(GB / Game Boy)

Mega Man III (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Mega Man III Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Third time's the charm

After the fun but flawed Dr. Wily's Revenge and the almost thoroughly disappointing Mega Man II on Game Boy, Capcom made a serious and substantial course correction. The result is Mega Man III, and we couldn't be happier about that.

Retaining the template from Dr. Wily's Revenge (two sets of Robot Masters, a new Mega Man Killer, a unique weapon) and adopting one of Mega Man II's more inspired additions (full stages for the second set of bosses), Mega Man III achieves the potential that even the most dedicated Mega Man fan probably didn't realise it had.

As you might guess, Mega Man III combines elements of the NES titles Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 4.

When you start the game you'll be able to choose from four stages: Snake Man, Gemini Man, Shadow Man and Spark Man, and the improvements upon the previous Game Boy titles are immediately apparent.

The soundtrack isn't identical to the NES version, but it's close enough that it doesn't feel lesser in any way. The spritework is excellent, the sound effects are correct and used appropriately, and the challenge is steep, but fair overall. The improvement over the previous portable titles is appreciated, but what's truly surprising is the fact that it also manages to improve upon the NES titles from which it borrows.

We don't mean that it improves on them in every way, of course, but for the first time the Game Boy titles aren't content to remix content we've already seen; Mega Man III seeks to actively refine it; it succeeds.

In some cases it's purely cosmetic, such as Snake Man's stage, which now takes place in a lush forest instead of the dark, featureless underground of the original — happily, his glitchy cloud platforms are also missing. In other cases it's functional, as with Spark Man's rising platforms, which are now much more manageable, and the fight with Shadow Man, which has been slowed down and allows for more strategy than a reliance on simple reflex. Then there's Gemini Man's stage, which takes on a completely different, creepier atmosphere simply from the contrast between the black and white version here and the glitzy neon of the original. We should also, of course, mention the fact that the Gemini Laser actually works now, in the sense that you can fire it without slowing the action to a crawl. That's a very welcome fix.

Things get even better with the second set of Robot Masters: Dust Man, Skull Man, Dive Man and Drill Man. While it's not likely that those bosses would make many lists of absolute favourites, Mega Man III elevates these stages to new heights. Dust Man's crusher room now poses a genuine challenge as opposed to being a glorified speedbump, and Dive Man's stage has been transformed into an unforgiving gauntlet of death spikes that turns Mega Man's floatier underwater controls into a massive liability. Even poor, wimpy Skull Man has been buffed up, and puts up an impressive fight.

Mega Man III seems to soften the things that were a bit too difficult in the original games, and sharpen the things that were a bit too easy. The end result is very even experience that remains consistently challenging not because of unexpected difficulty spikes, but because of new ideas and new arrangements that are being introduced throughout.

For the first time on the Game Boy, a Mega Man game feels whole. It's a complete adventure of its own, and while it recycles the hazards and enemies of the original games, it evolves their usage in such ways that the most dedicated fans will still find a major challenge ahead.

The new boss Mega Man will have to face is Punk, and the fight with him is one of the highlights of Mega Man III. Much like Enker from Dr. Wily's Revenge, battling Punk requires fast reactions and a good sense of anticipation. However Punk is much more nimble, and the fight is far longer as a result, giving you plenty of time to make a mistake. He also hits very hard, meaning there's little room for error. Take him out, though, and you'll get the Screw Crusher, which is so much fun to use that it's disappointing you won't have it until the game is nearly over.

If there is a complaint about Mega Man III, it's the claustrophobia. The environments often feel cramped, and while this can be used in aid of the stage design, it often ends up being responsible for cheap deaths as Mega Man bumps his head on a low ceiling and fails to make a jump that required pixel perfection. This is especially irritating when you've almost made it to the boss gate and have to start over from the last check-point. In Gemini Man's level, for example, that checkpoint is all the way back in the second room.

The soundtrack is also rather good, but the few new tracks are mainly underwhelming. The Wily stage theme is pretty great, but aside from that the only tunes you're likely to find yourself humming are the ones you'll already know from the NES.

But those are minor complaints. Mega Man III is a very worthy purchase, and it's one that stands on its own merits better than either of its predecessors. As good as this one is, though, the best is yet to come.


Offering gorgeous visuals, a great soundtrack, an excellent new boss, a fun new weapon and some surprising improvements on the NES originals, Mega Man III is a solid outing. The difficulty might be a bit high, but E-Tanks (and now Restore Points) cushion the blow for all but the most masochistic Mega Man fans. While Dr. Wily's Revenge and Mega Man II had their respective merits, this is the first of the portable series that is a great game in its own regard. Fortunately, it was by no means the last.

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User Comments (21)



Splashman said:

This is one of my favorites of the whole classic series. Technically MMIV and V are the better games, but of III I have the fondest memories. Beating the brutal Dust Man and Wily Stages left me with a true feeling of accomplishment, like I was ready to best everything Capcom could throw at me.



Karakato said:

MM III is definitely the middle ground of the five games but it's still a blast to play. I played it again on the Gameboy just to see if it holds up better than what I remember, and it definitely does. It isn't really as hard as many other fans would claim it to be but I think it's still one of the more challenging games of the GB series behind Dr. Wily's revenge.

I may have to double dip this game just so I can play the game in english, as with the 2 sequels after it.



GeminiSaint said:

Whoa! That box art is the stuff nightmares are made of! D:
The game proper is awesome, of course.



TG1 said:

Great review Phil! Mega Man III was definitely my favorite of the NES games, so I'm looking forward to this.



Giygas_95 said:

Too bad my 3DS is on it's way up to Syracuse, NY right now for repairs...I may get this when it gets back or I may just wait for V and possibly IV. I'm tempted to get all of them just to have all of Mega Man's adventures, but I'm not so sure...

@Philip_J_Reed "...and adopting one of Mega Man II's more inspired additions (full stages for the second set of bosses)..."

What does this mean exactly? Does the first set only have small stages or something?



EpicMegaman64 said:

Hmm...while I do consider this the best black and white adventure up to this point, I don't feel quite this positive. I'd probably give the game a 7. I did enjoy the game, but there's just so much unforgiving platforming. Pixel-perfect jumps, spikes, and bottomless pits are everywhere. Plus, damage from enemy shots rarely amounts to anything, but contact with them usually takes your health down by a third. I do like enough of the game to have a positive opinion on it, but I'm hoping for more with IV and V.



GeminiSaint said:

It means Mega Man I for Game Boy didn't have stages for the second set of Robot Masters. It was just a room with four teleporters leading to each of the four boss battles, and nothing else.



KnightRider666 said:

I think Mega Man 2 blows this game out of the water. Big JK! Lol:) All joking aside, this game is awesome and an 8 is what I would give it as well.



MegaManEP3 said:

It would truly be Mega May if we could get Mega Man 5 & 6 and Mega Man X3 on the WiiU VC.



Magrane said:

Never had the opportunity to purchase this title in my Game Boy days, but went forward to download it. I totally picked up on the "cramped" feeling one gets when playing the levels, but I do notice a significant graphical improvement from the rest. Love it! It's like playing a new Mega Man game for me!



Giygas_95 said:

@MegaManEP3 Don't forget Mega Man 7! You know...they could have included the Wii U in Mega May and released 5 and Zero 1 one week, 6 and Zero 2 the next, 7 and Zero 3 after that, and then end with X3 and Zero 4. That would really have made it a Mega May!



MegaManEP3 said:

@Giygas_95 How could I forget 7?! That is a great idea for Mega May on the WiiU! I really wish they would have done that. I would have bought every one of those.

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