the charge shot and slide make a big difference. Plus 4 is where the graphics started looking a lot nicer. 4-6 are the best of the NES ones. But even then, Mega Man 7 is also a good choice if, like my, you're not keen on the primitive NES graphics. 8 is funny-bad largely because of the terrible voice work, 9 and 10 feel like a big step in the wrong direction, and Mega Man 11 was a great return to form.

For me though, the best Mega Man subseries is Legends. It's similar to 3D Zelda games, but they hold up fairly well because of the graphical style they chose to use, and extremely competent voice-acting for the era. Tiesel Bonne alone is reason enough to play these games, hes just a joy to watch.

The Zero series is good too, but hard to recommend... Having recently replayed them, they're just so packed full of bullshit moments that they are straight-up anger inducing. They're really fun when you're on top of your game, but they're punishing, and the small screen real estate makes for many, many cheap deaths.

The ZX games on the other hand... Those I do recommend. The first one is better than Advent, but they're both a good time, with a fairly reasonable difficulty curve.

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frogbeastegg
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Re: All things Mega Man

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Thank you all for the helpful suggestions. That's exactly what I was hoping for.

I do like the idea of starting with Mega Man 4. In addition to the points made, it's a game which doesn't have the same weight of opinion attached to it. Sometimes second-hand love for a game can be motivating and enlightening, others it starts to get in the way of seeing the game in its own right. Likewise the second-hand derision which I've seen for some of the later games. I will follow it up with MMX, then see how I feel about the two flavours of the series before deciding on where to go next. I can use the modern niceties to help me get started with MM4, then use replays to try and work my way up to playing it unsupported. Then I'll be starting X with some reduction in ineptitude. I think it would be positive to play X after at least one NES title in order to gain first-hand understanding of why people always talk of it being such a leap forward.

I do like aspects of the NES graphics. That tubby little sprite and his fist-pumping jump, the cutesy-weird enemies. They're achieving a lot with so little to work with. I'm also interested in witnessing the end result of the little technical sleights of hand which I've read about. The large bosses, where most of the body is a background texture, for example. Sometimes playing is understanding. The way things feel, move, the speeds which they run at ...

Legends! One of my gaming white whales. I didn't have a Playstation until PS2, and ever since I've wanted to try games from this sub-series. Wasn't possible. Years later, I heard they were available on the US PSN for PS3 so I waited for them to arrive on the UK store. And waited. And waited.

I wonder if the Zero series is improved by the recent Legacy Collection? That's the sub-series which I used to look at while playing Battle Network, look, wish, and avoid, because of that brutal difficulty. I gather the DS port fixed some of the issues. Question is, how many and which ones? I'm sure I will try it eventually, if only to settle 18 years of curiosity.

Replayability is one of the motivations behind this experiment. It would be nice to have extra options for games to run through when I have a quiet afternoon and don't fancy playing part of a larger title. Super Metroid is a top favourite of mine but it's kind of lonely in that function at the moment.
KSubzero1000 wrote:
April 18th, 2020, 12:37 pm
Welcome! I can't be of much help on this one, unfortunately, since my experience with Mega Man and understanding of the series' intricacies remains superficial at best. But I just want to express how happy it makes me to see somebody willing to put in the effort to properly get into an established and challenging series. Goal #4 in particular brings a smile to my face.

Best of luck, hope it works out. :thumbsup:
Thanks. It's nice to hear it; despite being on a site dedicated to a podcast which does much the same, I worried my approach was rather pedantic.

This generation has been great for revisiting history. Like many people here, I have been gaming for many years, and play a wide range of genres, platforms and ages. The NES eluded me until very recently despite being the starting point for many of my cherished series. The various Switch versions are the first time I've played NES titles and found that they feel good to control (the Wii U's PAL emulation had so many problems) and in handheld mode they strike the perfect balance of big enough to see easily with my eyesight and small enough to appreciate the artwork. The mod-cons in these collections are brilliant, as are the historical extras included in some. I splashed out on the NES and SNES replica controllers too, as I find that adds to my understanding towards the game. I've returned to and finished Metroid and Legend of Zelda, and feel I gained from both experiences in terms of viewing my two core Nintendo series. Was pleasantly surprised by LoZ once I got past the initial hump; I appreciated the clarity of a Zelda design where every single discovery was useful. Metroid had aged less gracefully. The lack of a map hurt, but more fatal was the large amount of slowdown. I'm afraid I started hitting the emulator rewind on that one; too many acid baths which did not feel like my own fault thanks to the game going chug mid-leap.

Super Mario and Castlevania conclude my NES-era wishlist. They both have straightforward starting points; the original title holds up well enough. Again, both are series I have some familiarity with. The 3D Marios, the Igavanias.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: All things Mega Man

Post by Magical_Isopod »

frogbeastegg wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 8:23 pm
Legends! One of my gaming white whales. I didn't have a Playstation until PS2, and ever since I've wanted to try games from this sub-series. Wasn't possible. Years later, I heard they were available on the US PSN for PS3 so I waited for them to arrive on the UK store. And waited. And waited.

I wonder if the Zero series is improved by the recent Legacy Collection? That's the sub-series which I used to look at while playing Battle Network, look, wish, and avoid, because of that brutal difficulty. I gather the DS port fixed some of the issues. Question is, how many and which ones? I'm sure I will try it eventually, if only to settle 18 years of curiosity.
You can make an American (or Canadian) PSN account to get the Legends games. IIRC, all you need is a credit card... So long as the account is registered as the correct region, you can still buy them. Failing that, it's still likely far cheaper to buy a $25 Canadian PSN card online and have it shipped to you than it is to track these down physical.

As for the Zero/ZX Collection... They do have a new checkpoint system, and there's a "casual mode", but neither really fixes the core issues. The casual mode doesn't really reduce the difficulty in any reasonable way, it's really just a cheat code to unlock all the upgrades for the entirety of the game. Makes most of games way too easy. The checkpoints help A LOT, but there are still way too many segments that are just stupidly hard for no discernible reason - the Aztek Falcon fight (the first boss!) in the first game is the glaring example.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: All things Mega Man

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Magical_Isopod wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 6:38 pm
But honestly, I'm not sure I can really recommend the original NES Mega Man games. I never grew up with an NES, and while I can certainly acknowledge that the NES Mega Man games were a quantum leap above much of the NES library, I don't find them particularly fun to play, especially the first 3. I'd honestly recommend starting with MM4 if you're insistent on playing the old ones, because the charge shot and slide make a big difference. Plus 4 is where the graphics started looking a lot nicer. 4-6 are the best of the NES ones. But even then, Mega Man 7 is also a good choice if, like my, you're not keen on the primitive NES graphics. 8 is funny-bad largely because of the terrible voice work, 9 and 10 feel like a big step in the wrong direction, and Mega Man 11 was a great return to form.
Its funny how perspective works. As someone born in '87 who didn't grow up with a NES either (or even a SNES) the gameboy was my introduction to Mega Man, which allowed me to approach the NES originals with relative comfort, many years later...though for my money, Classic Mega Man never worked better than on that tiny green screen. Out of NES originals, 4, 5 and I guess 3 were the ones i truly got a kick out of, but they all pale in comparison to my nostalgia for Mega Man IV.

Also, MM8 may have laughable localization, but I didn't find it bad at all in terms of gameplay. And if nothing else, its absolutely gorgeous.
Magical_Isopod wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 6:38 pm
For me though, the best Mega Man subseries is Legends. It's similar to 3D Zelda games, but they hold up fairly well because of the graphical style they chose to use, and extremely competent voice-acting for the era. Tiesel Bonne alone is reason enough to play these games, hes just a joy to watch.
Oof. I tried my hand at those games two years ago, and bounced off them hard. The lack of camera control in the first one had me quit in frustration at a frog boss where I couldn't tell what the heck I was doing, and in the second one i made the mistake of raising my rank, causing the Tron Bonne boss fight to kill me over and over and over...I appreciate what they were going for though, and would definetely check out some remasters with more smooth controls and less repetitive dungeon visuals (yeah, as if that'd ever happen)

I know you're not so hot on the classic series, but have you checked out any of the fangames? MM x Street Fighter was pretty neat, but MM unlimited- one of the supposedly better ones - was so hard that it made the first games look like a cakewalk, and discouraged me from dabbling further.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: All things Mega Man

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frogbeastegg wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 8:23 pm
I wonder if the Zero series is improved by the recent Legacy Collection? That's the sub-series which I used to look at while playing Battle Network, look, wish, and avoid, because of that brutal difficulty. I gather the DS port fixed some of the issues. Question is, how many and which ones? I'm sure I will try it eventually, if only to settle 18 years of curiosity.

Replayability is one of the motivations behind this experiment. It would be nice to have extra options for games to run through when I have a quiet afternoon and don't fancy playing part of a larger title. Super Metroid is a top favourite of mine but it's kind of lonely in that function at the moment.

Aside from the additions mentioned by Magical Isopod, the Zero collection is surely going to benefit simply by the number and layout of buttons on the switch. Toggling dashes and subweapons on the tiny GBA or DS was a pain, literally, at least for my hands.

Also, in terms of replayability, the Zero games are pretty good if you truly want to cane and rinse them, by virtue of several unlockable modes/difficulty levels and a ranking system - in every game after the first, what skills you even learn are determined by your level ranking.


Good luck with your NES quest - as far as 8 bit platformers go, Mega Man and Castlevania (well, 1 and 3) are top of the class, at least based on what I've dabbled with.

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frogbeastegg
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Re: All things Mega Man

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Mixed results so far.

I kept trying my Switch version, and kept wondering what was wrong with it. It had that particular feel to it, the one which I associate with bad PAL ports. I'm sure a lot of you here know it: a certain stickiness and cludginess to the controls, a feeling that the action I'm seeing is somehow off. It baffled me as I know that the collection isn't cursed with PAL. None of the MM games which I'd briefly tinkered with previously felt like this, they'd all felt responsive and natural. I tried every controller I've got, swapped from TV mode to handheld and back again, and just could not get on with it. I kept walking into pits and bullets even though I was sure I'd jumped in time, missing shots when I knew I was lined up right. I kept replaying Toad Man's stage, expecting to see some basic improvement in ability but instead needing rewind just as much no matter how many times I crawled to my hollow victory. Frustrating! All the more so because the Switch feels like the perfect platform for this.

The whole time I was asking myself if my memory was playing tricks. So eventually I dusted off the PS4 version which I'd got for peanuts in a sale long ago and never had the courage to do much with, and blasted right on through Toad Man's stage without needing help. It was like moving from PAL to NTSC. Needless to say, I'm sticking with this version. I've dispatched a couple more bosses since, tinkering with the game alongside other things which I'm playing more seriously. Soon I feel that there will be an afternoon where I want to sit down with the game and try to bust on through from start to finish.

Fighting Toad Man on PS4 was pretty darn satisfying. I could see the effect of my pained Switch runs at the level. Shoot once, slide under him, turn, repeat, for a flawless kill. Compared to our first meeting, where he bounced all over the shop and hit me with rain until I died, quite the step up. That's the kind of visible encouragement I was hoping to encounter.

I do appreciate the little touches in this game. The way that rain and water has a pushback effect adds interest to the Toad stage, which would otherwise be a fairly standard set of flat platforms and corridors. I've never thought of the NES as doing more than "you are in water so you jump higher".

Which of the Gameboy MMs are worth a look? I've seen the love for IV here and might give that a go at some later point. If there's one thing which I've learned from this coronavirus mess, it's that currently short, replayable games are suiting me far better than the chunksters.

Thanks for the Legends tip, BTW. My PS3 is showing its age and I still have some must-play titles to finish on it, and I'm concerned it will die on me before I'm done with them. If my pessimism is proven wrong I'll look at getting the Legends afterwards. There's some chance of a Legends Legacy collection, whereas I doubt I'll get another chance at games like SMT: Lucifer's Call. I love playing older games but hardware failure is always such a worry. I take loving care of my stuff but I've had enough breakages to be paranoid.

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NoMoreSpearows
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Re: All things Mega Man

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I believe that the best GB game in the series is considered to be V, with the worst being... II, I think? One of them was definitely a harsh drop in quality from its peers, with poor platforming for the relatively small screen size provided, and I know it's one of those middle three.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: All things Mega Man

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frogbeastegg wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 10:39 am

Which of the Gameboy MMs are worth a look? I've seen the love for IV here and might give that a go at some later point. If there's one thing which I've learned from this coronavirus mess, it's that currently short, replayable games are suiting me far better than the chunksters.
IV and V are probably the best ones - certainly the most fully featured- but II is also fine. It was my first ever Mega Man game, so I might be biased, but the level design is perfectly passable if a bit stripped down, you have rush and the slide, and it shaves off a bit of the MM2/3 robot masters' difficulty, which I'm personally cool with.

MM I for the Gameboy is literally half the length of a typical megaman game, has bosses from 1 and 2 and no slide, so its by default rougher around the edges, but I remember the levels as fine, and overall more pleasant to play than the actual mega man 1. Can't remember too much about III except the final boss annoying me, but from a quick youtube search it looks relatively comparable to the others.

Oh, and Megaman & Bass for the GBA is pretty nice too, it has rock hard final stages, but playing as Bass is pretty fun and can take the worst sting out of these.

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