The only thing that makes or breaks a Mega Man game is how cool the boss robots are. The Mega Man series was never about its backstory. That’s why cartoons based on Mega Man always feel so weird. It doesn’t matter if Mega Man is called to a competition that turned into revolt, if the robots were reprogrammed by an evil genius, or if the machines just malfunctioned. The end result is the same: Fight your way through a level to defeat a boss.
With that in mind, I’ve gone back to the original 8-bit Mega Man games to present my list—in no particular order—of ten favorite bosses.
The guy has a giant fan for a mouth, and his entire design extends from this fact. He’s always one of the first bosses I think of when I imagine Mega Man battling. I love how he’s a little more wide than the other boss robots, giving him a larger round look. And the fact you can see the fan spinning adds an allegiance to loving his character design. It doesn’t hurt that his stage music is written by both Maname Matsumae (Mega Man composer) and Takashi Tateishi (Mega Man II composer) so it brings that extra level of awesome.
In the assortment of boss attack patterns, Air Man’s attack is rather unique. He spits out a number of small tornadoes that stay in place before he pushes them with his fan power off the screen and preferably through Mega Man as they leave. As Mega Man is also being pushed by Air Man’s fan power, you have to not only jump over the tornado between him and Air Man—there’s always one—while dodging the tornadoes on the higher levels, you also have to push close enough to get to Air Man so you can hit him for a while, but not so close that you run right into him when you got back to normal speed running. Then Air Man jumps and starts it all over again. Any time a boss makes me have to run through resistance like that, it helps make the battle more fun.
You’d think those crazy half circle scissors on top of Cut Man’s head would be too much, but they’re not. Considering it’s rudimentary for pixel art, he’s got a striking look. And he moves smoothly as he lunges. It was the early days of the NES so the simple graphics weren’t where the series would be even by Mega Man III, but that white and red made him stand out as the standard baseline for the bosses.
Let’s be honest though, it’s that catchy-as-hell stage theme that really won me over. By the time Cut Man was jumping and stomping all over me—he’s pretty quick and spry—I was too hypnotized by the score to be too mad about it.