Is there a game with more recognized and appreciated bosses than the Mega Man series? Once one plays past the more hackneyed bosses of Mega Man 1, one is overwhelmed by the amount of memorable bosses in Mega Man 2 and 3. Both these games clearly make up the best in the series. While Mega Man 4 showed some strength in its boss creativity (Skull Man), once we got to Mega Man 5-8 the idea of specific elemental men to the ground with such monstrosities of “Centaur Man” and “Tomahawk Man”. When you look back at the bosses of Mega Man 2 and 3 specifically, you’re overwhelmed not only by how inspired the actual bosses themselves are, but also their respective stages and stage music. I have made my list of my top 10 Megaman Villains from the earlier Megaman games.
10. Ice Man (Mega Man 1)
Ice Man was one of the first original boss robots in the Mega Man series. Being part of the first Mega Man, he wasn’t deserving of a cleverer name. “Ice Man” though covers all the winter elements and parallels the deities of antiquity. Real world parallels aside, this Eskimo could pack a punch with his ice slasher. His jumping power was mighty and so was his defense. Ice Man was one of the most elusive characters in the Mega Man series. Peculiarly though, he didn’t look like a robot, not even an Eskimo robot. He looked like a regular human Eskimo you see on the discovery channel when they visit Greenland. Besides fishing and making heat when necessary, these real world Eskimos always come across as the nicest of people. Not so with Ice Man, as his level is slippery and filled with ice enemies including “freezesugulls”, springbots, and flying sharks with propellers on their noses. Also in this level, we encounter reappearing and disappearing blocks that need to be traversed to finish the level. These are always vexing, especially in Heat Man’s stage in Mega Man 2, but they first made their appearance here in Ice Man’s stage. Many Ice bosses and stages would follow would be inspired by Ice Man and his stage including “Freeze Man” and “Chill Penguin”, but it was this original arctic blast of a boss and level that first stirred the arctic idea into reproduction.
9. Magnet Man
Why is Magneto arguably the most popular villain in Marvel comics? The answer is simple: Nerds like magnets. They like the idea of a simple scientific principle yielding a deadly weapon. So it was only a matter of time before there was a Magnet Man in the Mega Man series, which was realized in Mega Man 3. Boy was he one of the most scary looking bosses we encounter. Endowed with a magnet attached to his head, Magnet Man would not be someone we would want to encounter on the street. Wait until you had to battle him though and you saw how scary he actually was. With his magnetic power, he was able to draw Mega Man in from all distances and keep him from shooting any projectiles at him. Combine this with the actual magnet shot that followed the ceiling in a perfect line dropping magnets at every inch in the immediate vicinity. The music for Magnet Mans stage was a fine piece of composure. Try learning it on piano though and you would be sadly in for a long day. Master it though, and you can hear this ingenious melodicism in a new way beyond 8-bit sound. Magnet Man’s level was one of the best “electro” levels in the Mega Man series. Filled with wires throughout, and flying magnet bots that could lift you from the ground and carry you to empty pits of doom, this stage was loaded with peril. And of course, who could forget the appearing and disappearing blocks. If you had not mastered these yet from Mega Man 2, then you were to spend the day getting used to these often overlooked difficulties. The idea of Magnet Man was strangely creative. The level and character though, all dovetailed into one of the more memorable sequences in the series.
8. Bubble Man
Bubble Man has one of the stronger music themes for his stage. A pounding beat heavy on the snare accompanied by a floaty melody. His stage was also one of the more difficult stages in the Mega Man series. While the above ground jumps and enemies weren’t that difficult, it was the underwater jumps that proved to be most hazardous because of that spikes that would instantly kill you. These jumps created a perfect sense of tension. These deadly spikes would even be lining the ceiling of Bubble Man’s room, making it tough to jump without fear of being destroyed. Bubble Man himself is armed with harpoons and bubbles. While the bubbles don’t seem like they could do any damage to a robot, they do enough to make Mega Man have to worry about evading them. The Harpoons are even more dangerous as they take a sizable amount of energy out of Mega Man. Bubble Man is one mean looking robot master too. He’s all business and his business is destroying hero robots such as Mega Man. Bubble Man was the first robot master created for underwater battle. This theme would be duplicated throughout Mega Man and its different series, but Bubble Man was the initial “Water Stage” coupled with a more creative “Water Man” in the name of Bubble Man. Also, without Bubble Man’s weapon, “you know who” could not be defeated, and the world, would not be saved.
7. Air Man
We meet Air Man in Mega Man 2 in the stage of the clouds. Air Man’s stage showed the afflatus that the creators of Mega Man inherited. The stage consisted of appearing and disappearing platforms for Mega Man to jump on and a lightening thrower hovering above the superhero on a mechanistic cloud. Airman himself was a figure of pure genius having the body and month of a fan that could suck you in when trying to get off your best shots. His projectiles that consisted of mini tornadoes were one of the more difficult trajectories to evade in the Mega Man series. There was only the smallest of space to jump over his tornadoes at the most exact of times. His defense and attack were both solid. Let’s not forget his jumping power too. He could jump across most of the screen in one up thrust. Beating Air Man required either skilled timing or as always, the correct weapon, which this time was the weapon procured from Wood Man. The leaves thrown at Air Man ostensible clog up the fan, which doesn’t make too much sense, hence the “ostensibility”. Big and noticeably irritable (check out those eyebrows!), Air Man is a memorable figure in the collection of Wily’s robots. His aggressiveness shocks the player into his full attention.
6. Metal Man
Is there any weapon in the Mega Man series that feels better to use than Metal Man’s buzzsaw augmented with its sharp cutting sound? This weapon was quick, powerful, and extirpating of anything that came in its away including Mega Man. It could shoot in eight different directions, unlike Mega Man’s regular proton gun, and it imparted massive damage on everything whether it be boss robots or stage enemies. Metal Man who was originally designed as an improvement on the weak Cut Man from Mega Man 1, saw its improvement grow ten fold as Metal Man’s stage was equally as important as its insidious weapon to be procured. Metal Man’s stage was a mass of conveyor belts and electronic engineering throwing Mega Man into holes and making him jump the most difficult of jumps. While Metal Man himself was endowed with arguably the best weapon in the Mega Man series, his defense is what keeps him out of the top 5. He has a peculiar weakness to Mega Man’s average proton gun and is usually beaten as the first boss in the game if one wants a slightly more challenging battle for their first fight other than beating Flash Man in 5 shots with the weak proton gun. Regardless of his weak defense though, Metal Man was powerful in offense and overall design. Like Magnet Man, his weapon was attached to his head creating the sense of paranoia in the protagonist who knew he would have to encounter this mutative robot with weapons for heads. Great level, great character design and arguably the best weapon to be had in the Mega Man series, places Metal Man at #6 on our list.
5. Doctor Wily
Dr. Wily was the most nefarious villain in the Mega Man series always seeming invidious and diabolical. Just watch Wily fly into his castle in Mega Man 2. Watch his shifty eye brows move up and down. You know that you are in for the more difficult part of the game when seeing this lab rat mock you on your screen. Besides creating a mass of robot master that Mega Man always has to encounter, he is always endowed with the most aggrandized of machinery to fight Mega Man in the later levels. These machines taking up whole screens sometimes are a further indication of Wily’s technical prowess, and how when put in the wrong hands, disaster happens contemporaneously. The world has to be saved many times over because of Wily, but only for our benefit as we perennially get to witness all his new ingenious robot master creations in later installments (except 5-8 where old age obviously gets the best of creativity). While once a fawning student of the brilliant of Dr. Light, he took a “Vader Detour” so to speak, and started his work in world domination by creating his first prototypes which we see in our first adventure. While his first robot masters represented the most banal of names, they were not without their own valor and power. Mega Man is amazed by the strength of Guts Man and Bomb Man. He would be even more amazed at all the transmutations that Wily could take on in his own skin. Dr. Wily is the mad scientist of video games. He has earned this claim not just by his massive thick eyebrows, and threadbare lab coat, but by his creations that would become memorialized.
4. Crash Man
What fun Crash Man’s stage was. What seemed like an endless foray into the upper echelon of this building construction stage was sequestered just at the right time for the final battle. What starts off as day time at the bottom of the building becomes night time as Mega Man traverses to the top. The difficulty level increases as climbing up ladders proves to be insuperable at times, especially when robot birds are dropping eggs on you, which become more little insects who are chaotically flying in your way. The fun and minor difficulty of the level would come to an end though as you came to Crash Man himself, who was endowed with one of the strongest weapons in the Mega Man series. Besides showing stamina, agility, and great jumping power, Crash Man had his bomb detonator weapon that incurred massive amounts of damage on Mega Man. His timing of the bomb throws was always not certain making it more difficult to evade these bolstering bombs. Certainly, Crash Man was much easier with the appropriate boss weapon, but if you were fighting armed only with your proton gun, you were in for a long ride, and probably a path back to the stage select with Crash Man still needing to be overcome. Crash Mans weapon would prove to be essential in fighting many enemies in Mega Man 2 including robot bosses and regular bosses, but his weapon becomes most necessary in the later stages of Mega Man where Mega Man needs to blow up walls with Ray Guns behind them as the final boss of the stage. Combine the importance of the weapon, the stage and the difficulty of the boss, and you get one of the more notorious characters in the Mega Man series.
3. Gemini Man
Gemini Man clearly had one of the best stages in all of the Mega Man series. His stage music was something that would be remembered whether the player liked it or not. The stage music moved surreptitiously with a certain calm drama that made the player feel like he was on the adventure of his life. The level hosted in the nighttime in what looked like some bubble base was iridescent with big and small enemies at every corner, from the puerile ghost like figures who would come out of bubbles you destroyed and the larger penguins with tail spins on their head. Lets not forget what this is really about though, Gemini Man. Gemini Man was a creative high mark in the boss creations in the Mega Man series. A robot master endowed with tons of agility and jumping power, Gemini Man was one tough bot to get a good shot on. But what Gemini Man was really known for was his ability to split into 2 and make Mega Man have to defend against both. Beyond his simple proton gun, he had one of the cooler weapons you could attain, a laser that would bounce off all the angles of the screen killing anything in its way. If Mega Man was hit with this though, his health would fall asunder at rapid rates. Besides pure agility and a great weapon, Gemini Man was one of the more aerodynamic new-age bosses in the Mega Man series. He was the boss you wanted to be friends with because of how slick he looked. You were not a nerd playing Mega Man 3 when you had the opportunity to encounter this boss who was cooler than all the kids at school. Great level, great Music, great all around character, Gemini Man would always stand the test of time.
2. Wood Man
While wood traditionally isn’t the best material to make a robot out of, Woodman is still the strongest character of Mega Man 2 and perhaps the whole series for that matter. Massive on defense, and equipped with one of the more useful items Mega Man can use throughout the series, Woodman would be remembered as one of the greatest bosses in video game history. Before the battle he would pound his chest to signify his ferocity and make the player fear his body of pure wood that was more difficult to penetrate than a 200 ft redwood. His weapon was the leaf shield which would circle around him as a force field and then drop from the ceiling leaving Mega Man very little room to maneuver in this ferocious battle. Beating and using his leaf shield was always great as Mega Man could also use it to elude all enemies coming his way. This was especially helpful in Dr. Wily’s castle stage as Mega Man had to ride a conveyor with a multitude of spikes below him. Coming at him from all angles were birds dropping eggs on him that could knock him off into certain peril on the spikes. With the leaf shield though, no one was able to touch him. Many types of force field weapons would be attained throughout the Mega Man series (Skullman’s weapon for example), but it all started first with Woodman. Having one of the best weapons in the series and the most pugnacious of pre-battle attitudes puts him at our #2.
1. Snake Man
Snakeman combines all the best moments of the Mega Man series. His level was arguably one of the most memorable stages in video game history employing a pleasantly aesthetic color throughout combined with the most creative of enemies. When one thinks of Mega Man, they think of Snakeman’s stage with those 2 massive large snakes that needed to be passed before one was to move on. Beyond the greatness of the stage, there was the music, which was again, arguably the best Mega Man song in the series. Snakesman’s stage has been covered by many video game bands, but they always fail to embody the crispness and perfect timing of this original soundtrack. A quick rhythm combined with an aggressive bass line gives Snakeman’s stage its rightful place in the best of Mega Man music that has always excelled over other games soundtracks. Snakeman himself is the most conspicuous robot in the Mega Man 3 stage select standing out with his snake head in all his green iridescence. His snake crawler weapon shoots out snakes that traverse the length of the walls making it difficult to move around the boss area with any sense of comfort. His defense is strong and while not having the best of jumping abilities, he proves to be evasive nonetheless while paying mind to dodging his individual weapon. With the coolest costume of all the Mega Man bots, the most memorable stage and stage music, and one of the more formidable weapons in the series, Snakeman became our #1 boss character. When one thinks of Mega Man, Snakeman is always within the first 3 bosses you think of, for good reason.