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Mega Man (series)

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Mega Man (also known as Rockman in Japan) is a video game series from Capcom, starring the character Mega Man (again known as Rockman in Japan). The series first began in 1987 and over time has evolved to include several spin-offs.

The character of Mega Man was created in 1987 by Keiji Inafune at Capcom of Japan, which was then a small company eager to make a breakthrough with a new platform game.

In the story behind the original series, Rock is a robot created as a lab assistant by scientists Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily; following treachery by Dr. Wily, Rock was converted into a fighting robot to defend the world from Wily's violent creations. Thus he becomes Mega Man (Rockman in the Japanese original).

Though all Mega Man games feature unique stories, settings, and characters, they nevertheless share several common features that have made the series one of the most consistent in video game history. Until very recently all Mega Man games were side scrolling, with 2D maze-like levels. The character controlled by the player was Mega Man himself, who had to fight through these levels using the Mega Buster, a cannon attached to his arm, to shoot the robotic monsters that inhabited his environment. After defeating a boss, Mega Man would gain the ability to use a new weapon. This new weapon usually was an ability or attack copied from the defeated boss. Levels can generally be completed in any order, and as a result determining the best strategic use of different weapons in different levels is one of the hallmarks of the series. Each new Mega Man game would contain new monsters, as well as older familiar ones, new bosses (and thus weapons) and gadgets.

Series history

Mega Man appeared in six platform games originally for the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom. Later the series continued with two for the Super Famicom/Super NES (one of them released only in Japan), one on Sony's PlayStation, and five more for the Nintendo Game Boy. In addition, there have been numerous side-story games, such as the sports game Mega Man Soccer for the Super NES and the racing game Mega Man: Battle & Chase on the PlayStation (Japan and PAL territories only). Many of the games were ported to or remade for newer consoles, most notably the six Famicom games being re-released in Japan with remixed music and unlockable bonus features on the PlayStation and the previously Japan-only Super Famicom game being re-released worldwide for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

In 2004, the Mega Man Anniversary Collection was released for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony's PlayStation 2, containing Mega Man 1-8, as well as Mega Man: The Power Battle and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, two arcade games only released in Japan. A version for Microsoft Xbox was released in March 2005. There was also to a collection of color remakes of the Game Boy Mega Man games on the Game Boy Advance, however, the collection was unfortunately canceled before completion.


Series conventions

The games in this series generally give the player a "stage select" screen to choose any of the Robot Master bosses to combat. After a Robot Master has been selected, Mega Man enters a themed level associated with that RM. Each level mimics the original function or capabilities of the controlling Robot Master. For example, in Snake Man's level (Mega Man III), the ground is made up of large, endless snakes; in Heat Man's level (Mega Man II), the player must navigate pools of fire and lava; and in Gravity Man's level (Mega Man V), antigravity fields often pull Mega Man to the ceiling.

At the end of the level, Mega Man duels the boss one-on-one. When the boss is defeated, Mega Man gains a new weapon or ability related to the attacks used by that RM. Each Robot Master is affected differently by the copied weapons: taking extra damage from some, being immune to others, or changing attack pattern when hit; this feature defines the unique gameplay of the series. According to series creator Keiji Inafune, this game mechanic was inspired by rock-paper-scissors.

When all Robot Masters are defeated, Mega Man proceeds to Dr. Wily's fortress, where he will travel through a few more levels. (In most of the games, there are as many fortress levels as there are Robot Masters, giving the player many opportunities to use each copied weapon.) Near the end of the fortress, Mega Man will fight each of the game's Robot Masters once again before finally facing Dr. Wily.

Gameplay evolution

Each game in the series adds an additional twist to the familiar game mechanics outlined above.

Mega Man II introduced the "Items" system, a set of mobile platforms which the player could use to reach high areas. Mega Man III and later games replaced the Items with Rush, a shapechanging mechanical canine who could be temporarily summoned to provide Mega Man with increased mobility. In most appearances, Rush provides at least two functions: "Rush Coil", which propels Mega Man into the air twice as high as normal, and "Rush Jet", which provides a floating, mobile platform useful for crossing pits or other hazards.

In Mega Man III, Mega Man gained the ability to slide a short distance at a slightly greater speed, enabling him to gain access to special areas and avoid enemy attacks. The slide has been a staple feature of all the subsequent Mega Man games.

Mega Man IV introduced the Charge Shot, an ability that allowed Mega Man to charge his primary weapon, the Mega Buster, and release a blast much stronger than his normal attack. This innovation was carried on to all Mega Man games released afterwards.

While each game has its own take on the formula and provides new ideas to the table, only the above generally last for multiple games or have a profound impact on gameplay.


The series is set in the ambiguous year of 20XX, that is, sometime in the 21st century. The first two games in the series are set in the first decade, 200X. The English-version titles have generally used Roman numerals and a two-word Mega Man logo. In Japan, all the games use a one-word Rockman logo and Arabic numerals, and most of the games have sub-titles. The English-version Game Boy games and Mega Man 1-7 (NES and SNES) use Roman numerals, but Mega Man 8 on the PlayStation used an adaptation of the Japanese logo and Arabic numerals.

While it is by no means official, some fans, led by Mandi Paugh of The Mega Man Homepage, contrast the use of Arabic and Roman numerals to tell apart the first five NES games and the five Game Boy games. The Game Boy games are often marked with Roman numerals for this purpose. In Japan, the Game Boy games are titled Rockman World so no such distinction is necessary.

It could be argued that the change in numeric style for the eighth title was to discourage people from calling Mega Man X "Mega Man 10."

There are considerable similarities between Mega Man and Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. Many characters in the Mega Man series as well as the overall plot seem to have been inspired by the older manga, and Keiji Inafune has confirmed that Astro Boy was an inspiration in multiple interviews.

Related Games

Mega Man Classic

Spinoff Series

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