Mega Man is one of the very few stars of the 8-bit generation to still be an active character in the ol’ video game community, with the newest Mega Man title, Mega Man 9 being released on all three current consoles; Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii. With a few spin-off series added in, Mega Man has been on nearly every console and hand-held system since his NES debut. There’s a reason that Mega Man has such longevity; his games are just plain fun...And this is the one that started it all...Though it’s not without its flaws.
The first bit of criticism that you’ll hear from most folks, in regards to Mega Man, is that it’s too difficult. In my opinion, that’s a poor way to judge a game...Especially on the NES where several difficult games can easily be overcome once you know what to do. Yes, Mega Man can be difficult the first time you play...But the game is fun enough that you’ll keep coming back anyway. As you continue to come back, you’ll learn the lay-outs of the levels and weaknesses of the bosses...As you learn the lay-outs of the levels and weaknesses of the bosses, you’ll find that the game really isn’t that difficult at all once you’ve got the hang of everything. To me, this isn’t a bad thing – it’s a very good thing. It almost feels like you’re rewarded for learning as you play, which in turn, will make you want to keep playing since you’ve just run through a level with ease that you got a ‘Game Over’ screen from just a few attempts prior.
The only criticism I’ve heard that I actually agree with is the lack of a password system of any sort. If you want to beat Mega Man, you’ll have to do it all in one play-through. Granted, it shouldn’t take more than a half an hour to finish the game, but since you do kind of need to learn level lay-outs, enemy weaknesses and patterns, etc. in order to make it to the end, a way to begin where you left off would have been nice rather than have to start over every time you turn on the console. But, in a sense, it does make seeing the ending of the game feel that much more rewarding when you know that you managed to get there without the need to record your progress along the way.
Mega Man controls very well. With the exception, maybe, of sliding around in Iceman’s level, you always feel like you’re in complete control of the blue guy...Which is good ‘cause to finish the game, you’re going to really need to have precise movements and timing (especially against the Yellow Devil) otherwise you’ll be a dead robot...If robots can die, anyway. You’ll also fire your weapon when you want/need to. The only issue there is that not every weapon fires the same way...But with a little practice and usage of all of the game’s weapons, you’ll gradually get a feel of where you have to be and where you have to aim in order to get specific weapons to hit a specific enemy without problems. There’s also the ability to jump at various heights based on how long you press the jump button down...Which is a skill you’ll need to use in order to survive.
In the ol’ graphics department, Mega Man look pretty nice for its time. Granted, some levels look better than others, but for the most part everything looks pretty dang good. The layout of the levels is also generally well done. None of the levels really look or play alike. In the audio area of the game, you’ve got quite the nice soundtrack...Which is fitting considering the Mega Man series later became very well known for its magnificent soundtracks. The first Mega Man set the bar for all Mega Man games to follow as far as background music goes...The bar would later be raised by Mega Man 2, but for its time, the first Mega Man easily had one of the best soundtracks that you could find in a video game up until that point.
Some folks complain that the original Mega Man is too hard to be fun...I say that those folks haven’t played the game enough to learn the levels. When a game is difficult, but not too difficult to be overcome with some patience and practice, I think it’s great. However, the lack of a password and/or battery save feature does hurt this title a bit as it can be frustrating to have to play through a level multiple times after you’ve already mastered it just so you can learn the layout of another level...Which applies more towards Dr. Wily’s levels than the six robot levels that you can pick and choose to enter. However, when its all said and done, what you’ve got is a very solid first title in the Mega Man series. It falls a little short of being great, but it’s a solid foundation of which the rest of the games in the series added to and improved upon. Yeah, some folks find it too difficult to play...But there’s also a large audience that find Mega Man too difficult to put down.