The Blue Bomber is one of the most iconic characters in all of gaming, and with good reason. Year after year, he’s taken on the dastardly challenges put in front of him, always coming out on top. Not even his creator, mad scientist Dr. Wily ever stood a chance against everyone’s favorite robot boy hero.
But Mega Man isn’t the only star of his self-titled adventures. There are plenty of memorable villains along for the ride, all ready to end the Blue Bomber’s journey at the end of each diabolical level. Of course, they’re not always memorable for the right reasons. While some of these bosses are fun to fight and are cool designs, there are some bad guys that don’t quite reach that level of creativity.
So, we’re taking a look at the best, worst, and weirdest Mega Man bosses of all time. Make sure to bring some power-ups along…
Mega Man 3 (1990)
Imagine your childhood dream coming true! You’ve got a job designing badass robot villains for your favorite video game. How many games would it take before you based one on a spinning top? For most humans, or even gorillas trained to recognize mechanical objects, this number has at least seven digits (or “ook ook OOOK >throws bananas<").
For Capcom it was 3. Top Man is a robotic killer revolving around a toy that isn’t just less powerful than robots, it’s less powerful than the Nintendo console the game was being played on. Even R.O.B., the worst robot Nintendo ever built, could spin tops. And Top Man seems to know this, making sure you can kill him so that he doesn’t have to live with the shame. He fires three homing tops but they move together with all the speed and ferocity of second-class postage. He could only deliver an ass-kicking if you’d been called away from your controller.
Or maybe he’s just distracted by the way his stage features huge bolts flying across the screen to screw into nuts, meaning he lives in a vast collection of robot pornography.
Mega Man 2 (1988)
Bubble Man combines all the fun of a video game water stage with the lethality of water balloons. The water level makes you jump higher than normal, and spikes on the level’s ceiling will kill you when you do. Even his own stage is too ashamed of its boss, trying to prevent you from seeing the tragedy of Bubble Man.
He’s a robotic death-dealer with less combat ability than a caveperson and a rock. The Bubble Lead weapon is the goofiest gun in the game, and the Metal Blade will saw it off him in less time than it takes to say, “Submarine? Squid?” or any other more effective aquatic attacker. But the bubble blower is the best weapon against Dr Wily’s final form. Thereby completing the tragedy: the only thing this robot can do is destroy its own master.
Mega Man 10 (2010)
Pump Man is the shittiest possible boss, living in a sewer complete with torrents of brown flowing water. No wonder he turned evil and tried to destroy humanity: he’s constantly drenched in the worst biological products, and if he looks up he only sees our worst side.
We think water genuinely shorts out Capcom’s circuitry for bosses. Nothing else can explain Pump Man. When you break into his room he vigorously pumps himself to emit fluid and fires it at you. His first appearance shows him leaping up, vigorously working his own handle. We’re not saying he’s a wanker, but he uses his own introduction to demonstrate the fact.
Mega Man 10 (2010)
Rendering American culture through Japanese game development is a clash of cultures Mega Man was never programmed to handle. Capcom made the most fundamental error possible. If you’re designing a robot to kick ass and represent baseball, and use the ball instead of the bat, you need to file an error report on yourself.
Mega Man’s default setting is firing slow spheres that hurt people. A robot based on baseball could have returned every one of those buster shots and become effectively invincible. But of course he’d be invincible, as he’d technically be Bat Man.
Strike Man’s combination of hurling himself and another rebounding projectile can confuse beginners, but his habit of holding perfectly still after that first throw tells them “don’t worry, I’m one of the easy ones.” In the real world, players aren’t allowed to just run up and blast the pitcher in the face. But that’s Mega Man’s only setting.
Mega Man Powered Up (2006)
Oil Man, because Racism Man didn’t pass initial censors. Or anyone with basic human senses. Or so you’d think, but they released it in Japan, with only a hasty palette-swap from black with big pink lips to blue with yellow, adding the thinnest possible layer of deniability to the fact that holy shit, someone released this in 2006.
Oil Man was extraordinarily out of place in the kid-friendly Powered Up art style. Though aiming this stain on character design at children may be the only way to find an audience that doesn’t immediately start swearing at this bullshit. On the upside, if Dr. Wily really was trying to upset humanity with his Robot Masters, this would show he’d found the way to do it. Luckily, Mega Man smashed him before he could could continue with Sexism Man and Homophobic Man.
Mega Man 7 (1995)
Slash Man is a wild animalist loner with three large metal slashing claws protruding from each wrist, and quite clearly comes from a fan-fiction called of Mega Man vs. X-Men. He’s even vulnerable to the Freeze Cracker, so you’ve got ice powers being blasted at a leaping slash-claw lunatic, making his fight look like an argument in the X-Men academy. Which only confuses things, since X is an entirely different Mega Man. If he were any more Wolverine-ish, he’d be called Mustelid Man and retire to Canada.
The weirdest thing about Not Quite Copyright Infringing Man is that they had a much better idea in the same level and didn’t bother to use it. Halfway through Slash Man’s stage, you’re forced to flee from a screen-filling Tyrannosaurus Rexbot.
Mega Man 2 (1988)
Where most of the other Robot Masters were hijacked utility droids, meaning they’re basically reprogrammed Roombas, Metal Man was the first robot Dr. Wily built specifically to kick ass. And it shows. His level is made entirely out of conveyor belts and lethal chunks of metal. Everything about him is moving faster or destroying things. He’s not just an enemy but an icon of ass-kicking.
Metal Man has one of the best weapons in the game, one of the best songs in any game, and the fact he’s easy doesn’t leave you feeling disappointed—it makes you feel awesome! And very, very well armed.
Mega Man 9 (2008)
In 2009, we got the first and only female Robot Master of the classic series. The random chance of getting through more than sixty opponents without ever facing a woman are quintillions to one. Splash Woman learned from the mistakes of past water-themed bosses, too. Her water level isn’t nearly as annoying as Bubble Man’s, while she kicks enough ass to exterminate every other Robot Master one at a time or all together.
She’s one of the few bosses to remember that she commands an entire army of small robots, and calls them to attack you when you arrive. Your guns mostly fire forward so she flies above your head. Her laser trident is one of the most powerful weapons in any Mega Man game. And she can be easily, almost casually be defeated if you have the right counter-weapon, because that’s what it truly means to be a Robot Master.
Mega Man (1987)
Cut Man! The robot based on a random object in the very first game when there was no excuse for having run out of cool ideas. But Capcom was so dedicated to violent danger that it made a man whose only function was “running with scissors.” Either that or the development team only had six bosses to build, and they still clearly sat stuck, looking around the office for something they could use. We’re lucky we didn’t get Wonky Chair Man or Coffee Stain Master.
Cut Man isn’t a threat but an action-packed exemplar of how games used to teach you things. No unskippable tutorial. No invisible walls preventing you from using a double-turbo wall-bounce to get to the first objective because you were meant to practice pressing the A button.
This Robot Master is one of the weakest enemies in any game. He took the most damage from the standard buster, but he blew apart in two hits from Guts Man’s rock-thrower and that was a revelation. It also gave you the right bit of metal to short-circuit Elec Man’s otherwise ass-kicking powers. He was the exemplar of the game’s Rock(man)-Paper-Scissors mechanic.
Cut Man is the hero who sacrificed himself to teach Mega Man the true lesson of success, just like so many small goofy-looking warriors before him. Cut Man was Mega Man’s Mr. Miyagi and Yoda. With scissors welded to his head.
Luke McKinney is a freelance contributor.