For players new to the Mega Man franchise, Mega Man 7 is a great place to start: a pure platforming experience in contrast to the more complex Mega Man X, and colourfully inviting without the harsh challenge of earlier core Mega Man entries. It's by no means the best title in the series — gigantic sprites make the game frustrating at times and lead to more generic level designs to accommodate the character models — but it's nevertheless a solid addition to the library.
30. Mega Man IV (GB)
Mega Man IV improves on its source material to an unbelievable degree considering the hardware its running on. Alternate routes, optional pickups, a store system, completely redesigned levels and the meatiest Wily experience yet in the handheld series make this an unfairly overlooked outing for the Blue Bomber. This was the last of the Mega Man handheld games to remix stages and elements from the NES titles, but it's a brilliant end to that series before the following game branched out into something new altogether.
29. Mega Man 6 (NES)
Probably the worst thing you can say about Mega Man 6 is that it plays it safe. It follows the same basic idea of eight Robot Master stages followed by castle stages and doesn't really bring any big new gameplay features to the 8-bit Mega Man formula. The level design (save for Plant Man's stage), music and everything else are all pretty good, but if you've played all the previous entries, you can't help feeling that the sixth game is a bit by-the-numbers.
Capcom didn't really go out with a bang with this final NES Mega Man game, then, but it did create one final enjoyable entry on the console which birthed the series. And a 'just good' Mega Man is still better than most other video games, so mustn't grumble.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 is a little disappointing, although Capcom deserves credit for doing the best it could to polish up the weaker games in the series. At the end of the day, putting lipstick on a pig can only do so much, and these games unfortunately don’t hold up quite as well as the first four entries in the series. Even so, X5 and X6 are pretty good and, though X7 is a hot mess of confused design, X8 has plenty of fun moments. If you liked the first four games in the series, you’ll probably enjoy these four to an extent, but bear in mind that this is easily the most skippable of the two collections.
Mega Man Battle Network 2 expanded upon the first game in the series, serving up more fun chip-based gameplay with a bit more refinement. The series' card and board game-styled influences make for some exciting encounters and collectability, although you might have to fight the temptation to break out those gift chips you're granted to burn everything down early. If you just want to jump right into the series and find out what it has to offer, number 2 is a great springboard.
Mega Man Battle Network 3 is very much the point where the series hit a peak. The gameplay systems and presentation are on point and it meshes together to form a very satisfying and unified whole. There are occasional issues with random encounters and corny dialogue, but it doesn't detract from the overall experience in a major way. When it comes to RPG-lite virus-busting Mega Man action, it doesn't get any better than this.
25. Mega Man 5 (NES)
When people ask about the best Mega Man game on the NES, Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 tend to get the lion's share of love. However, Mega Man 5 deserves attention, too. It doesn't quite reach the stellar highs of the blue bomber's earlier outings, but with a host of novel additions to its levels — gravity switching, and even a vehicular section — it's another fine entry in Capcom's series. Yes, it might be 'just' more Mega Man, but who doesn't fancy a bit of that?
Mega Man Zero kicks off a series that will challenge you endlessly, but is very rewarding to master. Its brutal difficulty is bound to turn off a lot of gamers, but those who stick with it will find the richest world in any Mega Man series, populated with interesting characters and pulsing with a predictably brilliant soundtrack. Its sword-heavy combat and Cyber Elf approach to upgrades aren't going to resonate with everybody — and the grinding is a genuine obstacle to enjoyment — but if you have even a passing interest in Mega Men, it's worth seeking out. Just don't expect to be very good at it for a long time.
The sequel to Mega Man ZX, Inti Creates built upon the game's predecessor with more of everything, turning in a great Mega Man game in a period that was otherwise fairly quiet for the blue bomber. With a host of other Mega Men to take down and various minigames to unlock, it's still a blast all these years later.
By no means a bad game, Mega Man X3 is disappointing. From a design standpoint, there's simply too much that feels lazy and incomplete compared to X or X2. Unremarkable weapons, illogical solutions to environmental puzzles, and repetitive boss fights take some of the shine off the X series, although franchise fans will find enough here to warrant a play-through. Those looking to dip a toe, however, would be much better served by either of its predecessors.
21. Mega Man ZX (DS)
While its direct sequel might have added bells and whistles, Mega Man ZX built on the formula of both the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero series and Inti Creates built something that struck a chord with fans. There may have been some dark times ahead for Phil Megaman, but the DS hosted a couple of gloriously light spots.