Since the vast majority of the Mega Man games play in a similar manner, the Game Hints deal with only general hints on where to find items and accomplish tasks in that particular game. I have compacted all of my general strategies, tidbits, and tips into this file, along with some other details that may be helpful to people.
This page describes what I call the “traditional” genre, meaning the one that Mega Man debuted under. It describes how games of this type are played, for those who may have never played a Mega Man game before, then goes into details about items you may see lying about, and any general tips that apply to the game genre as a whole. Note though that of course this information does not apply to any Mega Man game that is not of this style (the Game Hints pages will identify these).
Please note that most of the descriptions below use just “Mega Man” to stand for whomever your player character happens to be; in some games you can control other characters (Bass for example), but their control is generally the same as is outlined here. So just substitute the name of the character you happen to be playing as anywhere you see “Mega Man.”
Most of the Mega Man games—the ones I am covering here—are side-scrolling action games, A.K.A platform games.
The biggest difference between Mega Man and any other platform game is the fact that you can choose the order in which you tackle the main levels of the game, and you also usually acquire one or more weapons in each of these levels, which adds some strategy to the order in which you choose. Note that in all Mega Man games, all of the initial stages can be completed without any items or weapons (unless that item is given to you at the start of the game). Because of this, you can complete the stages in literally any order, although many cannot be fully explored without certain items, and some are more difficult to complete without certain items—though never impossible.
The player takes control of a little blue robot by the name of Mega Man (natch) or, occasionally, various others. On the stage select screen, you choose a stage by selecting the robot boss that ends the stage (these bosses are known as “Robot Masters”). At this point, Mega Man is teleported to a predetermined spot, and the level begins.
Most levels travel from left to right. Mega Man must move through obstacles—jumping pits, avoiding spikes, climbing ladders, and fending off foes—to find the boss which closes the level. There, he must face off in a one-to-one battle in an enclosed room, where the battle does not end until one of the two combatants is destroyed.
Continue Points and 1-Ups
What I call “continue points” are locations (usually invisible) scattered throughout each stage, with more or fewer of them per stage depending on the game. Should Mega Man perish along the way, and he has an extra life (“1-Up”) to spare, he will be teleported back to the nearest continue point that he reached and can attempt the stage again. Should he be defeated when his lives are at 0, the game is over. At this point the player can usually choose to retry that stage (this option is usually labeled “Continue” on the game-over screen), or pick a new one (typically called “Stage Select” or something similar).
Some games have what I call an “intro stage” that you must play before you can actually choose your stages on the stage select screen. You only need to play this stage when you start a new game; however, in most games you can go back into the intro stage again later if you wish.
After the initial selectable stages, the game usually advances to fortress stages which are played out in a predetermined order. There might be one or two fortresses in a game, each usually with four levels. Rarely are items or weapons acquired here. Usually the major bosses of the previous levels must be fought again in the fortress. Then, the game ends when the player wins the final battle against Dr. Wily.
The Mega Man games are applauded for their superior play control, detailed graphics, and catchy music. The play mechanics are simple but polished. Mega Man doesn’t have a lot of moves, but what he has suffices. Below is a list.
- Mega Man stands roughly one and a half blocks high, so this means his helmet can be clipped by anything under two blocks. He doesn’t need much to stand on—usually one foot on firm ground is all he needs to remain standing, though exactly how far off a ledge you can go and still remain standing depends on the game. Experiment with each new game you get to learn his limits in that particular one.
- Mega Man runs at a decent clip; though it’s not especially fast, he can run continuously hours on the end without tiring. In his games Mega Man runs at only one speed.
- From a standing-still position, Mega Man can jump three blocks high. When you do the calculations, this comes out to almost nine feet. That is a lot by human standards, but in his games, Mega Man actually cannot jump very high at all, relatively. Most video game characters soar to heights much surpassing the blue bomber—actually, Mega Man is one of the lowest jumpers in the industry. But that’s okay, because we still love him.
- Twin plasma cannons are Mega Man’s principle method of attack. He is equipped to be able to turn either arm into a cannon and fire spheres of energy at his foes. The type of plasma he uses normally emits a yellow-white light, though sometimes it turns blue or even pink depending on its strength. In his games, Mega Man can fire at any time except while sliding. Usually he can have three shots on the screen at any one time. Shots that are busy hitting a target do not count. In some games, a super-shot counts as the three shots, which means he cannot fire again until it strikes something or disappears off the screen.
- In most of his games, Mega Man can “charge” up energy before firing in order to increase the size and strength of his shot. Hold down the fire button to begin accumulating energy in Mega Man’s system. Watch his colors change until you have reached the desired level, then release the button to fire. In most games, Mega Man can reach three levels of charge. The first level is his normal arm cannon shots. The second level is a slightly larger sphere of plasma that usually doesn’t do any additional damage, it’s just bigger. The third level is the “super-shot” which is both larger and more powerful.
- Mega Man can climb ladders and certain other structures by pressing Up on the controller with Mega Man positioned so that he’s standing in front of the ladder. If you press the jump button while clinging to a ladder, Mega Man will let go and begin to fall. (In some games, this also happens if you open and close the subscreen.) Press Up while falling over a ladder to grab on again. Press Up to climb up, Down to climb down, Left and Right to control which way Mega Man aims when you press the Fire button. Note that in some games, you can pause in Mega Man’s “getting off the ladder” stance at the top of a ladder—this can be used to avoid projectiles.
- Only Mega Man can slide in his games; everyone else dashes instead. To slide, hold down on the control pad and press the jump button. I admit this can be an annoying operation, as often you will slide when you meant to jump, and jump when you meant to slide. Still, the slide is useful for getting a burst of speed, fitting through one-block passages that Mega Man cannot run through (he needs two blocks to walk), and for ducking obstacles. While sliding, Mega Man is only one block high, which means anything over that block will not touch him.
- This is the nifty stuff that refills Mega Man’s “energy meter” which is the yellow/white bar at the top left of the screen. An “energy unit” is a single bar in his meter. He usually has a maximum of 28 units, though some games are different. Energy capsules are the large yellow spheres you often find during the game. Energy pellets are the smaller ones. Capsules give you more energy than pellets. Colored capsules or pellets are weapon energy, which refill Mega Man’s current Master Weapon, if he has one equipped. They will also refill weapons with which he is not equipped in certain games.
- Master Weapons
- Mega Man can grab weapons from certain enemies. They appear on his weapons screen (also known as a subscreen) and each has its own energy meter. Think of this as ammunition. When a weapon’s meter runs out of energy, Mega Man can no longer fire that weapon, although he still has it. Refill Master Weapons with weapon energy. Mega Man changes colors when he equips a Master Weapon so you can tell what weapon you are currently using.
- The various Mega Man games introduce various “tanks” though their general purpose is always the same. Tanks store supplies of energy which Mega Man can carry around until needed. (Energy capsules and pellets cannot be carried but instead are absorbed on contact.) Energy Tanks store a full supply of energy for Mega Man which will refill his energy meter at any time. Weapon Tanks hold weapon energy to refill Mega Man’s Master Weapons. Mega Tanks and Super Tanks carry compressed energy which is capable of refilling all of Mega Man’s weapons and his own energy—all in one shot.
- Extra lives. In the game they look like Mega Man heads or helmets sitting on the ground. Collect these to earn extra chances at completing a level. When you lose a life, you go back to the latest continue point that you had passed. Most levels have three continue points—one at the very beginning of the stage, one somewhere around halfway, and one between the gates that lead to the stage boss. In most games, continue points are placed in empty rooms where you will not be blown away as soon as you reappear.
- Don’t think you have to destroy every enemy on the screen in order to pass. Oftentimes it is much quicker and easier to simply run by any robots that aren’t directly in your way. You’ll end up with more energy to spend on the boss in this way.
- Use caution in new areas. Don’t jump blindly over pits or down ladders unless you know what’s below you. Capcom loves putting deadly things at the bottoms of ladders, and loves placing little robots that shoot out of pits when you try to jump them, thereby knocking you right into the pit. Until you know the level, always climb down ladders, and always stop at the very edge of any suspicious-looking pit. (This will trigger any robot that might be lurking below). Impatience can be deadly, after all.
- Mega Man can be hit several times before perishing, and there is no penalty to his performance even if he has only one unit of energy. Don’t fear taking hits, for as long as your goal is accomplished, it doesn’t matter how much energy you have left.
- Also don’t fear dying. If this were real life, you couldn’t take half the chances you do in a game. But it’s not, and extra lives are plentiful and continues are infinite (except in rare cases). Sometimes it is better to sacrifice a life in order to get ahead. For instance, you might grab an Energy Tank over spikes and die, but at least you get to keep the Energy Tank. In such cases, you are literally committing suicide to get the item, but you get to keep the item even if you Continue, so you end up ahead. (Note: Suicide 1-Ups are ineffective.)
Learn the scroll technique. You can scroll enemies onto the screen and sometimes even scroll them off. Use this to make enemies appear or disappear according to your time table.
- If you get to a boss with little energy, and you have lives to spare, don’t use any Master Weapons on the boss. Let him kill you off if he will, then when you come back you will have a full energy meter—and a full Master Weapon!
- If you are fighting a boss with your last life, you can go ahead and blow all your weapon energy on him, but don’t necessarily waste your tanks. The game will remember that you’d used the tanks and you won’t have them even when you Continue.
- If you are having troubles beating Robot Masters, take a break and hunt for items. In games with the Item Replicator, gather P-Chips/Bolts to build yourself items. Enter stages, gather items, and even fight the boss at the end for practice; when you lose all your lives, you can pick a new stage. You will discover that a few items and some practice makes a world of difference.
Keep an eye out for places where you can quickly gather energy and 1-Ups from defeating enemies. This can be any place where enemies pour in continuously while you stand still, or where you can pace back and forth in a relatively small space scrolling enemies back onto the screen.
- Passwords to the end of the game take you to the first station of the first fortress in that game. Therefore, don’t bother writing down any of the passwords you might get once in the fortress(es) unless you pick up some nifty items. In the same light, don’t overwrite your password (or save file, depending on the game) if you’d just blown all your tanks on one of the bosses!
- In many games, when you lose all of your lives while in a fortress (the final group of stages of the game), you will be given a list of choices. If you managed to get more than one stage into the fortress, be sure to pick “Continue”—this will put you at the beginning of the level where you died. Choosing “Stage Select” will place you at the very beginning of the fortress! Beware.
- Mega Man is invincible for a short period of time after he is hit. In most games, he can even safely touch deadly things such as spikes or lava without dying. (Note: This doesn’t work in Mega Man 1.) Use this. Sometimes it is better to purposely take a hit and run across spikes than risk losing a life.
- Rush is invincible to spikes. Doesn’t that just make you jealous?
- If you are facing tricky jumps over a spike-bottomed pit, try dropping the Rush Coil onto the spikes first. Then if you fall, you can simply land on Rush and let him vault you out of the pit.
- Do you hate spikes? Annoyed by the infamous “Disappearing and Reappearing Blocks”? Are blocks giving you the drop or lifts taking you too far? If you have items like the Rush Jet or the Magnet Beam—use them! Usually their energy is pretty easy to refill, and they will save you some heartache.
- Everyone knows that Master Weapons can be used for more than just fighting bosses. Well guess what: they can also be used for more than just fighting, period. Try using them to open new paths or to otherwise fool with your surroundings.
- Use Rush Adapters. In Mega Man 6, if you aren’t using a Master Weapon, try keeping the Rush Jet Adapter equipped at all other times. Its jet boosters can make your life a lot easier. In Mega Man 7, once you get the Super Adapter, you can use it in place of the Mega Buster except in areas where you need to slide. When you get the Proto Shield, it can replace the Mega Buster altogether.
- In games where you can charge up, don’t always think you must. Sometimes it’s much easier and more effective to use a turbo controller instead. (Some people call this cheating, but if you have it, flaunt it!) Charging up takes time, whereas you can usually much more easily simply pump enemies with rapid-fire shots and destroy them faster.
- Charge up before entering the gate that leads to a boss battle. It’s always nice to get in a good first shot! With most bosses, you can remove your finger from the fire button as soon as the game freezes you to introduce the boss. Then the instant you have control, you will fire. Unless the boss jumps immediately, you have a guaranteed hit. This doesn’t work in some games.
Use ladders to your advantage. Try hanging onto the bottom rung of a ladder and firing at enemies from there, instead of dropping down where they can reach you. Also, you can often cling to the top of a ladder and fire at enemies’ feet from there while their shots go right over your head. This works especially well with Joes.
- Mega Man’s slide can be used to avoid such projectiles as the bolas thrown by Hammer Joes. If you have no room to jump, try sliding!
- If you’re slipping on ice, jump. This will stop your movement instantly.
- When facing teleporting hatches where you must battle a group of Robot Masters a second time through, fight the hard ones when you have full energy, and the easier ones if you are missing some energy. When you defeat a foe you gain an energy capsule, so taking on easier enemies while you are lower on energy not only increases your chance of winning (without using a life or an Energy Tank) but also means you may come out of the battle with more energy than when you went in!
- If you find an energy tank when you already have a full stock, and you are low on energy, try using one that you already have before picking up the one you’d just found.
- In most games, items such as energy capsules, pellets, and tanks that are placed in a level (as opposed to items dropped by enemies) will not come back if you take them and then die. You must leave the level to get them back. So don’t take stuff that you don’t need at the time because you might need it later!
- Blocks and barriers you remove with weapons like the Crash Bomber and the Super Arm often will remain destroyed until you either exit the stage or lose all your lives and continue, though some (such as walls broken with the Hard Knuckle) will return—often as soon as you leave the screen.