Happy 25th anniversary, everyone! To celebrate, we've collaborated with Tony Ponce of Destructoid to come up with 25 of the most memorable Mega Man video game moments we could think of-- that's one moment for every year of the Blue Bomber's history, and a task big enough for two people, no doubt. Admittedly, the list is a little bit noncommittal, as they're in no particular order-- that might have taken us another quarter-century, and it took us long enough to narrow it down to these, never mind actually ranking them.
And of course, this isn't meant to the be-all, end-all of Mega Man moments-- there are just too many of those to list, so consider this a look at some of our favorites; a sampler platter of the Blue Bomber's best which stood out to us for one reason or another. Plus, you'll notice that this is only about half of the list-- for the rest, be sure to go over to Destructoid!
Hadouken and Shoryuken - Mega Man X / Mega Man X2
Fake game codes and tips were fairly commonplace in the early 90s, with magazines such as EGM throwing in with their own faux discoveries designed to trick anyone who didn't read the month of "April" on the cover. As a result, all sorts of speculation ran rampant, from Simon Belmont in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game to Ryu and Ken's sensei, Sheng Long, being in Street Fighter II, and nude tricks for just about everything in-between.
So naturally, the very notion that Mega Man X could learn how to throw a Street Fighter II-styled "Hadouken" fireball from a Dr. Light hologram clad in garb like Ken and Ryu in his first game just seemed too absurd to be true. And yet, those who followed the instructions-- a rather odd set that one would seemingly be unlikely to stumble upon under normal circumstances-- were greatly rewarded for their troubles as X emerged from the capsule. In his one sound byte of the entire game (or even the entire Super NES era), X shared his newfound ability by shouting "Hadouken!" to the world as he unleashed the deceptively powerful projectile.
That such a thing actually took place meant that when the flaming "Shoryuken" uppercut was discovered in the sequel, there was little skepticism left as players set out to master the art of the Dragon Punch. Those hoping for a second encore in Mega Man X3 were left disappointed, however, as instead of a Hurricane Kick, they only got the tricked-out golden armor. However, X would later get to use both arts together in the Game Boy title Mega Man Xtreme.
The sight of X performing moves from another of Capcom's series was funny/cool enough at the time, but what really takes the cake is just how much better than Ken, Ryu, and even Akuma that X is at these moves. While they use the arts frequently, mastering them to modest effect, X picks them up instantly and is able to kill just about anything in one or two shots, so long as his life meter is full.
In fact, fans who have been upset at X's exclusion from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 should probably take solace in this fact-- the reason he was probably left out isn't because Capcom hates him, but because he's take everyone out in a single shot. X is basically oldschool Street Fighter 1 style, and no one else in the game can handle that. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
"What the F#%k, You're an Alien!?" - Mega Man 2
After storming the compound exterior, annihilating the monstrous guardians, and dispatching the Robot Masters a second time, Mega Man finally comes face to face with the evil doctor's final weapon-- the Wily Machine. After penetrating the protective shell and landing few well-placed shots to the cockpit bubble, Wily is finally defeated.
At least, that's how it all went down in the first game.
This time, the floor crumbles beneath Mega's feet, dropping him into the caverns deep below the castle. There, Dr. Wily casts off his human disguise and reveals that he was an alien all along! "The Mystery of Dr. Wily," indeed!
In that brief instant, players caught a flash of impending extraterrestrial invasion. I mean, what if Wily was just the start? Who knows what powerful new villain lurked in the depths of space! Alas, the "alien" turned out to be a hologram, kicking off a pattern of deception that persists to this day. --Tony Ponce
At first, everything seems like business as usual: You've defeated the eight Robot Masters, and you're ready to move on. But instead of proceeding to Dr. Wily's fortress (for he's good now, you see), four mysterious shadows take over four of the slots on the stage select screen. Who are these mysterious characters? And are they friend or foe? It's up to Mega Man (and you) to find out!
The answer is most definitely foe. It doesn't matter which one you pick, as the story is the same no matter where you start as you revisit a previously conquered stage, only to find the place has seemingly been ransacked and made all the worse for wear, presumably by this mysterious new force. As you reach the midpoint of the stage, that's when you see it.
A tall, formidable-looking robot with a robotic skull-like face stands before you, but that's not what gets your attention. Descending ominously from above is the image of one of the Robot Masters you defeated in Mega Man 2, and upon merging with the robot body, its energy meter strikes and you realize you're in for one heck of a battle. Lucky for you, you're sporting a fully-loaded arsenal and some new tricks of your own.
What might make this encounter extra-memorable for some is that at least one magazine at the time the game was released touted that it was actually the ghosts of the MM2 Robot Masters taking over the Doc Robot bodies, adding a supernatural twist to the proceedings as the idea that your past was coming back to haunt you from beyond the grave was planted in your brain.
But robot ghosts? While the idea does sound a bit absurd when you say it out loud, the idea didn't seem so farfetched to a kid who grew up in the 80s to see Starscream return in a spectral form to haunt Autobots and Decepticons alike. And as it would turn out, Capcom wasn't exactly against the idea, as games such as those in the Mega Man Zero series would later show. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
Enter Zero / Zero's Death - Mega Man X
From the moment you pressed start, everything about Mega Man X was cooler than the NES series that preceded it. The music was heavier, the action was faster, and the enemies were stronger. But before we could conquer the new challenges, we had to be humbled a bit.
At the end of the opening stage, X encounters Vile, a foe who is impossible to beat. After a fruitless struggle, Vile grabs the motionless X in one hand and...
What's that noise off-screen? What the...!? The arm of Vile's Ride Armor was shot clean off! Who is that!? It's Zero! He prepares a second blast, but Vile knows when he's outclassed and makes a hasty retreat. And just like that, every kid was like, "X who?"
Zero's death was every bit as glorious as his entrance. When X faces Vile again in Sigma's fortress, Zero has already been incapacitated. X still lacks the power needed to triumph, so in a last ditch effort, Zero breaks out of his holding cell and sacrifices himself to destroy Vile's armor, giving X the opportunity to deal the finishing blow. But before he dies, Zero bestows upon X his buster cannon, a symbolic passing of the torch from the veteran to the rookie.
Naturally, Zero was back in one piece by X2. --Tony Ponce
"I AM MORE THAN A ROBOT!! DIE WILY!!" - Mega Man 7
While the line was fudged a little in localization, most players didn't know that back in 1995, when the "world wide web" was still on its hands and knees and drinking 1's and 0's from a baby bottle (actually, most babies associated with the internet at the time were of the dancing sort, but let's not get into that). What we knew is that Mega Man wasn't saying "The Wily," and what we thought we were seeing was the ties which would bind the original Classic Mega Man series and the X series.
Clearly, Mega Man had enough of Wily's crap by the time the mad scientist's self-named capsule went up in pulsating circles (a sentiment no doubt shared by the player). It was time to put an end to this once and for all, and through broken English, Mega Man raised his Buster, charging energy to do just that.
But wait! Wily reminded him of what he is, echoing the message Dr. Light left with X's capsule in the first game of that series: According to the First Law, a robot such as Mega Man could not harm a human! And Mega Man?
He just didn't care.
Mega Man lowered his weapon in a way that almost felt more defiant than when he first raised it against Wily, telling him "I am more than a robot!! Die Wily!!"
Of course, before Mega Man can get back to administering a solar-powered aspirin for his headache, Wily's fortress begins to do what Wily fortresses tend to do, and starts falling apart, the mad scientist getting buried in the rubble and being rescued by Bass and Treble.
Looking back at the grand scheme of things, the moment ultimately proved rather insignificant. But at the time, when many thought that Mega Man and Mega Man X were the same guy, the moment felt like the breakthrough we'd all been waiting for, like the ties that would bind the old and the new. Alas, it was not to be, but for those who were there at the time-- and perhaps even some gamers today-- it was truly memorable. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
"Zero, My Masterpiece..." - Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters / Mega Man X4
During the epilogue of Mega Man X3, we learn that X and Zero are destined to fight one another for the fate of mankind. No, not Zero! He's the best! How can this be!?
The truth came to light in Bass' ending from Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. Tired of his creation's pompous attitude, Dr. Wily reveals that Bass was but a byproduct on the path to Wily's greatest creation of all. The screen pans to reveal...
Whoa. Mind blown.
Of course, most Western players probably never so much as saw a Power Fighters arcade cabinet, thus the opening FMV of Zero's mode in Mega Man X4 served as our source of revelation. In his dreams, Zero sees a shadowy figure with a very distinctive hairstyle who commands him to destroy his nemesis. Gee, wonder who that could be?
If ever the Mega Man series had a Darth Vader "I am your father" moment, this was it. --Tony Ponce
This one may take some explaining: When Mega Man Legends came out, it had been established that Dr. Wily was pretty much the perennial Mega Man villain, as not only was he behind every single Classic series game to that point, but had also started overlapping with Mega Man X-- there was simply no getting away from the guy, it seemed. But maybe Legends would be different; after all, we weren't even sure at the time whether it was in the same timeline as the other games.
Then you get to the boat shop... Wily's boat shop. In addition to the high jinks of the Bonne family and dealing with Reaverbots underground, you had to wonder: Was this guy going to try something, too? It was just enough to put a guy on edge.
Contrary to his namesake, as it turns out, he seemed to be a nice guy. But still, when he climbs aboard the boat while Roll is working on it and just gives this... this look to MegaMan... it was enough to creep a guy out at first.
Even listening to him talk now... it's enough to give us the creeps. Yeah, this may not be the Dr. Wily, but when you've been trained to have your guard up at the first sign of a bald head with a gray mustache... the whole thing kind of sticks with you. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
MegaMan's True Identity - Mega Man Legends
Aside from the knowledge that the Legends series takes place many millennia following every other Mega Man title, we knew nothing of its connection with previous games at the start. For first-time players, Mega Man Legends was just a charming action-adventure starring a boy in blue armor, his adoptive family, and a band of endearing pirates.
But the world of Legends holds a secret darker than anything we could have expected.
When MegaMan awakens MegaMan Juno, Juno reveals that our hero is actually a bio android officially designated a "Purifier Unit," the Legends series equivalent of a Maverick Hunter. On top of that, all the people you've met on your journey are artificial humans known as "Carbons," and the population must be regularly purged upon reaching a certain size-- like in Gurren Lagann!
What does this mean? Despite the valiant efforts of Mega Men throughout the ages, the human race was eventually wiped out, and the beings that currently reside on the planet are part of grand cultivation experiment of which they are completely unaware.
But look at Data the robo-monkey do his little dance! D'awww! Isn't he just the cutest!? --Tony Ponce
The Servbots in "Hello, Neighbor!" - The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
Not everyone has had a chance to play The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, not even all Mega Man Legends fans; perhaps Capcom will one day find a way to rectify this injustice, but for now, those who have know that it carries all the same heart, spirit, and personality of the other games in the series.
One of our favorite moments is very brief, yet encapsulates what makes the Servbots so much fun. In one of the opening missions, Tron is out to rob a bank, but gets dropped off in the wrong town. While waiting for a pick-up, she makes the most of the time and decides to steal from everyone around her.
Launching a Beacon Bomb into one of the nearby houses, you're treated to a one-time only cutscene (click here to skip right to it) of the Servbots invading the homestead. In addition to ransacking the house, they decide to make themselves at home for a few moments while out of the watchful eye of Tron. Checking the drawers, raiding the fridge, and napping in a chair to lullaby music are all cute, but the best part is when one turns on the television and sits on the floor to watch an 8-bit sprite of the original Mega Man running around.
Of course, there are many, many memorable Servbot quotes and moments-- too many to name here, and we could probably even make them their own list. But this one just manages to stick out for being especially quirky, and with a cameo by the original Mega Man, seemed like a good fit for this particular list. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
X Out, Axl In - Mega Man X7
When Mega Man X6 turned out to be somewhat of a bust -- you should have stopped at X5 as Inafune intended, guys! -- Capcom decided to take the series in a wild new direction for its debut on the PlayStation 2. Changes included moving the gameplay into 3D, introducing a new playable character, and completely removing series protagonist X from combat.
The dude whose picture is plastered right on the front of the box was taken off the active roster and given a nice corner office away from the battlefield. Because that's exactly what we expect from a game called Mega Man friggin' X!
In his stead is Axl, a hip young cadet with an attitude who most likely tested well with focus group kiddies. When you start a new file, he's the guy you first command. He plays nothing like X at all-- he's got a lock-on system that never seems to target the enemy you want, and he has the ability to mimic the appearance and weapons of regular stage enemies, which is decent in some instances but absolutely useless in others.
But you are able to play as X eventually, after you beat all eight boss Mavericks or rescue about half the Reploids stranded throughout the world. You know, right around the time the game is over.
What a steaming load. --Tony Ponce
"We May Be Pirates, But We're Not Barbarians..." - Mega Man Legends 2
Much like the Servbots, the Bonne family has had their fair share of zany lines and wacky moments throughout the short span of the Mega Man Legends series, and could probably have their own list themselves. But one of our favorites remains this simple exchange between Teisel and the Servbots accompanying him on a raid of a local town.
Part of what helps this moment stand out is how it seems to perfectly represent what the Bonnes are all about: They're scoundrels who will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want, make no mistake about it; but deep down, they aren't all bad, and occasionally tend to show these flashes of conscience-- of doing the right thing, despite who they are-- that somehow manages to make them endearing. They've even tried to go legit, but as it turns out, they just aren't very good at it.
Naturally, this one line somehow manages to sum everything up perfectly as it shows that while they'll take what they want to get what they need, they aren't cruel just for the sake of being evil. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
The rogues gallery of Robot Masters is the very definition of a sausage fest-- if we assume these robots are anatomically correct, of course. When was a woman going to grace us with her alluring presence? There have been female villains in other Mega Man sub-series, but it's just not the same, you know?
So here comes Mega Man 9 and... hey now! Who is that I spy in the corner of the stage select screen? Splash "Woman"? Am I reading that correctly? Well, I'll be! Who says Dr. Light can't be progressive? She turns out to be the weakest of the bunch, so I guess he's not that progressive!
We almost had a "Honey Woman" instead of Hornet Man as well, but two female Robot Masters might have been too much for our chauvinistic minds to handle! Baby steps, guys! Baby steps! --Tony Ponce
Zero's Awakening - Mega Man Zero
Mega Man Zero was an interesting reveal, and one we didn't know what to make of at first. The art was unlike anything the series had seen to that point, and until more information became available, we weren't even sure how it related to the rest of the franchise-- was this a prequel of some sort, such as in the case of Resident Evil 0? Or did "Zero" literally mean the character? And if it was the latter, why did he look so different?
We would soon learn that yes, this was indeed the same Zero we knew and loved from the Mega Man X series (well, mostly), and get a couple of different, sometimes flimsy excuses for the new look (a different style? Please; these are full-blown design changes).
When playing the game for the first time, however, we were treated to cutscenes of a group on the run from robots who mysteriously looked like our old friend, X. Eventually, a few members come across the body of Zero... or at least, that's who they hope it is; much like the player, the identity and full scope of what was happening was still a mystery to Ciel, who would prove to be the sole survivor of this expedition.
After using the power of her Cyber-Elf friend, Passy, she revives the falled Reploid they had found, and then it all clicks: The music (or a remix, anyway) of the classic theme of Zero from the original Mega Man X starts up and the camera pans up an image of the now-revived deadpan Reploid. We may have seen the art before, but everything comes together in such a way that there is no doubting who stands before you... and you're about to take control of him.
With Zero's anthem-- memorable in its own right-- following you through the intro stage, we had no idea what we were in for, but nonetheless felt like we would be ready to take it on. Of course, the game's often-crushing difficulty would soon prove otherwise, but for those opening moments, nothing was going to stop you. --LBD "Nytetrayn"
We hope you've enjoyed reliving some of these moments, but don't forget: This is only half the story! For the rest, be sure to visit Destructoid, and share your own favorites in the comments below!
Happy 25th anniversary, Mega Man!