The crux of the Mega Man franchise is its boss battles. Whether it’s the Robot Masters from the classic “Mega Man” series, or the Mavericks from “Mega Man X,” these robots/androids have had a a dazzling variety of designs and weapons for Mega Man to reap from their sizzling corpses, from anthropomorphic lighters to guys with scissors for heads. These 15 Mega Man bosses, however, are just the worst, the exact opposites of Skull Man.
Graphical limitations can’t even justify some of these bosses’ poor designs, as some of our favorite Robot Masters, like Cut Man and Guts Man, are from the original “Mega Man” game. Give Mega Man designers the chance to add backstories alongside increased graphics, like in the “Mega Man X” series, and you’ll still get lame android bosses — known as Mavericks — that fail to live up to their “Top Gun” forerunners.
15. CHARGE MAN
There’s actually an explanation behind this grim-dark Thomas The Tank Engine, who charges in from “Mega Man 5,” and it’s beautifully dumb. Charge Man’s train theme doubles as camouflage so that can transport substances for Dr. Wily. A brilliant design choice, because what train isn’t six feet tall, or bipedal for that matter? Also, because of all of that heavy train flair, Charge Man cannot jump at all. To compensate for his lack of vertical game, Charge Man can charge at you really fast, so you’re a dead man/robot, provided you’re not good at jumping and/or general platforming, of course.
If Charge Man misses with a charge, the smoke stack on his head doubles as a coal mortar, which makes for a poor choice of weaponry in a sealed off boss chamber. Incidentally, Charge Man runs on coal and water, which in the year 20xx are definitely “Mad Max” level commodities. On top of all of this, Charge Man hates signs and other written things, so he’s an illiterate drug running android with a one track mind. Pun intended.
14. SHEEP MAN
Here’s the thing with Sheep Man’s design — it really feels like Capcom just added some generic Robot Master limbs to a cartoon sheep. It’s not even like turning a lighter into Heat Man or a grenade into Grenade Man — Sheep Man is made with a simple copy and paste job. At least Snake Man goes heavy with the snake theme, making him a proverbial robot-man of snakes. Sheep Man is just a sheep, but is also a (robot) man.
At that, Sheep Man appropriately has electricity powers — a reference to “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” — so there’s definitely some tongue-in-cheek aspects of Sheep Man’s design. Likewise, Sheep Man’s Thunder Wool ability lets him burst into four dreamy thunder clouds to summon some lightning. Ultimately, out of all of the menacing and threatening animals one could choose to base a boss on, going with a fluffy sheep for one of “Mega Man 10’s” Robot Masters has to be intentionally ironic. Incidentally, those are clearly supposed to be ram horns on Sheep Man’s brow.
13. WOOD MAN
If you take a look at all of the other earth/leaf/nature themed Robot Masters from the entire Mega Man series, it’s shocking how much more intricate later Robot Masters are compared to Stump Man — sorry, Wood Man — the first earth themed Robot Master premiering in “Mega Man 2.” Wood Man just looks like a guy dressed up as a stump in a bizarre kabuki theater play. So many options for Earthen themed robots, and we settled on stump robot right out of the gate. On the plus side, defeating Wood Man nets you the classic Leaf Shield barrier weapon.
A robot made out of a hinoki cypress tree is a perplexing design choice. Dr. Wily had to be somewhat aware that creating Wood Man alongside Robot Masters like Heat Man and Metal Man would put Wood Man — who, despite his name, has a thin metal layer — at a clear disadvantage. One could argue that this was intentional, ensuring that no one Robot Master could become The Master of all Robot Masters; then again, this is Dr. Wily we’re talking about — the guy who made a train-camouflage robot.
12. PUMP MAN
Pump Man is a water-themed Robot Master from “Mega Man 10” with a water pump for a head. We know that’s what Pump Man literally is, but it’s still hard to wrap our non-Pump heads around it. Does Pump Man need someone to pump his head-pump for him to be combat-effective? Or is that how Pump Man makes love? Not just for that reason does Pump Man just sound wrong, but for many other ways that we can’t (or probably shouldn’t) describe.
Because Pump Man appears in the modern “Mega Man 10,” it feels like some of his design is tongue-in-cheek. It’s kinda like how “Star Wars'” General Grievous’ head was originally based on the head of a spray bottle. Pump Man, however, is just a water pump turned into a man. Originally, Pump Man worked at a wastewater treatment plant, purifying the water that flowed through his body. As you can understand, this turned Pump Man into a neat freak and eventually into a Robot Master, as having human excrement run through your body day in and day out would make any automaton hate humanity.
11. TOXIC SEAHORSE
We just realized that we haven’t shamed any of the Mavericks from the “Mega Man X” series yet. Mavericks are just like Robot Masters, except they swap out their Man parts for some sort of animal or onion bits. Toxic Seahorse is just… all over the place. From the vomitous array of colors, to just trying to figure out where his head is, or that odd extended kazoo/ventilation system that Toxic Seahorse calls a mouth. Hmm, Toxic Seahorse kinda sounds like a band name. Actually, most Maverick monikers double as decent band names — Boomer Kuwanger, Vanishing Gungaroo, Gigabolt Man-O-War — with Bamboo Pandamonium being our absolutely favorite name for anything, ever.
Regardless, Toxic Seahorse is made out of liquid metal, yet still chooses that ridiculous color scheme, being able to sink into surfaces and reappear into more tactically advantageous positions. None of these things have anything to do with toxicity, nor seahorses for that matter, and that includes Toxic Seahorse’s Acid Burst weapon. Why not Toxic Burst? Because in Japan Toxic Seahorse is known as Acid Seaforce… which isn’t an animal, Japan. Just FYI.
10. TOP MAN
Wow. There’s a Robot Master named Top Man. We’re not gonna lie, Top Man was the inspiration behind this listicle. Top Man, who you shouldn’t Google with Safe Search off, first twirled into our hearts in “Mega Man 3.” Top Man’s strategy is throwing a bunch of smaller, weaker tops from the tip of his head, hoping to pin down Mega Man and wear him down until he bursts into white orbs of pure energy.
You’re thinking, oh what an unfortunate name — but no. Top Man was seriously designed to be one big flamboyant Robot Master. Top Man wears roller skates, spending the bulk of his boss battle twirling around in circles, deflecting all incoming fire. Roller dancing is Top Man’s passion, along with ice skating, shunning those who don’t or can’t dance: “We’re center stage now, Mega Man! Don’t disappoint me, now! Let’s dance!” Of Course, Top Man loves “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead Or Alive, quoting: “You spin me right round, baby!” but stopping before the part that goes: “You look like you’re having fun/ Open up your lovin’ arms/ Watch out here I come.”
9. HARD MAN
At least with Top Man, there’s a clear way to depict a top theme, so we feel like degenerates for reading into it. Hard Man from “Mega Man 3,” however, really leans hard on the innuendo. Someone at Capcom is messing with us, right? Hard Man, who is made out of the super hard metal ceratanium, molded into the shape of a blue cannon that’s kinda girth-y in the middle? A thick super hard person whose main combat stratagem is to get on top of Mega Man, adjust accordingly, and try to pound Mega Man into the ground with his head? Definitely some subtext present here.
Hard Man’s level doesn’t even make sense, filled with bola-throwing robots, android monkeys and bulldozer bots. There’s some hard hats, but the stage is downright esoteric. For defeating Hard Man, you get the Hard Knuckle, Top Man’s weakness. This proves that the only way to exhaust a Top Man, is with a Hard Man. You may argue that it’s impossible for a Robot Master to be sexualized. Clearly, you are wrong.
8. PLUG MAN
We should clear this up immediately: this Robot Master is an “electric plug” kind of Plug Man. Unlike older unfortunately named robots like Top Man and Hard Man, Plug Man comes from the (relatively) modern “Mega Man 9,” which was created in the retro style of the classic series. So, while electrical plugs definitely exist, someone at Capcom had to be aware that they were choosing an obscure, if not suggestive name. Like a light switch, Plug Man’s stage revolves around platforms switching on and off.
All things considered, Plug Man’s overall design is striking and fitting, as an anthropomorphic plug totally fits into the similarly anthropomorphic Robot Masters motif, like the lighter shaped Heat Man or the vacuum cleaner themed Dust Man. Coming from a long line of electricity-themed Robot Masters, Plug Man can appropriately summon electricity for ranged attacks and also has the power of glittery, glamorous sparkle fingers, which, frankly, is everyone’s weakness.
7. ICE MAN
This Ice Man isn’t from “X-Men,” but is basically an android Inuit in a parka from the original “Mega Man,” proving that Dr. Wily isn’t above double-plagiarism. Really, Wily? Were you just hoping that Ice Man would illicit some human and/or mutant sympathy from the Blue Bomber? Or was it that you only had seven Robot Masters for the original Mega Man so in trying to save time/money you cribbed from “Ice Climbers” and “X-Men?”
Ice Man actually has an appropriately villainous backstory. Originally designed to explore frozen environments, Ice Man was then repurposed to watch over refrigerated truck deliveries. Now, while it’s never been confirmed that this is what cracks Ice Man, we have to point out that repurposing a robot capable of cold fusion into ensuring that hamburger meat is safely delivered would make any of us go crazy. Seriously, Ice Man has multiple personality disorder, which makes sense when you’re the only Robot Master whose design is just “some guy in a jacket.”
6. TOMAHAWK MAN
Despite existing amongst giant anthropomorphized lighters, Tomahawk Man from “Mega Man 6” is not an axe-themed Robot Master, but rather, is just super racist. Despite his Native American theme, that fake robot skin that Wily (or in this case, Mr. X) insists upon using for all of this Robot Masters seems way too caucasian. He could have just made the dude shaped like a big tomahawk, but the powers that be went down the ol’ racist route instead. Speaking of easy, during the actual Tomahawk Man fight, he alternates between throwing tomahawks and energy feathers from his headdress, both of which can be dodged by the exact same kind of jump.
Fortunately, when you gain Tomahawk’s main weapon, the Silver Tomahawk, Mega Man does not don a headdress, just the color scheme. Unfortunately, Tomahawk Man’s stage is appropriately stereotypical, filled with robot cowboys and a general Western vibe. Tomahawk Man’s weakness is Plant Man’s Plant Barrier, which we think may be a loose reference to that old “Crying Indian”/”Keep America Beautiful” advertising campaign, which itself was pretty problematic.
5. STONE MAN
Let’s not mince words; Stone Man is The Thing. You’re just fighting The Thing. Okay, he’s wearing black spanx with sci-fi nonsense slapped onto his joints with a big red Power Stone heart. But that’s The Thing… but from the future? There’s enough flair to make Stone Man not legally the thing, but come on. Stone Man is in actuality made out of large bricks, and already bears some resemblance to the vastly superior Guts Man in addition to Ben Grimm, making Stone Man yet another example of double plagiarism.
In the design art for Stone Man, it’s easier to tell (perhaps for litigious purposes) that he’s actually more of a Brick and Mortar Man, but when translated into “Mega Man 5,” that intricate latticework just looks like some classic Jack Kirby “Fantastic Four” Ben Grimm skin. Besides, what brick/stone is orange? Why not just color him red and name him Brick Man? All of that robot junk and they forgot to give Stone Man a watch — now he’ll never know the proper time for clobbering.
4. SPRING MAN
Springing into action from “Mega Man 7,” Spring Man is really the only Robot Master whose design, persona and power set are self explanatory. Seriously, there’s no other way to make a “Spring Man” that isn’t just a spring with eyes glued on. Spring Man’s body is comprised of over 2,000 springs. Dr. Wily definitely had some leftover springs, as Spring Man’s level is a veritable spring-orgy, overflowing with springy hallways, deathtraps and enemies. Mix in the pink color scheme and carnival music, and Spring Man’s level is basically the bumper pool board from “Mega Man 7.”
Since Spring Man has a spring-spine, it’s nigh impossible for him to stabilize his hand cannon, making him a terrible shot. While Spring Man’s light body allows him to perform high jumps, he has trouble simply moving around, especially up and down stairs — even though his ancestors were Slinkies. Spring Man enjoys jumping as high as he can, which makes sense when your entire purpose is jumping. Now we’re starting to feel bad. Fortunately, there’s a trick to one-hit-kill Spring Man before his fight even starts, which, given Spring Man’s existence, is honestly a mercy killing.
3. BURST MAN
Burst Man is just one of those unfortunately ambiguously-themed Robot Masters, literally bursting onto the scene in “Mega Man 7.” Burst Man is all about making things burst, rocking a combination explosives-and-bubbles motif. Basically, if Bubble Man and Grenade Man hooked up, Burst Man would be the abominable aftermath. If you have to explain your motif — which for Burst Man is bubbles, bombs and bubble-bombs — then it’s not a good motif. By looking at some Robot Masters, you instantly become aware of their power set. Giant spring with eyes? Spring Man. Robot wearing a bunch of human skulls? Skull Man. Guy rocking a castle tower crown and pods of fish eggs where his nipples should be? Burst Man, obviously.
Burst Man’s body is filled with explosives and different kinds of soaps, essentially making him the Tyler Durden of the Mega Man universe. Because of the liquid substances in his body, however, Burst Man is vulnerable to sudden changes in temperature — not unlike the thermal energy released during an explosion.
2. OIL MAN
On March 2nd, 2006, Capcom released “Mega Man Powered Up,” a modern remastering of the original “Mega Man” game, with updated graphics, a super deformed art style and two additional bosses, one of whom was Oil Man. In other words, someone looked at the original “Mega Man” game and pondered, “This is pretty good, but is it racist enough?” The answer to this hypothetical question is Oil Man, who is basically a mechanized golliwog with a hand cannon. Nope. Not problematic at all…
Everywhere outside of Japan, Oil Man’s color palette was swapped from blackface to blue to undo what was already a pretty obvious racial caricature. This raises the question: does changing the color of a racist character make it un-racist or ultra-racist? Kinda like, “Oh gee yeah, Oil Man was the only black Robot Master, but now he’s blue with yellow lips — because you all know how oil is blue — so we’re good, right?” Archie comics had a better idea, obscuring Oil Man’s more ostensibly racist features with his bandana.
1. WIRE SPONGE
Wire Sponge from “Mega Man X2” may claim to be a sponge, but anyone with functioning vision would tell you that Wire Sponge is clearly H.R. Giger’s version of a Mega Man boss. First and foremost is that name. A “wire sponge” sounds more like a sponge made out of wire, like those copper Brillo pads used in crack pipes — not a sponge who uses garrote wire to fight. In Japan, however, Wire Sponge’s name is based off “hechima,” which is Japanese for luffa, a plant that produces a cucumber-like vegetable that can then be dried and sold as a sponge. So, we have a Robot Master based on the most phallic of vegetables… well, until Explosive Eggplant becomes a thing.
All things considered, Wire Sponge totally looks like nightmare genitals, right? There are even three gross little alien probes sprouting out of the tip of Wire Sponge’s horrible flower urethra crown. Wire Sponge even swings around fallopian tube-like vines attached to razor sharp ovaries as if they were Kunai. Wait. Kunai Cucumber would’ve been such a better name than Wire Sponge. Get it together, Mega Man!
Did we leave out your least-favorite Robot Master? Peeved that we didn’t pick Pirate Man? Isn’t Bamboo Pandamonium the best name ever? Let us know in the comments!