The Mystery of Wily Castle's Pipe

We blew your mind with the "Capcom Hand," and now it's time to present another wild peculiarity of Mega Man. So what could be so baffling and incredibly mysterious that you need to drop everything you're doing and read this right now or else you'll die? It's... a pipe! Ok, maybe it's not that awe-inspiring. But it is a curious element that has found its way into many Mega Man games, and you may never have even noticed.

What is the pipe? I don't know, really. But it's been featured on nearly every one of Dr. Wily's fortresses. However, it actually got its start with Dr. Light's laboratory.

Here is the first time we witness "the pipe." And sure, it seems pretty underwhelming. What could it be? Maybe it's a chimney? Maybe it's an air duct? Maybe it's a vent for the commode? Truth be told, as a kid, I always thought it was half of the Magnet Beam stuck to the side of the house, for whatever mindless reason. So whatever it is, certainly there's nothing really special about it. But it would return.

Here's the first time we see it on Dr. Wily's castle, from Mega Man 2, but it will be far from the last. Whatever this pipe is for, it's not just necessary for small homes, but for huge fortresses of peril too!

Mega Man 3, another new fortress, and the pipe returns. Its shape and color tend to very, but it's virtually always at the same angle and located on the same side of the structure.

On Wily's snowfield fortress in Mega Man 4, the pipe is rather pronounced. Maybe this is just a smaller castle overall?

Wily's castle in Mega Man 5 does not feature the pipe, but it's also one of the stranger looking castles. Maybe it's just somewhere out of sight... This castle also has no background elements, which makes it kind of depressing looking.

The pipe returns in Mega Man 6, showing that even Japanese style buildings seem to require it. Now perhaps you're saying, so what? Wily's castles feature a number of repeating elements, such as skulls, cannons and satellite dishes. This is true, and I don't think there's anything super special about the pipe. But why does such an insignificant structure appear so frequently? Why the intention to include it as much as possible? We're far from done here.

The pipe jumps to 16-bit in Mega Man 7, looking almost out of place on this otherwise symmetrical fortress.

Mega Man 8's fortress does not feature the pipe, but again, this is a pretty weird one. It has a lot of tiny little details as well, so maybe it's still hidden in there, somewhere.

Dr. Wily's castle in Mega Man 9 also does not feature the pipe, and this really blew me away when I was investigating this. With all the little nuances of classic Mega Man that Mega Man 9 picked up, I figured surely the pipe would be here! But sadly, this castle does not possess it. I suppose they just forgot to make it.

Now we reach Mega Man 10, and the pipe returns! Over 20 years later and this element is still recognized! Clearly there's some kind of meaning behind it! However, there are yet more games. The pipe also makes its appearances in the Game Boy series.

This one is so small and blended in I almost overlooked it. It's really hidden in there.

Mega Man II for Game Boy is remiss of the pipe, but it's featured again in Mega Man III.

And in Mega Man IV, not only does it appear once...

but twice! Apparently, even spaceships need this mysterious architectural element.

The pipe really sticks out here, in this scene in Mega Man V that completely rips off Star Wars (and heck, the ship is called the Wily Star, even). This is the only case the pipe appears on the left side, but it probably had to be with how the scene is set up.

The pipe even shows up in a couple more obscure games.

Here we see it in Mega Man: The Wily Wars. It seems put in as almost an afterthought.

And finally, here it is in Mega Man's Soccer. I like that this design also incorporates a soccer ball.

Once again, I really have no idea what the pipe is supposed to be, but I doubt it's anything special. But for whatever reason, the developers at Capcom thought it was important to put such a simple thing on nearly every Dr. Wily castle. And I truly doubt we've seen the last of the pipe. The next Mega Man game that comes out, keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks to AWD! for the header art, and Sprites INC for nearly all the Wily Castle images.