The boss is one of the most well known tropes in video game lore. Bosses can be some of the most memorable parts of a game. From A-Air Man to Z-Zant, we’re here to look at the encounters and fights that have stuck with us. This time it’s the Mecha Dragon.
The Mega Man series is a game series that’s basically built around the boss fight. The levels are all well designed and the music is outstanding, but each one is definitely tied to the theme of a Robot Master. It would be possible to do an article on every single Robot Master but once you clear through Dr. Wily’s minions and head to his Skull Fortress, things start to get really interesting.
As you progress through the outskirts of Dr. Wily’s fortress in Mega Man 2, the player may be reminded of the final levels of the original Mega Man or any of the Robot Master levels. You dodge enemy fire, hop across walls, and climb ladders. It’s fairly standard stuff and it lures the player into a sense of familiarity. While listening to some of the best music the NES provided, the player guides Mega Man to a set of floating block platforms. It’s a simple task to hop across them towards, presumably, the trademark Mega Man Boss Gate to face whatever evil robot awaits. As the player jumps the screen begins to scroll. This is new. Then, with a mighty roar, the Mecha Dragon bursts from the bottom of the screen carelessly throwing some of the platforms.
The Mecha Dragon has become a big part of Mega Man lore. Like the Yellow Devil before it, everyone who has spent time with Mega Man 2 recognizes the beast. It’s interesting to note that this boss is so recognized while only being in three games. Unlike the Yellow Devil who makes several repeat appearances, the Mecha Dragon has only been fought in Mega Man 2, Mega Man 2 the Power Battles, and the Japanese exclusive Neo Geo Pocket Color port of Power Fighters. That’s not a lot of face time and yet the Mecha Dragon remains so memorable to so many fans.
Perhaps it’s simply because the Mecha Dragon is in Mega Man 2. Mega Man 2 is widely regarded as the best classic Mega Man game. Other than that, there are many unique characteristics of this boss. It’s hard to think of now but when it first appeared the Mecha Dragon was kind of shocking. Only two games in and the series had built up its own rules. Bosses came after giant sliding doors. However here was this giant that came chasing you. There was no safe room to go to. Mega Man may have gotten used to robots coming to attack him but never one this big before. This was the largest enemy Mega Man had faced at the time, including Wily’s final machine in the original game. The Mecha Dragon is simply huge. To see it come appear from nowhere and give chase adds a great amount of tension. Mega Man may have started leaping across platforms to get somewhere but now he was leaping to get away from something. This fear is even greater if the player makes a mistake and touches the dragon. Many bosses will damage the Blue Bomber but the Mecha Dragon is the only boss that causes an instant kill if you touch it. Balancing on the scant few safe platforms while avoiding fire and a charging dragon makes for a tense battle. A tense battle was something very difficult to do in the 8-bit era but the Mecha Dragon makes for a great one.
Mega Man games are famous for their bosses. With the second game though, a boss came along that threw everyone for a bit of a loop. It’s hard to explain the mindset that a fresh player would have while seeing this mechanical monster but it left a huge impression. Few 8-bit bosses can be as striking as Wily’s Robot Masters but if there was ever one to beat them at their own game it was the Mecha Dragon.