The several spin-off series that have emerged over the past years, each one continuing the Mega Man mythos in some unique way, includes but is not limited to the Mega Man X, Mega Man Legends, and Mega Man Battle Network series. A resulting animated series was also produced originally in the United States as well as a number of toys, comics, and collectibles available both in and outside of Japan.
Mega Man's role in the original story is to battle the mad scientist Dr. Wily and his ever-growing army of robots, and stop them from taking over the planet by using their own special abilities against them. Utilizing his special Mega Buster arm cannon, and his ability to copy a defeated robot's special weapon, Mega Man must travel the world and traverse harsh environments in order to bring Wily's menace to an end. With the help of his creator Dr. Light and his assorted robotic companions, Mega Man's eventual goal is to one day achieve "everlasting peace".
Although originally the names "Mighty Kid" and "Knuckle Kid" were proposed, Capcom eventually settled on "Rockman" as Mega Man's Japanese moniker. The name "Rainbow Man" was also proposed, due to his ability to change color. The word "Rock" in Rockman is a reference to the music genre rock and roll, and is meant to work in tandem with his "sister" robot, Roll. Such music-themed naming conventions are present in a number of Keiji Inafune's other character designs, such as Blues. In addition, the original Mega Man titles intentionally incorporated a "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game play mechanic into defeating certain enemies.
His most notable appearances have been within his own self-titled games, beginning with Rockman for the Nintendo Famicom in 1987. This, and all future Mega Man games released in North America and Europe, would bear the title "Mega Man" due to Capcom USA's early decision to change the name. Prior to decision on the name "Mega Man" which was proposed by Joseph Morici, Capcom had even considered the name "Rainbow Man" as a possible title due to the nature of Mega Man's color change when using different Robot Master weapons .
Nearly all of the classic series Mega Man titles have been two-dimensional sidescrollers involving horizontal movement through various levels. This mechanic persists even on titles developed for high performance platforms, such as the Sony PSP release of Mega Man Powered Up, which features 3D graphics, yet movement to both the background and foreground is restricted. The main series on both the NES and Nintendo Game Boy would follow this formulaic approach in the design of every game developed on those systems, and set the standard for all platformer Mega Man games to come. Mega Man himself has evolved very little cosmetically since his initial release, but has often been given new techniques in each game. The Mega Buster, for instance, which was introduced in Mega Man 4, allowed him to charge up a shot. The slide was introduced in Mega Man 3. It was these which were used in order to help him exceed any new challenges added by the programmers.
Capcom, regarding Mega Man as a versatile character, has placed him in several different gaming situations outside of his usual series. He has since been seen as a sports star in the Super Nintendo game Mega Man Soccer, a race car driver in Mega Man Battle & Chase, and a board game piece in Wily and Right's RockBoard. A limited release arcade fighting game series containing Mega Man: The Power Battle and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters pitted Mega Man against several boss characters from his original series.
Though Capcom owns the rights to all Mega Man games and has been responsible for the development of all of his console titles, it has in the past licensed the Mega Man character to other companies for PC releases. Mega Man and Mega Man III (with no relation to the NES games of the same name) were developed by the US-based Hi-Tech Expressions, and the Mega Man game published on the Game Gear by Sega, and Rockman Strategy was developed and released exclusively in China by AcerTWP. Neither title has since been regarded by Capcom as an official Mega Man series game.
Mega Man has made appearances in several game projects outside of his original series. He appears as a playable character in the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting game series alongside other prominent characters such as Ryu, Strider Hiryu, and Captain Commando. He has also been featured in the 3D shooter Cannon Spike and the card game simulators SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash and Card Fighter 2: Expand Edition. In the XBox 360 game Dead Rising the lead protagonist, Frank West, can dress as Mega Man and even use his arm cannon. Also, as seen in the screenshot, Servbots also make an appearance. Non-playable cameo appearances by Mega Man occur most often in other Capcom licensed games, and he is often seen as a background character. Such appearances include Capcom World 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Pocket Fighter, Mighty Final Fight, Power Stone 2, Boktai, Boktai 2, Lunar Knights, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne and Onimusha: Blade Warriors. Animated incarnations of Mega Man were common in the early 1990s, particularly in North America.
A three-episode Japanese anime OVA titled Rockman was produced in 1993 in an attempt to help spread information on Japanese culture. In it, Mega Man crosses paths with his adversary, Dr. Wily, while learning various facts about Japanese society, and receiving occasional help from Proto Man. He also appeared in the animated Mega Man TV series.
The story of Mega Man's origin and his bittersweet victory over the robotic forces of Dr. Wiley has been adapted by The Protomen, a band from Tennessee who perform an original dystopian rock opera based on the dynamic between Mega Man and Protoman. During the show, the band members wear costumes inspired by their take on the series, including motorcycle helmets with built-in microphones fashioned to look like those of Mega Man and Protoman, and the iconic arm-blaster.
The Megas, a Los Angeles rock band, also perform songs based on the Mega Man series as well as covering music directly from the games.
The version of Mega Man from the Battle Network series has briefly appeared in the first two games in the Mega Man Starforce series to give the main character a rapid fire weapon called the Battle Network Blaster or BN Blaster.
Sometime during the 21st century, robotics genius Dr. Thomas Light worked to create a humanoid robot. This robot would demonstrate an advanced artificial intelligence program that would allow it to make decisions for itself based on stimulus and basic directions. He called the robot project "Robot Master", because the resulting robot would be able to supervise the work of other, less intelligent machines.
Before Dr. Light ever constructed what would eventually become Mega Man, he first designed the Robot Master known as "Proto Man" ("Blues" in Japan), named due to the fact that it was a prototype of his future creations. Proto Man had the ability to lead a small squad of other robots in military applications. However, before Dr. Light could begin testing the true potential of his AI, the robot went rogue, escaped and was thought to have been destroyed.
Because of the disappearance of Proto Man, Light decided to create another robot. Dr. Light, fearing that the disappearance of Proto Man was due to the fact that he didn't have a peer, he created two other robots at around the same time to work as a pair. These robots were called "Rock" (ロック) (Mega in the Powered Up remake) and "Roll". Rock was created as Dr. Light's lab assistant. His purpose was a general-purpose tool user. Simply by studying how a tool was used, he could mimic its use using a Variable Tool System, thus making him the ideal lab assistant. His "sister" (though not actually a sister, but a robot partner), Roll, was designed for housekeeping.
With the success of these two test-type robots, Light designed and built six production-type robots, mainly to be used in the construction and maintenance of public works. These robots were Cut Man, a timber felling robot; Guts Man, a construction and excavation robot; Ice Man, a robot designed for exploration in extreme freezing temperatures; Bomb Man, a land reclamation robot; Fire Man, designed for waste management; and Elec Man, designed to oversee and control atomic energy power plants. The enhanced remake Mega Man Powered Up has also retconned Oil Man — designed for maintenance by generating oil for machinery and firing it through his arm cannon — and Time Man — designed to research time travel with his ability to slow down time, though was incomplete — into existence. Each of these robots had full use of the Robot Master's intelligence and reasoning potential. However, little did Dr. Light know that all of these robots including the missing Proto Man would later serve as the key to unlocking Rock's destiny.
The time finally came for Dr. Light to be recognized by the world for his brilliant contributions to science. Dr. Albert W. Wily, a colleague at that time and future rival, grew jealous when his unique research, which he studied with Dr. Light, was utterly overshadowed by his partner. He stumbled upon Proto Man one day, who was dying when his energy system was malfunctioning. He repaired him, using his specifications to create the police robot, Sniper Joe. He discovered while analyzing Proto Man that he had found a way to reprogram Light's robots. He decided that he could use these new robots to exact revenge. When Dr. Wily arrived at near Dr. Light's laboratory soon after announcing his plans for world domination, he failed to realize Rock and Roll's potential, so he went to the lab without them, claiming that helper robots are as good as scrap metal to him. He took and reprogrammed the six (eight in Mega Man Powered Up) construction robots so they became misled and forced under his rule. With his new followers, Wily seized control of the city and demanded recognition. This string of events, set in motion, what would later become the purpose for Mega Man's existence.
Realizing that it would be very difficult for the armies to stop Wily without harming the city, Dr. Light knew something had to be done. Due to his programmed sense of right and wrong, Rock volunteered to be converted from his current state as a lab assistant into a fighting robot. Thus, from that day forth, he became known as "Mega Man" (Rockman in Japan).
From that day forward Mega Man volunteered himself for action against crime and serving to support and protect humankind's existence and coexistence with robots within society. Mega Man along with help from his friends, thwarted the evil plans of Dr. Wily and other such villains numerous times, while saving lives and inspiring justice in the hearts of others. Throughout his many adventures, Mega Man has encountered several enemies that have appeared to be too powerful for him to overcome on his own, yet in typical heroic fashion, Mega Man's pure intentions and strong will tend to be the determining factor in his steadfast battle for everlasting peace.
In Mega Man 6, "adapters" were introduced that allowed Mega Man to fuse with other robots, mainly the character Rush: the "Jet Adapter" allows Mega Man to fuse with Rush and become "Jet Mega Man" and, in this form, Mega Man is equipped with the "Jet Booster," which allows him to hover for short periods of time. The other adapter, dubbed the "Power Adapter," allows Mega Man and Rush to fuse and become "Power Mega Man". In this form, Mega Man is equipped with the "Super Knuckle", a powerful short-range attack that knocks back foes and breaks blocks. However, both of these adapters place specific limitations on Mega Man's abilities at the same time as granting him new skills. The "Super Adapter" introduced in Mega Man 7 allowed the creation of "Super Mega Man". This form basically combines the other two adapters, giving him both abilities.
The final adapter, the "Hyper Mega Man Adapter" functioned as a hyper move in Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. Mega Man combines with the three characters Rush, Eddie, and Beat to become Hyper Mega Man, where he grows in size and extends wings and a rocket pack from his back. He will then use a powerful blast from his arm cannon with rockets coming from his shoulders, boots, torso and back as well.
Dr. Light bestows Mega Man with the "Mega Ball" in the first level of the game Mega Man 8. In gameplay he kicks the ball at enemies and rebounds until it hits a target. The player can also jump on the ball making him reach higher places. The Mega Kick allows Mega Man to use powerful kicks to destroy enemy robots.
Mega Man has also exhibited the ability to teleport, though usually into or out of a level during gameplay, as a streak of colored light colored the same as the character.
The Mega Cannon was introduced in Mega Man 5 (Game Boy). Mega Man can charge and fire his forearms at his enemies. Mega Man can also charge energy in his hands and perform an uppercut, called the "Mega Upper". The "Mega Punch" is an ability where Mega Man repetitively punches his opponent with rapid speed.
A theme that seems to be apparent in Mega Man's character is that much like Pinocchio, he is very similar to a real boy and constantly developing into one. However, unlike Pinocchio, he does not aspire to be "real." Although Mega Man has rarely or possibly never admitted that he is in fact not a human, but rather a robot designed to look and act like a human, he may often consider himself more human than machine. In the Captain N show, Mega Man complained that he was a robot.