Ed DiFolco and Big D discussed the classic Mega Man series, primarily the first three entries, in the second episode of Pixels & Bits. Having grown up with an NES, I also played Mega Man as a child, and I remain a fan of the classic series to this day. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give my own retrospective of the series. This will be broken down into several parts. This first part will focus on a bit of background history as well as the first Mega Man game.
The classic Mega Man series started as Rockman in Japan. However, it is said that the game was originally supposed to be a licensed Astro Boy game, but the deal fell through and Capcom instead redesigned the game and characters into something original. The story of the Mega Man series is rather simple. Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were associates in the field of robotic science. Dr. Light created a series of robots, including his own lab assistant Rock and housecleaning robot Roll. At some point, Wily grew jealous of Light and turned evil, reprogramming Light’s six construction robots in the process. Light didn’t have any combat robots, so Rock volunteered to be altered so he could fight Wily and the robots. At which point, Mega Man was “born.”
While all other games in the classic series had eight, the first Mega Man only had six master robots. The game had a score system which was never used in any sequel, and never really had a point as it couldn’t save your scores. It’s also the only game to feature score bubble pickups. There isn’t a whole lot to say. This game set the classic formula that the series still uses even in the most recent incarnations.
There was a remake of this game on the PSP called Mega Man: Powered Up, which introduced a chibi art style, two new master robots, voice overs, and a new “Powered Up” mode which features redesigned levels.
Along with the original six master robots (Elec Man, Cut Man, Guts Man, Fire Man, Ice Man, and Bomb Man), Powered Up adds Time Man and the amusingly racist Oil Man, whose Japanese design looks like someone wearing blackface. Capcom did try to dull the cries of racism in the West by changing his skin to dark blue and his over-sized lips to yellow in every region outside of Japan, but it’s still hard to look at him and not see blackface.
I never played Powered Up, as I don’t have a PSP, so I can’t comment on that game directly. But the original Mega Man is still a classic.