I truly love the Mega Man series. It’s a fantastic gaming experience and I’ve been enjoying this series since I started back in 1988 with Mega Man 2.
To me, a Mega Man game is a mostly a run-and-gun (where you mow down enemies with your blaster while you run from left to right, jumping and shooting enemies). But, on top of that, it’s also a platformer where you need to jump on ledges, blocks, and slide under obstacles. One might also look at the RPG-like ability to use enemy weapons on subsequent stages, but I really don’t think that’s what defines a Mega Man game – since the buster weapon is usually still the weapon of choice most of the time.
So let’s look at some other games that fit this same style (I know I’m calling them clones, but what I mean is that if you like Mega Man, you’ll like these as well). I’m also mostly focusing on games that are available as physical copies here so I’ll leave out a lot of games on PC that are great (feel free to mention those in the comments though).
My Favorite Clones
Bucky O’Hare (NES) – This is Konami’s attempt to clone Mega Man on the NES and they did a great job with it. The game is colorful with big detailed sprites. The platforming is on point and isn’t terribly difficult (the game is hard though). I personally don’t find the character all that charming, but it’s definitely a game that I enjoy.
Cocoron (Famicom) – This is sort of like Little Nemo the Dream Master meets Mega Man. It also reminds me of Little Samson somewhat. It gets the nod due to the weapons and focus on platforming. It’s a fun little game so go check it out if you haven’t already.
Commander Keen (PC) – I’m trying to keep down the count of PC-games on this list, but this one had to be mentioned. Keen was originally was for the PC but also had a Game Boy Color port. That port isn’t well-loved, but it’s a somewhat competent game I suppose. Stick with the PC version though for the best experience.
Darkwing Duck (NES) – This is probably the truest Mega Man clone on the list. It was even developed by Capcom. Many consider this basically a Mega Man clone with a Disney cartoon window-dressing. I like the game for what it is, but it is different than the Mega Man series in my opinion. The gameplay is solid. However, it’s not Capcom’s best work on the NES.
Gunman Clive (3DS) – No physical copy of this game exists (that I’m aware of), but it’s available on Steam/IOS/3DS e-shop. This game has a very interesting art style so I had to mention it despite the lack of a physical copy. You run and shoot – much like Mega Man, but there are no boss powers to absorb. It’s a fun little diversion.
Little Samson / Lickle (NES) – You can truly tell this game is a work of love by its developers. It’s just a masterpiece all around – great look, great style, great music. Unfortunately it’s a rare game and will set you back quite a bit these days. That being said, it’s one of those rare games that might actually be worth it.
Journey to Silius (NES) – This is a pretty cool run-and-gun style game from the almighty Sunsoft where you’re in the future fighting robots. This was supposed to be a Terminator game, but that contract fell through and the sprites changed for the production release. What we ended up with is a very fun game with a quirky style and I highly recommend it.
Krion Conquest / Magical Doropie (NES/Famicom) – I have no idea why the name was changed so dramatically from Famicom to NES versions. Also I believe the difficulty was tampered with so you might want to stick with the Doropie Famicom version. Anyways, this looks and feels exactly like a Mega Man game. It has the weapon/power system thing too (except that you start with all the weapons). Instead of a Rush jet you have a broom that you control with a wand. I think this is a neat game, but it’s a bit on the hard side no matter which version you go with.
Layla (Famicom) – This game feels like a cutesy version of Metroid. It’s not a bad game by any means but it’s a little on the mediocre side. So definitely check it out if you like Famicom or run out of other Mega Man style games to pick from.
Metroid (NES) – This is an absolute classic game both in playstyle, bosses, and music. If you haven’t played this, you really need to. Sure the Super Metroid games are fantastic as well, but I’d start with the original and then go into those later.
Star Wars (Famicom) – This one gets the nod since it is very much a gun-focused game with lots of platforming. You have to play it a little more cautious than maybe you would Mega Man games. Make sure you look at the Japanese-only Famicom version to get the version shown below. The NES version is a totally different game.
Transformers: Convoy no Nazo (Famicom) – You’d think this would be a decent game (I mean Transformers is awesome), but it’s just not. What a waste of the franchise. This Famicom game is very difficult and frankly just awful in a variety of ways. It’s best to avoid it, but maybe check it out if you have a morbid curiosity I suppose.
(Games that weren’t Mega Man games really, but feel a lot like them)
Decap Attack (GEN) – This is also a beat’em-up with a definite Mega Man feel. Cool game with a gothic atmosphere, but not a run-and-gun.
Mighty No. 9 – This is supposed to come out on physical media, but it’s not out right now. Since it’s being produced by Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame, it’s sure to follow in the footsteps of the blue bomber.
Mr. Gimmick (NES) – This is an awesome game, where you (a stuffed animal that tries to rescue its little girl owner) can charge up a star and throw it. But, again, I don’t think it really fits the Mega Man mold because of the attack style. Despite that there are no shots fired, it does have excellent platforming and it’s almost required gaming on the NES.
Pulseman (GEN) – This is an action platformer by Game Freak (of Pokemon fame). In this game you play a very Pokemon-looking electrical-based character which can charge up and shoot an electrical shot. It’s not really a run-and-gun, but it has the style of a Mega Man game.
Schbibinman / Shockman (PC Engine (TG16) / Super Famicom) – This is a great game and feels exactly like a Mega Man game, but it relies on a lot of physical combat so I don’t think it follows the run-and-gun style enough to count.
Shovel Knight (PC/3DS/etc) – This game acts a lot (and I mean a lot) like Megaman, but it’s not a run-and-gun. Presentation-wise, it’s a lot like Mega Man, but doesn’t really play like it in the action department (more like Ducktales). It’s a beautiful game and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Totally Rad (NES) – In this action/platformer (again not a run-and-gun) you play Jake – a kid magician that must defeat enemies that kidnap his girlfriend and her parents. You can transform into a lion, a bird, or a fish. You can cast spells, but they either heal you or hit all enemies on the screen.
Whomp’Em (NES) – This is a very underrated action game with big, bright, colorful sprites. It was made by Jaleco – which is mostly known for their Bases Loaded games. In the American version, you play as a Native American. In the Japanese version you play as Sun Wukong, the King Monkey (of Journey to the West Fame). The game is very fun. It’s not a run-and-gun style game, however.
So were there any Mega-Man-like games that you love and I didn’t mention? If so, please let me know which ones.