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Mega Man 3

Released: 1991
Company: Capcom
Genre: Action

One of the problems of having a huge blockbuster hit in any forum is the pressure to make lightning strike twice. That's why sequels tend to be less popular than prequels - the expectations are set so high that they can't possibly be reached. This proves to be a bit evident in the third installment of the Mega Man series. While the game certainly has a lot going for it, and even improves on Mega Man 2 in some places, it just wasn't enough to top the sheer quality of the predecessor, and as a result this game can be viewed as a point of no return for the series.

It storyline: Dr. Wily appears to have gotten a grasp of better judgment and is now once again teaming up with Dr. Light. Now, they're going to work on creating a "peace-keeping" robot. Unfortunately, they're missing 8 crucial elements, and it's going to take our indigo warrior to take up this task. OK, OK, it's heavily transparent. But at least they're trying. Any Mega Man fan will tell you that no matter what the story tells you, Dr. Wily will always be behind the scheme one way or another. However, there's a new twist to the plot that I particularly like. His name is Break Man. This enigmatic robot appears in certain levels to test your shooting and hopping skills. It isn't until the very end that we find out just what the story is behind this guy. It certainly took me by surprise first time I beat it. The ending to this game does an excellent job of revealing BM's identity in a subtle, but still very definite way.

Mega Man 3 is certainly a game for the beginner. It would have been the easiest MM game, if not for the sheer bulk of levels you have to slog through to win. I mentioned that MM1 had only 10 levels, so the programmers made each one extra hard. In MM3, there are a whopping 19 stages to beat, so I guess the staff diluted each one's difficulty this time around. The only moderately difficult stage is Dr. Wily's second stage, and even that one is fairly easy. This is also the game where the order becomes a little strict: Granted, you can still choose the stages in any order, but for the most part only one weapon will work against a given boss. So, the stage order is unofficial at best.

Technically, this game is probably the best ever. The graphics themselves don't look much different than the game's predecessors, but the backgrounds and animations are an improvement. The bosses are drawn exceptionally well, and the flashing lights lining the floors and walls in Spark Man's stage are also quite cool. The backdrops to some stages are pretty cool, too. The teleportation background, with its flashing lights, adds to the atmosphere a bit, while Magnet Man's blue-magenta scenery in the beginning is also nicely done. Probably the best part about this game is its music. Why would I have remixed Spark Man's music if I didn't think it rocked? There are a number of other themes that I believe are the best in the series. Now that I have the complete series of Mega Man games, I'd be hard-pressed to give MM3 the title of best music in the series, but it's definitely among the candidates. The sounds themselves, however, are beginning to slip. They're a little high-pitched for my taste and less realistic. Case in point is the sound you make when you're hit. It was a definite "clank" in MM1 and 2, but I don't know what its become in this third installment. Unfortunately, this was one of the things about the series that never did improve beyond this point.

Play Control is also a very good part of this game. The newly-introduced slide makes for added speed and maneuverability, while Mega Man himself controls more tightly than ever before. The hit detection is excellent, and your movement is extremely responsive. One thing's for sure: You'll never find yourself throwing your controller on the floor because you didn't jump when you should have. My one irk is the lack of control when armed with the Top Spin. Luckily, it isn't used much, but it feels really awkward to jump at an enemy with the fire button down. Not only that, but there doesn't seem to be a pattern as to how much energy it uses. Sometimes it only uses one or two bars, while other times it saps almost all of its energy.

While the game isn't as fun as MM2, it certainly has its high points. Its great ending, superb music and frustration-free play control certainly adds to this factor. There are a few places, though, where the game loses its enjoyability and I have a "here we go again" mentality. Thankfully there aren't many of those places, but it's a bit of a scare to the rest of the series when you're not having fun with a Mega Man game. Still, it does have a lasting quality. While it won't be played as often as MM2 would, it still gets more than its share of playing time. The plot and ending certainly have a hand in that.

It ain't the best game out there, but Mega Man 3 can sure hold its own. Unfortunately, it's the last of the "great" Mega Man games. All of the others lacked the staying power that the earlier games possessed.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 16
Challenge: (Easy)
Thrill: (Boring)
Aesthetic Score: 18
Overall Score: 81%

You are now listening to a remix of the Spark Man Stage Music to Mega Man 3.