Saturday 4 June 2016

Mega Man 3 (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1990

Mega Man 3 is an action-platformer that arrived on the NES one year after the series' sequel.

Your mission is to collect all the energy orbs and stop the evil Dr. Wily from taking over the world. There's eight Robot Masters and after you've defeated a boss you gain their abilities which include Spark and Needle attacks. The main innovation though is that you can now slide to reach otherwise inaccessible areas or to avoid enemy projectiles. The gameplay and presentation harkens back to Mega Man (1987, NES) rather than its sequel (1989, NES) and I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Right off the bat, the first thing you'll notice is the lack of a cinematic opening and only a single difficulty setting (basically Hard!). While Mega Man 2 felt like you had room to breathe, here enemies swarm on you, making the action very claustrophobic. Cheap hits are back in abundance (along with sticky controls due to rampant slowdown) and there's tons of sprite flicker to the point of distraction. The level design is poor and most stages don't have much personality to them; even the annoying disappearing blocks make a return, but this time with the added bonus of wind tunnels that suck you in as you try to jump! The slide mechanic is a welcome addition though and one that greatly alters how you choose to battle, especially against enemies that leap around. The special weapons are okay but most have limitations in terms of direction or reach, so they never match the awesome heights of the M weapon from the sequel. Likewise, the bosses are dull, and tons of them are reused from previous games, including the Yellow Devil fight. At least the music is brilliant with a great mixture of sombre and energetic tracks.
The only real innovation in Mega Man 3 is the awesome slide mechanic but even that can't save the game from mediocrity. Overall, it's more of a rehash than an evolution of the series and the uninspired level design, reused boss battles and numerous technical issues make it hard to recommend.
Random trivia: The developers asked fans for Robot Master ideas, and after over 50,000 entries, eight were used in the final game.

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