The Man, The Myth, The Legend. The original Mega Man game for NES was released at the tail-end of 1987, and a star was born!
One of the truly enduring series (and characters) to successfully last through the generations, alongside the likes of Mario and Link, Mega Man was "just another platformer" on a system that was notorious for churning them out. Yet, shortly after booting this one up, it became quite apparent that this game had a few tricks up it's sleeve, to stand apart from the pack.
Immediately, two things stood out to the new player in 1987 - first of all, the first thing the game prompts you with is a stage select screen. I can't think of any platform action game which let you choose your path through the game right from the outset, in such a fashion. Secondly, the ugly mugs of your foes staring you in the eye, challenging you; this game was obviously gonna be rich with character!
I have to admit, upon my first play of Mega Man was back when, I was a little disappointed. yeah, the boxart was horrendous, but this was not unusual in those days. The graphics and soundtrack were phenomenal, but the main character.. he looked so monochromatic, so simple, so plain. Kind of like a robot kid wearing Batman underoos. I was spoiled by the colorful characters in Mario's world, and though the first enemies you confronted in Mega Man were colorful and full of life, Mega Man himself seemed sort of empty.
Of course, play the game for a few minutes, and it immediately becomes apparent that Mega Man is anything but empty. Jump, fall, kill, shoot, avoid, die, die, die again, restart, blast.. steal weapons.. oh wait. This game has teeth. And Mega Man can not only take out boss attackers, but steal their weapons after trouncing them? This was genius, and the aesthetic and execution of this game world became far more than the sum of its' parts.
The game was considered a sleeper hit by many at the time it came out.. only when the sequels trickled out did the larger gamer community start to give Mega Man his due respect. but those of us who adopted early knew why this series was exceptional; killer soundtrack, tight controls, heavy challenge, unique gimmick (kill different bosses by learning their weaknesses, which are one another's powers).
The original Mega Man is a true classic by any standards, it's a game whose impressions are stil felt quite strongly today and though it is a tough cookie at times, it is extremely playable and rewarding to journey through. Any true gamer worth his salt must conquer this game, over and over.
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