Mega Man Review

Mega Man Review

Last Updated on December 11, 2023

Capcom’s Mega Man is the stuff of gaming legend. Few other titles have a legacy quite like it, and even fewer can boast so many games of such phenomenal quality. Let’s check out where the series began through a modern lens.

The hallmarks of an exemplary platformer

As you’re thrown straight into the deep end in the original Mega Man, let’s start with how the game looks and sounds. The graphics are decent for the NES. Mega Man‘s sprite is detailed, and enemies and bosses are varied. Soundtracks are a personal preference, but there are plenty of bangers to enjoy. I may be biased, as I have nostalgia for Mega Man, but I have very little to critique with the presentation.

The controls are simple but responsive. Mega Man doesn’t have any momentum to his movement and feels a little stiff compared to Mario, for example. That said, the controls feel wonderfully precise, and you’re well-equipped for the levels ahead.

Mega Man Review
Image: GamingRetro

And what about those levels? Mega Man allows players to tackle stages in any order they choose. There are only six (7 if you include Dr Wily’s Robot Factory), but it’s commendable how varied each location is. Every area belongs to a ‘Robot Master,’ and you earn a new ability when you take them down. This gameplay loop is incredibly satisfying as you always feel like you’re getting stronger, with tangible rewards for your efforts.

The difficulty does feel like it’s all over the place, but this is one of the features I enjoy most about the series. There’s an optimal route through the game that can only be discovered through trial and error (or Google). While you can technically beat every boss with your Mega Buster, each has a specific weakness. Experimentation is encouraged, making Mega Man quite replayable.

Old school tropes for better and for worse

Mega Man Review
Image: GamingRetro

While I appreciate the varied level designs, I think it’s fair to say that a few obstacles miss the mark. For example, the disappearing platforms of the Iceman stage are a lesson in frustration until you memorize the pattern. That may seem like a nitpick, but when a game is brimming with clever ideas, cubes that randomly appear in midair feel half-baked.

My only real issues with Mega Man are products of the time, but they are worth mentioning as a potential barrier for new players. Earning new abilities is fantastic, but switching between them takes you out of the action and into a menu. This makes sense, as the NES controller only has two buttons, but it does feel jarring.

And finally, although I touched on the difficulty earlier, Mega Man is a brutally tough game. The deck is stacked against you in a world where health is scarce, and combat is unforgiving. I can chalk this up to Mega Man being a product of the 80s, but this retro challenge definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted.


Mega Man: Mega Man is an exemplary platformer with creative levels, thrilling boss battles, and an iconic soundtrack. There are a few odd design choices, but if you can stomach the retro difficulty, it's a treat to play from start to finish. Anthony

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About the author

Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing his retro games rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He also loves speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.

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