Gameological Q&AMega Man 2 Day

Mega Man 2: Metal Man

Men Of Steel

Each Robot Master has his own charm. We make our personal picks.

By The Gameological Society Staff • May 9, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

Today’s Q&A is part of our day-long celebration of Mega Man 2—in honor of its release 25 years ago, we’re paying tribute to the game and to everything Mega Man. So the question for this Q&A is simple:

What’s your favorite level from the Mega Man series?

Steve Heisler

The Mega Man games are unforgiving. They require precise timing and grueling concentration. Which is why when this question was posed, my thoughts immediately went to the Metal Man level from Mega Man 2—because it provides a small respite from the challenge. After a few playthroughs of the game, it’s clear that this level is the one you should complete first, before you’ve built up your powers. There are conveyor belts galore that speed you along and teach you to find your footing. Metallic enemies come at you from all sides, but they easily succumb to a few hits from your wimpy gun. Metal Man’s stage is essentially a tutorial, one that teaches you the controls and establishes the game’s frantic vibe without bashing you over the head with it. Defeating Metal Man nets you the ability to throw large saw blades at enemies, each with the power of, say, a large saw blade being thrown at someone. If you can navigate the tricky but relatively gentle traps of Metal Man’s abode and weave your way around the man himself to victory, you can accomplish anything.

John Teti

Each Mega Man game required the developers at Capcom to come up with eight colorful “Robot Master” bosses, along with elaborate lairs tailored to each bad guy. After a sequel or five, it gets tough to come up with something fresh, and that fatigue shows in Mega Man 6, which features such retreads as Blizzard Man and Flame Man. But I’ve always been charmed by Yamato Man, whose lair combines stereotypical Japanese cultural images with Mega Man’s usual anime-style goofiness. The level opens with a pretty rendition of Mt. Fuji and a Japanese cityscape in the background, and the attention to detail here is about as good as it got on the NES. (Mega Man 6 was the last game released for the system.) Yamato Man is pretty badass himself—done up in traditional Japanese warrior garb, one of his attacks is to hurl a spear. That’s a classic look. But the highlight of the level has to be the bonkers mini-boss you encounter halfway through (provided you take the right route). It’s a robot samurai, complete with topknot, who hurls bombs at you from atop a frog. Oh, and the frog has a laser cannon in his mouth. Mega Man 6 may not be a high point of the series, but it’s not without its flair.

Anthony John Agnello

Dr. Wily’s a real son of a bitch, but the guy’s penchant for creating adorable things sure does soften his edge. What kind of evil mastermind builds his army out of googly-eyed rabbits and ambulatory hard hats? How bad would a future dominated by Dr. Wily really be? Pretty damn awful going by the opening level of Mega Man X, a dilapidated highway where the rogue bots of the future are so desperate to kill you that they’ll destroy the ground you’re both standing on to do it. The sweet synthesized metal, the subdued pastel hues of the Year 2XXX cityscape—all of it makes one thing clear about Mega Man’s future: It sucks, for the people who live there. For the people playing, it’s awesome. Especially the ending, where you fight what looks like a version of Boba Fett given a makeover by Prince, and Hair Metal Mega Man saves the day. Unlike the old Mega Man series, X peaked right out of the gate, but even duds like Mega Man X5 through X7 can’t dull the blazing bleakness of Central Highway.

Drew Toal

I read somewhere once that a gentleman should always carry a lighter. Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for a Heat Man-style Zippo. I like the idea that any smoothness cred I get from flipping open the lighter and firing up a cigarette will be immediately nullified by the fact that I’m a grown man walking around with the likeness of a Mega Man 2 character in my pocket. The level itself has a number of things going for it, the most important part being the steady stream of MOLTEN LAVA! (Is it possible for lava to be un-molten? At that point, is it still even lava? It’s a mystery.) The other great thing is the blocks that phase in and out of existence. You use this uncertain footing to cross a lava pit, and if you time your jumps wrong, you’re charcoal. That’s cold.

Derrick Sanskrit

The Robot Master stages really hit their thematic stride in Mega Man 2 and 3. The unrelenting verticality of Crash Man, the disorienting blackouts of Shadow Man, and the blistering furnace of Heat Man’s stages were all early series highlights. No area to me feels quite as alive and horrifyingly on-point as Snake Man’s stage from Mega Man 3. Presented as though you were walking along the tangled bodies of thousands of robot snakes and greeted frequently by their giant angry fire-spitting faces, this stage is simultaneously terrifying and awesome. It feels like, at any moment, the ground beneath your feet will just wrap you up and drag Mega Man down into a robot graveyard. The brief respite up in the clouds—a section that would be unnerving and daunting in many other games—is positively relaxing in comparison to the reptile pit below. That calm is gone too soon, though, as it’s back to snakeskin walls and a Robot Master who tosses tiny serpents around the room like squirming robot confetti. Gah, so wriggly!

Zack Handlen

The first trick to Mega Man 2 is deciding which level to visit first. These days, that choice is a lot easier: A five second web search can tell you all which bosses have which weaknesses. But when I was a kid and had two days to get the most out of the cartridge before I had to return it to the rental store (I didn’t own a Mega Man game until the Mega Man Collection came out for the GameCube), the possibilities froze me up. All of those cartoon bad guys looked inviting, but every level I’d go to would be harder than I expected. Mega Man 2 is great at looking simple but then throwing you off with timing that forces you to take a hit unless you land every jump perfectly. (And that blue bomber could never jump very high.) I’ll always have a fondness for the Air Man stage. I don’t know if it’s the best designed of the bunch, but it’s the level that pulled me in the quickest. All that sky makes every jump a little nerve-wracking, and those damn robot faces with the screws popping out of the side—there was a rhythm to them, sure, but the rhythm was never what I thought it was, and a quarter of the time, I’d land wrong and drop into oblivion. Yet it was just a little easier than the other levels. Mega Man 2 was the sort of game where I felt like I could never get good enough to beat it, that I’d always get up to Wily’s castle, and no further. But Air Man allowed me a way in, at least for a little while.

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  • Sleverin

    Storm Eagle, not for anything in particular but that song is totally insane.  So many great cover versions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKwyQXR7mQI.  Goddamn is this great.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Remember when you actually fought Storm Eagle? You jump to some ship and whoosh! It flies off into the air? Then you wreck it up and fight the boss on top of it, in the only “open” boss room of the game?

      It’s, uh, pretty cool is what I’m saying.

      • Sleverin

         Totally true.  That was hella epic when I was a child.

    • King_Ghidorah7

      As long as we’re posting badass Megaman music, check out this remix of the Snake Man Theme. Seriously, it’s awesome:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM-Fub7Oc_A

  • rvb1023

    Is it okay to say I have never been a Mega Man fan on the internet, or will I be ostracized and belittled like my friends do to me in real life.

    Though they did say I would like Battle Network for being Metroid/Castlevania-esque.

    • Flying_Turtle

      I make no promises about ostracizing or belittling, but I’ve never been a fan either. I don’t hate Mega Man, but I never played it when I was younger. The first time I ever played one of the Mega Man games was Mega Man 9, which I won back when Xbox Live had 1 vs. 100. I’m just terrible at MM9, and I see the affection that others have for Mega Man, and I wish I were part of the club, but I’m not.

      • itisdancing

        9 feels like it was made for “nintendo hard” fetishists. It most closely resembles 2 in terms of difficulty and weapons, although they even took away the charge buster. 2 is amazing and 9 is pretty neat but that kind of brutality is an acquired taste.

        Each of the later NES games got a bit easier, and the X series is very accessible. I’ve only played the first Mega Man Zero game and I loved it and highly recommend it.

        • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

          I very much liked the Mega Man Zero series, at least the first two. I didn’t even really get into 3 and 4. I think the series is less known and a little underrated for how good it is.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        9 is a pretty horrible place to start. If you ever want to give the series another shot, I’d say X might be the best entry point, or 2 or 3 if you can appreciate NES-style games.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        Mega Man 9 is hard, but fair. One of its favourite tricks is to make enemies spawn above bottomless pits. If you’re moving forward too quickly, you’ll take a hit and then plunge to your death. For the most part, once you’ve died at an obstacle once, you should never die there again.  

      • duwease

        Can I take a time-out to say how much I miss 1 vs. 100??  That thing was AWESOME.. so many good memories of, say, having family over for the holidays and playing that.  My wife, who is not a gamer in any sense of the word, actually misses that game.  We played every Tuesday.

        • Flying_Turtle

          I miss it too. It really was fantastic.

          My wife and I played that game a lot, not just the live shows, but we did quite a few of the “extended play” episodes too. I don’t really enjoy playing online, but 1 vs. 100 brought a different crowd out, and I even threw on the headset and talked to others in our groups.

          And the live shows were great. Given how hard a technical project it must have been, it ran pretty smoothly and was a lot of fun. Also, because you could win prizes from the crowd (like I shamelessly bragged about upthread), you still had something to play for if you weren’t the one or in the mob.

        • duwease

          @Flying_Turtle:disqus I wish they would’ve at least stuck with the concept of a live, interactive Xbox game show.  It was just so different, and so much fun.  I guess they just weren’t making enough on serving ads to 10,000 people to justify the expense, which makes sense.

          Never won a prize, but I did get #1 in an Extended Play once, through a combination of 60% knowledge and 40% blind luck.  Unfortunately, my only prize was a rash of messages from other players with some variation of “Nerd!!” or “Cheater!!”.  The first type was especially confusing coming from people who were playing the exact same game as me..

        • uselessyss

          Yeah, it’s one of those weird ephemeral games that will never be available to play again.

          10 years from now, 1 vs. 100 will only exist in the minds of the few who invested any time in it.

          Maybe that’s okay.

    • DrFlimFlam

      Yeah, I like it from a distance but have never been one for very difficult action/platformers. Mega Man and its ilk were the kind of game that my friends liked when i wanted to play RBI Baseball and Dragon Warrior.

      • Long_Dong_Donkey_Kong

         I don’t remember thinking the Mega Man games were extremely hard, that’s just how games were. Once you were an expert, you could get through almost any side-scrolling NES game in an hour or two, it was getting to be the expert – the hours and hours of trial and error – that gave the games their length.

        Nowadays, game designers figure you have another 15-20 hours to finish a campaign, so if you die, they just put you back in the same spot with unlimited lives and the ability to heal yourself if you stand behind a wall for a few seconds.

        • DrFlimFlam

          I probably wouldn’t think the games were dramatically more difficult than a Rayman Origins was, per se, but the Mega Man games never really interested me. Too much of it felt like work.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           If anything, MegaMan games were less hard than a lot of NES action games because, while they employed typically unforgiving NES-era game design, the controls and mechanics were SO TIGHT that you stood a good chance of overcoming those challenges with practice.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Wait, wasn’t Battle Network more Pokemon-esque than anything else?

      Are you talking about the Gamecube game from that series, that was a polygonal side-scroller (which I’ve never played)?

      • rvb1023

         My knowledge of Mega Man is little, so you may be right. Maybe I am thinking of X or Legends.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Legends were 3-D games that were a little bit Zelda-ey and a little bit Metroid-ey. They were wonderful games.

          If the game you’re remembering was 2-D, or portable, it might be one of the MegaMan Zero games, which sometimes toyed with a Metroid-style contiguous world, though I think you still had to “select a mission” to go fight a boss, like a typical MegaMan game.

      • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

        It had some minor castelvania-esqe aspects, in that you would have to revisit old areas in a new context, with different weapons/powerups/objectives. The world map would open up as you played, and the series would reward exploration and thorough searching of it’s areas.

        I would even argue Pokemon shares in this aspect a little, with it’s HM’s and badges.

        But speaking relatively as the Pokemon and Castlevania aspect relate, it was far more parts Pokemon than Castlevania.

    • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

      Me and my brother loved the Battle Network series, it resulted in some of the most fierce competitions I’ve ever experienced in a video game. Due to the random nature of the game, most of the battles where just crazy bonkers and at the same time hilarious, frustrating, and satisfying. Sure the series in general was a little broken and unbalanced, but it allowed us to express our personalities through our own preferences and techniques through the selection of the chips we used. I think it was better in this aspect than any of the Pokemon games ever were (as much as I loved Pokemon.) 

      I think the  difference for me lies in the fact that in Pokemon you have to express yourself through avatars, that each have their own personality. But in MMBN you play as the avatar himself, and get to choose his particular weapons and style, which is a more visceral correlation.

      • CountBulletsula

        I am a huge fan of the Battle Network games too.  My favorite addition to the series were the Liberation Missions in BN5 because you not only got to play as other Navis, but the problem solving aspect of those was fun too!

        I agree that battles could be crazy, and I just wish I had known more people who liked the BN games.  I could usually convince my brother to play but he never really got into it like I did.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    The first level of Mega Man X tends to remind me of this video by Arin Hanson, a.k.a. Egoraptor. The humor’s pretty crude, but it still gets some chuckles out of me.

    • vinnybushes

       I think he and JonTron are onto something with Protoman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YOZuBzY0sE

    • http://shadowfilter.blogspot.com/ Xenomorph

      @The_Helmaroc_King:disqus I came down here to post that very video. His analyses of the Mega Man and Castlevania NES and SNES titles are excellent; a great, funny, and incredibly informative bunch of critiques. 

    • duwease

      Was expecting typical internet rants, but he makes very good, informative points.  Also, the rants are funny.

    • Uncle Roundy

      I just barely can’t recommend that video. He makes excellent points, but the Roll-punching gets me every time. It just makes me so uncomfortable.

  • vinnybushes

    I like all of these picks, and I almost went with Bubbleman just because of the fantastic music, but I realized the level that stuck with me the most was The Terra stage from the Gameboy Mega Man V. Not only are you presented with a false final boss, but it turns out it was Wily all along, he nearly disintegrates you with a giant laser cannon and then you attack his base while the game turns into a shmup even though you’re totally outgunned. The final fortress area is brutal and menacing and was the hardest thing I’d ever played at the time. For a nine year old it was pretty goddamn epic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xvyKsvrFqU

    • Citric

      Hell yes Gameboy Mega Man V. 

      I also have really fond memories of the Saturn level, particularly because it was one of the first times I figured out a clever trick for beating the boss – I was 7 or 8. See, you charge up the mega arm when it does its suck thing, and it’ll suck the arm right into its hole (that came out wrong) and you get a few hits each time. I was proud of that at the time, and it stuck with me so much that when looking up the level to see if it was as great as I remember, I got frustrated with the guy for not doing that trick.

      (There’s probably a weapon that kicks his ass, personally he’s the first guy of the second set I did every time.)

      • vinnybushes

        I totally get it. I got pissed off when the guy in the video I posted didn’t use the weapon the boss was weak against.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        That game was such a wonderful surprise. After 4 gameboy games just rehashing characters from the NES games, we get a totally new one with cool themed bosses that defy the typical “-man” naming convention. AND MEGAMAN GETS A PET CAT. So good.

        • George_Liquor

          Dr. Wiley’s Revenge was the only game in the series I played as a kid. At the time, I didn’t know it was a retread of the first two NES games; I just thought it was an awesome platformer that played spectacularly well on the Game Boy.

    • Dikachu

      I’m gonna have to go with Bubbleman specifically for the music.  The stage is also pretty awesome, but the music is just the best thing ever out of the NES era.

    • Uncle Roundy

      GB MM5 is great even though the Wily reveal is hella disappointing. It’s like, “WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN ACTUAL SPACE ROBOTS?!?” Also, the Internet has ruined cats for me, but Tango should definitely be in more Mega Man things.

      My favorite song from that game was the theme from Venus’s stage. Short loops, but it’s amazing how they got a song that damn jazzy out of the tiny little Game Boy chip.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    I’ll have to go with Armored Armadillo’s stage from Mega Man X. It’s really fast, and you need to be fast in order to get the heart tank and sub-tank. After you’ve beaten all 8 robots, the level becomes the ideal place to farm health for your sub-tanks. Hell, the level’s so fun that I could just play it over and over even after my tanks are filled. Do this enough times, and you might even be rewarded…

    • Sleverin

       I actually got the Hadoken once.  Took me forever.  Note that you can’t use passwords to save that ability, if the power goes out it’s gone.

      • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

        The Hadoken is standard for me in Megaman X playthroughs, so that I don’t have to screw with fighting that dog-thing and Sigma’s first form at the end of the game. Just give them both one well-placed Hadoken. They aren’t super-hard to beat without it, but why bother when you don’t have to?

    • itisdancing

      I love Armored Armadillo’s level. Not only is it great for filling up your subtanks, but there’s reliable 1-ups too from the big bat. Stuff like that is why X is much, much easier than the NES games — you’ll almost never get resource-starved. Super Mario World and Link To The Past have a similar dynamic.

      It was insane — when I hooked up my SNES a while ago the first thing I did was play Mega Man X. I played it like I always had before — in one sitting, because I hated the password system — and, for the first time in my life, I got the Hadoken. On my first try. My 10-year-old inner self was ecstatic.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        One if my favourite changes between the 8-bit and 16-bit generations was that re-entering levels became the standard for platformer games. It made Super Mario World and Mega Man X much more forgiving than their NES forebears.

  • caspiancomic

    Are we allowed to pick based on BGM alone? Because if so…

    I was actually pretty late to the Mega Man party, starting with MM8 and X4 on the Playstation, so my favourite would probably be from somewhere in there. Possible front runner: Magma Dragoon’s stage in MMX4. Partially because his stage had a kind of emotional payoff, of struggling against this traitor who had your back as recently as the game’s intro stage. Mostly, though, because if you were sneaky about it, you could smuggle a mech into the boss arena and change the odds dramatically in your favour.

  • mattymaxxx

    The correct answer is : Bubbleman

  • itisdancing

    Man, those freaking drills in Metal Man’s level.

    The best thing about Metal Man’s level, of course, is that you get the Metal Blade afterwards. Still the best weapon in the history of the series, and pretty much the only reason that game’s difficulty is bearable.

  • tinwhistle1

    My favorite level has to be the Armored Armadillo stage from Mega Man X. I would constantly go back to ride the carts and watch dozens of robot bats, spiked wheels, and pick-axe-throwing miners explode beneath the wheels of a runaway cart. I also really appreciated the fact that your weapons seemed to slow down reflecting the speed at which you traveled and require a (little) bit of skill to take down the flying robot hawks in front of you. I was always a little let down when I reached the end of the stage and a lame armadillo was there to be taken apart by a little electricity. So more often than not, I just purposely fell down the pit to ride the rails again.

  • Drunken Superman

    I always liked Bright Man’s stage from Mega Man 4, with those dudes who you shoot to set off fireworks to light your way.  It was also the first MM game I owned, whereas I borrowed the first three from a friend, so I probably played it the most of any of them.

    Wood Man from MM 2 is great as well, for all the goofy enemies you face.  Robot monkeys!  Robot rabbits!

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    I’m gonna be a big ol’ jerk and say the user created levels from the PSP re-release of the original Megaman. Some people made these levels that “played themselves” by pushing Megaman around like some kind of weird rube goldberg machine. I for some reason love them.

    But if we’re being REAL, It’s probably Chill Penguin from X. That mech suit thing was awesome.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Like Automatic Mario levels, then?

      Only video I could find for the PSP version is this one.

      • Uncle Roundy

        obligatory

        plus it’s got Wily Stage 1 in it, so it’s topical!

    • CountBulletsula

      I didn’t get a chance to play these levels because I got a PSP real late in its lifetime, but I heard that people also made crazy Oil Man puzzle levels where you had to use Oil Slide in very specific places to get through.  I really liked that MMPU let you play as Robot Masters and also design levels for other people.

  • http://twitter.com/Tim_Kraemer Tim Kraemer

    That’s one hell of a question. It’s hard to top Armored Armadillo from Mega Man X for pure manic fun, with its ultra-fast railcars and burrower tank guys you need to kill from behind with the flamethrower, though I also love Storm Eagle from the same game and, as I’ve been picking Chill Penguin first for twenty years, that level has strong nostalgic value.

    Quick Man from Mega Man 2 is one of gaming’s best expressions of PURE FUCKING PANIC. Ring Man from Mega Man 4 (where you run on beams moving across the floor) was a lot of fun, as were Splash Woman, Galaxy Man and Tornado Man from Mega Man 9, which I thought was phenomenally well-designed all around; in my humble opinion the best Mega Man side-scroller since X.

    But one that shouldn’t go unheralded is the lone bright spot of shining creativity from an otherwise fairly mediocre Mega Man: Gravity Man from Mega Man 5, where the ceiling is the floor and the floor is the ceiling. When I first played that as a kid my eyes were popping out of my skull from how utterly crazy and nutty it was that a side-scrolling game was even doing this (I know now that the NES game Metal Storm, in which this is also the case, already existed, but I didn’t know that then). So-so game, great level.

    • 2StoryOuthouse

       Oh God yes, Quick Man. I was going to mention that if no one else did. I must have played that 100 times as a kid before I figured out those bars. Even revisiting it now and knowing what to expect, there’s a lingering sense of dread once that section starts.

      • http://twitter.com/zhandlen Zack Handlen

        I thought about mentioning Quick Man, but the fact is, I always had to use the Time Stopper to get through that level, so it felt like cheating. Awesome concept, though.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          I didn’t find it was cheating. It was a trade-off. If you use your Flash power at the beams, then you won’t have it for the boss.

        • http://twitter.com/zhandlen Zack Handlen

          I have a weird concept of video game honor, I guess.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

        I basically perfected that stage as a child and can still do it fairly well to this day. Unless I forget that Mega Man can’t slide in MM2, at which point I get vaporized like everyone else.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Like you, I’m seriously having trouble picking a favorite. The series has had so many amazing levels that were fantastic in so many different ways.

      I might lean toward Storm Eagle, b/c of its amazing MegaMan X cock rock wailing music, its plentiful secrets, its epic airship climax, and the effect it has on other levels in the game when you beat it (which kind of blew me away the first time I realized what had happened). But honestly, I could pull together just as strong a case for SO MANY of the levels from that series.

      • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

        Yes, I thought that was a pretty novel concept in MM3 and I really enjoyed it. At first I didn’t even really know what was going on. “What is this game throwing at me? This doesn’t fit within the normal Megaman conventions!” It was a pretty bit WTF moment for me.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          It was the first time the boss select screen had ever been hijacked to show anything other than the standard bosses, too. So it kind of subverted your “mental map” of the game and its contents.

  • cbforrester

    Best stage(s) in each game:
    MM1: Guts Man – short, sweet, and introduces the player to the most bullshit genus of Wilybot, the Giant, Hopping Motherfucker.
    MM2: Quick Man – Two words: Force Beams.
    MM3: Shadow Man – Barely even tries to have anything related to a ninja theme.  You’ve got to admire that kind of ballsiness in a level designer.
    MM4 (TIE):
    Dr Cossack Stage 3 – This is possibly the stupidest use of autoscroll in any platformer game ever.  If anything it makes the action SLOWER.
    Bright Man – “Sprite limit?  Fuck that, we’ll have twenty enemies on-screen at one time if we want.”
    MM5: Gravity Man – Wins by default because it’s the only stage in this fucking snooze-fest that’s even remotely interesting.
    MM6: Plant Man – The springs are simultaneously fun and rage-inducing when you inevitably propel yourself into an enemy that stops your jump cold and sends you plummeting into a pit.
    MM7: Shade Man – Most of the stage is just an excuse to riff on Ghosts and Goblins. Sadly they chose not to A) have everything kill Mega Man in two hits or B) force the player to complete the stage twice for no good reason.
    MM8: Uncharted Island (Intro Stage) – the only point in the game when the player does not yet realize the intensely horrible experience they’re in for. Seriously, this game is a total fucking embarrassment.
    MM9: Magma Man – Features one of the most hilariously bullshit trial-and-error hazards of any game in the franchise.
    MM10: Pump Man – While almost every stage here is impressively rage-inducing when playing on Hard Mode, this is the only one where nearly every jump you’re required to make is perfectly calibrated to make you hate life.
    MMX: Intro Stage – A perfectly-designed stage in terms of effortlessly teaching the player how to use the new skills at their disposal.  Also, it does a stellar job of establishing the atmosphere of the X series. The classic series never really conveys what a threat the bad guys are; it just sort of feels like you’re fighting them in their own little world. MMX paints a much darker picture right out of the gate. The player’s first visuals are running headlong into the fray as humans flee for their lives because their city has just erupted into a war zone. Simple, effective, and totally badass.
    MMX2: Magna Centipede – One of the things I loved about the X series was how many weird surprises it throws at the player, and rewards them for dealing with them. This stage is a cool example of that. At first you have no idea why these mysterious cursors are chasing X through the stage, trying to scan him. Then you reach a mid-boss and watch as the motherfucker gains a buff for each time it successfully scanned you. Also, this stage gives the player their first taste of the completely gratuitous yet awesome 3D wireframe rendering abilities of the Cx4 chip.
    MMX3: Every Single Stage – Yes, every stage in X3 is cool as hell. You should be playing this game right now instead of reading this crap. Seriously, what’s your problem?
    MMX4 and MMX5: Meh – While I really like both of these games, it’s hard to select any sort of meaningful “best stage” in either one.  At this point in the series, the stages are really just hallways full of enemies for the player to propel X/Zero through like a wrecking ball on crack.

    • DrFlimFlam

       So you like this Mega Man, huh?

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        OF COURSE BECAUSE IT’S AMAAAAAZING!

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I LOLed at the pointed absence of post-X5 games, though X8 was actually all right. It wasn’t memorable enough for a favorite stage to spring immediately to mind, but I remember Gravity Antonion’s rotating-room puzzles being kind of interesting?

      • cbforrester

        X6 was pretty much in the same boat as X4 and X5 except the stages felt even less distinct and even from a purely graphical perspective they were just bland as holy hell, so I didn’t even bother including it.  And at that point the ramping up of their powers made it a moot issue anyway.  While the new armors were cool and fun to mess with, from a pure gameplay perspective they were just a ridiculous amount of overkill. They were like something Tony Stark would design after an all-night Red Bull and meth binge.

        X7 was pretty much a steady stream of crap from beginning to end. And I say this as someone who was genuinely psyched about the general idea a 3D MMX game.  The only good thing to come out of X7 was Axl, who was actually a pretty cool character and provided a much-needed fresh face to a badly stagnating cast.

        X8 was definitely an improvement (though much of the improvement came from the design heavily backpedaling away from 3D, which was disappointing) and it does have several cool stage design concepts, even if none of them really get fleshed out nearly enough.  The Dark Mantis stage was pretty cool just because it was fun to see them try out some stealth elements in a Megaman game, even if done a really simplistic way.  And Gateway was awesome for taking something as rote as the obligatory boss re-fight stage and making it amazingly atmospheric, and for capturing a sense of heaviness and suspense not seen in the late-game since X5.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Since we’re deigning to bring up the crappy games, what are your picks for best levels from the two abysmal PC-only games? “MegaMan 3″ for the PC was so poorly designed I never actually found a robot master, because the levels were huge and broken and impossible to navigate.

      • Bad Horse

        WEAPON GET

    • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

      Concerning the Wilybot in # 1.
      Freeze it at the apex of it’s jump and just run under it. Best way to handle those guys.

      I loved Megaman 1 for all the little tricks like that, including clever use of the light-beam platform making gun to circumvent all the difficult platforming parts.

      IMO, It is something really great when a game is designed so that it lets you feel like you are ‘cheating’ within it’s own rules, simplifying otherwise difficult tasks. Megaman excels in this area.

      EDIT:Typo

      • cbforrester

        Yeah, Ice Beaming the giant cyclops robots was almost required in Wily Stage 1, where they throw like five of them at you in a row at the beginning.  The post-Robot Master stages were awesome because at that point the games transformed into a strategic exercise in weapon conservation.  At least until the later games went full Care Bear and gave you the ability to run around with nine tanks of reserve Weapon Energy, anyway.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         And sometimes it anticipates those cheat oh so well, like making the vanishing block segment in Heat Man’s stage just too long to traverse with Item-2. 2nd-grade me was so heartbroken!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

          It isn’t too long, but you have to know where to start. And you can’t screw up, obviously.

  • EmperorNortonI

    I did not own a console in my youth.  I am a PC gamer through and true.  However, the best friend of my later elementary/junior high years had an NES, and with him I played Mega Man 1 and 2.  They were both utterly awesome, but neither of us had anywhere close to the skill necessary to beat the final stages.  It took SO DAMN LONG to get to the final boss stage, and it was so utterly impossible ….. gah.

    Later in life, the rec room for my college program had an SNES, long out of date by this time.  I saw someone playing Mega Man X3, and it brought back some memories of the old days.  My schedule was a bit odd at the time, and so I was often there by myself, and I booted it up, determined to win it on my own.  It took a LONG, LONG time before I was up to speed.  It took a long time before I could beat my first level.  Everyone said that the guy to beat was this big Frozen Bison thing, which you had to jump over.  He was impossible for me, and I don’t know why.  I gave up on him, and started trying the other bosses.  I tried all the bosses, and found myself unable to beat any of them, but I did the best with this poison underwater starfish-face man, so I stuck with him.  People saw this, and thought I was crazy.  They said, “Go for the Buffalo, it’s way easier.”  Which I did, then failed, inexplicably.

    People saw that I was making progress, which was amusing. I was old, by the program’s standards, and while respected as the master of StarCon 2 SuperMelee and the best DM around, I was not noted for my console gaming skills.  They had seen me schooled in GoldenEye many a time, and had seen me try and fail at platformers before.  But I slowly and stedily made my way through the other bosses.  The password made this game possible, as I probably went through it over the course of three or four months.

    People told me of a Gold Chip, available only under excruciating circumstances in the last level.  I was determined to get it.  People laughed, and said it was impossible.  I grinded and grinded to fill my sub-tanks, and mastered the portion of the level one needed to pass perfectly.  I got the Gold Chip, and was ecstatic.  Plowing through the rest of the level, though, I ran into a problem.  Apparently, people said, the final boss was impossible without the Zero Sword, and to get it, you had to use Zero on a sub-boss.  I had never once used Zero.  I didn’t know how to use him, and I didn’t know how to use the sword.  But I followed their advice, having attracted a substantial crowd by this point, and tried the sub-boss with Zero.  All I needed to do was hit it once with the sword, but I failed, and died.

    By that point, I’d been playing for well over an hour, and was tired.  I just didn’t have the energy to keep going, and turned the console off.  “Oh, the Gold Chip doesn’t save to the game.  You’ll have to get it again,” someone said.

    Fuck that.   I never played X3 again.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      It sounds like people forced you into being a completist by insisting that various hard-to-get secrets (the Zero sword, the gold chip) were absolutely necessary to winning the game, making the game a jillion times more irritating than it had to be. It would be like telling someone they HAD to be at level 99 to stand a chance against the final boss of an RPG or something.
      I do remember it being one of the harder MegaMan games to get started in. Even as a seasoned player who had beaten every MM game up to that point, I also went through the process of having my ass handed to me be every boss in the game before I got a toehold. I think I realized I could enter the levels, find sub-tanks, heart tanks, and armor and stuff, then get a game over and explore other levels, and essentially “grind” my MegaMan to the point where he actually stood a chance against a boss.

      • EmperorNortonI

        Yeah, that’s about the truth of it.

        It is kinda interesting how the possibility of the save-game, and persistent items, made X3 so much different from the older MM games, in that pre-boss grinding was possible at all.  I did much the same thing, gradually acquiring minor upgrades and tanks before I could finally beat that first boss.  After that, it was much, MUCH easier.

  • Cloks

    This might be a non-traditional favorite, but my favorite level was Freshman‘s from the extremely unofficial TI-83 Megaman game. All the enemies in the game (aside from the bosses who were things like Paperman and Milkman) were floating T’s and I’s; the platforming was simple enough that it was beatable in a single math class and it ran like a charm even on a 6 mHz CPU. Freshman was clearly the best because beating his level meant you got the power to swear in game, which would damage all enemies on screen and was invaluable in finishing the game quickly on those rare days that math ended early. Overall, the game wasn’t quite as good as DOOM for the TI-83 but it was a fun, short platformer and a great example of the lengths that fans will go to just to get a fix on any available device.

    • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

      Amazing review to an obscure game that I have actually heard of and played.

      I love my old TI-83 plus silver edition, many science classes were spend coding goofy stuff in it’s built in BASIC-esque language  like a recreation of Conway’s Life and my own simple take on Space Invaders.

      • George_Liquor

        In High School, I wrote a turn-based battleship-vs-submarine game on my TI-85, inspired by a DOS game called Wolfpack. I had grand plans for it too, like a two-player mode that could send moves over the TI-Link cable. Alas, some wretched bastard stole my ’85 along with my backpack, and my game dev days came to an abrupt end.

        • https://twitter.com/tymcast Tyler Mills

          NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Right in the feels.

          I had my Gameboy Advance SP stolen in high school  with Final Fantasy Tactics inside of it. It was the only time I actually brought the thing to school too. I was working on making a team of all Moogle gunners, that all knew flame shot and held flame sheilds, so they could all heal each other from across the map. It was going to be so legit.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    I just realized how inappropriate it is that those tanuki in Yamato Man’s stage shoot giant balls out of their crotches.

  • CountBulletsula

    If we are talking about all of the different iterations of Mega Man, I would agree that X’s intro stage is the perfect level.  As has been said, it sets to tone for the X series so well, but it also throws you headfirst into learning the controls to the game. 

    I think my favorite plain old Mega Man level, though, would have to be Galaxy Man’s stage from MM9.  It has some of my favorite music in the game, and the background is really beautiful.  In addition there are so many weird and hilarious traps meant to kill you.  My favorite is that as you’re walking, a large clamp falls from the sky and tries to grab your head.  If it manages to succeed, it suddenly propels you in a certain direction with a crazy burst of speed.  The first time you encounter one, it grabs you on a flat straightaway with no real danger to be found.  Shortly thereafter, the clamps start hurtling you to your doom in the form of strategically-placed spikes that you can occasionally dodge with great jump timing.  The first time this happened to me, I cracked up laughing for a good minute because it was so unexpected.  In a game fraught with stupid ways to die (things popping out of holes in levels as you jump which hit you, kill your momentum, and lead you to fall down the pit from which they emerged), this stage was at least sort of amusing in trying to kill you.  I also enjoyed the brief puzzle involving you jumping into weird purple arrow things that teleport you to a different purple arrow thing while keeping your jump momentum.

    As far as the weirdest stages, I’m going to have to say Frost Man from MM8 and Jet Stingray from MMX4.  Half of Frost Man’s stage is a very hectic sidescrolling snowboard level.  The game likes to yell at you (JUMP!  JUMP!  JUMP!  SLIDE!  SLIDE!  SLIDE!) to prepare you for the, well, jumps and slides.  It’s so nerve wracking.  Jet Stingray, on the other hand, puts you on a rocket-powered jetski for the entire level.  There’s no helpful robotic voice screaming at you, but the level is just as hectic.  Jet Stingray himself even flies around the stage dropping blue and red stingrays just to piss you off.

  • blue_lander

    I don’t think I could choose a single level from Megaman 2 as my favorite, they’re all equally perfect.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

       This, but applied to 3 as well.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    The definitive answer is Armored Armadillo’s stage in X1. It has everything: fast minecart rides, small puzzles, tricky platforming, big setpieces, clever bonus item placement, and the Hadouken.

    (“What’s a Hadouken, Stefon?” “A Hadouken is when you throw a midget with its hair on fire into a mosh pit.”)

    But I’ll always have a soft spot for Wheel Gator’s stage in X2. The SNES was very good at portraying bigger and more insane setpieces later in its life, and Wheel Gator’s giant battle-tank thing was probably the pinnacle of that for me. It felt like you were actually in a massive alligator-shaped robot barreling through downtown!

    A close contender is Cyber Peacock’s stage inX4. For those who haven’t played, the stage gives you rewards every few rooms by evaluating you on how quickly you completed the previous area. Mega Man has always been a fast-paced series, but this is the only stage that was a race against the clock.

  • NakedSnake

    HOLY CRAP ITS MEGA MAN DAY!!!!!!!

  • duwease

    Trying to think back to each game, I realize they all sort of blend together for me.  I blame it on a Mega Man binge where I played 4-8 and all the X games in a row.. as was discussed on the forum last week, binging on a certain game type tends to blunt the excitement and muddy memories of the experience.

    I do clearly remember the first 3 however, as I played them when they came out and so had a big gap between each one.. not to mention I must’ve completed them a dozen times each.  My faves:

    MM1 – Ice Man:  The first appearance of those dirty little disappearing/reappearing platforms.  The first time you encounter these in the series, it takes FOR-EVER to get through, so it was nice of them to make it in a room with a floor. (Honorable mention: Guts Man)

    MM2 – Bubble Man:  Love that music.  Love the mechanic of having to rein in super-high jumps to avoid the mines all over the ceilings and walls. (Honorable mention: Quick Man)

    MM3 – Shadow Man:  The lights flickering in and out made things dangerous and fun.  (Honorable mention: Magnet Man)

  • NakedSnake

    Zach, you forgot to mention the best part about the Air Man stage: the Boss. Air Man was, to me, the definition of a hard but fair boss. Navigating through his maze of whirlwinds took hardcore memorization, but became second nature over time. Eventually, I could beat him without getting hit. None of the other bosses (that I can remember), give you that chance.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Weirdly, the MM2 manual insisted that you play Air Man’s stage first, going so far as to write a little walk-through of the stage for you. It was weird. Especially after deciding “fuck this” and finding Flash Man’s stage immediately to be a cakewalk.

      • NakedSnake

        Haha, they had a pang of remorse after creating an unrelentingly difficult game. I do remember the indecision I felt with every Mega Man game about what level I should invest in learning. You could spend a lot of time learning to beat a stage, only to find out that the boss was virtually impossible without additional firepower. It was important to choose wisely.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           That’s true – MM2 also had a “normal” and “difficult” mode, and the “difficult” mode was actually the way the game was released in Japan, while “normal” was a special easy mode made for those dumb roundeyes overseas.

        • NakedSnake

           I feel shamed.

        • ItsTheShadsy

          The worst is when you make a full circle through all the bosses and find nothing promising, like looking for a parking space.

        • NakedSnake

           @ItsTheShadsy:disqus You hit the nail on the head. That’s *exactly* what it feels like.

      • http://twitter.com/zhandlen Zack Handlen

        I’m pretty sure Air Man is also the only boss without a weapon weakness.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

           He was weak against leaf shield, but his tornadoes weren’t, which made it kind of a pain in the ass. Typically every boss in a MegaMan game has a weakness, you just need to decide at what part of the loop you want to step in with your Mega Buster.

  • PaganPoet

    Quick Man. Yeah, okay, the level is full of cheap deaths and it’s all about memorization and muscle memory, but the sense of urgency and adrenaline it gives you when you finally make it to the end is unmatched.

  • RedScarab

    That goddamn Quick Man level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gareth.hughes.1253 Gareth Hughes

    2 was the only Megaman game I ever played and I somehow accidentally stumbled on one of the optimal level orders without really trying. Airman first, then it all gets a bit hazy, although I do recall the bubble weapon destroyed one boss (I want to say Heat Man but who knows). I tried other orders after that but I somehow got it right on my first go.

    Nostalgia is making me want to pick up either 9 or 10 off PSN. Anyone got any recommendations or should I just leave Megaman as a happy memory?

  • George_Liquor

    For me, Elec Man’s stage in Dr. Wiley’s Revenge is a standout because the background music sounds like a Journey song.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       That was also the song in the NES version (though the NES has a little more complex instrumentation, I think).

      My friend and I, to psych ourselves up over that unforgiving game/level would sing the lyrics “EEEEE-LEC’S EEEEEEEEA-SYYYYYYY!” over the Journey chords.

  • Uncle Roundy

    Mega Man 6 was not the last game released for the NES. Wario’s Woods was the last licensed NES game. If you’re counting unlicensed games, then the last NES game was Sunday Funday, a Wisdom Tree reskin of a previous Color Dreams game called Menace Beach.

  • Spessartine

    Drew Toal: As a geologist, and a teacher, I feel obligated to point out that non-molten lava is known far and wide as “rock”.