Third time’s just about the charm for the boy in blue

Mega Man 3 (1990)

The third instalment in any series can often be finely poised on the knife-edge of quality, and very rarely will they be middle-of-the-road – they could be sensational pieces of work, like Goldfinger and Rocky III. Or they can turn out properly lacklustre, like The Godfather III and, I’m sorry to say this, Back to the Future 3.

With the NES though, there was plenty of greatness where the number 3 was concerned. Plenty of great trees were pulled up, an Irishman might say. Super Mario Bros. 3 was the crown jewel of the system. Castlevania 3 was strong as well, Ninja Gaiden 3, Dragon Quest 3… we’ll not mention Double Dragon 3 – good things don’t always come in threes.

So how about Mega Man 3, then? Well, in terms of new moves and features, Mega Man incorporates a slide into his repertoire this time around. Wow, that makes it worth buying, right? Well, maybe so, because his new slide is not too dissimilar to the hood slide that you often see them doing in buddy cop movies.

There are times when the game even echoes a buddy cop movie, because every so often, Mega Man will run into his “brother” robot Proto Man. However, this usually turns into a mild horror when Proto Man lets out a weird, 8-bit whistle before trying to fight you to the death.

He’s probably possessed or something, I don’t know, we’ve gotten firmly to the point where the Mega Man story can be ignored, It’s like the third film in Chuck Norris’ repertoire, whatever on earth that might be – you already know exactly what you’re getting at that stage.

Yes, you know Chuck is going to be unleashing some serious swedging at whichever group of 5 or 6 extras are unlucky enough to get in his way this time, so you don’t need to know what any of the shallow motivations are, or insult your ears with any of the excuse dialogue.

Incidentally, when I briefly mentioned the slide and the brother bot, that was me giving you the sum of all innovations new to Mega Man 3. Or actually, there’s one more, which might make things even more worthwhile for you – Mega Man now has a robo doggie pal called Rush. Maybe, in the buddy movie stakes, this one is transforming from Point Break into Turner & Hooch.

There are a lot of glitches in the game as well, which can be activated by use of a second controller, things like moon jumping and immunity to enemies and everything. Well, I call them glitches, but maybe a more technical term is leftover debug stuff.

It doesn’t really matter either way, it just tells you that this game was a proper rush job, and I ain’t talking about Mega Man’s dog. Of course they were rushed, because that’s how Capcom got 6 NES Mega Man games to market from 1987 to 1994. And they don’t get any more ambitious, either.

I’d say Mega Man 3 is when the series’ Robot Master bosses began to get a bit weird, too. And since both of us have nothing better to do, we might as well run through all of them together. Like most girls I know, your attention will be immediately drawn to Hard Man, though he doesn’t look too hard in either physical sense of the word – he’s more like a fat bloke dressed in his mother’s pots and pans.

Those same girls will have had plenty of experience with Robot Masters like our next guy, Snake Man. He’s the type of fella who’ll get your nudes and ghost you, and he might even share them with the rest of the boys on WhatsApp.

I’m guessing here, I’ve never done anything like that – I assure you, your nudes are safe with me. Snake Man also quite literally fires snakes at you, and I can’t think of many things more dangerous than that, so watch out for this guy.

Mega Man 3 really must be Capcom’s attempt at marketing the series towards girls because there’s even a Robot Master in here based on the signs of the zodiac, and it’s only women who get wrapped up in nonsense like astrology and fortune-telling.

The guy whose livelihood I’ve just written off is Gemini Man, who also appeals to the female fantasy by attacking as a set of twins. If he didn’t look so ugly and if his stage didn’t look so cold, I’d say Gemini Man, both of them, would bring any woman to heaven.

But then, how many times have I been rebuffed by women because they didn’t feel a “spark”? What I needed to be was Spark Man, the electric Robot Master of the day, although you won’t be able to hold this guy’s hands – alls he has for arms is electric prongs, a bit like an American plug. But then, maybe some women are into electrotherapy?

Or perhaps I was rejected all those times because I wasn’t a Top Man – or maybe I should have bought my clothes from Topman? I do have a suit jacket from there, which I realise is as stereotypical as you can get, but what’s certainly not typical of the Mega Man series is the weapon you’ll win from Top Man here.

It causes Mega Man to do a mid-air dancing pirouette, which drains the weapon’s energy in split-seconds, and because you have to collide with enemies to do any damage, you’ll probably drain Mega Man’s life energy as well. Not to mention his attractiveness energy, that’ll be firmly out the window. No, when it comes to weaponry, or dressing to impress, I’m afraid Top Man is useless.

It’s clear I’m no expert in attraction, so I could definitely stand to learn a few lessons from Magnet Man, the master of attraction. He’ll always tell you that opposites attract, so maybe I’ll find that electrotherapy-obsessed woman coming my way after all.

Other than that though, I’m led to believe that magnets spell a messy end for any kind of computer, so Mega Man would be best advised to stay away from Magnet Man’s pull, if at all possible. But how could anyone be repulsed by that fashionable horseshoe magnet on Magnet Man’s head?

If you do manage to bag yourself that girlfriend, there’ll always be that nice honeymoon period, where you’ll be horizontal more than you’ll be vertical. Unfortunately it won’t be long until you start getting the needle with each other.

For this purpose, you might find yourself getting a visit from Needle Man, who quite literally carved himself out a living as a former prison shank-man for hire, before being recruited by Dr. Wily to deliver spiky punishment to anyone who defies him.

Needle Man is spiky on top, like me when I’ve been at the hair gel, although strangely I’d have to say Spark Man, with his pointy arms, looks a lot more needly. I think if you’re going to bully your missus into knitting you some socks, you should just tell her to stick to Spark Man.

I’ve left the best for last here; with an unbelievably cool ninja death star adorning his head, it’s Shadow Man. Well, when you and your missus get all dolled up and head out on the town, you must always make sure that she doesn’t completely overshadow you in terms of looks.

If you let that happen, you might find that your eye gets wiped by a well-hung Chad from outside. Shadow Man may very well be that Chad, and the only weakness he has for Mega Man to exploit is the interpretive dance techniques taught to him by Top Man. Well, if you think you can upstage Shadow Man on the dance floor, then by all means give it a go. Don’t hold your breath though.

That’s the eight Robot Masters dealt with, anyway. You’ll run and gun through some of their levels once again, this time to take out shadow bosses who behave similar to the boys from Mega Man 2. It’s a pretty poor attempt at padding out the game, if we’re honest. That’s the problem with men, or so women always tell me – no real substance or depth to them at all.

But being serious for one moment, Mega Man 3 is in serious contention with the second game to be crowned as the best classic Mega Man entry. And it probably goes without saying that Mega Man 3’s soundtrack is one of the finest beepy-boopy bops on the NES. And if you want a physical copy of the game, it won’t cost you a kidney, so by all means fill your boots.

It’s a good third instalment, not a turd instalment by any means. But you know that means nothing: Indiana Jones had three great instalments too. But then the fourth one happened, and that’s when all the hearts started breaking in unison.

24 December 2020

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