Mega Man games have a plethora of unique and memorable boss fights. Add in that each boss has its own specific weakness and you have a puzzle on top of the quick reflexes required to win. Nothing was worse than finally crossing the gate and facing the boss, only to realize you do not have their weakness.
What makes a good boss battle? It has to be a challenge. No satisfaction beating an easy boss. It also has to be memorable. Wily fights maybe hard, but they all start to run together. Another disappearing saucer, whoopee! Finally, the battle needs to have a pattern and way to master it. Bosses with random patterns you can’t dodge and eventually master feel like lazy design. Same goes for bosses where you can stand still in one spot and fire away. We will be limiting this list to Mega Man 1-6 on the NES.
Enough with the criteria, its time to honor our Mega Man bosses!
10) Skull Man – Mega Man 4
What do you get when you combine Crossbones and Bane? This guy. Skull man has a mask that makes many super villains jealous. His rapid fire shots are dodgeable if you jump quick enough. The trick comes focusing on his charge after shield. Each time I have William Wallace’s words echoing in my mind- “Hold….hold….HOLD…” It seems like forever and then Skull Man makes his move. That said, make him eat your dust and it will be all over shortly.
9) Gemini Man – Mega Man 3
After a trippy level of tadpoles and bubbles, you get to Gemini Man. This guy has a special place in my heart as a fellow Gemini. All you other signs just do not understand. He splits into two and starts circling. These twins certainly have a secret language. It’s a simple pattern made more difficult by firing a shot every time you do. Knock him down below 50% and he completely changes. Later games in the series, especially X, use this tactic to vary their fights. Gemini continues trying to evade while he is bouncing lasers off of everything. Your making me plan head and calculate angles. Math in Mega Man? That truly is evil.
8) Square Machine – Mega Man 4
In classic Mega Man style you enter a dark blank room. Usually, a giant robot comes up on the right side and you trash it. Not this time. Here you get three giant segments come flying into the room. The lowest one pushes you to the edge of the screen. Will that kill you? Instead of finding out, the true Mega fan reflexively slides. Eventually, on a pass of the Square Machine, you climb in and shoot the target. Easy enough? Second round, same as the first, a little bit faster and a little bit worse! The speed ramps up and up until you get to a quick tick reaction just to get inside. Square Machine’s design and pattern, with a tiny dash of mystery, makes it one of the best Mega Man bosses.
7) Gravity Man – Mega Man 5
Mega Man had become formulaic until Gravity Man turned everything upside down. This was the first game I remember running the hero on the ceiling. It presented new puzzles and challenges. The boss battle continued this theme and surely inspired the Inception hotel hallway scene. The pattern is simple, but the fresh unique style makes this a memorable one.
6) Shadow Man – Mega Man 3
Welcome to the one and only Shadow Man. Need proof that he is a bad ass, look no farther than the huge shuriken attached to his head. Shredder eat your heart out. Shadow Man is so bad ass that he came from an extraterrestrial civilization and Wily reprogrammed him. Those two nerds, Dr. Wily and Dr. Light, never could have a epic ninja assassin. His weakness? Topspin, only the hardest to use weapon in the game. Master the jump pattern and you will be golden.
5) Wily is an Alien? – Mega Man 2
After defeating Wily in the previous stage, you fall down a cavern below the fortress. The sound track stops and you fight in silence. An ominous feeling seizes you. No more enemies, just acid drips that do ridiculous damage. Finally, you enter the door. The last battle with Wily is about to…He is an alien!?! NO WAY! He rises up and threateningly circles the room. Everything you try can not touch him. His shots cut out huge amounts of your life. After trying everything in your arsenal, you get down to your most pathetic weapon, bubble. It is the only way to hit him. The fight is hard, and long, but doable (well…as long as you have bubble). The weakness of this fight is the simplistic figure eight that Wily does. Once mastered Wily can be beat without getting hit. The surprise story elements cement this boss as our number five.
4) Metal Man – Mega Man 2
Stepping into the arena with Metal Man, I was surprised when the floor started moving. I just went through the whole level with conveyor belts, and now we have to face him throwing blades at my head while I am being pulled towards him. Wait, now it is going the other direction? Crap! He has many different patterns and can throw 1, 2, or 3 blades at you from different angles. To make matters worse he is constantly jumping (sometimes too high to hit). His weakness forces you in close, which has him bounce the whole screen. Play through a few times and he can be mastered without getting hit.
3)It’s a TRAP, Boobeam Trap- Mega Man 2
UGH! This boss has cost me so much time on so many games. After facing tons of AT-AT dogs (that’s what they look like to me), we finally arrive at the trap. Here we need Crash. If you don’t have it then you are done. Use a Crash bomb on the wrong spot and you will lose. The game has pity and does not replenish the barriers in the boss room. That said, farming for Crash on this level is brutal. I always save an E tank from Metal Man for this boss to give my self some extra time. Boobeam Trap gives tricky ways to get to each wall piece. Item-1 is a life saver here to get to a few of them. No shame in a celebratory happy dance when beating the snot out of Boobeam.
2) Its like looking in a mirror! Mega Clone– Mega Man 1
You are your own worst enemy. Fitting that one of the toughest SOBs is none other than you. After a long grueling level where you face off with several robot masters you drop down into a retro stain glass torture chamber home to Mega Clone. Healing items are limited, so you are likely not coming into this fight in good shape. No sweat, just use your special weapons. Oh hell, Mega Clone uses them right back. Worst of all this bastard mega man is all over you like syrup on a pancake. When Megas collide it will only be you taking the damage. Fire storm provides some help, but in the end boils down to strategy and using the copying in your favor. Stop copying me! Mega Clone ends up being copied himself for other Mega Man games. How’s it feel now you jerk?
1) You are a Devil! Yellow Devil- Mega Man 1
There are many incarnations of this beast. The first time Yellow Devil is seen is in Mega Man 1. He truly earns the name in this encounter. You enter a dead end room, no door? Must have taken a wrong turn. That’s when the music kicks in. Mega Man, what did we just walk into? Mud starts flying right at you with no warning, it picks up speed. Without knowing the tight pattern you take a hit. A huge chunk of your life is gone. Yellow Devil has a specific pattern. It is dodgeable, but takes precise movements. Jump too high and there goes 1/4th your life. To low and POW! Mistime the shot from his eye its basically game over! All this dodging and you haven’t even hit him yet. The great part is that to beat Yellow you have to do at least one sequence perfect. Only one you say? It’s brutal enough to do that. If you trade blows then the Devil wins! Beat the devil and it is insanely satisfying. This fight is a work of art. Patterned bosses at their best. It is no wonder that Yellow Devil is the most copied Mega Man boss down through the years.
There you have it! TB’s Top 10 Mega Man Bosses. Your list look different? I’d love to hear how you experienced these great games and which Mega Man boss was your favorite.