#9) Strike Man
There are so many reasons why I love Tengu Man, and many of them are in his design (granted, at this point in the list, or after several lists, this should come as no surprise). For starters, Tengu Man is by far my favorite aeromancer from the classic series, with the abilities to fly gracefully in the airs while manipulating air currents at will. He uses these abilities well during his battle, providing quite a challenge to those unprepared to face him. With how well he masters his aerial prowess, he seems like a deity of wind in comparison to the other flying and wind-controlling robot masters. This is only fitting, as Tengu Man is inspired by the Japanese tengu, a type of Shinto god that takes the form of birds of prey, and that meshes well with the end result.
The Mega Man series is known for many shining points, from simple yet fun gameplay to creative level design to a way to make difficult challenges fun. One of the biggest demonstrations of creative design, in my opinion, is the creativity behind the various bosses, be it their appearance or their boss fights, and their stages are no less important in determining which ones I like. As such, I chose to list my top 10 favorite robot masters from the classic series. I'd like to give special thanks to the Mega Man Robot Master Sorter for helping me with my list, as well as RoahmMythril for letting me know about the sorter. Also, I will not be including recurring main characters such as Mega Man, Proto Man, or Bass in this list. Without further ado, let's get on with our list.
When it comes to the original six robot masters, I have to say that Elec Man, by far, has my favorite design. He looks like a badass superhero/villain, a look that he pulls off really well. It's neither overly simple nor overly complicated. One other selling point that got him on my list is the element of electricity, which has always fascinated me and continues to do so. In addition, getting to him through his stage and beating him in battle is a frustrating challenge the first few times, though the feeling of satisfaction as you, both literally and figuratively, achieve greater and greater heights as you get better and better at this game. This is one of the best design elements that his stage has going for it. They had a variety of challenges on your climb to the top, and when you finally clear these challenges, you seriously feel as though you, as a player, climbed to great heights to get to this boss fight, and as the climax, this boss fight satisfies in difficulty, as it should, and the overall challenge really goes well with the powerful, if a bit arrogant and proud, personality that suits him well in my opinion.
#6) Centaur Man
#4) Astro Man
#10) Sheep Man
The idea of stages and characters in video games being based off of sports and fitness is a really interesting one, and one that I believe should be used more often due to the trove of ideas within this aspect. I feel as though Strike Man and his stage have a simple yet well-executed design, and, as silly as an anthropomorphic baseball robot may be, it still looks really nice. Plus, this stage has one of my favorite music tracks from the game, a theme that sounds like a baseball stage would. While I honestly would have expected a robot master based off of baseball to look more like a baseball player than a baseball, and be named something like League Man, I am glad that Capcom took the more creative approach in lieu of the more obvious one (the League Man thing was a reference to a minor character in the MegaMan.EXE animé. For some reason, I think of that guy whenever I think of Strike Man).
#5) Gravity Man
From the time that I wanted to make this list, I knew that this guy was going to be high on it. While I have mixed feelings about this guy's difficulty, it really suits him well, considering that this guy was designed specifically to terminate Mega Man, and he does his job like a master... a robot master, thanks for watching! In all seriousness, this aspect of his design makes him great enough as it is, though the primarily red color scheme warns you of his dangerous side, as if he has any other side, and I don't know why boomerangs suit a speedy killing machine so well, but they do.
My Top 10 Favorite Robot Masters
I've always been fascinated by various mythological creatures, especially those with magical powers. I feel that Centaur Man is a really interesting representation of this concept, both in his visual design and his stage. I find both to be far out of the ordinary, and this usually captivates my attention if done well. I'd say that a stage based off of the lost city of Atlantis, with a robotic centaur as the boss, does this well in my taste. In addition, while I have many water stages based off of ancient cities, Centaur Man's stage has to be my favorite, having both an interesting and far from monotonous color palette as well as the creative gimmick of upside-down water. That makes me laugh quite often due to how quirky it seems. I know that not that many people agree with me on this one, though this is my list filled with my opinions and biases. Again, I'd like to see your personal opinions, so let me know which are your favorites. Anyhow, back to the list.
I feel as though a few characters from this series capture my fascination with science-fiction things such as outer space or physics, and Gravity Man seems to be one my favorites. While I wouldn't call the idea of switching and altering gravity something overly creative nowadays because of how many games have this kind of gimmick, Gravity Man's stage seems to make a bit more sense than others, being a research facility on anti-gravity. In addition, during his boss fight, I find it creative how Gravity Man uses his gravity control unit to keep you on the other side of the room, thereby giving his fight a sense of strategy unique to him. Plus, he looks really cool in my opinion.
The reasons for which I like Astro Man are much the same as the reasons for which I like Gravity Man, though I place Astro Man higher on the list because it seems a lot more creative both in level design and visual appeal. Granted, it probably looks better because Gravity Man was featured in an NES game, and the NES had far less graphical capabilities than the Sega Saturn or PlayStation. Naturally, this means that Mega Man 8 could have far more beautiful graphics, and while I try to look at the robot masters and their stages objectively, this is a top ten list, and so biases like these arise. Of course, even then, it takes some serious artistic creativity to produce a stage like Astro Man's, and I am quite a fan of the result, as it looks like a mix of dimensions. I even like how they incorporated a maze challenge with a looping room, which was equal parts challenging and trippy. I also like Astro Man's design, as it looks more like a UFO and machine than a guy stuffed into a mechanical suit. I feel as though more robot masters should do this.
I was debating whether or not I should include any of the Stardroids, as I only played part of a stage from Mega Man V for Game Boy and didn't really find many of the Stardroids all that memorable as a result. While Terra did come close to making this list, the final boss of that game, Sunstar, took this spot on the list. I decided that since he had great plot significance and an awesome design, I'd include him in the list, and that plot significance is what earned him the top spot on this list. For starters, his design is amazing, looking like a combination of a pharaoh and a war machine, and the color scheme and sun star icons give him a regal appearance. This makes sense, as Sunstar is an ancient doomsday weapon with the mentality that he is the ultimate fighting machine in the universe, and is willing to destroy anyone or anything that he deemed lesser than himself. In order to truly describe why I put him on this list, I would have to get into spoilers for the ending of Mega Man V, though it's more emotionally touching and though-provoking than I would normally expect from a Mega Man ending, so I choose to put him at the top of this list.
#2) Elec Man
What did you think of this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions of my list and which robot masters you like.
Easily one of the most dapper robot masters in the mix, Magic Man has, in my opinion, a really solid designs, and one of the only ones introduces in Mega Man & Bass that I actually like. I honestly can't put my finger on why exactly I like this design, though it could be that it takes a colorful twist on something that has always captivated my interest as a kid. Plus, this magician's stage has one of my favorite designs, and while it does use visual assets from Clown Man's stage from Mega Man 8, the difference between the two is night and day *ba dum tss* and contrasts really well as compared to some of the other stages in this game. Honestly, I don't remember too much from a gameplay perspective, as I only played MM&B once, but this guy won me over with his design. I'll take it.
#8) Magic Man
#7) Tengu Man
#3) Quick Man
Sheep Man is one of those characters that seems silly or funny because, well, he's based off of a sheep. However, silly as that may seem, this is actually because he's somewhat inspired by a famous science fiction novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, making his origin a bit of a hidden gem. This also explains the reason why he's actually an electricity-wielding robot, and why he has a techno-cyberspace level. Also, this guy reminds me of Flaaffy, one of my favorite Electric-type Pokémon, so that's a nice bonus. I've always been fascinated by this kind of futuristic techno-cyber-esque theme, and this stage is no exception. Admittedly, they could have gone about it better, though I still like what Capcom did with this guy, so he gets a spot on this list for that.