The main Mega Man games expand across five different series: the classic series, the Mega Man X series, the Mega Man Zero series, the Mega Man ZX series and finally the Mega Man Legends series. That’s roughly 30 games to go through and although they might seem quite different at first glance they do tell a chronological tale. If you only want to play the best that this series has to offer then here’s a list for you to consider.
It should be noted that this only covers the main Mega Man games and not the spin-offs such as the Battle Network games or the Mega Man Soccer. Those deserve a list of their own and may get one in the future.
#5 Mega Man 9
Mega Man 9 saw a return to the 8-bit aesthetic of the first six games on the NES, eschewing the updated graphics used by Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 on the SNES and PS One respectively. It also brought the blue bomber back to his roots, removing the slide and charge abilities to focus purely on his run-and-gun gameplay. Because of this the developers had more room to develop the stages, ensure all of the acquired power-ups from the bosses were useful and not too situational and that the challenge was just right. This is definitely one of the best from the classic Mega Man series.
#4 Mega Man Zero 2
The first Mega Man Zero was a great title but it was also incredibly difficult. There were ways to reduce the difficulty, such as relying on the Cyber Elf upgrades, but the game punished players for doing so. Mega Man Zero 2 reduces the difficulty a little bit, adds in a few new options to give players more power and abilities to take on the challenges ahead of them and the level designs see a large improvement. When most gamers go back to the Mega Man Zero franchise they often start with this one.
#3 Mega Man X
There are eight games in the Mega Man X series and two handheld spin-offs but none of them come close to the quality of the very first title. It has a really good balance between platforming and combat, the weapons from the bosses are pretty useful and the music is so iconic you’ll find so many remixes on YouTube it’s just ridiculous.
#2 Mega Man Legends 2
The first Mega Man Legends laid the groundwork but it was the sequel that truly showcased what this franchise could accomplish. The story saw a big improvement and masterfully blended its cartoony atmosphere with some serious and dark themes that surprisingly connect the Legends games to the other Mega Man games. The controls were improved, the visuals updated and subtle tweaks to the mechanics – including combat – all make this the go-to Legends game. It’s just sad that Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3…
#1 Mega Man 2
Mega Man on the NES gave birth to the franchise and laid the groundwork for everything that was to come but as stated in our review it is rough around the edges. The sequel fixes almost everything and this includes better level design, better bosses, better music and slightly refined controls. Mega Man 2 is the game that all future installments should look up to and to this day is still the best game in the entire franchise.
Honorable mentions: Mega Man 3 is a worthy follow-up to Mega Man 2 but it does have pacing issues and the acquirable weapons are not as useful. Mega Man 6 is also a great title but it can be a tad bit too easy and while the weapons are great, some of them are too situational to be used outside of the required boss encounters. Mega Man X4 on the PS One is also a spectacular title and even introduces Zero as a playable character right from the get-go and Mega Man ZX Advent adds in well-designed Metroidvania and RPG elements into the franchise as well.