Mega Man 3 (known in-game as Mega Man III, not to be confused with the PC and Game Boy games of similar names, and known in Japan as Rockman 3: Dr. Wily no Saigo!?, which loosely translates to "Rockman 3: The End of Dr. Wily!?") is a side-scrolling action-platformer developed and published by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System on September 28, 1990 (in Japan), November 1990 (in North America) and sometime in 1992 (in Europe).
The third installment of the original Mega Man series (and the sequel to Mega Man 2), Mega Man 3 expands on the series by adding a new "sliding" manuever (allowing Mega Man to to slide under enemy attacks and certain barriers) and a new companion for Mega Man (his dog Rush, who has unlockable abilities that replace the transportation tools from the previous game).
Set in the year 20XX, the game takes place shortly after the events of Mega Man 2 (in which the humanoid robot hero Mega Man defeats the evil roboticist Dr. Wily a second time). Dr. Wily, now reformed, works with Dr. Light on a giant peace-keeping robot (named "Gamma") that would be powered by eight energy crystals scattered throughout the universe. When the eight Robot Masters, built by both roboticists, go berserk and refuse to give the crystals, it's up to Mega Man (with his robotic dog, Rush) to travel around uncharted planets, defeat the Robot Masters, and collect the crystals (while, along the way, encountering a mysterious figure).
Mega Man 3 retains the gameplay formula the Mega Man games are so well known for. The player can choose to take on the eight robot masters in any order they choose. Each robot master is weak to another's special weapon, and it is up to the player to experiment and discover what will best work against his foes. Mega Man begins with only his mega buster weapon, but as he progresses, he will earn new weapons from each robot master that he defeats. Mega Man 3 is also known for the addition of the slide move, which became a staple of later iterations. The game also introduces a new Rush power, the Rush Marine, which allows Mega Man to travel through water.
Each stage in the game employs a variety of new obstacles which Mega Man must conquer. These include low walls that must be slid under, tricky jumps, and the infamous disappearing block sections.
Mega Man 3 is host to an interesting glitchin which Mega Man can leap the height of the entire screen if the player plugged in a second NES controller and held down RIGHT on its d-pad. The actual jumping ability was probably a hidden cheat; the actual glitch comes in handy when the player dies by falling into a bottomless pit. With proper timing, players could then attempt to jump out of the pit using the cheat, sending Mega Man back into the playing field with a completely empty life bar. The result is an invincible Mega Man; while he still reels back from contact, he is able to take an infinite amount of damage in this condition. Two downsides: (a) Mega Man can no longer fire off his Mega buster, and must make use of his enemies' weaponry (and if he is out of "ammo" in this condition, he's practically useless on the offensive end); (b) Mega Man is still vulnerable to spikes. Also, grabbing a life powerup while in this state will fill up some of Mega Man's energy bar, making him once again vulnerable to attacks (and possibly very near death, if a small life powerup was picked up).
Below are the Robot Masters unique to Mega Man 3. Like all classic Mega Man games, Mega Man gains each robot master's weapon when they are defeated. In an oddity for the series, the vulnerability relationships in Mega Man 3 aren't entirely circular: That is, there is not one solitary sequence for defeating the robot masters from beginning to end with the luxury of having the appropriate weapon (past the first fight). In other words, at some point even after the first boss fight, players will have to walk into a robot master encounter with a sub-optimal weapon. Note that in Dr. Wily's castle, players encounter 8 additional Robot Masters from Mega Man 2 but they do not have full stages, nor do they have useable weapons.
Weak Against: Hard Knuckle
Main attacks: Top Man will throw out multiple tops that hover in the air before zoning in on Mega Man in a straight line. He will then spin (pirouette, really) and propel himself across the screen at Mega Man.
Weapon: Top Spin - Used by jumping and using the weapon in mid air. Mega Man will spin like a top and damage any enemy he hits.
Color Scheme: Grey and Pink.
Weak Against: Magnet Missiles
Main attacks: Hard Man will throw out consecutive Hard Knuckles that angle towards Mega Man. He will also leap high into the air; upon crashing down, he will cause an enormous quake that will stun Mega Man if he's on the ground when it occurs.
Weapon: Hard Knuckle - Shoots a fist-shaped missile that moves slowly, but does big damage. Can destroy certain walls.
Color Scheme: Navy Blue and Grey.
Weak Against: Shadow Blade
Main attacks: Spark Man will leap around and try to collide with Mega Man. He also generates a large spark and tosses it in Mega Man's general direction. His lair is not flat, making it difficult to avoid him.
Weapon: Spark Shock - Fires a large ball of electricity that stuns most enemies. Easy to use because of the large size of the projectiles.
Color Scheme: Salmon and White.
Weak Against: Search Snake
Main attacks: Gemini Man will split in two, and the pair will work in a quasi-juggling pattern: one running along the ground from left to right, trying to collide with Mega Man, and one leaping in the air from right to left. When the airborne clone hits the ground, the two exchange roles. The Gemini Man clones will also eventually merge and the one will fire his reflective Gemini Laser.
Weapon: Gemini Laser - Fires a blue laser that can bounce off walls. Can continue after hitting an opponent and hit more than once.
Color Scheme: Light Blue and White.
Weak Against: Gemini Laser
Main attacks: Needle Man leaps high in the air and fires off consecutive needles at different points during his descent. He will also thrust his needle-ridden "hair" Mega Man's way.
Weapon: Needle Cannon - Fire a barrage of needles. Can rapid fire by holding down the fire button.
Color Scheme: Brown and White.
Weak Against: Spark Shock
Main attacks: Magnet Man leaps high in the air and fires off consecutive magnet missiles, which take a right angle downwards depending on where Mega Man is standing at the time. He will also attempt to pull Mega Man into his magnetic field to cause massive damage.
Weapon: Magnet Missiles - Shoots a magnet that can move up or down to "track" enemies to a certain degree.
Color Scheme: Red and Grey.
Weak Against: Top Spin
Main attacks: Shadow Man uses a combination of short hops, high jumps, and slides to collide with Mega Man. He will also throw out his Shadow Blades at seemingly random intervals.
Weapon: Shadow Blade - Shoots a ninja star that goes straight but boomerangs back. Limited range, but can be fired up or down as well as forwards.
Color Scheme: Purple and Lilac.
Weak Against: Needle Cannon
Main attacks: Snake Man will fire off several Search Snakes that travels along the ground and walls, making it difficult for Mega Man to maneuver around Snake Man's angular lair. At the same time, Snake Man will make use of his lair to jump around and attempt to collide with Mega Man.
Weapon: Search Snake - Shoots a snake-like projectile that travels along the floor. Can even move up or down walls.
Color Scheme: Green and White.
In addition to the Robot Master's weapons, Mega Man can summon the robotic dog, "Rush". Rush can perform a variety of tasks to aid Mega Man, effectively taking the place of the items from previous Mega Man games.
- Rush Coil: Rush becomes a spring board that will launch Mega Man into the air. Available from the start.
- Rush Marine: Rush becomes a submarine that Mega Man can enter and use to traverse bodies of water. Obtained after defeating Shadow Man.
- Rush Jet: Rush becomes a jet board that Mega Man can ride to traverse large pits. Obtained after defeating Needle Man.
Ports & Re-releases
While the original game was released as a Virtual Console game for the Wii (on November 10, 2008), Nintendo 3DS (March 14, 2013), and Wii U (on June 11, 2013), the game received numerous ports:
- An enhanced port of the game, featuring higher-resolution graphics and updated music, was included (alongside ports of Mega Man and Mega Man 2) in the 1995 Sega Genesis compilation Mega Man: The Wily Wars (the North American version was only released via Sega Channel).
- Another enhanced port, developed for the 1999 Japan-only PlayStation compilation Rockman Complete Works, retained the graphics and music from the original. However, this version includes an optional arranged soundtrack, the option to switch weapons without requiring the weapon sub-menu, an updated HUD, and a special "Navi Mode" that guides players in certain parts of the game. This version was later released in North America as part of the Mega Man Anniversary Collection compilation for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube on June 23, 2004 and the Xbox on March 15, 2005. The original PlayStation version was later released in both Japan and North America on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (both via PlayStation Network) on March 8, 2011. (This was later expanded to the PlayStation Vita)
- A "faithful recreation" was developed for the 2015 downloadable compilation Mega Man Legacy Collection for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, and PC (via Steam). Developed by Digital Eclipse, this version features a "Challenge Mode" (where players must complete sequences throughout all six main NES games as fast as they can) and viewable art assets.
- Mega Man 3 marks the first time that the series has deviated from the theme music that plays when players confirm the selection of a boss robot. The recognizable theme from the original Mega Man and Mega Man 2 would return in Mega Man 4, but would change again for Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6.
- Mega Man would previously storm Dr. Wily's castle immediately after the demise of the final robot master in Mega Man and Mega Man 2. However, Mega Man 3 started the trend of delaying this inevitable assault by one stanza. Here, Mega Man has to fight through the eight reincarnations of the Mega Man 2 robots as well as face off with "Break Man" before heading to Wily himself. (In subsequent NES games, Dr. Cossack, Proto Man and Mr. X would masquerade as the "lead villains" before Dr. Wily was unsurprisingly revealed as the true mastermind behind all of the events that were taking place.)
- Mega Man 3 marks the franchise debut of the aforementioned Proto Man as Mega Man's brother.
- Mega Man 3 changed the sound effect, in relation to its predecessors, that plays when Mega Man lands on the ground from a jump or a fall.
- Mega Man 3 changed the sound effect, in relation to its predecessors, that plays when Mega Man is hit.
- Mega Man 3 changed the sound effect and appearance, in relation to its predecessors, of Mega Man's explosion--as well as those of other robot masters--upon death. The "bubbles" that burst outward travel faster, and sport a cleaner, larger look. In addition, defeated robot masters explode with the same white bursts as Mega Man does; in previous games, those bursts are tinged with the color scheme of the robot master.
- Mega Man 3 increased the speed at which Mega Man climbed ladders from its predecessors.
- Mega Man 3 used a very slightly less abrasive sound effect for recharging life meters from its predecessors.
- Mega Man 3 changed the way Mega Man's mega-buster shots collided with boss characters. In previous entries, the sound effects were employed such that Mega Man's shots wouldn't register as a "hit" while the boss character's hit burst appeared on the screen. (About the "hit burst": every time players hit a robot master with a shot, a white flash would emanate from its body, indicating a successful hit.) In Mega Man 3, the sound effects made it sound as if every shot fired came in contact with a robot master, instead of having some shots "pass through." However, as in previous games, only shots that resulted in the hit burst would deplete the boss characters' energy meter.