Mega Man 3: A Stinking Pile Of Crap

      Hi there, kids. Today I'm going to be reviewing a game that some of you might have heard of. It's called Mega Man 3, and it is a horrible, horrible game. Mega Man 3 is easily one of the worst games that I've ever owned, and I've owned such unplayable crap as the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man, Iron Maiden's Ed Hunter, Bandai's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and an extremely shitty Wii game based on Balls of Fury. And while Mega Man 3 is at least slightly better than those games, it's still a disappointing piece of trash that is completely unworthy of the Mega Man name. It's boring and stupid, and if you actually fucking like it, you're fucking boring and stupid too. By now, you're probably about ready to send me a nice long hatemail about how I'm a giant prick with no taste in video games, that I should go kill myself, and that I probably spend all day jacking off while playing World of Warcraft. That, or you've noticed that the Mega Man 3 title screen above doesn't look quite the one you remember from the classic NES game. That's because it's not; this is a review of a completely unrelated computer game produced by Hi-Tech Expressions and designed by Rozner Labs under license from Capcom. And Holy Jesus, it is fucking terrible.


      These are the Robot Masters of the PC version of Mega Man 3: Torch Man, Bit Man, Shark Man, Wave Man, Oil Man, and Blade Man. If you're a big fan of the classic NES games Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, you may recognize these worthless douchebags. Oh sure, none of them appeared in either of those games, but they still seem vaguely familiar... It's almost as if some amateurish game programmer ripped sprites from the stage selection screens of those games and edited them into new bosses. Oh wait, that's EXACTLY what fucking happened.



      Mega Man 3 has three graphics card options: CGA, EGA, and Tandy. CGA displays graphics in 4 colors, while EGA displays 16 colors. Tandy computers displayed sixteen colors as well, but they used a custom graphics card. As a point of comparison, the Nintendo Entertainment System was capable of 48 colors, three times as many as EGA. And yet, the NES debuted in 1985, seven years before the PC version of Mega Man 3. So one has to wonder, was EGA really the industry standard when Mega Man 3 came out? The computer industry did experience a massive technology boom in the 1990s, so it's not unreasonable to believe that the computer gaming industry evolved from 16 color games in 1992 to Deus Ex in 2000. But they didn't, and Mega Man 3 was a backwards, anachronistic piece of shit when it came out. The same year that Hi-Tech Expressions started selling its Mega Man 3 software on the back cover of Scholastic flyers, Sierra gave us King's Quest VI, the greatest point-and-click adventure game ever made, in all its 256 color VGA glory. And while KQ6 was state-of-the-art at the time, it wasn't THAT state-of-the-art; Sierra had done almost the exact same thing two years prior with King's Quest V.


      I've decided to start with Shark Man's level, because I always go after Shark Man first. I don't entirely know why, but it's probably because he intrigued me the most back when I was twelve. As you can see, Shark Man's stage takes place in the ocean. As you can also see, Mega Man is swimming. For anyone who doesn't remember, Mega Man is not generally known for his swimming abilities. In most of the classic Mega Man games, water-based levels find Mega Man slowly treading along the bottom of the screen, hoping that he doesn't have to jump, because he jumps abnormally high underwater and some asshole has lined the ceiling with spikes. But you'll find none of that in the game, because Mega Man can swim. Now I'm willing to give credit where credit it due and that's actually a good idea. The only problem is, Mega Man fucking floats. So if you don't constantly mash down, Mega Man will float to the top of the goddam screen. This makes it really fucking hard to combat the enemies who come chasing after you while you're trying to explore the level. And speaking of the game's enemies, remember Bubble Man's level in Mega Man 2? The one where you fought robot frogs, robot hermit crabs, robot shrimp, and robot lantern fish? Well in Shark Man's level, you fight squid and crabs. Not robot squid or robot crab, mind you, but the regular kind. In fact, very few of the enemies you fight in Mega Man 3 are robots. Or interesting, for that matter. Here, let's take a look at the complete list of enemies you encounter in Shark Man's level. There's not a winner among them...









      You're probably thinking well, that's all right, maybe the enemies are better in the other levels. That's not a bad thought; one of the highlights of the Mega Man series has always been that each level is its own little world filled with a diverse roster of enemies, many of which are exclusive to that stage. Unfortunately, you're forgetting that Capcom didn't make this game... you've just seen eight of the twenty basic enemies that exist in the entire game. And of those eight, three don't appear in any other levels. Isn't that fucking great?


      Unlike the NES Mega Man games where the emphasis is on shooting the living fuck out of everything that moves, this Mega Man game is about navigating your way through annoyingly labyrinthine levels while trying not to die. On the one hand, not dying should be easy because levels are sparsely populated with enemies, few of them have projectiles, and dead enemies don't respawn until you run out of lives and restart the level. On the other hand, it's not, because the controls are clunky as hell.


      As I said before, Mega Man 3 for the PC isn't about shooting stuff; it's about wandering around aimlessly until you find the boss room. When you do, expect more mediocrity. Consider, for example, Shark Man. Shark Man moves across the screen by making large jumps that are easy to run under. When he makes it to one of the ends of the room, he throws his signature weapon, the Shark Boomerang. What does a boomerang have to do with sharks? Fuck if I know. Maybe it's supposed to be made out of shark teeth or something.


      Once you beat Shark Man and his insultingly easy attack pattern, Dr. Light tells you that you can now equip the Shark Boomerang. He also shows you the color scheme he secretly wishes that Mega Man would adopt upon selection of said weapon. Unfortunately for him, Mega Man does not adopt this color scheme upon selection of said weapon because the programmers were lazy assholes; he retain his basic colors no matter what weapon is equipped. But now that you know what he *should* look like with Shark Boomerang equipped, you can use the fantastic power of imagination to pretend he changes color. Did I say imagination? I meant self delusion.


      I've decided to beat the Robot Masters in clockwise order, so Wave Man is up next. Actually, that's not true. Wave Man is up next because this is the order I always use to play through the game back in the day. Wave Man's level is an oil tanker filled with wall guns and burning barrels. I guess since Shark Man already had a fucking underwater level, they decided that a second one would be ostentatious. And while that's certainly true, maybe they shouldn't have put two aquatic themed Robot Masters in a set of six. Honestly, I wish the programmers had had the balls to give us Shipping Magnate Man instead of Wave Man. He may not be the Robot Master we want, but he's the Robot Master we need.


      Here's Wave Man, looking just as much as Air Man as he did in his profile picture. His attack pattern is almost the same as Shark Man's, he jumps around and occasionally fires his Water Shooter. The difference is that Wave Man doesn't always wait til he gets to a wall to fire his weapon, and the Water Shooter is fairly annoying to dodge. Wave Man became my second stage choice after I discovered that he was weak against Shark Boomerang. I'm not quite sure how that works. Every time I've ever thrown a shark or a boomerang at a wave, it never seems to visibly damage it. I guess I'm not doing it right.


      Next up is Torch Man, because as we all know, the obligatory fire-themed Robot Master in the game gets fucking wrecked by the obligatory water-themed weapon in the game. Now, a reasonable person would assume that Torch Man would be somewhere, well, fiery. You know, like say, a volcano. Or a kiln. Or that oil tanker we were just on that was filled with burning oil barrels. Or that section of Sears where they have all the home grills lined up on a faux patio adorned with delicious plastic steaks. But Torch Man resides in none of these places. No, Torch Man is hiding IN A FUCKING SEWER. And not just any sewer, either. No, this sewer has fucking flowers in it. Isn't that awesome? No, it's not.



      As if it wasn't bad enough that Torch Man's level is a sewer, you're waist-deep in water when you fight him. It's like he's trying to trick you. Like he's hoping you'll think that Water Shooter won't hurt him since he's surrounded by water. But it does. In fact, it kills him in four hits. Of course, you don't really need it. Torch Man follows the exact same easy-to-avoid attack pattern as Shark Man, so there's really no reason you shouldn't be able to kill him with the classic Mega Buster.


      Next up, Oil Man. Appropriately enough, Oil Man's level is an oil refinery. For some odd reason though, this refinery is filled with boxing bees and giant mosquitos. This level isn't very interesting. It is, however, very gray. Since I don't have a whole lot to say about this level, now's as good a time as any to bring up the game's background music. The Mega Man series is known for having really catchy, really memorable music. The type of music that some of you might use as ringtones; the type of stuff that I *do* use as ringtones. Meanwhile, the music in this Mega Man game isn't very catchy or memorable. In fact, there is none. Aside from a couple of sound effects, this game is unnaturally - and annoyingly - quiet.


      Here's Oil Man. He uses the same I-Jump-From-One-Side-Of-The-Room-To-The-Other-Then-Fire-My-Weapon strategy that Shark Man and Torch Man used. It didn't work very well for them, but somehow Oil Man makes it lethal. Just kidding, he's just as pathetically easy to beat as those fuckers. However, his weakness is rather unintuitive. I assumed that since oil burns, Torch Arm would light up Oil Man like a Christmas Tree on Christmas.* But it doesn't. Hell, it doesn't even damage him. It turns out that Oil Man is weak against Blade Launcher and to a lesser extent, Water Shooter and Shark Boomerang. That doesn't make a lick of sense, but I guess someone has to be weak against Blade Launcher, right?

*Winner of the Oscar Wilde Award for Outstanding Similes, 2002


      Four Robot Masters down, two to go. Since I'm doing this in the order I settled upon back in the day, we're now onto Bit Man. Bit Man's level is... actually, I have no idea what the fuck Bit Man's level is supposed to be. According to game's data files, it's a city, but it sure as fuck doesn't look like any city I've ever seen. In fact, it looks like a cross because Wave Man's oil tanker and Oil Man's refinery. There are a lot of pipes, a lot of metal platforms, and a lot of oil fires. All in all, a very generic level.


      If Bit Man's level is generic, it's only because Bit Man himself is generic... and confusing. I have checked three different dictionaries, and while all of them offer a wide variety of exciting definitions for the word "bit", none of them involve shooting electricity from your hands. It is possible that Bit Man is shooting electricly connected drill bits at you, but that doesn't really make sense. Then again, it doesn't have to do. After all, Bit Man isn't here to make sense; he's here so that Hi-Tech Expressions could reuse the Mega Man 3 box art from the NES game. In 1992, Mega Man 3 was still one of the most popular NES games, as well as the most popular Mega Man game. So Hi-Tech Expressions, being the savvy businessmen that they were, decided to use that awesome game to sell their crappy game. In fact, they even skipped a number to do it; Mega Man 3 was only the *second* game the company produced featuring the Blue Bomber, preceded by an even shittier 1990 game simply titled Mega Man. Problem was, in order to use said box art, they needed a guy who looked kinda like Spark Man, the Robot Master featured on the box. So, they had the programmers throw together some random douchebag who looked vaguely like Spark Man, thus allowing them to grossly misrepresent their game as a port of the NES title. And the really sad part is, Bit Man is the only Robot Master that they actually put any effort into. Unlike his buddies, Bit Man has the innovative feature of TWO DIFFERENT ATTACKS, one where he throws his electricity thing at you and one where he makes gray tiles fall from the ceiling. Ultimately it doesn't matter though, because Torch Arm will melt his face. When you beat this clown, you'll get the Bit Cannon.


      Last up in my least favorite level, the Blade Man stage. Blade Man's stage is apparently some sort of water treatment plant. You'll spend a large part of this level swimming around in water basins, trying to dodge spinning metal blades. But since Mega Man can't swim worth a damn, be prepared to get hit a lot. Then be prepared to wonder why you're even playing this shit. Eventually Mega Man will make it out the bins and into the underbelly of the treatment plant where lazers, wall guns, and leaky pipes will further impede his progress. Sooner or later though, he'll make it to the final Robot Master...


      Here's Blade Man, the final Robot Master. He used the same attack pattern everyone but Bit Man used, meaning that he's completely useless. On the plus side, he throws ninja stars at you. That's cool, right? RIGHT!? Well, it used to be. Oh well. Fuck you, Blade Man.


      With all of the Robot Masters defeated, Mega Man has just won himself an all expenses paid trip to Skull Castle, home of Dr. Wily. If you've played any of the NES Mega Man games - and I know you have - then you're well aware that a trip to Skull Castle is always accompanied by a classic cut scene where the Dr. Wily shows up in his flying saucer, arches his eyebrows a few times, then flies into his fortress and prepares for your imminent arrival. That doesn't happen in this game. That screenshot that you see above is the full extent of the Skull Castle cut scene. One lousy fucking picture. Thanks, assholes.


      Welcome to Dr. Wily's castle, the final and most challenging level in the game. Hell, it's the ONLY challenging level in the game. Aside from a few Toxic Men and Neo Mets, there are few actual enemies in Skull Castle; mostly there's just lazers and wall guns. One of the more interesting characteristics of Wily's castle is that it's filled with a toxic green goo that instantly kills Mega Man. Looking back at previous levels, this fortress full of toxic waste seems to be the culmination of the game's unstated plot. The game's official plot, per the back of the game box, is the same generic plot that every Mega Man game has: some once-friendly robots have turned evil and its up to Dr. Light's greatest creation to save the day. But throughout the game you encounter mutated animals and guys in hazmat suits, and the first six levels are filled with oil drums and toxic waste cannisters. In fact, it feels very much as if the whole pollution angle was intended to be the game's main plot, but Hi-Tech Expressions glossed over it. It's also possible that game developer Rozner Labs simply took some retarded bullshit eco-friendly game that had been scrapped and threw Mega Man, Wily, and some Robot Masters into it. I can't prove that's what happened, but this sure as fuck feels a whole lote more like a Captain Planet game than a Mega Man game.


      Unlike the NES Skull Castles, this one isn't divided into sublevels, which means you'll have to beat the entire thing in one life set. This is a fairly frustrating feat, because in addition to suffering through annoying jumping sequences over insta-kill green stuff, you'll have to fight all Bit Man, Shark Man, Wave Man, Oil Man, Blade Man, and Torch Man all over again, in that order, with very limited healing items offered to you in between. On the plus side though, you'll respawn almost exactly where you died. So it's not *that* ridiculous.


      After you redefeat all six Robot Masters, you'll make it to CRORQ. CRORQ is a peacekeeping robot who first appeared in Mega Man's previous PC adventure. He is half supercomputer, half Imperial AT-ST walker, half bright yellow paint, half something witty. In both games, he is reprogrammed by Wily, who subsequently uses him to reprogram the Robot Masters to do his bidding. His name is a playful misspelling of "crock", which of course is short for "boring fucking crock of shit". He is weak against Bit Cannon. Once CRORQ is defeated, Mega Man will find Dr. Wily waiting for him in the adjacent room, a room the instruction manual refers to Dr. Wily's Reactor Room.


      Dr. Wily's room is annoying as hell. There are four laser turrets on the floor, and a pool of insta-kill goo in the center. If you get too close to the goo, you will die. This is particularly annoying, because the green laser beams the turrets shoot are very hard to dodge and can drain your life very quickly; the recoil from being hit by them can also knock you into the goo if you're not careful. Dr. Wily himself doesn't actually do anything, other than rise up from the goo and sink back into it. Dr. Wily is weak against Water Shooter. Once Wily's energy is reduced to zero, he will reveal his amazing second form!


      Okay, so his second form isn't amazing at all. In fact, it's actually the same as his first form, minus the protective dome. Speaking of which, why the fuck isn't Wily dying? If Mega Man touches that green stuff, he dies instantly, but Wily can fucking immerse himself in it? THAT'S COMPLETE FUCKING BULLSHIT. Oh well. Wily may be impervious to toxic waste, but he is weak against Shark Boomerang. Smack him around with it a bit and victory will be yours!


      This is the ending to Mega Man 3. As you can see, the game's ending and credits both fit on one screen, easily too. That's pretty fucking sad. What's even sadder is Hi-Tech Expressions entrusted a grand total of two guys with the task of creating a Mega Man adventure for home computers. TWO FUCKING GUYS. You'd think that such a lucrative, popular franchise would have gotten a much more serious treatment for the PC market, especially when Data East's Caveman Ninja arcade game, a far less popular title, received a very faithful port to DOS around the same time. The massive failures of Mega Man's early ventures into the home computer market are quite indicative of the time period in which it was released. The computer game industry in the late 80s and early 90s was very similar to the console industry right before the 1983 video game market crash. There was absolutely no quality control, there were no internet sites to tell us what was good, and games came out at such a fantastic rate that it was impossible to keep track of them all. As Mega Man 3 very clearly illustrates, any two douchebags could slap together a horrible game, entice you with pretty box art, and steal $50 right out of your pocket. It was this gaming climate that eventually led to the rise of the shareware and playable demos that would eventually save the PC gaming industry and bring both fame and infamy to Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Duke Nukem. These days, that problem has largely vanished. PC games have become such big budget affairs that it's impossible for companies to pull that crap. Besides, you can just Google the game's name and find out within seconds if it's any good. But back in 1992, such production values and instant gratification eluded us. The only way we could begin to tell if a game was good or not was by reading a write-up in a Scholastic/Arrow flyer or by reading the back of the box at Egghead Software. Thank God that times have changed.


Posted by: Syd Lexia