The ultimate Mega Man retrospective

Chances are you never even played Mega Man 6. It came out way too late, wasn't even published in Europe and barely attracted any attention in the US. Mega Man X, already released on SNES, had already taken the series far beyond the now-archaic NES titles with far-improved visuals, better sound quality and a relatively darker storyline; even diehard Mega fans weren't too interested in taking a backwards leap. Nintendo had to step in and publish MM6 in North America just to see it released at all.

A bit of a shame, as this was the first and only NES Mega Man to feature robot masters submitted by North Americans. Nintendo Power ran a contest asking for readers' best ideas - Daniel Vallie (Knight Man) and Michael Leader (Wind Man) emerged as the winners, and they're better than some of the other "ideas" found in part six.

More newness:

Weakness: Flame Blast (Flame Man)
Gives you: Blizzard Attack
What it does: Sends a wave of snowflakes spraying out

The stage is straightforward, so let's focus on Blizzard Man himself. He's on skis. Equip the Flame Blast and be done with him.

Weakness: Centaur Flash (Centaur Man)
Gives you: Wind Storm
What it does: Li'l tornado spurts out. Adorable!

The first of two robots designed by non-Japanese submitters. His stage is remarkably unlike previous games, with a lot of wind current and floaty platform leaps. If you've got Centaur Flash, however, the actual fight is way easy.

Weakness: Wind Storm (Wind Man)
Gives you: Flame Blast
What it does: Shoots small flame that leaves a trial

The last game had Napalm Man, so a simple "Flame" man seems like backpedaling, no? The first damn game already had Fire Man - can it be they're running out of good submissions? At least the stage, a desert castle, is somewhat interesting.

Weakness: Plant Barrier (Plant Man)
Gives you: Silver Tomahawk
What it does: Spinning tomahawk spins out

Rootin' tootin' robot blasting in the Old West... well, it is until you find the underground base filled with steel spike traps and future-metals that line the walls. Inspiration to write about 46 robots fading...

Weakness: Knight Crush (Knight Man)
Gives you: Centaur Flash
What it does: Screen flashes, enemies take damage

Ooookay, Centaur... Man? Centaurs are already part man, so a man with attributes of a centaur is just a centaur. It's like making Minotaur Man or something. Hm, wouldn't be surprised if he showed up soon...

Weakness: Yamato Spear (Yamato Man)
Gives you: Knight Crush
What it does: Fires a spiky black ball that flies around

Another castle level, and another robot master created by someone outside Japan. Definitely has a torture dungeon feel to it. Knight Man's probably our favorite 'bot from the game.

Weakness: Silver Tomahawk (Tomahawk Man)
Gives you: Yamato Spear
What it does: Shoots a pointy spear tip

Otherwise known as "Failure To Translate Man," Mr. Yamato is the big question mark for Mega Man 6. Yes, we get it, he's very Japanese and looks like a robo samurai. Why not just make him Samurai Man?

Weakness: Blizzard Attack
Gives you: Plant Barrier
What it does: Pink things (petals?) surround you

If it weren't for Yamato Man's weirdness, we'd give the far too flowery Plant Man our big thumbs down. Don't forget to check each screenshot for an image found in our LINK Mega Man contest! You could win one of 10 prizes!

Besting these 'bots takes you to Mr.X, who in turn removes his disguise and reveals... Dr. Wily. Again, again. We're not hatin'. Just sayin'.

If you made it to the credits, we issue simultaneous congrats and condolences. The former because you stuck with Mega Man to the end, and the latter because the rest of us were melting with joy playing Mega Man X. Part 7, released just a year later, hit right after X2 was released, and despite upgrading everything about the classic series, it didn’t make half as much noise as X.

Mega Man X successfully aged and updated the franchise, making it more relevant and appropriate for the once-young audience who grew up playing the classic games. Mega Man 7, on the other hand, stuck to its retro guns and therefore paled next to Capcom's hyper-popular re-invention (which we'll get to soon). More Dr. Wily, more robot masters, more Rush adaptors, all of that stuff made it feel too similar. But the dev team didn't just churn another one out, as there are a few new ideas employed here.

Seven borrows the "store" option from two Game Boy Mega Man games, where you spend bolts on items. This is the first time a console Mega Man let you shop around, and this would carry over into Mega Man 8 as well. Seven even lets you equip Proto Man's shield at one point. More new characters arrive, most notably Bass and Treble. If the music theme is still escaping you, notice how many names relate back - Rock (Mega Man) and Roll, Bass, Treble, Blues (Proto Man), Beat and Reggae, with Tango still to come.

Bass and Treble are counterparts to Mega Man and Rush, sort of on your side but also allying with Dr. Wily as the game wears on. When you do make it to the end, you're treated to a fairly mature reaction from Mega Man towards all the BS Dr. Wily has put him through - he threatens to straight-up kill his ass. Wily then reminds Megs that robots can't kill humans, to which he replies he's "more than a robot, DIE WILY!" Before he can deliver the final blow though, Bass & Treble swoop in and recover Wily. Mega Man storms off, and the ending plays out as he angrily contemplates what he almost did - become a killer. It's the only time we know of where Mega Man struggles with the idea of being more machine than man.

Here's the clip if you want to see Mega Man considering murder.

Spring Man | Freeze Man | Slash Man
Cloud Man | Dr. Wily | Junk Man
Turbo Man | Burst Man | Shade Man

An altogether better batch than MM6, in our opinion. Shade Man has nods to Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, with references in the level and music.

As unknown as MM7 was, (compared to X, anyway), there's a series first that might also have eluded those who did put time in - a rudimentary versus mode that pits two players against each other.

The only way we know to access it is by inputting a special password (1415-5585-7823-6251) while holding L and R. Strange that they'd hide it so, as the one-on-one arcade fighter Mega Man: The Power Battle hit around the same time. In it, you fight the robot masters without all those pesky stages getting in the way. The sequel, Power Fighters, added another new character, Duo, who would become a major part of Mega Man 8. Both games were included in 2004's Mega Man Anniversary Collection for GameCube, PS2 and Xbox.

After this, kiss Nintendo goodbye, as the series heads to PlayStation town - but even then only briefly before heading back to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance.

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.