Welcome back! It’s time to slog through the next batch of Dr. Wily’s bitchin’ bionic bastardly bots. If you missed the trash heap of star, flower, lightbulb and centaur-themed automatons that made the bottom ranks of Part I of this list, feel free to take a peek!
A quick refresher on how these all these Mans found their respective places on this list: each one was judged on three parameters – stage design, boss design/battle, and music. The combination of these factors sent the list in some fun, unexpected directions – my personal favorite didn’t even end up at #1. It wasn’t a miracle worker, though… nothing can save the bosses of Mega Man 6 from the humiliation and disdain they deserve.
But we’re done with them now (hooray!) so without further ado, let’s move on! I now present the not quite amazing, but not quite terrible… not a blast, but not a bore… the thrillingly average group!
#29 Stone Man (Mega Man 5)
Stone Man’s stage has a little bit of everything – straightaways with enemies a-plenty to blast, fun platforming areas, and secrets to discover. His tune has always been one I was pretty partial to considering it appears in the tired fifth entry in the series, and one I think could hang with the tracks of Mega Man 3. The Man of Stone himself loses some points, though – first off, he’s obviously a blatant rip-off of The Thing of Fantastic 4 fame. Like, they-made-no-effort, lazily so. His battle is kind of a bore, in that he’s either hopping around or collapsing into a pile of bricks. If we’re gonna rip off superheroes and super villains, let’s grind this dude up and seeing if he’s any better as Sand Man.
#28 Ice Man (Mega Man)
Ice Man is surely a product of the first entry in the series – there’s no way he would look like a copped Ice Climber design if he appeared in any of the sequels. Still, there’s something charming about his look – he almost could pass off as Mega Man himself in a parka. Sure, you can make quick work of him with Elec Man’s weapon, but taking him on with the Mega Buster is a fun test of old-school video game reflexes – you’re forced to time quick, nimble jumps in between the gaps of his projectiles if you want to come out alive. The music in his stage falls under the better half of the tunes from the original Mega Man, but I’ve never loved his stage – the projectile-shooting platforms section is asking a lot, and feels at best cheap, and at worst, poor game design (maybe a little of both). It always forces me to use the platform upgrade, which then makes me feel like a cheater. In short, I DON’T LIKE THE WAY YOUR STAGE MAKES ME FEEL, ICE MAN.
#27 Pharaoh Man (Mega Man)
Even typing this up, I’m surprised to see Pharaoh Man ranking as well as he did. Toad Man is pretty bad, as has already been covered, but I’m pretty sure when I heard about there being a “Pharaoh Man” in the new Mega Man game back when I was 8 years old, I immediately thought, “oh… so these won’t be as good any more, then.” That might not be accurate, but he symbolizes the decline in quality for me. Past the surface, though, he’s not ALL bad. His stage is pretty fun – a cool hybrid of sinking sand, followed by platforming over spikes in a crypt-like area full of mummies. There are secrets to find, and the theme is a bit of a toe-tapper. Pharaoh Man himself has a pretty predictable design, and I don’t love his battle – he’s Mega Man 4’s token entry of “unreasonable to fight one-on-one, so find the freeze weapon first and just render him useless.” I’ve always found those a bit gimmicky.
#26 Hard Man (Mega Man 3)
One of only two bots on this list that scored a fully average 3-out-of-5 in all three categories comes Hard Man. As I mentioned in the previous post, I am of the (very unoriginal) mindset that Mega Man 2 is the best in the series, so no hot take to offer in that regard. I do think, however, that Mega Man 3 is a VERY close runner-up – Mega Man’s new slide ability makes for some interesting maneuvering in boss battles, and the game isn’t yet tainted by the charge shot introduced in Mega Man 4. In that regard, I think Hard Man’s stage is pretty decent, but not much of a standout. The music is far from bad, but not one I will ever remember how it sounds without actually hearing it. The stage has some fun enemies, and a Proto-Man battle, but bears its share of gripes, as well (too many bees – enough with the bees). The Hard Man duel has cool opportunities to both slide and jump away from trouble, but his freezing of the screen when he slams into the ground always felt more annoying than an actual challenge to deal with.
#25 Gyro Man (Mega Man 5)
I really dig the concept/design of Gyro Man. Expectations are low by Mega Man 5, and he feels like a cool idea that was executed well – he looks like a badass. I always found his battle to be fun, too; the way he hurls out his spinning projectiles and ambushes from behind the clouds makes for some cool changes. That may be one of Mega Man 5’s saving graces – the battles, for the most part, feel a little fresher, if not very challenging. Gyro Man’s stage has some challenges to offer in the way of an upward-scrolling area with spikes aplenty, but in a way that doesn’t feel cheap. His jam doesn’t really go anywhere near the idea of “catchy tune”, though, and knocks this late over-achiever back a few spots.
#24 Needle Man (Mega Man 3)
I remember always traveling to Needle Man’s stage last. I don’t know why – it’s not like he’s overwhelmingly difficult. Something about him just never clicked with me – his level isn’t very distinct, his music is “meh”, and his design is also pretty bland. I may have been a little too hard on him, though. The stage is a little on the simple side, but has some fun needle obstacles to avoid with the slide, and some platforming to go along with it. Porcupine bots fit the theme, and Needle Man himself is actually pretty fun; the angled projectiles he fires off from the top corners of the room provide a chance to use some fancy footwork, and his expanding needle scalp attack prevents you from getting too comfortable. Putting up a decent challenge earns Needle Man this mediocre spot.
#23 Elec Man (Mega Man)
Alright, we’re finally hitting the batch that start to stretch above average. I love Elec Man’s theme – to my ears, it’s quintessential Mega Man; not just the original entry, but the series as a whole. The stage is a bit of a mixed bag for me, in that I never really love the ‘avoid-the-obstacles-as-you-climb-a-ladder’ challenges (mostly because of all the sitting and waiting they entail), but I do love navigating small platforms and exploring multiple paths. Like most of the original Mega Man boss battles, his leaves something to be desired, but I’ve always dug his sorta wannabe-superhero look. He embodies the big potential this series had from the outset.
#22 Napalm Man (Mega Man 5)
Napalm Man is pretty damn cool. Finally, a clever twist to the overdone Fire/Heat/Flame themed boss. He looks intimidating as hell, and his stage has it all, including a cool jungle motif with tiger bots to avoid, underground caverns to jump through, and water obstacles to deal with. A great soundtrack to blast away enemies to certainly doesn’t hurt, either. The fight is a challenge – it’s my preferred kind of bout where you’re forced to keep moving, and choose your shots carefully. If nothing else, the dude has tank treads for FEET. Good job on this one, Wily!
#21 Dive Man (Mega Man 4)
A bot named DIVE MAN in the low 20’s? Doesn’t seem right! Dive Man is a reach of a concept, that’s for sure. He also looks like a clone of Hard Man that came out wrong. But then you fire up his stage, and it starts to make sense. The tune is REALLY catchy right off the bat, and you’re immediately traversing over dangerous water with fish bots jumping at every angle. The stage offers some decent variation, with the usual underwater spikes to avoid, whale mini-bosses, and a few areas that take you out of the water. Dive Man himself doesn’t deserve any awards, but he’s better than he appears at first glance – his submarine aesthetic is pretty cool, and provides a unique twist on the overdone charge attack. He goes down pretty easy, and it’s the experience of his stage and music that propel him to this spot.
#20 Fire Man (Mega Man)
Chalk up Fire Man’s theme as the brother to Elec Man’s – you can just hear the foundation of every awesome Mega Man tune in this earworm. It also fits the pace of the stage itself – tense and foreboding. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome, including spouting flames, stalking fireballs and huge flame waves. Fire Man’s design treads that line of half cool/half silly, in that he looks like an Olympic torch come to life. His battle is so-so – as I mentioned, I prefer to fight the bots with the Mega Buster, and this fight just isn’t conducive to that… it quickly becomes a war of attrition. Still, a strong showing in the earliest entry earns him a spot in the top 20.
#19 Ring Man (Mega Man 4)
This is a great stage, pure and simple. I love the rainbow platforms that disappear as you walk on them. A simple change-up like this, from the usual falling platforms, can make a whole stage feel fresh and unique. Later, the disappearing yellow platforms work toward confusing you – they now disappear from opposite side of the rainbow platforms you just got accustomed to. The day/night variation, mini-bosses, and focus on hopping toward your goal make it easily one of the most fun in Mega Man 4. Despite his pushover-sounding “ring”theme, Ring Man is tough to battle mano-a-mano – he’s relentless with his large retractable ring projectiles, and moves quick. I’ll hand it to you, Ring Man – you’re a tough bastard.
#18 Shadow Man (Mega Man 3)
I could see this being another point of contention; a ninja-themed bot with a badass name like Shadow Man sounds like a shoe-in for, at least, the top-10. And don’t get me wrong – Shadow Man is a very cool boss. However, his stage was never one I really looked forward to. The area when the stage darkens and you are forced to blindly jump around, desperately looking for the next platform to reach, feels more annoying than challenge. Towards the end, you are forced to traverse some platforms over lava, and parachuting enemies descend as you approach the gaps. Of course, the age-old trick of faking the enemies out with a half jump works, but they sway at awkward angles that feel a little cheap if you get struck. Any tune from Mega Man 3 is, at worst, very passable, and that’s how this track always was for me – a little run of the mill. Still, complaints about any area of Mega Man 3 are nitpicky at best, and a cool design and a fun final battle keep Shadow Man from falling too low.
#17 Bomb Man (Mega Man)
First and foremost, another great introduction to the music of Mega Man on this stage, and as a quick aside, I have to admit, I somewhat brushed off the greatness of the music in the original Mega Man for a long time. 2 was always the musical masterpiece, with 3 doing a decent job holding a candle to it’s predecessor, and everything else to me was just low-fat granola bars. I then heard this masterful cover of the original Mega Man soundtrack, and became a believer. But I digress! The music is fantastic in Bomb Man land, and his stage is a fairly easygoing blend of pits to cross while avoiding projectiles, including some Bullet-Bills that wandered too far off of the Mushroom Kingdom. Touting a pretty sweet moniker and a badass look, Bomb Man leaps wildly around his arena while tossing out bombs that would make Wile E. Coyote proud. He’s a bit slow, but it’s a fun exchange capping off a great stage.
#16 Gemini Man (Mega Man 3)
This is a stage and a boss that I do like a lot, but wish I enjoyed more. The level is decked out in a pretty cool theme – interstellar overworld descends into flooded trippy-neon-bubble-block lair. The plethora of bubbles to break provide plenty of opportunities to stock up on extra lives and E-tanks, which is nice, and there’s a great water section that perfectly utilizes the Rushmarine (for an easier experience) or allows you to test your finely-tuned platforming skills (for more of a challenge). The background song is decent, and memorable, but not my favorite. I feel the same way about Gemini Man himself – he’s alright, and sort of embodies the idea of Mega Man 3 for me, but there are cooler bosses. I always thought his sprite had a monkey-cyborg vibe going on, and while his weapon is badass, the fake mirror version of him you must differentiate feels somewhat gimmicky.
#15 Dust Man (Mega Man 4)
Yes, coming in at the relatively high rank of 15 is the Robot Master themed after a vacuum cleaner. Say what you will, but I’ve always dug the experience Dust Man has to offer. His stage feels like you’re exploring the ruins of Spark Man’s level from Mega Man 3, offers up a poignant/chilling theme, and provides a decent mix up of obstacles, including materializing platforms and threateningly descending ceilings. It’s easy to mistake Dust Man as a walking television, but his hybrid of inhale/exhale attacks make for an interesting battle that changes up the pace a bit, although he is somewhat simplistic. Whatever the case, you’ve got that certain something, Dust Man, that earns a special place in my heart.
And that wraps up our second batch! Quality has definitely improved from the lowest ranks explored in the previous entry, but now the fun truly begins. Part III will feature Dr. Wily’s finest work; fifteen cyborgs making up his magnum opus; the perfect trifecta of lair quality, musical composition, and boss-badassery. Feel free to weigh in on any bots you think were robbed thus far, or were given more credit than they were due. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the final installment!