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Best Mega Man Game for a First-Timer?

Grildon Tundy

Gold Member
First off: I like video games. Case in point, I have a NEOGAF account. I have an informal checklist to play classic series that still have good word-of-mouth in the 2020s, in the case that I missed them contemporaneously on their release.

One glaring blind spot in my CV is the Mega Man series. But there are a ton of them..and even multiple series and spinoffs within the franchise, as I understand it. It's a bit overwhelming.

So I wanted to ask you all: in 2022, what's your vote for the ideal Mega Man game to start with for someone like me? Someone who played Mega Man 3 when they were way too young to understand it and kind of liked Shovel Knight? Ideally there'd be a Mega Man game that the hits the sweet spot of: 1) released towards the beginning of the series, 2) holds up today, and 3) contains the elements which define the series. Or whatever game you think would be a good fit.

Thanks in advance!

UPDATE: After reading everyone's responses, I went with Mega Man 2. I was debating between it and Mega Man X. I almost went with X since I was worried that 2 might be too dated, and that all you kind people may have been biased by nostalgia. But I'm pleasantly surprised how well-designed and "modern" feeling MM2 is, a game from 1988.

Especially the intro! Opening text over a cityscape, explaining who Mega Man is and that bad dudes are coming for him. I thought it was a static shot, but the camera starts panning up the skyscraper. On and on it goes. Then it lands on Mega Man at the very top overlooking the city. Title drops in MEGA MAN 2 in the space to his left. How cool was that?!

I'm at Wily's Castle Stage 2 right now. Taking down the bosses one by one was satisfying and the levels were just the right length. Surprising how short they were, actually, but that's a good thing. The upgrades you get from beating the bosses are fun. Figuring out which tool to use to get past certain enemies is compelling.

Playing this game made me think of early electronic music--you go back to the 80s when folks were first starting to figure out how to make music using computers. There's a lot of crap 80s electronic music, just like there's a lot of crap NES games. But then you've got people like Yellow Magic Orchestra or Aphex Twin that just sound ahead of their time to this day, because they were musicians first and foremost--and the computer was the instrument they happened to choose. Whoever made MM2 can make a m'fuggin' GAME--even on the NES. Doesn't matter what the platform is. It DOES make me wonder what these game makers could've done nowadays, though.

wondermega wondermega , you mentioned wanting to hear an update, so here you go!
 
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Garnox

Member
Only reason I didn't say MM2 is because it didn't have the mega buster and slide that became a staple for the franchise.

BUT 2 is considered the title that put MM on the map and yes, Bubble Man's stage music is heavenly.
 
I finished the first three Megaman games as my introduction to the series a few years back and I thought they were okay, but they aren't all-time classics

Maybe the X games are good but I haven't played 'em...

My personal recommendation is the Megaman Zero series. I highly doubt any of the other Megaman games are as good as they are. But at the same time it's kind of a separate thing, so.... whatever
 

Northeastmonk

Gold Member
Mega Man X.
This. X introduced the wall jump, which was a game changer. I’d say X saved MM from the dark ages. I also like classic MM, but I’ve played way more of the X games on SNES than any other Mega Man game. It’s worth playing the classics, but even the art to X stands out. I actually enjoyed the traditional Mega Man games years later, after indulging in the X series. X felt like the Super version of Mega Man. I can still appreciate the NES games, but gameplay wise X is the best.

Zero takes some time because of how they paced a few of those games. Same with some of the later X games. I guess continuity wise, Mega Man is pretty consistent. I feel like they want to mess with the formula with later X games and especially Zero’s entries.
 
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01011001

Gold Member
Mega Man X
or maybe Mega Man 5 and 6

stay away from MM1 and 2, they have their hardcore fans but they have issues if you look at them through a modern lens. the controls in MM1 are pretty sluggish for example and while they were improved in MM2 they are still not as crisp as from MM3 onwards... these games are an aquired taste IMO
 
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Nautilus

Member
Honestly? If you mean the original series, MM 11.Its pretty, its the most modern by far, and a great game. MM 2 and MM3 are probably better, but they are old school hard.MM 11 is more newbie friendly by far.

But if you mean Megaman in general, then Megaman X. Best entry in the franchise, and best series inside that franchise.
 
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MrMephistoX

Member
Mega Man 2 and its not even close.
In fact MM2 is the only one youll ever need.

Bubbleman stage music for life.
2 is the easiest to recommend but I have a soft spot for 3 it was my first and I owned it whereas I just always borrowed 2 with my friends and vice versa. Similar sitch with Castlevania he owned 2 I owned 1 and then we both did a Bart and Milhouse and pooled our funds to get 3 after renting it a ton. Cheat answer is Wiley Wars on a Genesis emulator.
 
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SpiceRacz

Member
Start with the mainline series, specifically 2, 3, & 6(I think? Might be thinking of 5). 2 & 3 are on a lot of Gaffers lists of all time favorite games. 6 is the most underrated game in the mainline series.
 

Doom85

Member
 

ChazAshley

Member
As Mega man is one of my favorite series - let me offer you a more thorough rundown of the games - (gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite games) If you have the time to do so, these descriptions are mainly so that you get a full appreciation of the series. (Kinda like starting off with the first game of a series to get understand all the easter eggs and references, etc.)

MM1 - Rough around the edges - has some game play mechanics that later games fix - Probably not a good game to start off with because it has that "nintendo" difficulty - I would recommend coming backing to it after you enjoy the rest of the series.

MM2 - One of my favorite games that I can always go back to. It only took one sequel to solidify some of the major fun aspects of the Mega Man franchise. If you want to start with classic Mega Man, this is honestly one of the best places to begin - still has that hint of "NES difficulty" that can be frustrating - but if you have time to invest or are playing on a system that has extra QOL improvements - go with this.

MM3 - the constant contender for me with MM2 on which one is my favorite. Both have their perks. I do like MM3 mainly because of the introduction of the slide mechanic. It just helps make the action more fast paced and opens up a lot more possibilities of enemy/boss designs. The soundtrack (like 2) is a banger - and I can't really articulate it, but MM3 feels like a very "polished" game compared to the first two. Also a great pick to begin with.

MM4 - This game is good, but feels like Capcom was trying to experiment with some new things that they wouldn't perfect until later games. The charge shot is the biggest addition to the game that some fans and purists debate over. In short, people like the normal shots of Mega Man rather than holding down the button all the time, charging up shots. Great game, but not sure its one that you want to start with.

MM 5 - Similar to 4 but much more polished. I love this game, but one of the major flaws (imo) is the Charge shot is way too powerful in the game which makes the rest of the weapons useless.

MM 6 - An excellent game - but you can kinda tell that at this point the NES was at it's last months of life and Capcom was trying to just squeeze out as much $$$ from this franchise in this generation. Nothing significantly new other than some neat tricks here and there - good game to play but probably not the best to start with to fully appreciate the series.

MM7 - the first classic Megaman on 16 bit - I do not hate this game, but it's probably one of my lower ones. Mega Man just feels too slow in this game and it's stocked with so many secrets that I feel like it misses out on some fun action within the level design. Try it out - but probably not the best representation of MM imo.

MM8 - This might draw some hate, but I don't understand why people weren't too fond of this game. MM8 takes what I believe, the good parts of the MM series and just makes it better. Sure the voice actors are terrible, but I love this game - fun bosses, cool level designs, and probably the game with the best weapons overall. Highly suggested for your 2nd game to play through if you're looking for something more contemporary.

MM 9 - and 10 - Do me a favor - do not play these games UNTIL you've played the classic ones first. Please play the others first so you can fully appreciate these games. 9 is awesome - 10 is more of the same - but man 9 just hit all the right nostalgia for me but has just enough new stuff to make it fresh to play.

MM X - one of my favorites that I go back to - but I recommend playing the classics before starting the X series (a find suggestion for a 2nd choice)

MM x2 and x3 - I'll be honest, cuz I know there are some huge fans of these two games - but I never really got into x2 and x3 - mainly because the weapons were just so terribad. The bosses were cheesy and the story was meh, more of the same.

MM X4 - Not only one of my favorite Mega man games - but favorite games in general. I love this game - Still recommend you start with the classics - then go with this game after X1

MM X5-X6 - more of the same - but has the same problem as MM 7 - too many extras to worry about - Also, both have levels that are contenders for the worst level design in all of video games. But fortunately there are some mods that fix these.

I haven't played 11, X7-8 - (I know, I hang my head in shame) but hope this helps!! MM is worth getting into!
 

Maddux4164

Member
As Mega man is one of my favorite series - let me offer you a more thorough rundown of the games - (gives me an excuse to talk about my favorite games) If you have the time to do so, these descriptions are mainly so that you get a full appreciation of the series. (Kinda like starting off with the first game of a series to get understand all the easter eggs and references, etc.)

MM1 - Rough around the edges - has some game play mechanics that later games fix - Probably not a good game to start off with because it has that "nintendo" difficulty - I would recommend coming backing to it after you enjoy the rest of the series.

MM2 - One of my favorite games that I can always go back to. It only took one sequel to solidify some of the major fun aspects of the Mega Man franchise. If you want to start with classic Mega Man, this is honestly one of the best places to begin - still has that hint of "NES difficulty" that can be frustrating - but if you have time to invest or are playing on a system that has extra QOL improvements - go with this.

MM3 - the constant contender for me with MM2 on which one is my favorite. Both have their perks. I do like MM3 mainly because of the introduction of the slide mechanic. It just helps make the action more fast paced and opens up a lot more possibilities of enemy/boss designs. The soundtrack (like 2) is a banger - and I can't really articulate it, but MM3 feels like a very "polished" game compared to the first two. Also a great pick to begin with.

MM4 - This game is good, but feels like Capcom was trying to experiment with some new things that they wouldn't perfect until later games. The charge shot is the biggest addition to the game that some fans and purists debate over. In short, people like the normal shots of Mega Man rather than holding down the button all the time, charging up shots. Great game, but not sure its one that you want to start with.

MM 5 - Similar to 4 but much more polished. I love this game, but one of the major flaws (imo) is the Charge shot is way too powerful in the game which makes the rest of the weapons useless.

MM 6 - An excellent game - but you can kinda tell that at this point the NES was at it's last months of life and Capcom was trying to just squeeze out as much $$$ from this franchise in this generation. Nothing significantly new other than some neat tricks here and there - good game to play but probably not the best to start with to fully appreciate the series.

MM7 - the first classic Megaman on 16 bit - I do not hate this game, but it's probably one of my lower ones. Mega Man just feels too slow in this game and it's stocked with so many secrets that I feel like it misses out on some fun action within the level design. Try it out - but probably not the best representation of MM imo.

MM8 - This might draw some hate, but I don't understand why people weren't too fond of this game. MM8 takes what I believe, the good parts of the MM series and just makes it better. Sure the voice actors are terrible, but I love this game - fun bosses, cool level designs, and probably the game with the best weapons overall. Highly suggested for your 2nd game to play through if you're looking for something more contemporary.

MM 9 - and 10 - Do me a favor - do not play these games UNTIL you've played the classic ones first. Please play the others first so you can fully appreciate these games. 9 is awesome - 10 is more of the same - but man 9 just hit all the right nostalgia for me but has just enough new stuff to make it fresh to play.

MM X - one of my favorites that I go back to - but I recommend playing the classics before starting the X series (a find suggestion for a 2nd choice)

MM x2 and x3 - I'll be honest, cuz I know there are some huge fans of these two games - but I never really got into x2 and x3 - mainly because the weapons were just so terribad. The bosses were cheesy and the story was meh, more of the same.

MM X4 - Not only one of my favorite Mega man games - but favorite games in general. I love this game - Still recommend you start with the classics - then go with this game after X1

MM X5-X6 - more of the same - but has the same problem as MM 7 - too many extras to worry about - Also, both have levels that are contenders for the worst level design in all of video games. But fortunately there are some mods that fix these.

I haven't played 11, X7-8 - (I know, I hang my head in shame) but hope this helps!! MM is worth getting into!
Very comprehensive list. I approve of this message!
 

Maddux4164

Member
The soundtrack alone makes the first MM worthwhile, but I like the overall "mood" of the game too, it's lonely feeling in a way, Megaman against the world kind of vibe
It’s true. It has that lonely vibe. It’s definitely got the “Nintendo hard” going for it. But I’m guessing now the new updated releases has rewind or whatever. I own the legacy collection but can’t recall if it has rewind. Wouldn’t ever use it. But it’s welcome for those who want to.
 
It’s true. It has that lonely vibe. It’s definitely got the “Nintendo hard” going for it. But I’m guessing now the new updated releases has rewind or whatever. I own the legacy collection but can’t recall if it has rewind. Wouldn’t ever use it. But it’s welcome for those who want to.
It's the first game I learned how to emulate, so it's got a soft spot regardless of the shortcomings. I liked it so much I ended up getting it's NES cart later on, it's pretty neat trying to beat it on it's original hardware...Ice Man's stage with the flying platforms I usually get stuck on :pie_grinning_sweat:...but as you mentioned, "Nintendo hard"...I recently got the PSP remake, Powered Up, and style asides, I like how it has a "classic mode" which is a homage to the OG game in certain ways and the main "remixed mode" I think it's called which is the remade portion of the game, a feature I wish more remakes would adopt
 
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Maddux4164

Member
It's the first game I learned how to emulate, so it's got a soft spot regardless of the shortcomings. I liked it so much I ended up getting it's NES cart later on, it's pretty neat trying to beat it on it's original hardware...Ice Man's stage with the flying platforms I usually get stuck on :pie_grinning_sweat:...but as you mentioned, "Nintendo hard"...I recently got the PSP remake, Powered Up, and style asides, I like how it has a "classic mode" which is a homage to the OG game in certain ways and the main "remixed mode" I think it's called which is the remade portion of the game, a feature I wish more remakes would adopt
Fireman can be brutal and requires pixel perfect timing

Also the magnet beam is damn near required unless you enjoy dying lol

But yes, the music is phenomenal and it’s just such a classic. Anyone skipping this game while actively wanting to play classic mega man… is simply doing life all wrong.
 

wondermega

Member
The correct answer to this must truly depend on what kind of a gamer you are. For a lover of the classics, such as myself, I am always going to be strongly affected by the nostalgia of these (earlier in the series) games when they were new. All these years later I still find myself drawn back to the earliest iterations - Mega Man, same with Contra and Castlevania, even Super Mario Bros - because of the excitement of how fresh and unusual they were and the impression they made on me. But also because they had a palpable excitement that was evident from the people who were making these games back then, you could tell that they were "drunk with power" as far as having so much more resource to work with as compared to what gaming was like 5-6 years earlier (literally still like Breakout and Space Invaders - still great classic games as well, but by these early Nintendo years we were already seeing massive leaps in presentation as well as game mechanics and gameplay depth).

And with that I will liken it to being a music fan - do you like the albums by a band when they are more established, have a nicely-produced sound, have worked out their formula and can cruise on their strengths while knowing how to steer away from their weaknesses? Or do you prefer to listen to a bands' older, rougher stuff - perhaps when they were still finding their footing, playing in garages and crappy dingy clubs, far less experienced with a lot rougher edge, but also probably a lot more energized and driven, hungry, raw? Sloppy and problematic at times, but with enough good stuff in there that you can see why the band eventually got big and hit the mainstream?

It is exactly the same case with these classic games. Playing the original NES Mega Mans, especially the first three, are pretty rough, not wonderfully balanced, they have some bits that are definitely a drag. But you can also see the things they were trying, the wild ideas and legit groundbreaking gameplay chances they were taking that hadn't really been done before. It's pretty remarkable to go back and see the place where all of that began. And it isn't just a history lesson for the sake of it, because those old games are STILL gripping and just really fun, even if in a pretty basic way. The attention to detail between the graphics, audio, and boss characterization and how the gameplay ties it all together is something pretty special to see. Again, you can see this in other prototypical games of the period as mentioned above, but somehow Mega Man is a little unique even among them in ways you'll see if you go there.

So to sum up - first three are god-tier, yes they are a bit of an acquired taste but if you have a little patience and a bit of a discerning eye, I think it's easy to say a modern gamer can still get a huge load of enjoyment from the oldest of these. I'll say at the very least, start with MM1 first, and at least beat a boss or two. If it is feeling like too much of a slog, go for either 2 or 3 (basically interchangeable, although I prefer 2). Interested to hear your follow-up OP!
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
Mega Man 2, not because i think it's the best (frankly that title goes to MM9) but because it's the easiest game to get into and relatively easy compared to the likes of 1 and 3 which are cheap for the sake of cheap
 

CashPrizes

Neo Member
It's Mega Man 2, no other answer is anywhere close to being correct.

You play Mega Man 2, feel free to use a guide for the boss order. You should be able to beat the 8 robot masters no problem, Wily's castle is super tough so don't feel pressured to beat the whole thing.

The play Mega Man 3

Then Play Mega Man X, and then Mega Man x2. And then you can stop because the rest are shit compared to those 4 games.

If you were really really enjoying Mega Man 3, you can play 4 and 5 but it is diminishing returns. 6-8 are all bad. 9 and 10 are great but very hard and not as good as 2 and 3.

If you were hardcore into Mega Man X1 and X2, you can play X3, but it isn't nearly as good.
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
For a first-timer? 11. It’s pretty tough, but it never gets as obtuse as some of the older entries. It’s well balanced, and the weapon wheel makes it snappier to play. Plus, it’s readily available and it’s a standalone game, so you won’t be burdened with a collection if you don’t like the genre after all.
 

PhaseJump

Member
MM2, MM3, MMX, MMX4


Those were the releases that did everything great at the time.


I like 4 and X3 as well, but I wouldn't put them above any of the great ones. 3 & X are the ones I always went back to over the years.


Shit post time though: The best of the worst Megaman games Megaman on PC from 1990. Glorious. Horrible beyond comprehension. Crap of exceptional stankiness. Legendary in it's badness.
 

Shifty

Gold Member
Low-key pick: The PSP remake of the original game.



It's super polished, has classic, arrange and challenge modes, new robot masters to go alongside the classic six, a plethora of unlockables including playable bosses and the abilities from later games, and even a Mega Man Maker-ish level editor if that's your bag.

The trailer's a bit long-winded, but it gives a good overview of all the stuff they added:

 
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cireza

Member
The first games have game-design issues, like being stuck at a boss where you need a specific weapon but might not have any ammo for it, and no practical way to replenish it.

I suggest starting with 4.
 

Grildon Tundy

Gold Member
It's Mega Man 2, no other answer is anywhere close to being correct.

You play Mega Man 2, feel free to use a guide for the boss order. You should be able to beat the 8 robot masters no problem, Wily's castle is super tough so don't feel pressured to beat the whole thing.

The play Mega Man 3

Then Play Mega Man X, and then Mega Man x2. And then you can stop because the rest are shit compared to those 4 games.

If you were really really enjoying Mega Man 3, you can play 4 and 5 but it is diminishing returns. 6-8 are all bad. 9 and 10 are great but very hard and not as good as 2 and 3.

If you were hardcore into Mega Man X1 and X2, you can play X3, but it isn't nearly as good.
MM2, MM3, MMX, MMX4


Those were the releases that did everything great at the time.


I like 4 and X3 as well, but I wouldn't put them above any of the great ones. 3 & X are the ones I always went back to over the years.


Shit post time though: The best of the worst Megaman games Megaman on PC from 1990. Glorious. Horrible beyond comprehension. Crap of exceptional stankiness. Legendary in it's badness.

Thanks for all the advice, people! After reading everyone's take, I think these games are the frontrunners, since I gather that they hold up/are relatively polished/contain the series' defining qualities:

MM2, MM3, MMX, MMX4

Now, one tough question: I would be willing to bet that MMX holds up to modern 2D games compared to the NES MM2/3, and I don't want to be put off the series by the potential NES stodginess if there are real gems I'd be missing...So which of these should I start with?
 
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