This year marks Mega Man's 30th anniversary, and developer Capcom is trying to make sure everyone, fans and newcomers alike, are able to celebrate the milestone in style. If you've never played any of the Mega Man games, you've been missing out on some of the best titles you could possibly find, so you've got to rectify that as quickly as you can.
As of today, Capcom has announced an upcoming release date for Mega Man 11 to further celebrate the franchise's anniversary—October 2, via Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
The developer has also confirmed that the Mega Man X Legacy Collection is hitting this summer, spread across Mega Man X Legacy Collection and Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 and featuring all eight games on two separate volumes. Both will be available starting July 24 on Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC.
In the meantime, check out five of the best core Mega Man adventures. While there are over 50 unique Mega Man-related titles out there, you can start with these gems and go from there. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting more.
Mega Man V
Mega Man V was the final time that the Mega Man series would appear on the regular Game Boy, but it went out with a bang. You'll guide the Blue Bomber through several full-length stages featuring a series of robots all based around the various planets, whether you're facing off against watery droids, struggling against reduced gravity, or being scorched by fire. Players will travel across the solar system in a bid to defeat Dr. Wily and his cronies, and as a result it's an intergalactic masterpiece, especially if this is the first game you start with. It originally released in 1994, and even though it's a monochromatic classic, it's every bit worth digging up to see what the Game Boy titles eventually culminated in.
Mega Man 2
Mega Man 2 almost didn't happen, thanks to the reception of the first Mega Man title. But it's so good that it did, because otherwise we'd be without one of the best entries in the series. It took every one of the stumbles that Mega Man dealt with and refined them in a big way, implementing a password save system, new items to utilize both in and out of combat, and changes to the six nefarious Robot Masters. It also began to explore various different solutions for players to figure out how to defeat each enemy in different situations. Even the graphics themselves were an improvement over the first game, and though it released on the NES, which may turn some players away (for reasons I cannot fathom) it's great-looking and plays fantastically. If you decide to start from the beginning and play from there, make sure you don't skip out on Mega Man 2.
Mega Man 8 (1997)
To look at 1997's Mega Man 8 is not to understand it, because you might mistake it for a cartoonier knockoff of the series' trademark elements. But just hear me out. It's absolutely excellent. Its soft pastel palette is the perfect juxtaposition of hardcore challenge and dreamy aesthetic, and it remains one of the zeniths of the series' aesthetic and technical performance. Hand-drawn animation, excellent platforming challenges, and classic 2-D side-scrolling challenges make it one of the more intriguing entries in the series, and one that stands out from the rest as extremely unique. It has its share of strange design decisions as well, as all the Mega Man games do at some point or another, but it has to be played to be believed. It doesn't matter if you're playing the games out of order, of course, as long as you get to this one sooner rather than later.
Mega Man 9
Mega Man 9 shocked everyone when it was released nearly 20 years after the original game made its debut. But not because it did everything differently — because, for the most part, it did everything the same. It didn't need a whole new shiny bag of tricks or tools to keep it on par with the graphics of the day. It got all the important details right, with a variety of interesting boss fights (including the first female boss), classic run-and-gun action, and the same retro stylings of its forebears. The fast and responsive controls made a decisive argument for why sticking with familiar mechanics was so important, and despite the game looking "dated" to some, it's an example of why fixing something that isn't broken is an avenue to avoid for classic franchises.
This is it. This is the game that started it all. Back in 1987, this NES classic changed things up in such a huge way that players never even realized how big of a splash it would end up making, or how iconic Mega Man would become. It laid the foundation for the future of the series, presenting fans with a set of six Robot Masters, and gameplay that taught you as you played. It's classic, it's frustrating, but it also feels like being wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket and sitting on your couch chomping on sugary cereal as you try and beat just one more level. Capcom hit all the high notes with the original Mega Man, and it's still the best place to start, especially if you're new to the series. Know your roots, and appreciate them. Mega Man is the best of the best.