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This file is about The History of Mega Man. It summarizes what happened so far in the Mega Man universe and tells about the evolution of Mega Man.

Mega Man Series
Mega Man X Series
Mega Man Legends Series
Mega Man Battle Network Series
Mega Man Zero Series
The Future

In this day and age, very few franchises have real "staying power," especially those that have been around since the late 1980s. Along with Mario and Sonic, the little blue robot known as Mega Man has made quite a splash in the gaming world, and his legacy continues to this day with a library that rivals even that of a certain Italian plumber.

Mega Man Series:

We'll begin at the beginning, with the original Mega Man himself, known as Rockman in Japan, since MM's real name is "Rock". Created by Dr. Light as a lab assistant, Rock and his sister, Roll, lived in peace in the year 20XX AD. That is, until Dr. Light's former partner, Dr. Wily, decided to reprogram 6 other robots and try to take over the world. And so, the "Blue Bomber" first appeared on US shores in 1987, with the absolute worst box art known to man. However, the game itself was unparalleled; classic platform design, but the ability to beat the crap out of a boss, then steal their powers for your own? That was a radical idea back then. With the release of Mega Man 2, however, gamers were in for a real treat. Not only were there 8 bosses now (rather than a measly 6), but Capcom added a password system, 3 special items, the ever popular E-tanks (to completely refill your life), and more. MM2 tops the favorite list for many Mega Man fans, with good reason.
Mega Man 3 raised the bar even further. 8 bosses, check. 3 special items? Well, now we were introduced to Rush, MM's robotic dog, who could transform into various helpful items (like a jet, submarine, or springboard). E-tanks were still there, too. What set it above the rest? After beating the initial 8 bosses, you had to go through modified versions of previous levels and fight all 8 bosses from Mega Man 2! 16 bosses in one game! And just to make it more sadistic, you didn't get special weapons from the second set of bosses. Finally, some "old friends" from the very first Mega Man game showed up, just to complicate things further.
Three more Mega Man games were released on the NES, each following the standard formula. A whopping five were released on the original Game Boy; while the first four reused bosses from Mega Man 1-5 on the NES, each one had at least one brand new boss character to fight. Mega Man IV also added "P-Chips," which enabled you to buy items for Mega Man. Mega Man V had completely new bosses, and is notable for two reasons: a) the boss names don't end in "Man" (they're all named after planets instead); and b) this is the ONLY original series Mega Man game where Dr. Wily is NOT the final boss! Fans will be able to relive these games in full color this spring, with the release of Mega Man Mania on the GBA. This cart will include all five GB MM titles, completely colorized, with unlockable material to boot.
So that was the 8-bit era. Mega Man broke into the 16-bit age with Mega Man 7 on the SNES. Aside from the later levels being notoriously tough, this game introduced 3 new characters to the MM universe: Auto, Bass, and Treble, all of whom would become fan favorites later on (especially Bass). Auto came in especially handy, as he'd sell you all manner of handy upgrades. We also got Mega Man Soccer, an abomination if there ever was one. Poor design, and the game itself seemed unfinished, due to numerous glitches! Much later, US audiences got Mega Man & Bass for the Game Boy Advance, a port of the Japan-only Rockman & Forte title that appeared on the Super Famicom (SNES). Any MM fan will tell you that the original version is far superior; the GBA port was cropped far too much, and much of the gameplay suffers as a result. That was about it for the original series; during the 16-bit age, a different Mega Man series was in the spotlight. We'll get to that in a bit.
Once 32-bit gaming came about, Mega Man was brought back once again for the candy-like Mega Man 8. Released on the Playstation and Saturn, this game annoyed some MM diehards due to the pastel colors, cutesy sound effects, and horrible dubbed anime cut scenes. Aside from the silliness, the game was quite good, especially the superior Saturn version, which had extra bosses and better music for some levels. (Maybe it's just me, but the control seemed tighter on the Saturn version as well.) We have yet to see a Mega Man 9, on any platform. At least MM's stayed busy. He's made cameo appearances in games like Cannon Spike, Capcom vs SNK Cardfighters' Clash, Pocket Fighter, and both Marvel vs Capcom titles.
There's ugly redheaded stepchildren in every family. In this case, we've got the "unofficial" MM games, which were NOT made by Capcom; they just carried the license. There was Mega Man and Mega Man 3 (yes, they skipped 2) for the PC; both featured all-new levels and bosses, but the gameplay was terrible. LCD handheld versions of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 were produced by Tiger Electronics, but they failed to capture the spirit of the original games. Finally, US Gold ported bits and pieces of Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5 to the Game Gear, with some slight graphical upgrades, in their simply-named Mega Man (sometimes referred to as the Best of Mega Man, which it's clearly not). Just like with Mega Man & Bass on the GBA, the cropped screen caused all manner of problems.
Finally, to round things out, we'll briefly discuss the games we never got in the US. On the Famicom (NES), the Japanese got Rock Board, which is very much a precursor to the Mario Party games. However, it had slot machines, so the anal Nintendo of America killed any US release (NOA was also responsible for removing any religious references from the early Mega Man titles; i.e., "Yellow Devil" became "Rock Monster"). Then there was Rockman Battle & Chase for Playstation, released in Japan and Europe. Picture Super Mario Kart with Mega Man characters; this game kicks plenty of ass. On the Playstation and Saturn, Japanese fans got an interactive movie of sorts called Super Adventure Rockman. Mega Drive (Genesis) owners in Europe and Japan got Rockman Mega World (aka Mega Man: The Wily Wars in Europe), a 16-bit upgrade of Mega Man 1-3, with an added "Wily Tower" stage at the end. Rockman & Forte got completely redesigned and ported to the Japanese Wonder Swan handheld console, though Capcom themselves had nothing to do with it except handing out the license. Even arcades got in on the action, with two MM "fighting" games: Rockman: The Power Battle and Rockman 2: The Power Fighters. We'll be getting those in the US next year on Capcom's upcoming Mega Man Anniversary Collection, thankfully. If you can't wait, there's an excellent Japanese port of the game on the NeoGeo Pocket Color called Rockman Battle & Fighters. To top it all off, the Japanese got Playstation re-releases of all six original Mega Man titles, called Rockman Complete Works, with all manner of added features. Why didn't we get them here? Sony put the kibosh on that, while hyping up the Playstation 2. Fuckers. Fear not, though...Mega Man 1-6 will be on the aforementioned Mega Man Anniversary Collection as well.

Mega Man X Series:

With the introduction of the Super NES, many gamers wondered what would become of our hero Mega Man. Aside from the original MM appearing in Mega Man 7, fans got a real surprise with the release of Mega Man X. At first, many were confused; a) they thought this was a later version of the original MM, and b) they thought the "X" was the Roman numeral "ten." Well, neither is true.
It's explained rather clearly in the X series that this is an entirely new robot, and the last work of the late Dr. Light. He sealed the robot in a capsule for 30 years to run diagnostic tests, as it had a revolutionary new independent thinking system. Unfortunately, this robot ended up being sealed away for over 100 years, as Dr. Light passed away. In the year 21XX, the scientist Dr. Cain found this capsule, and reactivated the robot, who's name turned out to be "X" (the letter, not the numeral). Dr. Cain was amazed at the complexity of X, even though he was built 100 years ago. Dr. Cain used X as a template to build other advance robots, called "Reploids". Soon, Reploids filled the globe, and became a part of everyday life. (Dr. Cain must've REALLY raked in the cash!) Naturally, some robots went bad, and were designated "Maverick." To solve the problem, teams of Maverick Hunters were assembled; the unit led by the Reploid named Sigma was one of the best...
...Until he fought some strange robot wielding a beam saber. The robot, Zero, was repaired and studied, but Sigma was never the same. He ended up going Maverick himself, and taking his top eight Maverick Hunters along with him. The Maverick Reploids are quite different from the "Man" robot masters of the original MM games. The primary difference is that almost all of them are based on animals of some kind. No one else was powerful enough to fight Sigma's forces...except for X, who never wanted to be a fighter in the first place. And thus began the first game, with X fighting various Reploids to gain their weapons in true MM fashion. Also found in various levels were Heart Tanks (which increased your lifebar), Sub Tanks (much like the E Tanks from other MM games, but they could be refilled), and armor upgrades, where X received holographic messages from his late creator, Dr. Light. These upgrades gave X extra abilities, like dashing (similar to the original MM's sliding move), charging special weapons, and better defense. Another great addition to the gameplay was the ability to slide down walls, and/or jump off of them.
Zero was destroyed, but X continued his adventures on the SNES with Mega Man X2 (where Zero returned) and Mega Man X3. Even though Sigma was destroyed in Mega Man X, he was back for more in both games, in the guise of a powerful computer virus (makes sense, doesn't it'). Both games offered new upgrades and subtle gameplay additions. The latter was extremely challenging, but also had some absolutely horrible background music. This was remedied later, when MMX3 was ported to the Saturn and Playstation in Japan, with completely remixed music, sound, and anime cut scenes. If you're going to pick up MMX3, that's the one to nab. Zero is briefly a playable character here, but he's really not much use, as X is quite a bit more powerful. If you play your cards right, however, X can even gain use of Zero's beam saber!
X returned to the Saturn and Playstation for another game, Mega Man X4, where Zero was a full playable character. In fact, to get the whole story, you had to play through the game twice; once with X, and once with Zero. With two playable characters to choose from, you also got multiple endings. This game revealed more of Zero's backstory, and we discover that he was indeed the final creation of one Dr. Wily! Zero himself was handled quite well as a playable character; rather than earning special weapons like X did, Zero would earn special moves instead (i.e., rather than shooting fireballs, Zero would do a jumping flame slash with his beam saber. We also had some new characters thrown into the mix, like the General, the Colonel, Double, and a love interest for Zero named Iris.
The Saturn tanked (dammit!), but X reappeared on the Playstation in Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X6. MMX5 was probably the easiest of the series, and introduced multiple armor types, new characters that would stick around for while (like Alia and Signas), and the ability to switch to X or Zero between levels. This game also brought in the rescue system, where innocent Reploids were scattered throughout levels. Touching them would rescue them, and they'd often help you out in return by refilling your lifebar or giving you a 1-up. MMX5 also added a lot of plot elements, including strong references to Dr. Wily, his possible return('), and the true nature of Zero. One of the endings in MMX5 also branched off into the Mega Man Zero series, but we'll get to that a little later. Mega Man X6 was a rush-job, and many gamers were frustrated by its poor design, glitches, and crappy plot. I know I was. Plus, most of the game invalidated plot points from MMX5! You really only need to play this game if you're a completist.
This got worse in Mega Man X7, recently released on the Playstation 2. This was the series' first step into the world of 3D, and as evidenced by my review of the game a while ago, it didn't go well. The plot's not too bad, and introduced the Red Alert Syndicate of bounty hunters. One of their number, Axl, is a playable character in the game, and is more important to the overall plot than even he realizes. You can probably guess who's pulling the strings...
Even the Game Boy Color got some X action, in form of Mega Man Xtreme and Mega Man Xtreme 2. Both games had their share of bugs, but they were still great games in their own right, and Capcom must be given credit for successfully converting a 16/32/128-bit series to an 8-bit console. The first Xtreme title took place between Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3, and featured recycled Mavericks from the first two SNES Mega Man X games. A few new characters showed up, too, like Middy, Techno, Geemel, and Zain. Mega Man Xtreme 2 takes place shortly before Mega Man X4, and here, Iris is just starting to work for the Maverick Hunters as a communications officer (a role Alia would fill later). Here, the main protagonists were Berkana and Gareth, known as "Soul Erasers" for their role in stealing Reploids' "DNA" patterns; these two commanded resurrected Mavericks from MMX2 and MMX3. Zero was also a playable character in Mega Man Xtreme 2, and by beating the game with both X and Zero, you'd unlock "Boss Rush Mode," where you can fight the 8 Mavericks from the first Mega Man Xtreme game! Both games had a predictable ending, as you pretty much took for granted who the final boss would be.

Mega Man Legends Series:

In 1998, the Playstation was at large, and Capcom decided to expand the Mega Man franchise yet again. Rather than a direct continuation of the storyline (as the Mega Man X series officially takes place at least 100 years after the original Mega Man games), Capcom created an "alternate" timeline where the Earth was almost completely covered by water, and people eked out an existence on the various islands. We're never told exactly what year it is, but I'll speculate more on that later.
And so we have Mega Man Legends. Enter the various treasure hunters, known as "Diggers." One such group is the Casket family. Headed by the elderly Barrell Casket, these folks explore various ruins looking for refractors--large crystals that can be used a power source, or traded for money. Barrell's granddaughter Roll acts as a "spotter" (communications officer), while his "grandson" Rock Volnutt (affectionately known as "Mega Man") handles the actual exploration. MM's clad in armor and carries weapons, which come in very handy since the ruins are often filled with malicious droids called Reaverbots.
Even though the series has only 3 games to date (and MM didn't even appear in one of them!), it's got quite a rich history surrounding it. In the first Mega Man Legends game, MM's treasure-hunting exploits on Kattelox Island focused on the search for the legendary Mother Lode, but expanded into much more than that. MM found Sub-Cities, the Main Gate, and other relics from the previous civilization. He dealt with the notorious Tron Bonne and her pirate siblings. He even fought against Mega Man Juno, a "Purifier Unit" who was programmed to "reinitialize" (read: exterminate) the population of Kattelox Island! But who saves the day? MM's pet monkey, Data. Yeah, you read that right. Data managed to shut down the reinitialization system, and revealed that he knew everything about MM's past and original mission. He even used MM's real name..."Mega Man Trigger." Naturally, we weren't told anything beyond that. We had to wait until the sequel came out to learn more.
And learn more we did. Mega Man Legends 2 expanded very heavily upon the original story, and over the course of the game, revealed just about everything about MM himself, as well as the new characters (Sera and Yuna), his creator (the Master), and the ancient civilization. Mega Man Trigger was a Purifier unit himself (essentially a glorified guard robot) on a manmade satellite world called "Elysium." He was charged with protecting the Master (a perfect being, most likely human) and the System (the network that controlled everything on Elysium and Terra [Earth]). The Master helped create "carbon units" (humans) to populate the Earth, and for a time, he lived among them. As his life was finally coming to an end, he instructed Mega Man to destroy the System and let humans control their own destiny. He succeeded, but at a cost; Sera, a "Mother" unit in charge of the System on Elysium, attacked him on Terra. They sustained significant damage, so Yuna (the Mother unit in charge of Terra) reverted Mega Man to a protoform state (a baby), and sealed him away in some ruins on Nino Island. He was found by Barrell Casket, who adopted him. MM also completely lost his memory. Sera ended up sealed away on the Forbidden Island (the same place where Roll's parents were lost). She's freed at the beginning of Legends 2, and she planned to reinitialize the entire planet and restore the Master's civilization. Naturally, this brings her into conflict with MM yet again. Yuna shows up, too, but in the guise of Roll's long-lost mother! MM's heavily damaged in a battle with Sera's assistant Geetz, but his pal Data rebuilds his memory. As it turns out, Data was originally created as a memory backup unit for MM, which explains why he knows so much about MM's past (and how he was able to shut down the reinitialization program in the first Legends game). Assisted by Yuna (the Mother of the System on Earth), MM finally defeats Sera and restores order...but he ends up stuck on Elysium. Sera is reawakened in Yuna's original body; if she died, the System would automatically reset and reinitialize the planet anyway. Back on Earth, Roll and Tron Bonne join forces to build a ship to bring MM back...if only they could stop arguing!
The last game in the series actually takes place before the events of Mega Man Legends, and stars the Bonne family. In The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, you take control of Tron as she uses every resource at her disposal to loot and pillage. Hey, ya gotta earn money somehow! This game will also make you respect those annoying little Servbots.
Now then. How does all of this fit into MM continuity? Officially, it doesn't, but hints dropped in Mega Man X5 may tie things together. In one of the endings, Earth is severely damaged when the Eurasia space colony crashes into it. During reclamation efforts, X mentions that he wants to create a haven for Reploids and humans to live in peace, called...Elysium. For all we know, this could be the very same orbital station we've seen in Legends. As far as the planet being mostly covered by water, that can be explained due to the catastrophic damage the colony crashed caused, complete with some heavy global warming to boot. Since the humans in Legends were found to have been created by the Master (a "perfect" human himself'), it's possible that sometime after the Eurasia crash, the remaining humans and Reploids on Earth built Elysium, and fled there. As their technology advanced over hundreds (perhaps thousands') of years, they were able to completely "rebuild" Earth and its population. This is all just speculation...

Mega Man Battle Network Series:

MM's not a robot. Dr. Light didn't create him. Proto Man's a total prick. And the hero of our story is the best friend of an elementary school student.
What is this, the Twilight Zone'! No, this is the world of Mega Man Battle Network, a radical revamp of the Mega Man franchise introduced by Capcom in 2001. Taking place in the year 200X, society is very similar to our own. Robots are few and far between, but people are much more dependent on computers and digital networks. Almost everything has a network port on it; TVs, refrigerators, even traffic lights. Most people carry PETs (PErsonal Terminals), which are combination cellphones/PDAs/computers. Many of these PETs contain AI programs called Navis (Net Navigators). Navis have a variety of purposes: assistants, confidants, gophers, even virus-busters. Enter Lan Hikari, a typical student. His Navi is named Mega Man (MegaMan.EXE, to be accurate), and he was designed by Lan's father, Dr. Hikari. Mega Man seems weak at first, but he soon learns the art of virus-busting and unleashes his hidden potential.
Mega Man Battle Network is a major shift in the world of Mega Man. While the other Mega Man titles were primarily action platformers, the MMBN games for the Game Boy Advance are RPGs. Plus, since Mega Man has no physical form (he's a program, after all), actions in the "real world" must be performed by his operator, Lan. (For example, Lan may need to throw a power switch to shut down a firewall.) Battles are handled in quasi-realtime; this is one of the best (if not the best) RPG battle systems I've ever seen. MM's on a 3x3 grid, facing his enemy (or enemies), also on a 3x3 grid. You can move from space to space, but only on your side. You also can't jump. You can attack with your regular arm cannon, or use up to five Battle Chips. The Chips are where the game really shines. During battles, a meter on top of the screen (the Custom Gauge) charges up. When it's full, you can pause the battle by hitting L or R, which brings up your Chip Select menu. Battle Chips have all manner of effects, like elemental attacks, defense, battlefield modifiers, and escape. Some chips can even be combined into powerful Program Advances, which come in very handy for enemy Navi encounters.
Mega Man himself levels up over time, and items can be purchased to make him even more powerful. Aside from Battle Chips, there's also PowerUP items (to upgrade MM's armor and firepower), RegUP items (to increase your Chip Folder's memory, so you can use more powerful chips), and HPMemory items (to give MM more life points).
What about bosses? To keep up the references to the original MM universe, most of the bosses are "EXE" versions of their original series counterparts. Fire Man, Ice Man, Guts Man, Electric Man, Magic Man, Magnet Man, and more have all made appearances. Capcom hasn't stopped there, though; plenty of new bosses were thought up for the MMBN universe, like Number Man, Gate Man, Thunder Man, and Planet Man. There's even some weird ones, like Japan Man and Bowl Man. Many of these characters have been radically redesigned, with only some passing resemblances to their original series counterparts. Also, their attacks are generally a lot nastier. Where did all these baddies come from? The World Three (WWW), a cyberterrorist organization headed by the nefarious Lord Wily. These guys want to take over the world, and we can't have that!
MMBN was a lot to digest, but MMBN2 added even more. Here we're introduced to the Style system, where Mega Man earns an elemental affinity based on the way he fights. This affects his offense and and defense. If he's got the Heat Guts style, his charged shot is now a powerful flamethrower that will deal double damage to wood-based enemies, but MM will take double damage from aqua-based attacks. The threat was even stranger in this game; it even deals with merging the real world with the cyber world. Funky.
MMBN3 brought in more Styles, and you could even level them up! MMBN3 also came in two versions: Blue and White. Each version had a few different bosses and hidden characters, plus varying Battle Chips. Also, the insidious WWW was back, so you had even more problems to contend with! One of the major plot points in MMBN3 is the N1 Tournament. This is a monstrous competition for NetBattlers worldwide, and people came from all over to watch their Navis throw down. In fact, Capcom even released a game solely based on the tournament, called Rockman EXE Battle Chip Grand Prix (we'll be getting it in a few months as Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge). This game's not an RPG per se, but more of a "card battle" strategy game. You can choose one of six participants in the tournament (Mega Man, Proto Man, Guts Man, Roll, or one of two new characters, Ring and Turbo Man), and fight your way through various brackets to be the best! Plus, by defeating enemy Navis, you can sometimes earn their chips, just like in the MMBN RPGs. However, rather than summoning them briefly to attack for you, a Navi's chip in this game lets you actually use that Navi as a playable character! This is definitely important as your progress through the various tournaments, as later Navis are much more powerful. The plot differs slightly from the tournament in MMBN3, where Mega Man obviously won the day. At any rate, the game is fantastic. One of the coolest features by far is one where you can generate a password based on your Navi, his/her level, and what chips they have equipped. You can then email this password to a friend, and by inputting it into their copy of the game, they can fight against your Navi! A very cool addition indeed.
While the MMBN universe began on the GBA, it's since expanded a bit. One game's been released for the Gamecube: Mega Man Network Transmission. Unlike the GBA titles, this game's a platformer, very reminiscent of the original NES Mega Man games. In fact, MMNT is loaded with homages to the classic series, like sections of levels that are perfect reproductions of NES levels. Quick Man's level even has those godforsaken laser beams from Mega Man 2! Anyway, this game takes place between MMBN and MMBN2, and features a few new bosses, like Needle Man, Gravity Man, Sword Man, Star Man, and Bright Man. There's also a new Navi known as "Zero"...
One MMBN game that US gamers won't ever get is Rockman EXE WS, released for the Japanese-only Wonder Swan Color handheld gaming system. This game is a platformer like MMNT, but doesn't feature any new characters. Nevertheless, it's a great game for Wonder Swan Color fans. (I should mention that there's a version of Rockman EXE Battle Chip Grand Prix on the WSC, too, called Rockman EXE N1 Battle.)
Speaking of which, Capcom's really gone all-out with MMBN in Japan, where it's known as Rockman EXE. Gee, the Japanese get cool stuff that we don't? Tell us more! Alright, I will. Overseas, they've gotten two excellent anime TV series (Rockman EXE and the current Rockman EXE Axess), loads of cool action figures, working PET toys, collectible card games, dice games, board games, and more. What did we get? A horribly mangled edit of the Rockman EXE anime called "Mega Man NT Warrior". If you ever have to watch it, save yourself the trouble and jam a white-hot needle in your eye instead.
Continuity? While many MM fans have tried to fit MMBN in with the other series (obviously taking place well before them), it really doesn't work, since there's references within MMBN that really can't be justified. For example, a shop has a poster of Vile from Mega Man X, while one of Lan's classmates has a rug with a Servbot on it (from Mega Man Legends). Nonetheless, nitpicking continuity issues can still be a worthwhile source of amusement.
Anyway, the MMBN juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Seven games in 2 1/2 years, fer crissake! December sees the release of Rockman EXE 4 in Japan, complete with two versions again (Red Sun and Blue Moon). These promise to have even more differences than MMBN3's dual release; the new Soul Unison system, for example, lets Mega Man take on the appearance and abilities of defeated enemies. However, each version of RMEXE4 has eight Soul Styles unique to it, plus different Navis. There's even a cameo by Django, the vampire hunting hero of Konami's Boktai! The game is one of the highest-selling games of 2003 in Japan, and it only came out in December! US fans will get the game as Mega Man Battle Network 4 sometime in early summer 2004; in the meantime, you can nab Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge in the spring. And if you're a MM freak like me, don't forget to check out Onimusha Blade Warriors this spring, which features the MMBN Mega Man as an unlockable playable character! That's right, friends...kick some samurai ass with Mega Man!

Mega Man Zero Series:

Over 100 years after the Mega Man X series, Reploids fear for their lives, as the Neo Arcadian government is hunting them down and executing them. Their reasoning? You can't have Reploids going Maverick if there are no Reploids to begin with! There's a small Resistance movement trying to survive, but it's not going well. Led by a human, Ciel, the Resistance is getting the crap kicked out of it by Neo Arcadian forces when they stumble upon the legendary hero: Zero.
And so begins Mega Man Zero, the latest offshoot of Capcom's Mega Man franchise. Spiraling off of one of the endings to Mega Man X5, the beam saber-wielding Reploid Zero awakens from a very long sleep to help out the Resistance. Unlike all the other Mega Man games, Mega Man is not a playable character at all! It's all Zero. The "Mega Man" in the title is just for association purposes, since it does take place in the same timeline. But don't worry...Mega Man X makes appearances. Just not in the manner you'd expect.
There's only two games in this GBA series so far, but both have been absolutely incredible. The graphics, sound, and animation are some of the best seen on the GBA, and the story kicks ass to boot. For one, they brought back the classic Mega Man challenge: these games are tough. Plenty of practice is necessary to work your way through the various missions. You also don't acquire weapons from bosses anymore; you may score an item or two, but defeating bosses is just necessary to unlock later levels. As far as your weapons are concerned, you start out with your Z-Saber and Z-Buster, and later acquire the Shield Boomerang and Triple Rod (upgraded to the Chain Rod in Mega Man Zero 2) from Cerveau, a Resistance engineer. By using these weapons repeatedly as your fight your way through hordes of Neo Arcadian goons, they level up, giving you added abilities. For example, you'll be able to charge up your Z-Saber for a devastating ground slash attack.
Then there's the matter of Cyber Elves. These little data programs are found floating around in levels, or you can get them by dispatching certain enemies. You can equip up to three of them at any given time, but once you use one, it's gone forever (with some exceptions; we'll get to that in a moment). The Elves have various effects, like destroying all minor enemies on the screen, providing cover fire, etc. The best ones, however, are the ones you need to "raise." This is accomplished by feeding them Energy Crystals (found everywhere; they're the equivalent of currency). Once Elves are raised, then they're ready for use, and they almost always have a permanent effect. Some will extend your lifebar, others will increase your speed or defense, and still others will turn into much-needed Sub Tanks.
So why is there no Mega Man X? Well, as it turns out, X is long gone. See, the Neo Arcadian government is controlled by X, but he's only a copy. Ciel actually built him, hoping he'd replace the departed original X. Naturally, Copy X went bad. Zero ends up destroying him, and the real X (in "spirit" form) talks to Zero, and tells him to keep fighting the good fight. In Mega Man Zero 2, we find out what really happened to X: he didn't get killed, but his body is in stasis, serving as a "lock" on the Dark Elf's prison. The Dark Elf is an extremely powerful Cyber Elf, that would cause a whole lot of damage if released. The new Resistance leader, Elpizo, went crazy (there's a shocker) and wanted to break the damn thing out. Surprisingly enough, he succeeded--by jamming a beam saber through X's chest, destroying him instantly! Zero had to throw down against a Dark Elf-powered Elpizo, but still managed to win the day. The Dark Elf escaped, but somewhere within a bunker, unseen forces plot world domination. My speculation? Sigma's back, though this is never confirmed. We'll just have to wait until Mega Man Zero 3. In the meantime, you can fight off more foes with Zero, thanks to his appearances as a playable character in both SNK vs Capcom Chaos and Onimusha Blade Warriors.

The Future:
That little blue robot's sure come a long way. He's been a lab assistant, a reluctant warrior, a treasure hunter, and even a computer program. He's faced foes from Dr. Wily to Dr. Doom. He's spanned over 40 games on nearly every major gaming console since the late 1980s, and even some of his pals have gotten their own games as a result. You'd think he'd be ready for retirement, but oh no, MM's still got plenty of life left in his circuits.
So where does Capcom's beloved franchise go from here? The original series is getting a small shot in the arm this spring, with the releases of Mega Man Anniversary Collection and Mega Man Mania. There's rumors that a similar collection will follow for the Mega Man X series, but we shall see. Like I've said before, what fans really want is Mega Man 9, especially if it bridged the gap between the original series and the X series. Capcom's made no mention of this, and I have a feeling it may never come to pass. We'll just have to see how well the anthology titles sell. We won't even begin to talk about the horrible action figures from Jazwares...ugh.
Speaking of X, there's already talk of a possible Mega Man X8. Unfortunately, it's going to follow the same 3D model as MMX7, which was messy. Hopefully they'll fix the goddamn camera this time around! There's absolutely NO excuse for not having an option to automatically make the camera face forward! While we're at it, no more of this "unlocking" Mega Man X bullshit. If it's an X game, X should be the main character from the get-go, not Zero or some new guy they literally just introduced! At least we've got Mega Man X: Command Mission to look forward to. That game will mark X's first foray into the world of RPGs; not only that, it'll be the first MM RPG that's not a separate series! To make things more interesting, MMX:CM will be more of a "classic" RPG, where you actually have a party of characters doing battle, rather than just one (i.e., Mega Man Battle Network).
Then there's the whole matter of Mega Man Legends 3, which rivals Mega Man 9 for the title of "most wanted MM game." The Legends team was assigned a new project a few years back, and the fruit of that project was Mega Man Battle Network. The Legends series doesn't seem to be forgotten, though; interview snippets here and there hint that Capcom's not quite done with Rock, Tron, Data, and all the rest. Plus, Mega Man Legends 2 did end on quite a cliffhanger; c'mon, Capcom, give us one more game, so we can at least bring Mega Man back to Earth!
Regardless of how the other games fare, Mega Man Battle Network seems to be unstoppable. I've already spoken about its insurmountable popularity in Japan, but MegaMan.EXE's got quite a following stateside, too. Four games so far, with two more due this year. Not bad, considering the series is less than three years old. Even though we got fucked in the ass as far as the anime is concerned, let's pray that we'll get some figurines or something to take away that sting. There's plenty of Robot Masters left to make EXE versions out of, so I think we'll see piles and piles of MMBN games before Capcom moves on to something else.
Finally, I think we can expect a Mega Man Zero 3 next year, given the monster cliffhanger at the end of Mega Man Zero 2. There's still much to explain, and with many of the game's enemies still alive, Zero will never be short on foes.


So where does Mega Man fit into the grand scheme of things? In a world of mindless FPS clones, GTA clones, and other assorted drivel, it's nice to know there's still some quality gaming to be had. He's had his stumbling blocks, but Mega Man rarely lets us down. He's got a rabid fanbase in the US, albeit some are sick fucks who make Mega Man fanzine-porn. I'm not kidding. The worst are the lifeless fangirls who for some odd reason have made Mega Man X and Zero "gay." The whole concept is ludicrous in and of itself: gays are homosexual, right? Robots can't be homosexual, since they're not any type of sexual to begin with! You need to be biological in nature, not mechanical. Sheesh. Apparently, the whole gay video game character thing is much more far-reaching (with Cloud and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII being a popular "couple" in that regard), but come on, these are just robots. Leave the mythos alone, and get a life.

Now then...quit reading this, and go play some Mega Man games!