Mega Man 3: Nostalgia Review

Third Times the Charm

Mega Man 3
Nintendo Entertainment System | Capcom| November 1990

Nostalgia Reviews highlight the greatest games of previous generations. The review is rooted in fond memories and appreciation of that era. There are times when memories differ from reality or modern techniques are superior to earlier design.

Mega Man came and went. Mega Man 2 was a smash hit as it’s refined controls, manageable difficulty curve and dynamic stages made developer Capcom a household name. It is arguably one of the best entries in the Mega Man franchise. An argument that many fans insist on losing time and time again because the true crown jewel in the blue bomber’s helmet is Mega Man 3.

MM3 contains the familiar gameplay fans came to expect. The blue bomber shoots enemies, but can’t touch them, jump on platforms and steal boss’ powers. He uses these liberated abilities against eight bosses in a rock-paper-scissors scenario. After defeating the robot masters, in any order the player decides, Mega Man enters Dr. Willy’s castle; a gauntlet of four stages (that no save code can pause) and a final multi-tiered showdown with the maniacal mustached scientist himself. This is the synopsis of all Mega Man games but MM3 separates itself by improving the controls, characters, clashes and environment.

In this battle, Mega Man is joined by a faithful robot canine called Rush. Rush is able to transform into a spring to assist with difficult jumps, a turbo jet to fly over levels or a submarine to ease water navigation. These abilities expand the non-linear possibilities open to players and turn the previously used gadgets into a personality and ally in the battle against evil.

This entry introduces Mega Man’s evil(?) ally(?) Protoman. Protoman confronts Mega as a mini-boss in half of the stages and later helps him in the final confrontation against Willy. The ambiguous ally has his own motivations throughout the conflict and remains a fan-favorite of the series. Capcom almost made his older brother more popular than the protagonist himself.

Besides new allies in his battle, Mega Man is equipped with additional tools himself. Mega Man can slide. It sounds like a simple change but it expands the choices available to players. When an attack is incoming, you can either jump or slide to avoid it. In later stages there are varying attacks which require Mega to move from one form of transportation to the next. Sliding is quicker than walking or jumping, but Mega Man is unable to attack while his butt is on the ground.

The stages varying greatly in MM3 and contain some of the most unique boss battles in the series. After defeating the eight robot masters, Mega Man confronts four new foes in remastered versions of the previous stages. These levels  take the familiar landscape previously traversed and up the anti with more death spikes, pitfalls, enemies and laser beams. Instead of fighting a robot master, Mega will face the ‘ghost’ of a previous rival. This honoring of the past plays out great to fans, even as the series continues to blast forward.

MM3 introduced key gameplay mechanics and characters to the franchise that remain hallmarks today. The third entry is the perfect mix of familiar mechanics, enhanced gameplay, memorable music and an epic (for a NES game) story. Some fans will continue to argue that MM2 is the premier entry but in their hearts they know that MM3 was the power-up this series needed to be remembered forever.

Score: 9.5 /10

+ Challenging, but far, Platforming
+ Soundtrack Syncs Perfecting with Stage
+ Introduces Key Characters
+ Challenging Twist on Familiar Gameplay
+ Rush Jet!


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