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Mega Man is one of the strongest franchises in gaming history. It currently spans over 50 sequels in multiple consoles and has been made into novels, soundtracks, comic books, and cartoon episodes. Like Frankenstein's monster, the game has taken a life of its own and become a force so powerful that not even its developer Capcom would have thought possible at the time of its release in 1987.
Also known as Rockman in Japan, Mega Man is an action-platformer that pioneered many key features for 8 bit games still used today. The story begins in the distant future where two brilliant inventors named Drs. Light and Wily have successfully created six artificially intelligent robotic humanoids. The robots were designed to help mankind and serve a specific industrial function. Two other assistant robots named Rock and Roll were also developed. After Dr. Light receives various accolades for the magnificent work, Dr. Wily feels a huge blow to his ego for being left out of the limelight. He revolts and takes the six robots with him in a mad quest for world domination. With limited options left, Dr. Light reprograms Rock to become a fighting machine and sends him off to stop Wily.
There is a selection screen at the beginning of the game where the player can choose which of the six renegade robot masters - Cut Man, Guts Man, Ice Man, Bomb Man, Fire Man, and Elec Man - he wants to battle first. This non-linear selection screen matters much because each robot master has a weakness to the signature move of one of the other five, which Mega Man gains after beating that robot master in combat. Deciding the best order in tackling the six bosses can help the player tremendously.
A robot master can be found after clearing his designated level in side-scroller fashion. The six levels feature different backgrounds, enemies, and soundtracks to match the boss's personality and powers. In Fire Man's level, for example, bottomless lava pits and columns of fire are aplenty, while Ice Man's stage has chilly waters and slippery planes.
Mega Man has a well-tuned jump function and an arm cannon that fires straight projectiles. The robot masters also have their own unique powers. After a boss is defeated, Mega Man gains his signature ability. Unlike the arm cannon, the abilities need energy which can be refilled by destroying enemies and picking up power-ups along the way. Once all six robot masters are defeated, Mega Man goes to Wily's lair and engages in an epic fight against the mad doctor inside his ship.
The first MegaMan NES game is also the most innovative: future releases build on its formula and add little in the way of radically changing the gameplay. Capcom knew they had a goldmine on their hands and maintained the same MegaMan blueprint throughout the years. If you want to experience the father of the Mega Man franchise, acquiring a MegaMan rom or playing MegaMan online will satiate your desire. After two decades and 50 other sequels, the original still never gets old.
Ready to switch gears and try something else? It could be that the great sequel to Duck Tales, ducktales 2, might give a a shot in the arm. Or how about the chip n dale 2 game or the great Teenage Mutant Turtle challenge in the tmnt nes game? And if you have time to spare there is always the classic space invaders nes game.