Creepy things we found in Mega Man games

Sometimes, the creepiest things in life lurk beneath the surface of the otherwise normal. Take Capcom's Mega Man franchise, for instance. This veritable pinnacle of the platformer genre is known the world over for its stoic yet cheerful protagonist and his primary-colored robot rivals. But long before he was mixing it up with World Warriors and the X-Men in fighting game crossovers, Mega Man was blasting his way through weird mechanical levels that were often laced with bizarre details and perverse NPCs.

The modern Mega Man is a shining example of an all-ages hero, and the latter-day foes he encounters in his ongoing fight against Dr. Wily are a reflection of that. But back in the day, things were a bit different. A lot of subtle, sinister ideas made their way into those early releases. So, in an effort to uncover these salacious anomalies for the scientific benefit of future generations, we mined the depths of the Mega Man Legacy Collection databases and a little Mega Man X for insights into the creepiest corners of the Mega Man universe.

Our hero is an indentured killer

One of the most unsettling ideas presented in Mega Man is so blatantly obvious that it goes unnoticed by almost everyone: no matter how much good he's doing fighting the evil Dr. Wily and his robot minions in the far flung future of 200X, the simple fact remains that Mega Man (aka Rock) is a programmed killer forced into a life of violence by Dr. Light. Before he was busting up mecha bad guys on the war-torn battlefield, Rock was a simple guy with a peaceful agenda.

According to Mega Man's personal database entry from the Mega Man Legacy Collection, "Rock was originally a robot created for household chores, but he was modified for combat and became Mega Man when it came time to put a stop to Dr. Wily's ambitions." Many if not most of Rock's adversaries are patently in the same predicament, from the fire-extinguishing Screwdriver robot of the original game, to sequel bosses like Drill Man (originally used at construction sites) and the former farming robot Toad Man. The message is clear: robots of 200X don't have the same inalienable rights as human beings, despite their overt humanity.

There's a sinister robot circus

We may never agree on which classic Mega Man game is the best or even the most difficult. But we can certainly agree on one thing: when it comes to creepy, circuses take the cake. And, of course, the deranged Dr. Wily managed to find a way to populate the robot-riddled landscape of 200X with a murderous carnival powered by his own deviant brand of mechanical malice. 

The Bubble Man stage in Mega Man 2, for instance, plays host to a creepy robotic bacchanal performed by a deranged assortment of mechas. Claw (a crab bot) and Kerog (a frog bot) perform tricks in this so-called "underwater carnival" to a lethal degree. Meanwhile, we come to learn that the oversized Goblin robots of Air Man's stage are the former leaders of a different robot circus which also includes Pierobot and Blocky from Metal Man's stage along with an assortment of others. If the phrase "be careful not to touch its horns or its Petit Goblins" doesn't make your skin crawl, we don't know what will. Wily's evil circus persists in later installments, with enemies like Parasyu from Mega Man 3 taking the spotlight. Send in the cybernetic clowns!

Scworm is a gross pipe spewer

The name alone kinda makes your skin crawl. Mega Man 2's Scworm, "a mecha that produces metal pipes," attacks players by launching its never-ending tubular growths at our hapless hero. It's impossible for us not to be creeped out by the combined form and function of this robot, which ultimately resembles the disgusting tendrils of some weird kind of sea anemone or the sausage-like trail of offal left behind a pooping sea cucumber.

These weird little mechanical monsters are ubiquitous throughout Mega Man 2, lurking amidst Flash Man's stage, Air Man's stage, Quick Man's stage, and within the first section of Dr. Wily's Castle. The erratic movement of their pipe missiles is frustrating enough, and we'd love to say the Scworms remind us of something a little less salacious like macaroni or silly straws — but it's simply too hard to shake the gross imagery these tenacious pipe spewers leave in their wake. Why, Dr. Wily … why!?

Telly watches the world through a scanner darkly

We don't know what it is about Mega Man 2 that made it such fertile breeding ground for creepy ideas, but it's easy to see that the fan-favorite sequel to the original NES release is crammed full of some strange characters and sinister situations. And sometimes, the most innocuous-looking enemies are the most egregiously macabre. Take Telly, for instance.

Encountered within the Heat Man and Crash Man stages (as well as in the first and fourth stages of Wily's Castle), Telly is "a security robot made for households" that "records intruders with its camera eye." But like so many of his robot brethren, Telly has been reprogrammed by the evil Dr. Wily for more insidious agendas. As fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey can attest: nothing's creepier than a voyeuristic robot that wants to kill you. Fortunately for us, we've got tactics like the Leaf Shield to keep Telly's prying eyes out of our business. But you can't put a good bot down: Telly makes a triumphant return in Mega Man 6 as Fire Telly and rears his oversized and ugly head as Big Telly in Mega Man 8.

When toys attack! Tom Boy is a killer Slinky

Despite his perpetual endgame failings, the evil Dr. Wily has done a pretty good job of turning the normal world against us. A huge portion of his robot army is created from a haphazard menagerie of industrial mechas and household droids that have been reprogrammed into vicious war machines. But the form of these killer contraptions doesn't always match their function. Enter Tom Boy.

This "robot made from an old toy" from Mega Man 4 resembles a Slinky, the precompressed helical spring toy invented by naval engineer Richard James in 1943. Tom Boy doesn't fire any ranged attacks. Instead, its sturdy, coiled form bowls over you like so many stairsteps. Interestingly enough, Tom Boy isn't the only killer toy in Dr. Wily's legion of lethal robots. See also: Gachappon, Mega Man 2's Fly Boy, Mega Man 5's Cocco, Mega Man 6's Pandeeta, and many, many more. Nothing is safe from Dr. Wily's reign of robotic terror — especially your childhood.

Mummira is a melange of dead robots

Given the tremendous humanity of our eponymous hero and his mechanical companions, there's no doubting the robots of the Mega Man universe are sentient beings, with personalities becoming of their professions and their so-called programming. It's already a grim revelation when we learn the horrible truth of how Dr. Wily has repurposed so many of his robots from peaceful beings into weapons of war. But he really crosses the line in Mega Man 4 by raising the dead. That's right: zombie bots.

An upgrade of the Junk Golem from Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4's Mummira is the creepy robot version of an undead Egyptian horror. This "pyramid-exploring" robot is "cheap to produce, as it's made from destroyed scraps." Before we move on, let's get this straight: on top of its loathsome occupation, the Mummira is composed of the leftover parts of dead robots. If you think about it long and hard, it's enough to make your skin crawl (or your paint peel, as the case may be).

Pharaoh Man is a glorified graverobber

When Mega Man 4 hit North American streets in 1992, fans immediately fell in love with the box art featuring an enigmatic Robot Master with ancient Egyptian flare lurking in the background. Who was this mysterious assailant clad in a face mask and a golden headdress? We'd quickly learn that this peculiar character was none other than Pharaoh Man, one of Dr. Wily's latest lieutenants.

This memorable boss mecha from Mega Man 4 is "a high-performance robot made to explore pyramids." Pharaoh Man rose to fan and critical acclaim quickly, no doubt due to his cool look and relentless attack strategies on the battlefield. But when you strip away his status and his signature aesthetic, the dude's just out there just stealing from the dead on Dr. Wily's behalf. Plus, he's got a squad of "undead" Mummira at his beck and call. We might have fallen in love with him at first sight, but — at the end of the day — Pharaoh Man is a creepazoid who can't keep his hands out of other people's caskets.

Ring Ring is Mega Man's version of a slasher villain

The majority of Mega Man's reputation is arguably built upon the franchise's breakneck difficulty and the cool characterizations of its boss battles (not to mention the lovable moxie of our titular mecha himself). But the devil's in the details, as they say — and some of the creepiest stuff in the series comes from how the unsung enemies behave.

When it comes to Mega Man's lesser adversaries, Ring Ring from Mega Man 4 occupies an interesting region of our imaginations. This unassuming space exploration robot "doesn't allow its prey to escape" and approaches with the slow incessance of a slasher movie serial killer like Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees. When tensions run high (as they often do in Mega Man games), attacks laced with this steady lethargy can be most unsettling. In addition to his native habitat within the Ring Man stage, you'll encounter Ring Ring in the third section of Dr. Cossack's Citadel, where he's sure to terrorize you at an inopportune moment. Nothing's worse than besting the fastest enemies the game can throw at you, only to be beaten by the very slowest in one final, desperate moment of defeat.

Some reploids just like to watch the world burn

When the Mega Man series graduated to a 16-bit console for the SNES release of Mega Man X in 1993, Capcom took the opportunity to make some mature narrative adjustments to their fan-favorite platformer franchise. As a result, a lot of the madcap qualities of the "classic" Mega Man titles took a backseat for hard sci-fi elements and a more psychologically complex storyline. The story of Mega Man X features a familiar heroic face with a fresh name and new motivations: namely, to thwart the insidious reploid Sigma and prevent his despotic rise to autonomy.

Given the game's more grown-up approach to sci-fi action, it comes as no surprise that Mega Man X is largely bereft of the quirkier characters that the series was known for. But that didn't stop the game's creators from injecting a little madness into the mix. Mega Man X boss Boomer Kuwanger "simply joined the [Sigma] uprising because it looked like more fun," proving that the creepy kind of mania made popular by characters like the Joker from DC Comics has its own mechanical place in the Mega Man universe.