Retrospective: ‘Mega Man 3’ adds new sidekick

Steven Dennis

With its first major financial success, Capcom wanted to ensure that the “Mega Man” franchise had a new entry released quickly. This new game would take many of the changes made to the formula introduced in “Mega Man 2” and tweak them for game balancing, while other entirely new ideas were implemented.

“Mega Man 3” was released in September of 1990, two years after the second game hit store shelves. It was greeted with praise in equal measure to its predecessor, with many still referring to it as a highlight of the original series.

Upon starting the game, players are greeted by a simple title screen, followed by the boss select screen. The lack of an in-game introduction to “Mega Man 3” is because the plot introduction is present in the manual. The infamous Dr. Wily appears to have turned over a new leaf, deciding to aid his former partner, Dr. Light, in the creation of a new peacekeeping robot named Gamma.

All seemed well until eight new Robot Masters begin to attack, aided by the mysterious Break Man, a robot with similar capabilities to Mega Man himself. It is inevitably revealed that Wily is behind this once again and it up to Mega Man to stop him.

The first major new mechanic to “Mega Man 3” is the slide. In previous Mega Man games, there was no way to duck underneath incoming hazards or low walls, but now Rock can slide with ease, allowing for greater potential in obstacle design variety and boss strategies.

Additionally, the items from “Mega Man 2” were replaced with Rush, Rock’s brand new robotic dog. Not only can Rush appear to offer Mega Man a greater jump height by using Rush Coil, but he can also transform into either Rush Jet or Rush Marine, allowing the player to move freely throughout the air and the water. Rush adds charm and character to what were simple moving platforms previously and is a welcome addition to the series.

Those that played the prior entries in the franchise may note that some of the Robot Master abilities of “Mega Man 3” bear remarkable similarities to preexisting ones, with the Shadow Blade being a particularly notable example.

In “Mega Man 2,” the Metal Blade ability considered somewhat unbalanced, allowing the player to attack in eight directions. “Mega Man 3” introduced the Shadow Blade ability, which performs similarly, but with shorter range, more energy consumption and usable in only four directions.

After reaching Dr. Wily’s fortress yet again, the mad doctor reveals his ultimate plan by unveiling Gamma, the robot that he and Light designed together. Upon defeating Wily the castle begins to crumble around them, knocking Mega Man unconscious, however he is saved in the nick of time by Break Man. Once Mega Man returns home, Light reveals that Rock and Roll were not the first robots with the ability to make conscious decisions, but rather Blues, or Proto Man as he is now called, who donned the disguise of Break Man. Blues lived under Light’s care for a time but left after the kind doctor offered to repair his broken power source.

This power malfunction allowed Proto Man to stray from his original programming, but at the cost of a shorter lifespan. Repairing it would certainly give him a longer life, but it would take away this absolute freedom in that it grants him.

The game leaves the players to ponder Proto Man’s decision and the nature of will and freedom of choice while fans eagerly awaited the inevitable sequel.