Review by SPaul

Reviewed: 06/06/02 | Updated: 06/06/02

A step up from its predecessor, but still a test of patience.

The second of the Hi-Tech series of Megaman games (don't ask about the title...even I don't get it), Megaman 3 is yet another example of how ports have definitely been better in recent years. The problem is, Megaman 3 was not very recent.

In the 2 years since the release of the first Megaman for the PC, quite a bit did change. For one, the number of robot bosses doubled from 3 to 6: Oil Man, Wave Man, Shark Man, Bit Man, Blade Man, and Torch Man. This extends gameplay slightly, which may or may not excite you depending on whether you liked the first one. What was nice about these bosses IS the fact that they are original bosses, found nowhere but this particular game (although Bit Man and Wave Man's pictures on the title screen are direct alterations of Hardman from Megaman 3 NES and Megaman 2's Wind Man, respectively). Once you select a level, you fight through it and its various monsters until you reach the boss. Upon beating the boss, you gain their weapon for use on later levels. Each boss has a weakness to a specific weapon which will kill them very quickly. After that, its a 'simple' matter of fighting through the rascally Dr. Wily's 'fortress.' The reason for 'fortress' is that instead of the multi-level extravaganza that Wily's fortress normally resembles, there is merely one level containing the six robot bosses again, plus three more bosses. The reason for 'simple' is because this level goes on forever, can kill you quicker than any of the levels in the game, and contains enemies placed just right so they can hit you long before you can hit them.

Now, some fans of the series might applaud the fact that I say, without doubt, that these games are the hardest of the Megaman series since the rest aren't all that hard to beat. There is a good reason it is hard: the controls are horrible. The bosses are simple with simple patterns, the enemies die rather quickly...but try to jump a simple gap in Bit Man's level and watch as our portly Megaman (who still looks like he downed too many cheeseburgers) falls to his doom. This is not a test of skill, merely a test to see whether you will actually try to beat the game or break the floppy disk in half (you know, whichever comes first).

Not all is bad about Megaman 3, though...in fact, it has the most original concept of anything since the powerup system of Megaman X. What is this, you may ask? Quite simply, very open, very explorable levels. Instead of the occasional sidetrip to gain a powerup, some levels actually have multiple paths that lead to completion (notably Blade Man's water tunnels and Oil Man's sewer system). Though most of the other levels are generally railed to completion, the fact that so much world is available to explore is refreshing. Plus, Megaman can swim in this version, a feature that many, many, many regular series players would have killed to use.

The real beef of this game is that it requires such precise timing to avoid being hit that most gamers would be put off by it. Some sequences are so convoluted and annoying that they simply defy explanation. Blade Man's stage is the biggest offender here. At one point, Megaman must climb a series of blocks to reach the top of a tunnel. In order to do so, he must avoid a laser gun that bounces off of walls and changes direction depending on his location, dripping oil (why is that dangerous to a robot, anyway?), and a group of well-armed enemies near the top. Dying here is not the problem. Getting hit ONCE is. If hit once, Megaman apparently falls THROUGH the floor he's standing on and ends up...you guessed it...all the way at the bottom again.

By the way, those of you who like collecting Energy Tanks for use against the tougher bosses...forget it. If you lose all your lives on a board, every Energy Tank you've collected to that point is gone forever. When you find them and you need them, you'd better use them.

So, again, even though Megaman 3 IS better than Megaman 1, I still wouldn't recommend it except for diehard collectors. It's clunky, sounds terrible, and worst of all, it's boring. And that kills games faster than anything else.

GRAPHICS: 6
Megaman is still a little too rotund for my tastes, but some of his animation has been cleaned up and added to (his swimming is particularly sharp). The enemies look a little more developed, too, with a wider variety. The bosses are all individualized, but lack the fine detail that made the original's (that is, the first PC Megaman) so pleasant. One interesting detail to note: Why does this version have EGA (16 colors) as its best graphics support rather than the VGA (16+ colors) of the first Megaman, even though it came out later?

SOUND: 1
Same general PC speaker bleeps that were in the first one. Most people had soundcards of some kind by 1992, so this is no excuse. Well, it was ONE guy programming, after all, so maybe...nah. Look at all the mods people do today.

CONTROLS: 5
Better than the original's, but still lousy. Megaman's jumps are a little more controllable, but don't have the level of finesse that they should.

OVERALL: 5
Like I said, for diehards only. There's not much more I can say.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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