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  • Accidental Innuendo: Poor, poor Hard Man. The fact that his weapons involve fists does not help his case. Nor does the fact that one of his attacks is lunging in with that giant phallic head and getting stuck in the ground...
  • Anti-Climax Boss: None of the bosses in the Wily Castle are anywhere near as difficult as the Doc Robot fights, with the possible exception of Yellow Devil Mk. II. Gamma's second phase stands out in that it can be destroyed easily with just a single Top Spin, even though it's the final boss.
  • Awesome Music: It's a Mega Man game, what were you expecting?
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    • The title screen theme is often cited as one of the best tracks in the series' history (up there with Wily Stage 1's theme from Mega Man 2).
    • Proto Man's whistle (which also serves as the ending music) is pretty popular as well.
    • While all Robot Master stage themes are fantastic, special mention goes to Snake Man's memorable theme. It fits the hectic, treacherous stage really well.
    • All three Wily Stage themes manage to be both exciting and foreboding at the same time, fitting the for end of the end of the longest Mega Man game at the time.
  • Better Than Canon: The Mega Man 3 Improvement and Ultimate rom hacks fixed a lot of the game's issues and even provided an original intro cutscene, leading fans to consider them the definitive version.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Doc Robot stages, since the Doc Robots themselves are random and unforeshadowed, make you essentially refight the Mega Man 2 Robot Masters, and are never mentioned afterwards. One could cut them out and skip to the final Break Man fight and nothing would be affected. It can be argued that their appearance was meant to act as a hint that Dr. Wily was behind the ruse all along (since the 2 Robot Masters were his creations) and were a part of his plan to distract Mega Man while he hijacked Gamma, but little would be lost if the game skipped straight to the Wily Castle.
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  • Broken Base: The Doc Robot stages tend to get a divided opinion from fans. On one hand, many dislike them for essentially being revisits of earlier stages, except edited to be incredibly frustrating, and also for forcing the player to refight bosses from the previous game. On the other hand, many like them for giving the game more content than several other classic Mega Man titles and for providing sufficiently difficult level design that the later games lacked.
  • Disappointing Last Level: This game's Wily Castle is one big anticlimax, considering its stages are arguably much easier than the Doc Robot levels preceding it. It is very dry of enemies and dangerous platforming and has a series of anti-climax bosses, not to mention it's littered with E-Tanks and extra lives.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Proto Man, one of the most popular characters in the series, debuted in this game. Shadow Man is also well-liked due to having a cool design (being the first ninja Robot Master helps) and a useful weapon.
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  • Fanon: Some hardcore fans like to assume that Dr. Wily actually died in the collapse of Wily Castle, considering 3 the final "true" game of the Mega Man Classic series, and ignoring everything from Mega Man 4 and beyond.
  • Game-Breaker: The Rush Jet is ludicrously useful in this game, making a platform that can move in any direction and only using energy when Mega Man's feet are touching it. With a trick, you can get it as early as the second stage. It gets severely nerfed in subsequent games. It does become somewhat of a necessity, however, as the energy pellets collected to fuel the jet across wide gaps (such as in Needle Man's stage revisit) are not restored if you lose a life.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • If one has the Shadow Blade, one can press right to switch over to the Rush Jet (even if they don't have it yet), fill it with energy, and be able to use it before beating Needle Man. You can also use this trick with the Spark Shock to get the Rush Marine early.
    • In the Japanese version, the fight against the Flash Man Doc Robot is made easier as it cancels the Time Stopper as soon as it fires just one shot, sparing you the continuous stream it's supposed to fire. Sadly, this was changed in the Western release.
    • A glitch with Rush can transform any Mega Buster shot into another weapon's attack. Normally, the player cannot switch weapons when one of Mega Man's shots are on screen; having Rush onscreen, however, allows players to bypass this restriction, allowing them to perform seeming impossible things such as hitting a boss with the Top Spin from afar.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Years after this game, Mega Man would go on to fight Greninja in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, who is essentially a frog version of Shadow Man (who himself fights with a frog in The Power Fighters).
  • It Was His Sled: The reveal that Proto Man is Mega Man's older brother. Also, Wily's not reformed at all.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: Probably the main reason why this game isn't quite as well-remembered among mainstream gamers as 2 despite being as well-regarded (if not even more so) by fans of the series is because of this. The Robot Masters are difficult if not taken in weakness order, there aren't any Game Breakers like Metal Blade (Shadow Blade is a heavily Nerfed version of it), and the Doc Robot stages are notoriously difficult.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Mega Man 3 started using new sound effects compared to the first two games, and they continued using the new sounds for the rest of the NES games.
    • Mega Man's shot is now harsher and screechier.
    • The sound of a health bar filling up is louder than in the first two games, making it more irritating to hear this time around, especially at the beginning of a boss fight.
    • The high-pitched clang the Bolton and Nutton make when they connect.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • While not that bad of a weapon overall, there can only be one shot from the Gemini Laser on-screen at any one time. If it misses, you can't fire another shot or even pause the game until the shot either leaves the screen, runs out of energy or hits an enemy, which is doubly problematic if you're fighting a boss and low on energy, since it'll temporarily prevent you from using any energy tanks that you have.
    • Top Spin drains energy for every frame it's in contact with an enemy. This is why it drains to nothing so quickly when used on an enemy that's invulnerable to it, and one reason why it has to be used carefully against Shadow Man (who has Mercy Invincibility). Learning how to avoid draining the weapon in this way is necessary to use it effectively.
    • Rush Marine is frequently derided for not only being such a situational device (it can only be used underwater), but in this game especially being completely redundant as Rush Jet does the exact same thing except you can use it out of water as well. It doesn't help that the Marine drains energy so quickly, that it becomes risky to use in water sections with bottomless pits like in Gemini Man's stage. Mega Man 4 would change the Rush Jet so as to not make the Rush Marine obsolete, while none of the games after it have featured Rush Marine.
    • Surprise Boxes, non-respawning containers found in some levels that are guaranteed to drop a random power-up when destroyed, usually located in hard-to-reach areas like 1-Ups and E-tanks are. Unfortunately, they pull from every power-up in the game, so while they can drop extra lives or E-tanks, the player could just as easily get screwed over with a small health or weapon energy power-up. Fortunately the concept was refined in later games with the inclusion of Eddie, who's unable to drop small power-ups.
  • Scrappy Weapon: While the Top Spin can be used properly in boss weapon-only runs, the Spark Shock really is useless. Unlike the Ice Slasher, you can't switch to another weapon to lay on the hurt on a paralyzed enemy, or freeze another enemy while the current shot's sparks are onscreen.
  • That One Boss:
    • Needle Man erratically jumps around, spamming the Needle Cannon whenever he feels like. Sometimes he'll ignore physics, land in front of you and try to impale you with his needle head. Twitch reflexes are your only hope. And unlike most other Confusion Fu bosses in the series, he's actually pretty durable, taking only one point of damage from most things that aren't the Gemini Laser.
    • Shadow Man is a Bullfight Boss. On every third jump he will either fire the Shadow Blade (slide under this) or he will immediately slide towards you and then cancel it into a jump when he's right in front of you (properly time your jump over him). Basically you can beat him as long as you back away and give yourself enough time to twitch away when he does something, and control your distance. It doesn't help that Shadow Man's weakness is the Top Spin, meaning you have to be close to hit him. It also doesn't help that he's really, really fast (Not so much in Wily Wars where the speed of everyone is considerably slower, but that came with the cost of how you can no longer slide under his Shadow Blade). Trying to fight with the Mega Buster alone is asking for trouble (it can be done, but it's very hard).
    • A few of the Doc Robot K-176 battles. Namely, the one in which he mimics Quick Man; while Quick Man was a Fragile Speedster in Mega Man 2, the Doc Robot using his program data is a Lightning Bruiser, able to not only deal a lot of Collision Damage, but his larger size makes him much harder to avoid. This is also an issue with the Doc Robot mimicking Flash Man; due to the fact that you fight him on stairs, he's very difficult to jump over as a result.
      • It doesn't help that Doc Quick's AI pattern has actually changed from the original Quick Man's; instead of a three-jump pattern that happened to bug against the outer walls (which could sometimes keep Quick Man from throwing boomerangs), Doc Quick jumps a deliberately random number of times and is more guaranteed to throw boomerangs.
      • There's also the larger, harder-hitting Wood Man Doc Robot (whose size also makes his Leaf Shield bigger), and the Air Man one which throws tornadoes in undodgeable patterns on occasion (that said, the slide still makes him much easier than he was in Mega Man 2).
      • Additionally, most Doc Robots lack a weapon that can four or even two-shot bosses like in the original game. The Mega Man 3 damage chart for the Doc Robots fairly closely resembles the Japanese version of the game, however.
    • The Yellow Devil returns in the Wily Castle as a Mk. II version and puts up a greater fight than anything else in the endgame. It's not as hard as it was in the first game thanks to the slide and E-Tanks, but it's harder to hit it with its weaknesses (Shadow Blade requires you to get fairly close and Hard Knuckle has a long delay to its shot) and it gains a new attack where its segments bounce across the floor with very tight gaps to avoid taking damage in. Also, the game doesn't checkpoint before its boss room.
    • The Wily Machine 3, normally an Anti-Climax Boss, becomes this if the player is on a Buster-only run. It becomes a Puzzle Boss where the player needs to wait for it to descend and become vulnerable, which is hard when it keeps firing bullets to interrupt them. Crossing under it to the other side of the room becomes much harder without Rush Jet.
  • That One Level: Pretty much all of the Doc Robot stages. Being little more than "hard mode" retreads of older levels (that are harder than the Wily Castle stages), having to fight two bosses (at least one of which acts as That One Boss) per stage, suffering from Checkpoint Starvation, ultimately gaining no reward like extra weapons and being insignificant in the overall plot, it's no wonder that players usually use passwords to skip them entirely. Needle Man's stage is probably the worst of them, though, thanks to a very long Bottomless Pit that can only be crossed with the Rush Jet, so pray you don't run out lest you take up the life of a farmer.

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