Painter Ryan Hennessey
will put on canvas any Nintendo screen shot you send him, for a reasonable price. I love his Mega Man 2 select screen notych
(below; what else would you call a 9-canvas painting?):
The select screen is the essential focus of Mega Man games, because of the series' nonlinear structure. There are usually 8 main stages in every game (the first had 6, and a later entry in the series had only 4), which can be played in any order. Beating each stage's boss, who lends his name to the stage, earns you a new weapon or tool based on his nature; these can then be used on other levels to exploit the weaknesses of enemies and bosses, or to access routes or areas that are usually out of reach or blocked.
Playing the levels in different orders can alter the challenge of the game and even change the type of experience each level provides; it's the prototypical video game version of Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch. (Pablo Neruda said "People who do not read Cortazar are doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease." I feel the same way about Mega Man 2.)
So after learning of the Mega Man 2 paintings, I got to wondering, does one of the other Mega Man games have an even better select screen? Or should I mix and match the bosses? Only a review of all the select screens could provide the answer.
Below are the select screens of all of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Mega Man games:
The original Mega Man, before they invented design.
By the way, you can't judge a book by its cover. It's unclear to me whether the "artist" here ever even saw the game in question being played.
Mega Man 2, perhaps the greatest video game of all time
The passable Mega Man 3, where you can see the series is about to turn a corner
Things fall apart: Mega Man 4. Dust Man?!
Mega Man 6, the last on the old Nintendo system. Even allowing for "Yamato Man" as a failure of translation from the Japanese, it's hard to believe that "Wind Man" and "Flame Man" went unused in the previous games, which had such strong candidates for replacement as "Napalm Man". (Any number of better-sounding synonyms for "fire" would have also worked.)
There's also a new contender for the title of least-intimidating boss ever: Plant Man, who gives real competition to Mega Man 4's much-maligned Ring Man.
Mega Man 7 ushers in the 16-bit era of Mega Man on the Super Nintendo system. Notice that the designers have given up on providing the bosses with names. Nonetheless, it starts innocently enough, with some imagination...
...and quickly disintegrates into flashy fluff. Mega Man X, an attempt to reinvent the series. In case you're wondering, playing this awful game makes you feel just like the boss on the top-right.
The cryptically named Mega Man X2 continues the downward spiral, though the dragon boss does look pretty cool
Mega Man X3: throw $20 bucks at a hungry Pratt student and you'll have 8 more compelling bosses by lunchtime
Mega Man Soccer brings back some old favorites, as well as some guy called "Enker". Notice how none of the bosses from Mega Mans 5, 6, 7, X, X2, or X3 seem to have gained a foothold in players' imaginations.
A giant mosaic of all the 8-bit NES Mega Man select screens. Note the use of the Mega Man 2 border and background graphics. It'll be a cold day in Heat Man stage when a fan cares enough about the Mega Man Xx bosses to bother making a mosaic of them.