1995. The console wars have been flying full-swing for a few years, with Nintendo and Sega each marvelling gamers with their own libraries of classics. Classic Mega Man has stayed behind on the NES to play with trains and ripoffs of other bosses, while his big brother X has been wowing SNES owners with its collectibles, actual semblance of a plot, and its Wire Sponge. Okay maybe not that last one, but SNES Megaman fans liked X. Only when the NES was absolutely positively 100% gone did Capcom decide "Okay, NOW let's make a classic Mega Man for Super Nintendo!". The latter half of the 90's were Mega Man at the lowest of the low. As stated with the 90's NES Mega Mans, the games weren't bad; just really weird and unable to hold a candle to the older classics. Looking at the Robot Masters will illustrate that point, or else I will look like a fool.
MEGA MAN 7
Having spent quite a bit of time with this one (and playing it the whole way through in one sitting for a friend's birthday once), I personally don't think it's the worst Mega Man. It has its charm, and it has its low points. Something to note about this one; it adopted the Game Boy Mega Man style of letting you select four bosses at first, all with a weakness loop, and then giving you another four with their own weakness loop separate from the first set. So, starting from the first loop, we have:
Junk Man is a lot like Dust Man, but the thing is that Capcom made this scrap metal robot look completely different from Dust Man. You know, ORIGINALITY. If Dust Man is a scrap metal cleaner, then Junk Man is like a car compactor or whatever you call those things that make cars into cubes. His weapon, Junk Shield.. This is amazing but... IT'S GOOD! The shield actually protects you from more than one stray bullet, and will stay on you as you move! Granted, it can only take a few blows before it does indeed vanish, but this is still a landmark. A USEABLE SHIELD WEAPON IN CLASSIC MEGAMAN!
When you consider that Freeze Man's predecessors are an adorable robot in a parka and a robot snowball on skis that shoots snowflakes... the guy suddenly becomes awesome by sheer comparison. Looking at him compared to the later ice bosses.. he still is. His weapon, Freeze Cracker (Between this and Oil Man, Capcom has clearance issues), is a chunk of ice that can be aimed like a Metal Blade, and breaks into pieces like the Crystal Eye. Huh.
Words cannot describe the disdain I hold for Burst Man. He's not a ripoff or anything; I have no idea what theme he's supposed to be. His attack style is sort of a fusion between Bubble Man and Bomb Man, but it's his fight that kills it. His bubbles can catch you and lift you up to the ceiling... INTO A SPIKE WALL. Unlike Bubble Man's fight, where you'd only die to the spikes if you were especially careless, it's all too easy to get caught in these bubbles and be insta-killed. Grr. His weapon, Danger Wrap, is a bubble with a bomb in it that catches enemies and makes them go boom.
Cloud Man is an odd one. He's an air-based boss, but unlike most of them, his weapon isn't actually wind-based. Instead, he holds an electric attack for a weapon, the Thunder Bolt. When you use it, it's just a little spark that splits into two when it hits something. Cloud Man is also a joke when you use his weakness on him; one hit of the Danger Wrap, and some good timing, and you'll win without taking a hit.
We're into loop 2 now, but Turbo Man would prefer you call it "lap 2". Oh god shoot me for that. Turbo Man is a robot that can turn into a car.. or should I say... "transform"? Yeahhh it's a lot like that. Turbo Man isn't alone, as there are now other Robot Masters that turn into vehicles. His weapon, Scorch Wheel, is a ring of flames that shoots across the ground. Why a ring of flames for a car-based Robot Master? Why not Gasoline Spout? Or Oil Slick? Bizarre.
Speaking of things from other media... Hi Wolverine! Yeahhh, once again it's a lot like that. For whatever reason, Slash Man hangs out in a dinosaur-themed stage. Odd. Slash Man is also like Burst Man in that his fight can be frustrating. Scorch Wheel does decent damage to him, but Slash Man is so damn FAST that you'll miss half the time. Freeze Cracker works more effectively, but then Slash Man does his thing. Every time he's hit, he jumps offscreen and drops eggs filled with red slime. Get hit with one, and you can't shoot or jump, causing you to get hit for sure. Slash Man hits HARD, by the way. His weapon, Slash Claw, is just a slash. Does good damage.
Oh for god's sakes you have to be kidding me. A game that finally has a halfway decent set of bosses has to have the damn robot SPRING? What's more, this guy also started a trend in the non-8-bit Megaman games; the "stage of childlike wonder". It's not so apparant here, but the place is all pink and filled with bouncy slinkies and stuff. Not threatening at all, and I point to it as the cause for two other stages we'll get to in a moment. His weapon, the Wild Coil, shoots two bouncy slinkies out and can be charged to make.... bouncier slinkies. Wow Capcom. Just wow.
Okay oh my god Capcom you just made up for that walking slinky thing. A robot vampire. Once again, all caps to show you all how elated I am. A ROBOT VAMPIRE. That's not enough, you say? Well, hold down B as you select him, and what do you get? HIS STAGE MUSIC CHANGES TO A REMIX OF THE FIRST LEVEL OF GHOSTS 'N GOBLINS! Someone at Capcom was trying to balance putting the nonsense into past games, and it shows. His weapon, Noise Crush, is a soundwave. It can be bounced off a wall and re-absorbed to make a bigger soundwave. LIKE A BAT, SEE?
MEGA MAN 8
We're really into it now, folks. Mega Man 8 is the only 32-bit Mega Man game.. and for good reason. This one is, ah... yeah. Wow. In addition to being a little prettier, they have voice acting. The bosses talk to you now.. and what they have to say might offend your ears as well as your eyes. There's still some interesting concepts here, so let's take a look.
"It's just a kid? Don't make me laugh."
Okay wow, we're getting off on the right foot here. Tengu Man is actually pretty cool, and like Mega Man 7 is the start of a four-boss loop. A tengu is some sort of Japanese demon, so this is like... Goblin Man or something to that effect. It sounds goofy, and it probably is if you're Japanese, but he still gets a pass. His weapon, Tornado Hold, shoots a little propeller onto the ground and creates a tornado. You can also use the wind to get a boost to your jump. Helpful little thing.
"See you in my dreams."
Ohhh good god WHAT. Please give me the robot train again, I can't take a robot clown who lives in a magical theme park filled with stuffed animals and.. OTHER ROBOT TRAINS. And people thought Top Man was lame? This guy's death quote is a damn pick-up line! Instead of a weird weapon, he has an electric one for some reason. Thunder Claw shoots this weird electric whip thing forward, and it can be used to swing across gaps. Good weapon, but couldn't we have gotten it from Megawatt Man instead of CLOWN MAN
"That felt good!"
Mega Man 8 is flip-flopping on us, we have a cool boss again. Grenade Man is like Napalm Man, if Napalm Man was a masochist. A robot grenade that throws bombs at you, and LIKES getting hurt? Somehow it works. His weapon, Flash Bomb (which is in no way related to time manipulation) is just a bomb that shoots forward, has a bit of a blast radius to it, and can light up dark areas. Really good weapon, again.
"I'll crush you! I'll make a popsicle of you!"
Please give me back the robot snowball on skis. Frost Man is, oddly enough, a gigantic Robot Master that is dumb as bricks by consequence. Funny, could have sworn that was a trait used in the X series. This guy is big and dumb, hurr derp. His weapon, Ice Wave, creates an ice wave that runs along the ground and freezes things. Simple stuff.
"I'm Aqua Man! But you can call me handsome, guy!"
WHAT THE FUCK. I could just end the discussion on Aqua Man there, yet I keep going. Clown Man is straight-edge compared to Aqua Man. In Aqua Man's introduction animation, he shoots a spout of water that creates a RAINBOW WITH HIS NAME IN IT. You might as well give him a lisp, Capcom obviously wants this robot master to be gay. What is he even supposed to be? He's a water boss that fights on land, need I say more? His weapon, Water Balloon, is just.. water. Just a blob of water. Good lord.
"Let's make this a fair fight."
Sword Man isn't really that bad, or really that good. He's a guy with a big sword. Kinda basic, and makes you wonder why it took 8 games for them to come up with this. His weapon is a fire weapon as well, so it's kind of like Clown Man except a lot less lame. The Flame Sword is a lot like Slash Claw if it caught things on fire. Decent weapon and all.
"I'm Search Man." "Okay?"
...the hell is this thing? It's an army robot master, that would be pretty cool... except for some reason it has two Mets for heads. Search Man could have been alright, but the two-headed thing just makes him really really weird. His weapon, Homing Sniper, is a homing missile. Again, not a bad weapon, but you get it from a weirdo of a boss.
"Oh, how did you find me? I feel so embarrassed!"
Uuugh. If this guy didn't open his mouth, he might have been okay. A space-based Robot Master is kind of cool, and kind of an evolution of Star Man.. but then Astro Man has to talk. Astro Man is a little wuss who's afraid to fight, and his cowardice just ruins it all. Plus he's like Cloud Man in that his weakness can utterly break him. His weapon, Astro Crush, is yet ANOTHER screen-clearer. This one makes a meteor shower, so that's not bad.
MEGA MAN & BASS
This is a very strange game. People dubbed it "Mega Man 9" for the longest time, but it's really not. It's more Mega Man 8.5. Or, Mega Man 8: The Super Famicom Reimagining. Either way, it borrows quite a bit from MM8. QUITE A BIT. Let's roll through the boss gauntlet of this side-story.
Uh... okay. There is not much to say about Cold Man. He is apparantly a robot refrigerator. Bit of a goofy design, but it works... sort of... I guess. His weapon, Ice Wall, creates a big ice pillar that can be pushed to smash things or ride over spikes. Not too much else to say about this one.
Oh wow. The standard fire boss for this game actually looks pretty cool. Tanks and green flames and whatnot, Burner Man has good visual style. His fight also has spikes on either side of a small platform. Annoying, but the Ice Wall can push him INTO them.... doesn't insta-kill him though, that would be too easy. His weapon, Wave Burner, is a green flamethrower that can light fuses on fire. Awesome.
We get the robot ninja in Mega Man 3, but it takes a spinoff to get the robot pirate? If only Shade Man was a zombie, then all would be complete. Pirate Man is a robot pirate, and the water boss for this game. His fight actually contains water that rises and falls, therefore ensuring his coolness. His weapon, Remote Mine, is a little bomb that you can guide once you shoot it, and explode whenever you want; like if you could aim Grenade Man's weapon.
Hey. Hey Capcom. You should have NOT made that red Crash Man ripoff in MM4, if only so this guy could be called Drill Man. Either way, this guy is kind of like Turbo Man in that he can turn into a drilling machine, and jump into the ceiling and shoot a GIANT DRILL DOWN AT YOU. No Gurren Lagann jokes. His weapon, Spread Drill, can be spread out into smaller drills if you press the fire button again.
TENGU MAN (again)
WHAT. Capcom finally lost it, it seems. Instead of making ripoffs of other Robot Masters, they have literally just REUSED ONE. Was this so kids without a PS1 or Saturn could fight the best boss in MM8? I honestly have no idea, but at least they changed his weapon. This time around, he gives you the Tengu Blade, which is like a sonic boom sort of thing. You can also use it when sliding or dashing, so it gets points for versatility.
FAAAAABULOUS. Magic Man hangs out in a damn duplicate of Clown Man's toy-and-train paradise. Goody goody gumdrops. Thankfully, Magic Man is not nearly as ridiculous as Clown Man. His weapon, Magic Card, can steal energy from enemies, as well as grab out-of-reach items. Magic Man can also use it to hurt you and heal himself, GOOOD DAMNIT.
ASTRO MAN (again)
Another one. You took ANOTHER ONE from Mega Man 8.. and one of the lamer ones, too. To his credit, Astro Man does not speak in this game, and is thus made that much more tolerable. His weapon this time is Copy Vision, which creates a hologram clone of yourself that fires a few blasts before vanishing.
Wow, an actual electric boss, and not some yahoo randomly given an electric weapon. Not bad, Capcom. Dynamo Man is probably the hardest of the eight robot masters in MM&B, if only because of his cheap little trick; he can jump into a recharger and regain his health. Granted, you can wreck the recharger, but if you don't move FAST the little bastard will get all his health back. His weapon, Lightning Bolt, rains lightning down from the sky in a somewhat random pattern. Brilliant.