Mega Man X, Super Nintendo

Definitely the best of the Super Nintendo Mega Man games. From it’s dramatic intro, and the semblance of a plot, to the beautiful graphics, Mega Man X is arguably the best game in the entire Mega Man franchise.

What Mega Man X did was introduce new gameplay elements to spice up the Mega Man series, and it worked. Mega Man X can now dash and climb walls, which gives him extra agility and allows him to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. He can also find new abilities and upgrade his armour as he progresses.

This time Mega Man X is up against the following boss characters: the Sting Chameleon, the Spark Mandrill, the Boomer Kuwanger, the Armored Armadillo, the Storm Eagle, the Chill Penguin, the Launch Octopus, and the Flame Mammoth.

Mega Man X was first released on December the 17th 1993, in Japan, and later made it to North America in 1994. It was the beginning of a long-running Mega Man X series.

If I was going to recommend a Mega Man game to anyone wanting to play just one (just to see what they were like), I’d probably recommend this one. Because it is the most playable and varied, and sticks to the Mega Man conventions. Mega Man X an excellent ‘run and gun’ style platform game.

More: Mega Man X on Wikipedia

Mega Man 5, NES

1992‘s Mega Man 5 on the Famicom/NES starts with a jaunty tune and a comic book style intro, and then after that it’s back to more of the same platform shooting…

This time Mega Man is up against Stone Man, Gravity Man, Crystal Man, Charge Man, Napalm Man, Wave Man, Star Man, and Gyro Man. Make that Gyro & Eggs Man…

Mega Man 5 took some criticism at the time for “not having any kind of innovative gameplay or storytelling”, which is not a fair criticism because Mega Man 5 does contain some radical new ideas in places. Take – for example – Gravity Man’s levels. In which you can reverse gravity and switch between walking on the ceiling and walking on the floor. Nothing like that had been seen in the Mega Man games before. And the new mechanic works really well, although it does make for an extremely tough challenge. There are other surprises and enhancements too. Mega Man‘s gun charges up over more degrees of power this time, with a wider-ranging blast at full power. This ‘full power’ blast is required to get through some sections of the game (when you’re running against the boring machines in the Napalm Man tunnels, for example). There are gas jets; pipes you can travel inside; water flow that pushes you off platforms; there’s even an outer space level with low gravity… All those who said that Mega Man 5 didn’t innovate are just plain wrong.

Mega Man 5 is still an excellent game. It’s challenging, and the graphics and sound are top notch for a Famicom game. The parallax scrolling (different layers moving at different speeds to give the illusion of depth) is particularly good. As are the crystal levels. The only down side is the sprite tearing, but that’s a limitation of the machine not the game. Mega Man 5 has the best presentation out of all the Famicom Mega Man games, in my humble opinion.

Note: this wasn’t the last Mega Man game on the Famicom/NES. That was Mega Man 6.

More: Mega Man 5 on Wikipedia

Mega Man, NES

Known as “Rock Man” in its native Japan, Mega Man is a Nintendo Famicom game developed and published by Capcom in 1987. It is the beginning of the long-running Mega Man series.

What the first Mega Man did was establish a style of its own – for both gameplay and graphics.

Like, for example, the fact that Mega Man jumps according to how long you hold down the fire button. Hold it down for only a short while and he’ll do a short jump. Hold it down continually and he will jump continually – until he reaches an apex; at which point he’ll come back down again. Learning that apex, and the timing of jumps in Mega Man, is key to unlocking the entire series. And that particular mechanic has been there since the very first game and is what makes it what I would describe as “hardcore”.

The graphics are basic and the colours are garish, and the introductions to the baddies are not very interesting. Playing this now you can see that it is really an embryonic game – not quite fully formed, even though the distinguishing features are there. As the Mega Man series progressed, so did the presentation, and by the third Mega Man game the series was looking unstoppable.

Final note: in this first Mega Man the bad guys are… Cut Man, Guts Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, and Bomb Man, and you choose who you want to attempt next from a menu screen.

More: Mega Man on Wikipedia

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, ZX Spectrum

Software Creations made this Ghouls ‘N Ghosts conversion for US Gold in 1989. It has to be said that it resembles the original only superficially.

No surprises, but I still think better could have been made of it. The loading screen is probably the best part of this game… Never a good sign.

I think my biggest problem with it is the aiming system. I struggled with it the entire time. This is definitely not my favourite conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, PC Engine

Only ever released in Japan, this PC Engine conversion of Capcom‘s classic Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was developed by NEC Avenue and is one of the very best conversions out there.

While not 100% “arcade perfect” it nonetheless delivers on every front. Graphically, it pushes the PC Engine to its limits. Nerves-wise, it pushes the player to the limit.

The only weak area is the music. The Megadrive version is better on that front.

Arguably the best game on the entire system. Some people consider it to be. It’s definitely up there with the best.

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Megadrive/Genesis

The Megadrive/Genesis conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is one of the very best conversions out there. In my opinion, second only to Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the SNES (and of course the original arcade game).

Megadrive Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was reprogrammed by Sega and published on cartridge in 1990. And it has to be said that Sega did a marvellous job. The graphics are a work of pixel artistry; the gameplay is challenging and precise; there’s a practise mode that allows you to explore a bit more of the game than you might normally see. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’m convinced I saw stuff in this that I hadn’t seen anywhere else – not even in the arcade game. I must be wrong… It could be because I got further in this version than any of the others.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was an early release for the Sega Megadrive and it really showed what the console was capable of. It also still holds up well to this day. A testament to its greatness.

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia