If you’ll remember, back in February I did a top and bottom 5 list, ranking my favorite and least favorite games of the Classic MegaMan series. I also mentioned that I intended to do a similar list, with regards to the other sub-series of the MegaMan franchise. However, considering that most of the other series have only a few games, I’ve decided that I’m just going to rattle off my favorites from each series, as there are only a couple of cases where there are games I legitimately hate in each respective series. So, without further ado, I present…the best of the rest.
Admittedly, this is going to be a somewhat controversial decision as many gamers (including my fellow Retronaissance writer, SNES Master KI) consider the original MegaMan X to be the best game in the series, as well as the entire franchise. I, on the other hand, prefer the series’ first 32-bit entry, MegaMan X4. Perhaps it’s because it was the first game where we were able to play through the entire thing as a non-MegaMan character, let alone the awesome Zero. Zero gave us access to an entirely new style of gameplay, utilizing his Z-Saber for close-range melee attacks and learning techniques by defeating enemies, rather than just stealing their weapons. Maybe it was because it had the most fleshed-out story of the X series, without becoming an incoherent piece of garbage. Or maybe it was because it managed to have a good amount of difficulty, while not being a poorly-programmed abomination. (Looking at you, X6.)
MegaMan Legends 2
It’s simple, really. Of the two main games of the Legends series, Legends 2 was the only one capable of using the PlayStation’s dual analog sticks, allowing for superior controls and gameplay. As good as it was, the original MML was completely held back by its reliance on the D-Pad and the shoulder triggers for movement. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is an interesting spin-off, but not really a good representation of the series at large. So MML2 wins by default.
MegaMan Battle Network 3
This was a hard one, as I really love the second and third Battle Network games almost equally. The first game almost felt like an incomplete prototype, not unlike the original MegaMan from 1987. The fourth game had a significant drop in quality from the previous games and the series never recovered. However, I’ve got to give it to the third game, for having the best story and being the first game in the franchise to incorporate the truly awesome “Navi Customizer” system, allowing players to customize MegaMan.EXE with unique power-ups and added another layer of strategy to the game.
MegaMan Zero 3
Another hard choice, as I really loved MMZ2. Zero 3 had the perfect level of difficulty: not as difficult as the first two games, but still significantly harder than the fourth. It also had an awesome storyline involving Dr. Weil, a cyborg mad scientist returning from exile to take over Neo Arcadia, as well as the return of Copy-X and an earth-shattering revelation regarding the identity of Zero . Better still, it reimplemented Zero’s ability to learn special techniques by defeating bosses, albeit only if you complete levels with a high rank, allowing Zero to take on more characteristics from his X series incarnation. The only thing keeping MMZ3 from being the perfect Zero game was a decided lack of Chain Rod. But I guess I can forgive that.
MegaMan ZX Advent
This was probably the hardest decision I had to make, as there was really no clear answer here. There were only two games in the ZX series, both roughly equal in quality and feeling like a direct extension of their predecessor (the Zero series) in a way no other MegaMan series ever did. In the end, I decided to go with Advent, just because of the whole DNA copy system. While I did prefer the base gameplay of Model ZX over Model A, the ability to transform into a complete copy of the bosses you’ve defeated was incredibly cool. It’s just a shame we didn’t get that third and final entry of this series, leaving this particular timeline on a cliffhanger.
MegaMan Star Force
Another controversial pick, but one I stand by. It seems like it’s universally accepted that the third and final Star Force game was the best by far, but it was also the most derivative, resembling the Battle Network games far more than the previous two. A real shame, considering the franchise got off to a pretty strong start in the first game, incorporating unique variations on the various gameplay elements of the MMBN series. Modifying the battle system, dropping the stale Soul Unison system, all of these were signiicant improvements over the later Battle Network games. Doing a complete 180 and reincorporating many of the discarded elements from the Battle Network games just felt a betrayal of the earlier games’ attempts at carving their own identity. One more thing: while the second game did take a significant dive in quality, I just feel like it gets far more hate than it deserves.
So, there you have it: the best of the rest. While I stated earlier that there weren’t enough games in the other franchises to fairly represent the worst of each individual series in the MegaMan franchise, there are two games I’d like to mention: MegaMan X6 and X7. Two truly foul games, almost on par with some of the worse licensed Classic MegaMan games. Oh well, they can’t all be gems. When a series has as many games as MegaMan does, some of them are bound to be bad. Either way, there have still been many good games in this series and hopefully there will be more in the future, Capcom willing.