Top 100 Retro Games: Mega Man III

Mega Man III
Nintendo Entertainment System

Despite Mega Man II being one of my favorite games of all time, I barely played Mega Man III after it came out in the fall of 1990. After being excited for it to be released, we eagerly got a copy later that year and….I honestly played it for a weekend and then barely touched it again until the Mega Man Legacy Collection came out a few years ago. There was something off about the game that I could not put my finger on, but everything about the game seemed off. Levels were inconsistently difficult and often very frustrating to complete.

There were other issues like a lot of slow down in various levels and generally a very buggy feel to jumping. Something seemed off and the game lacked the precision that Mega Man II had, but Mega Man certainly did not, and became a very disappointing follow up in my eyes.

It would be another 25 years before I played the game again. While it is not as bad as I quite remember it being, it is still not that great either. Each Mega Man game has its ups and downs after II, and I need to do an episode on each to talk out my perceptions of these flaws.

We covered Mega Man II last year in one of our first episodes if you would like to hear a bit more positive coverage of a Mega Man game. We are going to also cover Mega Man IV sometime later this year. I would like to keep covering Mega Man games on this podcast as time goes on.

So the plot of the game goes something like this…Mega Man helps Dr. Light and a reformed Dr. Wily to defeat a new batch of robot masters. Guess who hasn’t reformed at all!

Mega Man also has a dog now named Rush who can take on a number of forms. Some of them are similar to what Mega Man could do himself in II, but they are helpful in the game nonetheless. Another new feature in the game was sliding, which is fun and very useful within many levels of the game. There are also different kinds of energy pellets in this game too and question mark boxes that have surprises in them.

There was no feature in Nintendo Power about Mega Man III until January 1991. The November 1990 issue has a poster, but the feature for the game would come much later. This often happened back then. The feature goes through most of the game in great detail. Nintendo Power always had great maps for the games they covered. Their suggestions for which robots to take on is a bit different from the order I have been using, but more on that in a bit.

That commercial is so weird…Mega Man III is only mentioned in the last 3 or 4 seconds. I’m not sure why Capcom thought some kind of spy intrigue would be a good theme for a commercial.

I don’t think I played Mega Man III until the spring of 1991. I remember it, for some reason, being warmer out already when I got the game. After all the hype and the fact that Mega Man II is one of my favorite games ever, I was very excited to get into a sequel. Almost immediately there were problems. I found the game to have a lot of random difficulty leaps and had a tremendous amount of issues getting through levels. I have a vivid memory of turning the game off and doing a replay of Mega Man II, which is one of the most balanced and fair games ever. The play control was somewhat off as well and I remember being frustrated by every attempt I made to play the game. Overall I got fed up by the end of the weekend and got rid of it when we moved the next year. I would not play Mega Man III again until the Legacy Collection came out a few years ago.

Mega Man III’s cover is a little better than the previous games in the series. At least Mega Man actually looks like Mega Man on this cover. I am intrigued by Top Man and Spark Man teaming up to fight Mega Man and wish the game had some kind of mode like that. This would have been great in the Mega Man Legacy Collection for sure. I kind of love how many game covers and manuals back then offered some kind of alternative storylines for games. This would be a great chance to make it actually real within a game.

Mega Man III has been reissued a number of times. In 2004 there was the Anniversary Collection which was on the PS2, XBOX, and Gamecube. The game is also on the 3DS’ virtual console. Most recently it was included in the Mega Man Legacy Collection, which is available on most major consoles. Except the Switch.

I replayed Mega Man III via the Mega Man Legacy Collection on both the PS4 and the 3DS. I ended up getting copies on both systems because, while I loved being able to play Mega Man games on the large television in my living room, I also enjoyed playing portable on the 3DS as well. I had not played Mega Man III since the early 90s, but still found a lot of the issues that had originally turned me off from the game to still be very relevant. In my estimation, this is one of the lesser Mega Man games for sure. It was absolutely impossible to follow up from Mega Man II, one of the best video games ever made, with someone that surpassed it, but this still feels like a step in the wrong direction.

First, let me praise something. I LOVE the ability to slide in this game. It is so fun and seemless. That is a great idea that enhances the game a lot.

This is basically where my praise for the game ends. There are some needlessly confusing and difficult parts of the game, especially in Dr. Wily’s stages. I got stuck at one point where some boxes pile up and could not for the life of me figure out how to get through until I looked it up online. That was very frustrating. There is a lack of the gentle agility that Mega Man II had that takes this game down a lot as well. There are parts of the game where jumps have to be with such precision that is very frustrating.

Mega Man III is certainly not the only game to have rampant slow down in it, but there are a few stages, especially Top Man, where it is very difficult to play through various screens because of how the game comes to a crawl. I kind of wish Digital Eclipse had fixed that in these versions.

I know this is a sign of the times, but the amount of blinking lights in the game is really annoying. I found a few stages hard to focus in because of the amount of distractions on the screen. A little bit goes a long way, especially if you are trying to establish a science fiction setting, but this game definitely overindulges in it in ways that made it hard to play. If there are a lot of characters on the screen, their random light flickers can very distracting.

One thing that was interesting about the game is having to fight clones of the robots from Mega Man II. I guess they are clones? They enter into the new robots though like Starscream taking over other Decepticons though. Does Wood Man have a soul?

For the record, here is the order I used for going through the game…


Nintendo Power offered a totally different order in their coverage of the game and I have seen a few others on the web too. I am always super curious about the order gamers pick for these games.

As I said, I did enjoy playing this game on the 3DS. With the announcement of a second Mega Man Legacy Collection coming out soon, I have been thinking about how great these games would be on the Switch. That does not seem to be happening at this point however. It will be nice to have Mega Man seven through ten in one collection though. I have them all over scattered systems including the PS3, 3DS, and I think one of them is on my Vita even.

Hopefully what these collections do is promote the existence of Mega Man as a series and get people to try out these games. A lot of people love Mega Man III, I just happen to not be one of them.

You may also like...