Robot Masters Rundown - Part 4: Retro Revivals and Rockin' Designs
by FreezingInferno

2008. Mega Man was surviving through the new millennium.. but barely. The console installments of old gave way to a large quantity of handheld games, and while most of these were the alternate reality action/RPG Battle Network series, there was still some form of old-timey Mega Man action going on. A developing studio called Inti Creates went and Inti-created the Mega Man Zero series, as a follow-up to the X series. It was hectic, it was hard, and it was awesome. It was also one of the few Mega Man series to actually have a somewhat defined ending point, leading into the DS followup series, Mega Man ZX. Was Mega Man doomed to be a handheld-only series until its death? Not so, thanks to the rise of consoles with download services. Seeing the popularity of retro gaming, Inti Creates went to work, creating a "new" classic 8-bit Mega Man. What we got seemed pretty awesome, but we must ask the hypothetical question one last time; How are the Robot Masters?


MEGA MAN 9

Much like 6, the bosses in 9 have already been covered by me for this site, but mostly within the context of MM9 itself. So, have some more then and now thoughts as we dive right in:


GALAXY MAN

Then: ROBOT UFO OH MY GOD AWESOME
Now: Galaxy Man is still a really good kickoff to MM9. His stage music is awesome, and his stage itself is only filled with minimal amounts of the death-trap nonsense that plagued MM9. He's like a cooler version of Astro Man, but not enough so to be an outright rip-off. His weapon, Black Hole Bomb, is A DAMN BLACK HOLE that insta-kills weaker enemies and absorbs shots. Very useful weapon.



JEWEL MAN

Then: FAAAABULOUS, and so is his weapon.
Now: Jewel Man seems kind of like Crystal Man, but a lot less nondescript. He's a robot who works in a diamond mine, that's simple enough. It works, but the main draw to Jewel Man is his weapon, Jewel Satellite. It's another shield weapon, but it is completely amazing and only wears off if it hits a strong enemy or you leave the screen. FINALLY CAPCOM A REALLY REALLY GOOD SHIELD!



PLUG MAN

Then: A real electric-based boss for a change.
Now: Plug Man... There's not too much to say about him. He is an electric boss, and a middle-of-the-road one. Cooler than Spark Man, but not quite as cool as Elec Man. His weapon, Plug Ball, runs along the ground very quickly and is fairly strong. Usable.



TORNADO MAN

Then: A wind-based Robot Master that doesn't suck.
Now: Tornado Man is one of those bosses that sounds like it should be dumb on paper, yet works. He's a wind-based Robot Master with spikes in his fight. His spikes are a lot like the spikes in the Bubble Man fight, though; it's unlikely they'll kill you. Somehow, Tornado Man works. His weapon, Tornado Blow, is another screen-clearer.. but this one gives you lift to your jump.



MAGMA MAN

Then: An angrier Fire Man.
Now: Magma Man is kind of a combination of two Robot Masters; he's like a mix of Fire Man and Heat Man. The Fire Man part comes visually, and the Heat Man thing is due to his weapon. The Magma Bazooka shoots three flame shots in a spread shot, and can be charged like Heat Man's Atomic Fire. It's kind of a cop-out, but MM9 goes around left and right "homaging" MM2.



HORNET MAN

Then: A giant beehive that throws bees at you.
Now: Does this count as an animal-based Robot Master? Hornet Man is somewhat original, and gets a pass for it.. even if his stage has the most annoying miniboss in all of Mega Man 9. THAT EVERLOVING FLOWER CAN DIE IN A FIRE-- Ahem. His weapon, Hornet Chaser, shoots out little homing bees that can also grab powerups for you. Handy.



SPLASH WOMAN

Then: A WOMAN ROBOT MASTER WHAT?
Now: Back then, I remarked that Splash Woman wasn't a lame water-based Robot Mast-- uh I mean, MISTRESS, because the novelty of a lady boss in classic Mega Man was on her side. Now, from a larger perspective, we can see that she fights underwater. MYSTERY SOLVED. Her weapon, Laser Trident, is a trident that does decent damage and pierces shields.



CONCRETE MAN

Then: Well you don't look like Guts Man at all.
Now: Ehhhh. All the other bosses in MM9 are mostly original, but this guy and Magma Man are just redesigns. I can be a bit more lenient since this is a "retro revival", but the point still stands; if this guy didn't look so much like Gutsy, he'd be better. His weapon, Concrete Shot, makes a concrete brick that can also be used to freeze lava barriers. Again, helpful.



BONUS RUNDOWN: FAKE MAN

WAIT WHO IS THIS? Fake Man is the boss of the DLC-only "Special Stage" that you can only play via Time Attack; meaning you have one life to survive the entire stage and its retread of minibosses and even a Wily Fortress boss. Survive all of that, and you make it to this guy for the final showdown. Fake Man is a robot policeman.. a FAKE robot policeman! Made by Dr. Wily! CURSES! Fake Man attacks using a "revolver" energy gun that lets him shoot six shots quickly, but then has to be reloaded. No idea how that works, but okay. He does not give you a weapon upon his death, sadly. Revolver Shot, you only exist in my dreams. :(




MEGA MAN 10

The rundown for Mega Man 10 is going to be a little different. You see, before I got to play the game, I wrote up brief little blind impressions of its eight bosses. I was honestly worried that I would not OBTAIN the damn thing to play and review its bosses, but luckily a friend came through. (R.K., this space is for you. <3) Regarding these bosses, I'll leave in my blind impressions, followed by my newer, I-have-played-Mega-Man-10 opinion.


SHEEP MAN

Before: Sheep Man was the first MM10 boss revealed to public eyes, and I can't hate him. The guy is a Phillip K. Dick reference, how is that not awesome? Electric Robot Masters seem to have made a comeback, thanks to Dynamo Man and Plug Man. Sheep Man is the right kind of goofy.
After: By all accounts, this guy should be lame. He's easy, and his weapon is very situational. Despite it all... IT'S A ROBOT ELECTRIC SHEEP! There's a reason why Mareep was my favorite Pokemon 10 years ago, and it's because I'm a sucker for electric sheepies. Thanks to that, Sheep Man rocks. His weapon, Thunder Wool, shoots a puff of wool up in the air that then acts lik a thunder cloud and shoots lightning down. Again, situational.



PUMP MAN

Before: BAHAHAHAHAH GAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHAH ..Oh wait, you're serious. Yeah, this guy looks goofy as hell. Not Aqua Man goofy, but still, he looks really really REALLY silly. Maybe he'll work though, I guess it depends on if he fights in the water or not.
After: Pump Man is still goofy as fuck. Just.. LOOK AT HIM! This is the silliest-looking thing I've seen in a Mega Man game in a loong time. His weapon, however? Another story. The Water Shield is.. wait for it... USEFUL! Granted, this one wears off like Junk Shield does as it takes hits, but that's still incredible compared to the older shields.



SOLAR MAN

Before: It looks like Bright Man and Pharaoh Man's son. Weird. Solar Man had better not be an attempt to cash in on Pharaoh Man, or I will be visibly upset. VISIBLY.
After: Thankfully, Solar Man turned out to be a very original fire-based Robot Master.. and his stage music is even my favorite! I am pleasantly surprised by Solar Man, and would even call him one of the better fire Robot Masters. His weapon, Solar Blaze, is a little flame orb that splits into two flame shockwaves. Handy.



CHILL MAN

Before: ..What the hell is this thing? It's a robot master with an iceberg for a head. AN ICEBERG FOR A HEAD. Freeze Man has been the coolest ice-based boss for a while, but Chill Man has the potential of taking that title.
After: Chill Man is okay. Not really good, not really bad, just.. okay. Better than, say, Frost Man, but still just okay. At least I'm not angered by him. His weapon, Chill Spike, is fun. It can freeze enemies, and if it hits the ground or a wall it creates little ice spikes that do damage to the enemies. Creative weapon there.



NITRO MAN

Before: I am not impressed, Capcom. This guy looks like he's going to be a Turbo Man ripoff. A robot motorcycle is cool, but you did the transforming-into-a-vehicle thing before. Unless this is a clever homage. Well, we'll see.
After: Nitro Man is only a little Turbo Man-esque, and I can forgive him for that for two reasons. Number 1, this guy is FAST. Especially on Hard Mode, Nitro Man can MOVE. Turbo Man was kind of clunky, but Nitro Man? ZIPZIPZIP. The second is his weapon, Wheel Cutter. Wheel Cutter is what you get when you mix Metal Blade and Spin Wheel from the X series. It's a wheel that can run along the ground and hurt things. Best part? If you hold it out against a wall, you ZIP UP THE WALL! BEST THING EVER!



COMMANDO MAN

Before: Something about the weaponized Robot Masters just screams "cool". Napalm Man and Grenade Man were beacons of awesome in their games, and I believe Commando Man will be much the same.
After: See, the thing about Napalm and Grenade Man being awesome was that they kind of won by default. Because there are other cooler bosses in MM10, Commando Man doesn't stand out so much. His stage, however, is Pharaoh Man's desert on FUCKING STEROIDS. His weapon, Commando Bomb, is a bomb that you can move like a guided missile that leaves a shockwave when it detonates. It also blows up barriers like a Crash or Drill Bomb, so yay for that.



BLADE MAN

Before: THIS is what Sword Man should have been. Good god he's MADE OF SWORDS! I look forward to fighting this one, he'd better be good.
After: AUGHLAUGHBWARGH BLADE MAN! I like your design, but I'm put off by the fact that fighting you is probably the worst fight since Burst Man.. AND YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE SPIKES. YOU'RE JUST FAST AND TOUGH TO BEAT EVEN WITH YOUR WEAKNESS. FUCK YOU BLADE MAN

. His weapon, Triple Blade, throws three blades at an angle. More like kunai than swords. THIS IS SOMETHING SHADOW MAN WOULD USE.



STRIKE MAN

Before: Okay what. A robot baseball. I have to say, I don't see that as anything particularly good. The only other sports-themed thing in Mega Man that I can think of is Grid Man from the Battle Network games Grid Man worked then, but I dunno about Strike Man.
After: Strike Man worked okay. As it stands, he's just... a robot baseball. That throws baseballs. More "out there" than bad. His weapon, Rebound Striker, is a baseball that richochets off walls.. kind of like the Mega Ball from MM8, only in a good game.



ONE LAST THING: BATTLE NETWORK'S BEST AND WORST

To conclude this little set of articles, we're going to take a look at some redesigns of classic Robot Masters from the Battle Network series. A quick primer; the Battle Network series spanned six Game Boy Advance games, and were action/RPGs set in an alternate universe. Instead of themed robots, the series revolved around themed Internet avatars called "NetNavis" that could fight each other. Classic bosses were given new makeovers for this parallel reality; some looked pretty much identical to their counterparts, save for a few extra touches. Most, however, were either improved greatly from their original design, or completely ruined. We're going to look at 5 of the best makeovers, and then five of the worst. Let's start with the bitching.


THE WORST

#5- SnakeMan.EXE



He's just a snake. Just a snake in a jar. There isn't even any "man" behind it, he's literally just a goddamn snake in a jar. That might be cool to some, but when your name has "man" in it, one expects some man qualities instead of a snake in a jar.


#4- AquaMan.EXE



What is this thing? A BABY NetNavi? I wasn't aware that Baby Man needed to be made, especially from probably the worst boss in all of classic Mega Man. Just look at him, he's a little baby digital program that looks like he's about to cry. That's not menacing at all.


#3- StarMan.EXE



What the fuck is this ohh god. You turned a guy with a star for a body into this.... THING. Is it supposed to be a space lion? WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO BE? Utterly and completely ridiculous.


#2- BrightMan.EXE



Pro: BrightMan.EXE no longer looks like a cheap Flash Man knockoff. Con: He looks absolutely ugly in this redesign. It looks like the mutant offspring of the Noid and a pair of night vision goggles. Good CHRIST.


#1- BubbleMan.EXE



This is the worst thing I have ever seen. Just look at it. JUST LOOK AT IT! Bubble Man, what have they done to you? You look like a morbidly obese blowfish in diving gear. I'm so sorry, Bubble Man.



THE BEST

#5- MagicMan.EXE



The original was a magician who hung out at Clown Man's place and had decks of cards for shoulder pads. This guy looks like a cross between a Wizzrobe and one of the Spys from Spy vs. Spy. I deem it an improvement.


#4- HeatMan.EXE



How do you make a robot Zippo better? YOU MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE A PSYCHO. Jesus just look at that thing, HIS FACE IS ON FIRE! HeatMan.EXE looks like he could fuck you up if he wanted to..and I think he wants to.


#3- ShadowMan.EXE



There's nothing fundamentally different about this guy as opposed to the original; they're both still robot ninjas. However, ShadowMan.EXE still manages to look like a more badass ninja than his counterpart, and for that he gets the nod.


#2- ShadeMan.EXE



As awesome as Shade Man was, he looked more like a robot bat. THIS.... now this is a robot vampire. He just looks so god damned SINISTER. This guy's also a major antagonist in some Battle Network games, so points for that.


#1- SearchMan.EXE



Holy shit. We went from a two-headed army buffoon... to a digital copy of Solid Snake. THAT is how you redesign a Robot Master. This had to have come about because of Metal Gear Solid's popularity, so add it to the list of things to thank Hideo Kojima for.


Well, that wraps up this far-too-lengthy retrospective of enemy bosses in a classic game franchise. Hopefully you enjoyed it and don't want me burned at the stake for hating on your particular favorite.






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