Revolting Indeed

Mega Man 3: The Robots are Revolting

Capcom has released some pretty wretched Mega ManIn 1987, Capcom released Mega Man on the NES, a game featuring a blue robot that fought other robots and took their powers (so that he could then fight other robots with those powers, and on, and on). The series went on to release over 50 games in 30 years and become one of the most famous gaming franchises in the world. games (Mega Man Soccer comes to mind), but on the list of terrible games featuring the Blue Bomber, you would think Mega Man for DOS would be the absolute worse. A nightmare-inducing, punishing slog of a game, the only saving grace of that title is the fact that it's so short -- four stages of awfulness before you're finally released for that hell. You would think Capcom would have looked at the game, quietly released it, and then never spoke of it again.

And yet, instead of making the sensible play, Capcom decided that what they really wanted was a sequel! To that awful game! Really? As the story goes, developer Stephen Rozner (who made the previous DOS effort) was working on a kind of related game/spin-off about an Eco-Man and his adventure trying to save the environment. It wasn't supposed to be a Mega Man title but Capcom took one look at it and decided to license the game and have Rozner make it into a Blue Bomber release.

This was a terrible idea. The sequel -- the nonsensically labeled Mega Man 3: The Robots are Revolting! despite there never being a Mega Man 2 for DOS -- is basically everything that was in the first game but more. You would think this was a good thing -- the Robot Masters have be increased for three to a full six pack, bringing this game on par with the first Mega Man title -- but that just means there more of Rozner's brutal game play to get through.

As you might recall from my previous review, the first DOS game featured labyrinthine levels that twisted and turned and left you confused as to where to go. Mega Man 3 has the same infuriating level design, except the levels are longer, more twisty and more obnoxious. Navigating through this game is terrible, even if you have a walk-through guide and maps and should know where you're going -- each hallway within a level looks the same, and the mazes are complex enough that often you'll end up covering the same terrain again and again looking for a desperate exit.

TO make matters worse, two of the levels implement swimming mechanics (yes, this game did it before Mega Man 8) and they're just as bad as you expect. In water, for whatever reason, the robotic Mega Man floats. Worse, when he's hit he floats backwards and upwards, often meaning that whatever hit you then has a clear shot to do it again. And if you're trying to clear an obstacle while swimming and getting hit over and over again, eventually you feel a great desire to give up. That's natural. Maybe give into that instinct.

It's not just the level design that punishing but also the constant waves of enemies. These levels are packed with bad guys that love to come out of nowhere, guns blazing. You'll get hit a lot, your energy constantly depleting, and death is a regular feature. Whatever Rozner wanted you to experience with Mega Man 3 it seems like his primary goal wasn't fun but punishment. You bought this stupid game so now you're stuck with it. Enjoyment is not an option.

And, like with the first game, there's no music to even carry you through. The Mega Man series is known for its catchy tunes but here, as with the previous DOS title, there are no musical tracks at all. Maybe this game would have felt better, less obnoxious, if there were a few toe-tappers to enjoy along the way, but here you just get the silence of eternal misery, the only soundtrack the sounds of pellets hitting Mega Man over and over again until, eventually, he explodes in a four-beat pulse.

If there is any saving grace about Mega Man 3 it's that the bosses are pathetically easy to beat (as they were in the first DOS title). Bosses don't have any invincibility so each pellet that hits then will do damage, no matter how recently they were damaged. This means even Mega Man's basic pea-shooter can rip them apart with ease. If you have their weakness then look out because they can die in just a few quick shots. Torch Man, for instance, is weak to the Water Shooter, which splits into three pellets when fired. Aim it right and you can hit him with all three, destroying 3/4 of his health bar in a single blast. It's amusingly pathetic, really.

And, I will acknowledge, the drops are pretty plentiful. You regularly get health and ammo off of enemies making the use of Boss weapons much easier and more regular. That said, you pretty well have to get every drop you can because, for whatever reason, weapons don't seem to refill between stages (only right before the single Wily level, ironically enough). So if you like using Boss weapons in stages you're going to need to pick up all the ammo you can.

It boggles my mind why Capcom thought a second one of these games was a good idea. Rozner was going to make this game whether Capcom wanted it or not but he at least had the grace to make it starring a different guy. Capcom, though, wanted a cheap game they could shovel out to PC fans, no matter the quality, so they had Rozner re-skin this abomination. It's an unfun, punishingly bad, awful little seven-stage blunder. If they would have just left well enough alone Eco-Man could have come and gone with little fanfare. Instead completionists like me had to suffer though this game. Do you really hate us that much Capcom? I think you do.

Let's Take a Look at the Artillery:
Mega Man's Robot Master Weapons (Best to Worst):
  1. Blade Man's Blade Launcher (W): Not a bad little weapon. Megs will fire out three blades in an expanding arc when he shoots the Blade Launcher. That arc gives you good coverage and can hit a lot of dudes. Totally worth it, really.
  2. Oil Man's Oil Stream (O): A pretty standard straight-shooting weapon. It shoots a single jet of oil that flies across the screen until it hits something. Not terrible, and considering that you'll need a lot of artillery to make it through this game gracefully, you'll appreciate having this one for levels.
  3. Shark Man's Shark Boomerang (W): Another decent weapon.. This one, like you'd expect from a boomerang, travels out about half the distance of the screen before coming back to Meg
  4. Torch Man's Torch Arm (W): This is basically the Oil Shooter by a different name. It acts the same way -- shoot a blast that travels across the screen -- but the pellets are red and made of fire. So you have two linear screen control weapons, which is nice.
  5. Wave Man's Water Shooter (W): This is an odd little weapon with little utility. When Mega fires the Water Shooter, he'll lob a spray of water (a couple of particles, towards the ground). Like most lobbed weapons, it's pretty useless except against the boss that's weak to it.
  6. Bit Man's Bit Cannon (B): I would say the Water Shooter is the worst weapon in the game but it doesn't hold a candle to the bit cannon. This one seems like another linear weapon -- shoot it out and a beam of electricity flies out. But the beam travels sooo slow that you can actually outrun it. What's the damn point?