And our adventure begins!
As you read in the masterpost, our story begins with our hero Rock being transformed into the fighting robot ROCKMAN in order to rescue his reprogrammed brothers and stop the evil world domination scheme of Dr Wily.
The game itself has no intro cinematic or anything -- just a title screen. Upon pressing start, you jump straight into the stage select menu. This was actually quite novel and even revolutionary for its time -- other platformer games generally had the player go through the game in a linear order, playing stages of increasing difficulty as they were presented to the player. And even games like Metroid that focused on exploration and set the game world in a series of stages arranged more like one giant maze-like stage, each part of the game would be "locked" until the player found required items to continue, requiring the game be completed in still mostly a linear fashion.
With the ROCKMAN series, however, all of the game's stages are open from the beginning, and the player can play them in any order. By clearing stages, Rock is able to find new items and weapons that can help him in further stages, but the items are not required to clear the stages, so the player can build their arsenal in the order they prefer, and the challenge of a stage will differ depending on what kinds of items you've collected for Rock at the moment you decide to try it. Players can experiment with their desired stage orders so that they can have weapons and items to get them past points they personally struggle with, which differs between player to player, making for a unique experience for everyone who tries the game.
Once clearing the main stages, a final gauntlet of stages leading the final boss serves as an ending to the adventure, giving every player the same final challenge after having collected everything from the main stages how they liked. Such a design was unheard of when the game was launched in 1987, and the formula was so popular that as the series gained dozens of sequels, it continued to use the same structure again and again to much success. Many other games such as 8Eye's tried to copy the idea, but the execution didn't live up to the level of quality that ROCKMAN players had come to expect.
Even still, in 2017, I enjoy playing these games over and over again. The variety in choices as well as the well-tuned challenge of the games makes for near-infinite replay value. And it's a lot of replaying to be done now, since I'm going to be playing through all the stages without taking any damage...
So let's get started! Our stage select menu is simple -- each of the six kidnapped Dr Right Numbers are displayed in a ring around the screen, and we can select any one of them to pursue that robot as our next target to save. Rescuing one of Rock's brothers will allow him to use his transformational ability to "copy" some of the functionality of the opponent, giving him new weapons and abilities. While there is a rock-paper-scissors-style weakness chain so that the boss characters can be defeated more easily by using weapons found in other stages, my playthrough will focus on making the most of the special weapons throughout the game stages to illustrate their design as well as the stage design of the game, fighting the main six bosses with only the Rock Buster.
Oh, and for the record, I'm playing this on the PC version of Mega Man Legacy Collection (ROCKMAN Classics Collection), using a DualShock3 as my controller.