20. Mega Man 4 (NES)
Following on from the classic one-two punch (or should that be two-three punch) of its direct predecessors, this fourth entry is still a very good game, even if it can't quite live up to the two previous entries. The game seems to alternate between perfect refinement of the formula and a lack of care or inventiveness, and its soundtrack is another area where it doesn't compare favourably to its forebears. That doesn't make it bad at all, but 'not as good as 2 or 3' is hardly something you'd put on the poster, is it?
Mega Man 4, then — 'a very good Mega Man game'. Yep, that's better.
Mega Man 11 was an excellent resurgence for the character, imbuing the tried-and-true classic gameplay with modern touches and new ideas that expand on existing concepts in interesting ways. The underlying action platforming gameplay is just as tight and challenging as you remember, and when combined with the new visuals and extra options for replayability, you’ve got a game that’s every bit as good as those that came before, while surpassing them in some ways. Mega Man 11 is a modern classic, a fitting refresh for a beloved series.
Mega Man 10 was an old-school sequel that built on the retro rebirth of Mega Man 9, with 8-bit graphics that made the game feel like you'd gone back in time — back to a reality where SNES never released and Capcom just kept iterating on the classic Mega Man formula. Inti Creates and Capcom did remarkable work here, and while it would be several years until the character returned in another numbered sequel, that was worth the wait, too.
Mega Man Zero 2 does a great job of ironing out the wrinkles of its predecessor. With both audio and visual improvements, it also significantly reduces grinding, and provides the same brutal challenge in what feels like a much more fair way. Unlockable forms and EX Skills are also added to the mix, which gives the game an additional layer of replayability. It's a sequel done right, and it's no surprise that it's remembered so fondly all these years later.
Mega Mans 1-8 collected together on one disc sounds like a mighty fine proposition, no? And so it was. It wasn't without faults, but this compilation also included Mega Man: The Power Battle and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, two arcade rarities outside Japan.
In fact, the only huge mark against this game was the truly bizarre decision to make 'B' the jump button with the GameCube's big chunky 'A' button firing the Blue Bomber's Arm Cannon. This control scheme could not be altered which caused no small amount of trouble for players who had years of muscle memory built up from playing the classics. A puzzling choice, but an otherwise fine collection from Capcom.
Mega Man Legacy Collection is a great package for 3DS owners with a lot of content and stuff to do. For newcomers it's worth acknowledging that each game is very challenging, and could be too much for someone who isn't used to the steep learning curve. With that in mind, the wealth of extras, the challenge mode and the sheer scope of six games nevertheless make Mega Man Legacy Collection a great option for anyone who's looking for an old-school Capcom treat who'd rather play on a smaller handheld than Switch.
At this point in a series, you should know what to expect, and Mega Man Zero 4 delivers in the same way that other high-numbered Mega Man titles do in other branches of Capcom's franchise. You get more of the same excellent gameplay in this final game, with the addition of an optional Easy Mode for those who prefer a light jog-and-gun as opposed to a full on run-and-gun, although things were already simplified in Zero 3. There is still a secret hard mode if you want a truly harrowing experience, as well a plethora of unlocks that are quite difficult to acquire. All-in-all, this relatively late release in the GBA's life cycle is another fine franchise entry.
All told, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 feels like a letdown compared to the stellar presentation of its predecessor. Missing features and the lower quality of games easily make this the more skippable of the two, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad collection. Entries 9 and 10 just about justify the collection on their own, but those who are looking to get their feet wet will want to pass on this and jump in with the first collection. Good, but not great.
12. Mega Man V (GB)
Mega Man V was the Blue Bomber’s first wholly original entry in the Game Boy, with the preceding games being mashups inspired by his NES adventures. Against all odds and exceeding any reasonable expectations, it turns out to be one of the best Mega Man games, period. The difficulty might be a tad low, and the soundtrack only intermittently hits the peaks we've come to expect from the series, but all of that is made up for by an endlessly creative experience, ten new special weapons, and a whopping fifteen main bosses. This might be one of the most overlooked games in the Blue Bomber's catalogue, but that just means it's primed for rediscovery. If you have any interest at all, you'd be doing yourself a great disservice by passing on Mega Man V.
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is everything that you could’ve hoped it to be. This is ultimately six great Mega Man games presented to you with a slew of customisable features, extra content, and quality of life updates. If you’re a fan of either Mega Man or side-scrolling action games in general, you owe it to yourself to give this release a go and see what all the fuss is about. These are hard and occasionally frustrating games, but they offer up some rewarding, action-heavy gameplay that even today stands among the best of its class. Don’t pass this collection up.
Winding back the clock to Mega Man's NES routes with a potent throwback, Inti Creates and Capcom tapped into our nostalgia beautifully with Mega Man 9, returning the bombardier bleu to his original 8-bit stylings in the first numbered entry in the original series for twelve years. Simply making it look authentic wouldn't have been enough, though. Fortunately, Inti Creates crafted a tight little run-and-gun platformer worthy of bearing that hallowed digit.