Mega Man (video game)

Mega Man (video game)
Mega Man
Artwork of a dark blue, vertical rectangular box. The top portion reads "Mega Man" along with various other labels, while the artwork depicts a humanoid figure in a blue and yellow outfit armed with a handgun and standing at the forefront of several exotic structures.
North American box art
Developer(s) Capcom
Publisher(s) Capcom
Designer(s) Akira Kitamura
Programmer(s) Nobuyuki Matsushima
Artist(s) Yasuaki Kishimoto
Naoya Tomita
Keiji Inafune
Akira Kitamura
Composer(s) Manami Matsumae
Series Mega Man
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, mobile phones, Virtual Console, PlayStation Store, Android, PlayStation Portable
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action, platform
Mode(s) Single-player
Media/distribution 1-megabit ROM cartridge, CD-ROM, download, UMD

Mega Man, known as Rockman (Japanese: ロックマン?) in Japan, is a video game developed and published by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It is the first game in the original Mega Man series and the entire Mega Man franchise. It was released in Japan on December 17, 1987, and was localized for North America in December 1987 and for Europe in May 1990.

The plot begins the everlasting struggle between the heroic, humanoid robot Mega Man and the evil scientist Dr. Wily. The game establishes many of the gameplay conventions that would define the original Mega Man series as well as its multiple subseries. A standard action-platform game, Mega Man features a somewhat non-linear setup whereby the player can choose the order to complete its six initial stages. With each "Robot Master" boss defeated at the end of a level, a unique weapon is added to the player's arsenal to be used against enemies. Mega Man was developed by a small team of people, which included significant involvement from artist Keiji Inafune. The game was produced specifically for the home console market, a first for Capcom, who had previously focused on arcade titles.

Mega Man was critically well-received for its overall design and has been noted for its high difficulty. Although it was not a commercial success, the game was followed by an abundance of sequels and spin-offs that are still being released to this day, many of which utilize the same graphical, storyline, and gameplay setups instituted by the 1987 game. Mega Man has since been included in game compilations and has been re-released on mobile phones and console emulation services. An enhanced remake for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was released in 2006 with the title Mega Man Powered Up, or Rockman Rockman (ロックマンロックマン?) in Japan.



The plot for the English localization of Mega Man entails the events after the co-creation of the humanoid robot named Mega Man by the genius Dr. Wright (named Dr. Light in later titles) and his assistant Dr. Wily.[16] The two scientists also create six other advanced robots: Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Bomb Man, and Guts Man. Each of these robots is designed to perform industrial tasks involving construction, demolition, logging, electrical operations, or labor in extreme temperatures, all for the benefit of mankind in a location known as "Monsteropolis".[17] However, Dr. Wily grows disloyal of his partner and reprograms these six robots to aid himself in taking control of the world. Dr. Wright sends Mega Man to defeat his fellow creations and put a stop to Dr. Wily.[16] After succeeding, Mega Man returns home to his robot sister Roll and their creator Dr. Wright.[18]


A square video game screenshot that depicts a blue character sprite firing a shot toward a vertical brick wall. Other sprites surround the character and a score are visible at the top of the screenshot.
Mega Man makes his way through Cut Man's stage. The player's score is displayed at the top of the screen.

Mega Man presents the player with six stages designed in the side-scrolling platformer genre. The stage select screen allows the player to freely choose from these six stages, which can be replayed if they are cleared. The player, as Mega Man, fights through various enemies and obstacles in every stage before facing a "Robot Master" boss at the level's end. The player's health, represented by a gauge on the left side of the screen, can be replenished by picking up energy cells randomly dropped by enemies.[16] Upon defeating a Robot Master, the player assimilates the Robot Master's signature attack (or "Master Weapon") into Mega Man's arsenal for the rest of the game.[17] Unlike the standard blaster, the Robot Master powers have limited ammunition which must be refilled by collecting ammunition cells also dropped by defeated enemies.[17] While the player is free to proceed through the game in any order, each Robot Master is especially vulnerable to a specific weapon, encouraging the player to complete certain stages before others.

Besides the weapons taken from the Robot Masters, the player is able to pick up a platform generator item known as the "Magnet Beam" in Elec Man's stage.[16][17] Mega Man also features a scoring system for defeating enemies. Extra points are earned by collecting power-ups from fallen enemies and a bonus is awarded for clearing each stage.[16] When all six Robot Master stages are completed, the seventh and last stage appears in the middle of the stage select menu.[16] This stage, known as the "Wily Fortress", is a chain of four regular stages linked together, each containing at least one new boss. During these final stages, the six Robot Masters must also be fought again in a predetermined order before the final confrontation against Dr. Wily.[17][19]


A Japanese gentleman wearing a black hoodie
Artist Keiji Inafune played a large role in the development of Mega Man.

Prior to the development of Mega Man, Capcom was primarily known for creating arcade games, with many of the company's releases on consoles being ports of these titles. In the mid-1980s, Capcom made plans to develop Mega Man specifically for the Japanese home console market.[20][21] The developer decided to bring in fresh, young talent for the project's small group of people, including artist Keiji Inafune (credited as "Inafking"), who had recently graduated from college and joined the Street Fighter team.[20][22] Inafune recalled that the development team for Mega Man worked extremely hard to complete the final product.[1] According to the artist, his superior and lead designer on the project wanted to achieve the game's perfection in every possible aspect.[23]

The development team for Mega Man consisted of only six people.[24] Inafune designed and illustrated nearly all of the game's characters and enemies, as well as the Japanese Rockman logo, box art, and instruction manual. He was also responsible for rendering these designs into graphical sprite form.[20][23][24] "We didn’t have [a lot of] people, so after drawing character designs, I was actually doing the dotting for the Nintendo," Inafune stated. "Back then, people weren’t specialized and we had to do a lot of different things because there was so few people, so I really ended up doing all the characters."[20] Inafune was influenced by the eponymous protagonist of Osamu Tezuka's manga Astro Boy in his designs for the game.[22][25][26][27] Although he is often credited for designing the hero Mega Man, Inafune insisted that his mentor at Capcom already had the basic concept of the character made when he joined the company and therefore "only did half of the job in creating him".[1][28] Mega Man was colored blue due to the technical limitations of the NES. The console only has 56 colors in its pallette, the color blue having the most shades. Therefore, Mega Man was illustrated with different shades of blue to make him more detailed.[20] The basic sprites for Roll and Dr. Light were created before Inafune began work on the project; the designs for Cut Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, and Guts Man were already taking form as well.[1] Aside from normal enemies, the very first character Inafune designed was Elec Man, drawing inspiration from American comic book characters.[1][28] The artist has commented that Elec Man has always been his favorite design.[24] The designs for Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were based on Santa Claus and Albert Einstein respectively; the latter character was meant to represent an archetypal "mad scientist".[1][29]

The team decided to incorporate anime elements for the game's animation. Inafune explained, "[Mega Man's] hand transforms into a gun and you can actually see it come out of his arm. We wanted to make sure that the animation and the motion was realistic and actually made sense. So with Mega Man, we had this perfect blending of game character with animation ideas."[20] The gameplay for Mega Man was inspired by the game rock-paper-scissors.[20][21] The project supervisor wanted a system that "utlizes simple control yet offers deep gameplay".[1] Each weapon deals a large amount of damage to one specific Robot Master, others have little to no effect against them, and there is no single weapon that dominates all the others. Mega Man was originally given the ability to crouch, but the team decided against the idea because it would have made it difficult for players to determine the height of onscreen projectiles.[1] Naoya Tomita (credited as "Tom-Pon") began work on the backgrounds of Mega Man immediately after his training stent at Capcom. Though the limited power of the console was a difficult challenge to overcome, Tomita proved himself among his peers by maximizing the use of background elements.[30]

The soundtrack for Mega Man was scored by Manami Matsumae (credited as "Chanchacorin") and its sound management and sound programming were done by Yoshihiro Sakaguchi (credited as "Yuukichan's Papa").[31] Matsumae composed the music, created the sound effects, and programmed the data in three months. Musical notes had to be translated one-by-one into the computer language. Matsumae found it very challenging to use only three notes at one time; when she was unable to come up with songs, she created the sound effects.[31] The production team chose a music motif when naming characters in Mega Man due to the worldwide recognition of music. They began with the main characters: the protagonist's original name is Rock and his sister's name is Roll, a play on the term "rock and roll". This type of naming would later be used with many characters throughout the rest of the series.[20][21] Before finalizing the name, Capcom had considered others such as "Mighty Kid", "Knuckle Kid", and "Rainbow Man".[21][25][29][32] When the game was localized for distribution in America, Capcom changed the title of the game from Rockman to Mega Man. This moniker was created by Capcom's then-Senior Vice President Joseph Marici, who claimed it was changed merely because he did not like the original name. "That title was horrible," Marici said. "So I came up with Mega Man, and they liked it enough to keep using it for the U.S. games."[33]'s Nadia Oxford attributed this change to Capcom's belief that American children would be more interested in a game with the latter title.[26]


Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame 5/5 stars[34]
Famitsu 24 out of 40[35]
IGN 8 out of 10[36]
Nintendo Power 4.1 out of 5[37]
The Games Machine 83%[3]

Critical reception for Mega Man has been favorable. Lucas M. Thomas of IGN described the game as an "undeniable classic" for the NES, noting solid graphics, innovative weapon-based platform gameplay, and good music.[36] GameSpot writers Christian Nutt and Justin Speer identified the game as a "winner in gameplay" granted its "low-key presentation".[19] Jeremy Parrish of likewise outlined it as a "charming (if slightly rough) start for the series".[38] Whether positive or negative, Mega Man has been commonly received as very difficult. Lucas observed that its combination of high difficulty and short length hurt its replayability.[36]'s Kat Bailey perceived the "Nintendo-hard" bosses found in Mega Man to be what sets it apart from its two immediate and more popular sequels.[39] Total! retrospectively characterized the game as "an overhard and unenjoyably frustrating platform nightmare".[40]

Mega Man has additionally received various honors from gaming journals and websites. Nintendo Power ranked Mega Man at number 20 on its "100 Best Nintendo Games of All Time" in its 100th issue in September 1997, then at number 61 in its "Top 200 Games" in its 200th issue in February 2006.[41][42] included it as number 17 on its "Top 25 NES Games" list.[43] The British magazine The Games Machine awarded it the "Star Player" accolade after its launch in PAL regions.[3][44]


Mega Man garnered moderately low sales upon its release, although they were higher than Capcom had anticipated. With little press coverage save for a full-page advertisement in Nintendo Fun Club News, the game established itself as a sleeper hit with overseas fans thanks in part to word of mouth.[20][21][45][46] Inafune blamed its North American cover art for the game's lack of initial prosperity in that region.[20][22] This box art contains virtually nothing that can be found in the game: Mega Man himself resembles a middle-aged man rather than a boy, his costume is colored yellow and blue instead of being entirely blue, and he is holding a handgun instead of his arm cannon. Over the years, the cover art has become infamous in the gaming community.[19][21][24][47] It has been considered one of the worst game covers of all time by publications including GameSpy, Wired, and OC Weekly.[48][49][50]

While Mega Man was not a large commercial accomplishment for Capcom, the company decided to allow the development team to create a sequel ― Mega Man 2 ― for a Japanese release in 1988. Many of the design elements that were cut from the original Mega Man were included in the follow-up game.[21][51] Mega Man 2 proved to be such a success that it solidified Mega Man as one of Capcom's longest-running franchises.[20][26] Due to "overwhelming demand", Capcom reissued the original Mega Man in North America in September 1991.[52] Capcom would carry the same 8-bit graphics and sprites present in the original Mega Man for the next five games in the main series. Even though the sequels would progressively feature more complex storylines, additional gameplay mechanics, and better graphics, the core elements initiated by Mega Man remained the same throughout the series.[47] Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 would later revert back to the familiar graphical style set forth by this title.[47][53] The scoring system in Mega Man has not been present in any of its sequels.[47] One of the playable characters for the cancelled Mega Man Universe was "Bad Box Art Mega Man", the bizarre rendition featured on the American cover art of the original game. The game's teaser trailer also depicted, alongside other Capcom characters, the classic 8-bit Mega Man.[54]

According to GamesRadar, Mega Man was the first game to feature a non-linear "level select" option. This was a stark contrast to both linear games (like Super Mario Bros.) and open world games (like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid). GamesRadar credits the "level select" feature of Mega Man as the basis for the non-linear mission structure found in most open-world, multi-mission, sidequest-heavy games, including modern titles like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.[55]

Remakes and re-releases

Mega Man has been re-released several times since its 1987 debut. It was included alongside Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 in the Sega Mega Drive compilation Mega Man: The Wily Wars, which is largely similar to the NES version but with enhanced graphics and arranged music.[19] Another adaptation of the game was released in Japan on the PlayStation as part of the Rockman Complete Works series in 1999.[4] This version also features arranged music in addition to a special "Navi Mode" that directs the player in certain portions of the levels.[19] Mega Man was compiled with nine other games in the series in the North American Mega Man Anniversary Collection released for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube in 2004 and the Xbox in 2005.[56][57] A mobile phone rendition of Mega Man developed by Lavastorm was released for download in North America in 2004.[5] The game was given a separate mobile phone release in Japan in 2007, with an update in 2008 having the option to play as Roll.[6][58] Mega Man for the NES was reissued on the Wii Virtual Console service in Europe in 2007 and in North America and Japan in 2008.[7][8][9] The Complete Works version of the game was made available on the PlayStation Store in both Japan and North America.[10][11] Finally, a glasses-free 3D version of the game will be available for the Softbank Galapagos Android phones in Japan in February 2011.[12]

A rectangular video game screenshot that depicts a blue character sprite facing a purple character sprite in front of a large clock.
Mega Man Powered Up features an updated visual style, new Robot Masters, and a widescreen mode.

An enhanced remake titled Mega Man Powered Up (known as Rockman Rockman (ロックマン ロックマン?) in Japan) was released worldwide for the PSP in 2006. The game features a graphical overhaul with 3D character models in a chibi-style with large heads and small bodies. Inafune had originally planned to make Mega Man look this way, but could not due to the hardware constraints of the NES.[59] Producer Tetsuya Kitabayashi stated that redesigning the character models was a result of the PSP's 16:9 widescreen ratio. The larger heads on the characters allowed the development team to create visible facial expressions.[60] "The concept for these designs was 'toys.' We wanted cute designs geared towards little kids... the kinds of characters that you'd see hanging off of keychains and such," character designer Tatsuya Yoshikawa explained. "Not only that, I made sure to tell the designers not to skimp on any of the original Mega Man details. We wanted their proportions and movements to be accurately reflected in these designs as well."[13] As the size of the remake's stages are not proportion to those of the original, the widescreen ratio also presented the developments with more space to fill.[60]

There are two ways to play through Mega Man Powered Up: "Old Style" and "New Style". Old Style is comparable to the NES version aside from the updated presentation. New Style takes advantage of the PSP's entire widescreen and contains storyline cutscenes with voice acting, remixed music, and three difficulty modes for each stage. This mode also adds two new Robot Masters (Oil Man and Time Man); the NES version was originally intended to have a total of eight Robot Masters, but was cut down to six due to a tight schedule.[13] The remake features the ability to unlock and play through the game as the eight Robot Masters, Roll and Protoman. The stages in New Style differ in structure from those in Old Style by having pathways only accessible by certain Robot Masters. Mega Man Powered Up furthermore has a challenge mode with 100 challenges to complete; a level editor for creating custom stages; and an option to distribute fan-made levels to the PlayStation Network online service.[61][62] Mega Man Powered Up received mostly positive critical reviews, currently holding aggregate scores of 83% on GameRankings and 82 out of 100 on Metacritic.[63][64] The remake sold poorly at retail, but was later made available as a paid download from the Japanese PlayStation Network.[13][65][66] Capcom additionally translated Mega Man Powered Up into Chinese for release in Asia in 2008.[67]


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