For years I've been going around and telling people that Mega Man 3 is my favorite game in the series. Just random people on the street who didn't ask. People who don't even know what a Mega Man is. I was that sure about it. At least when we're talking about the classic non-X series of Mega Man games, the third was it for me. I mean it had the best title screen music. And it had a boss called Snake Man. How can you argue with these facts?
That first fact is an undeniable truth. The title screen music for Mega Man 3 remains one of my absolute favorite video game songs of all time. It is quite possibly my absolute favorite. My wife will attest to the fact that she's sat through me spending a solid hour at a time clicking through Youtube clips of various bands and artists performing this piece of music live. I've listened to post-rock interpretations, jazz versions and solo piano renditions and it never gets old to me. It is a beautiful piece that opens with a slow and moody jazz section and then abruptly involves this crazy prog rock thing. I adore it.
The second fact there is, well... subjective. I mean we all have our favorite robot masters, and for whatever reason I always thought Snake Man was cool. I think this probably taps into my early adoration of GI Joe - and specifically that scene in the 80's animated movie when Cobra Commander actually turns into a serpent. I mean that was some seriously awesome shit for a six or seven year old. And combining a snake with a robot is hyper 80's awesome. You might as well have made him a robot while you're at it.
Having just recently played through Mega Man 2 again, I feel like I can much better evaluate how I feel about these two games in contrast. The jump from the first Mega Man game to the second was monumental. But really 3 feels like sort of a continuation of 2. It's certainly a great game, but I'm now realizing that I much prefer the second... .
Don't get me wrong, Mega Man 3 is an amazing game. But it has its moments of annoyance as well. The disappearing blocks thing in Magnet Man's stage? Awful. And kills all sense of momentum. And while all the enemy robots look great, there's some super obnoxious ones like the guerillas in Hard Man's stage. Then again, there's some pretty great stuff. I mean, Proto Man is just cool and his little tune that plays is iconic.
I would say that as far as it concerns the bosses and their respective levels, Mega Man 3 is pretty on par with Mega Man 2. But once I got to the boss rush and Wily's castle I sort of lost my momentum. Whereas I had a lot of fun running through the latter half of Mega Man 2 (think of that big flying robo-dragon for instance) in 3 I just started feeling a bit like I was all set. Like the main stages had been enough for me. I had fun with them, but I had had enough of playing this game. At least for the umpteenth time.