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The Mega Man 3 Buster Only Run
The Mega Man 3 Buster Only Run

The Mega Man 3 Buster Only Run

Written by Beg Adnan Hrustemović on 26 Jul 2021

This article is about a walkthrough of Mega Man 3, a retro game for the NES. Mega Man games were among the most popular NES games, along with Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Castlevania, TMNT, Metroid etc. 

There were a total of 6 Mega Man games for NES. All 6 are listed in IGN's list of top 100 NES games.


As some of you probably know, Mega Man games are specific in many ways.

For example, Mega Man is the game that invented choosing your own path through the game. In each Mega Man game, there are 8 Robot Masters (in the first game 6, since then always 8 ). You can choose which one of 8 levels to play, in any order you want. Prior to Mega Man, this was unheard of, you always had to play a game in one specific order the game was designed for.

And this is actually closely related to our next specific thing in Mega Man games - each Robot Master (RM in the rest of the article) upon defeat grants you with the ability to use their weapon! So, since the moment you defeat a certain RM, you can use his weapon for the rest of the game. This basically gives you endless opportunities to try different paths, as all the RMs and other enemies/obstacles are vulnerable to some specific RM weapon. Therefore, your difficulty level basically depends a lot on the way you choose to play the levels. Most of RM weapons can be real fun to mess with!


And now, back to the features of Mega Man games that are related to this walkthrough. As said above, by defeating RMs you gain the ability to use their weapons. Well, of course, since all enemies are vulnerable to specific RM weapons, that makes any Mega Man game considerably easier. However, there is also a default Mega Man's weapon, that you start with, and have an infinitive ammo of - Mega Buster. Or simply "buster", as we shortly call it. 

Among Mega Man fans and fan communities, there are many different styles and rules under which the games can be played. Of course, speedrunning is very popular with Mega Man games, and you can do it in 2 main different ways: you can do just an ordinary speedrun, which means using all RM weapons and Items/Rush Jet (the accessories that let Mega Man jump high, fly, swim faster under the water etc), or you can go famous "buster only" speedrun, which means you use only the default weapon, buster, in your walkthrough, therefore  of course no RM weapons or Items/Rush jet are allowed, unless mandatory (in most Mega Man games there are some screens and bosses that can be cleared only by using an Item/Rush Coil or a RM weapon). And, each of these categories you can play under 2 different subcategories - glitched (it's called "any%") or glitchless (sometimes called "zipless"). Some Mega Man games, especially the early ones, contain lots of glitches that, if exploited (which is usually very tricky to pull, by the way), let you pass entire screens, sections of the levels, sometimes even the entire or almost entire level. Therefore, your runs are actually a bit shorter and faster if you glitch the game. 

And there are many other categories with specific rules that you can play Mega Man games under. However, not many fans, just a few actually, play Mega Man games under these specific rules: using only buster (so no RM weapons or items/Rush jet unless mandatory), not using the E-tanks (E-tanks are the items that you can collect in some levels, and keep for future usage to use whenever you need it, to replenish your health to full) or any other tanks (there are the tanks that you can use the same way like an E-tank but it replenishes some specific RM weapon, or all of them, or a specific Item/Rush Jet, or all of them), not losing a life, not glitching the game at all, and not using the turbo button (PC emulators usually have the turbo button built in, which the NES controller didn't have, and some later Mega Man games are built for consoles that have the turbo button). 

Long story short:

  • buster only;
  • no death;
  • no E-tanks;
  • no glitches;
  • no turbo button.

And, the reason why just a very less players go for this category and these rules, is because it's - extremely hard. But this is not a proper explanation, the truth is - it's extremely, extremely, extremely hard. 

It's very hard even to make just a simple run of a Mega Man game under these rules, and doing a speedrun on top of all the rules gets it to a real hardcore extreme level. Like, you can't go more hardcore than that, literally. 

However, that's how I enjoy playing Mega Man games (both runs and speedruns). Since I was a kid, I've always felt that the natural way to play a Mega Man game is using buster only, not using the E-tanks, not glitching the game, not using the turbo button, and of course not losing a life. So I decided to go for it, and to start with my favorite Mega Man game - Mega Man 3.


And now, before moving to the actual walkthrough, I'd like to mention one more specific thing to Mega Man games: 8 bit.

As said earlier, first 6 Mega Man games in Classic series were made in 8bit, for the NES. Then, we have Mega Man 7 in 16bit for SNES, Mega Man & Bass also in 16bit for SNES, and Mega Man 8 in 32bit for Sega Saturn/PS. 

However, the 8bit was that much popular among Mega Man fans, that Capcom decided to make the official Mega Man 9 (2008) and Mega Man 10 (2010) games in 8bit. Again, that was something that was unheard of, and still is - an official company makes an official game in outdated 8bit graphics and physics, instead of modern and far superior graphics. That's something no other game's owner/maker would dare to do, fearing the epic fail.

Also, worth mentioning is the fact that some Japanese fans gathered together and made 8bit versions of Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8, that are flawlessly loyal to the original 6 NES games and Mega Man9/Mega Man 10. The games are called "Rockman 7 FC" and "Rockman 8 FC", and since they're fanmade games, they're completely free to use, and can easily be found on the internet for free download. The remaining two games of Mega Man Classic game series, Mega Man & Bass and Mega Man 11, their 8bit versions are currently under development by the fans.

In 2018 Capcom released Mega Man 11, which is loyal to the Classic games in terms of game's rules features and style, but is not in 8bit but in modern graphics. That made many fans really mad, as after Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 they expected all the other upcoming games in the Classic series to be made in 8bit.

And lastly, in late 2000s the fans started making and developing purely fan games, made from scratch by the fans, in 8bit and completely loyal to the original NES games. To date, there is over 30 finished Mega Man 8bit fangames (and many more under development as we speak), just to name a few: Mega Man Beyond, Mega Man Revolution, Mega Man Y+1, Rockman Versus, Mega Man F, Mega Man Unlimited, Rokko Chan, Mega Man Rock Force etc.

I believe you now have some idea how much 8bit gamestyle is popular with Mega Man games.

Personally, I grew up with 8bit Mega Man games, and I just can't imagine playing Mega Man games in any other way. It just feels too weird. 

Therefore, there are a total of 10 Mega Man Classic games in 8bit:

1-7, Rockman 7 and 8 FC, and Mega Man 9/10.

Out of all 10, the hardest one to beat with buster only, no death, no E-tanks, no glitches, no turbo, is Mega Man 3. There are some other that are pretty near Mega Man 3, but it still takes the cake.


Megaman 3 Speed Run
Needle Man - among the hardest Robot Masters in general, and one of the most intense Mega Man 3 bossfights.

This game has two RMs, Needle Man and Shadow Man, that are considered to be among the hardest RMs of all, with many fans considering Shadow Man the hardest of them all. And in this game you have to defeat both of them twice - as in every Mega Man game, at the end of the game before confronting the final boss you have to defeat all 8 RMs again (we call it "boss rush" or "boss refights"). Also, some other RMs can also easily kill you if you're not careful enough. In Wily's castle, there are a couple of bosses that can also easily kill you if you don't pay enough attention, and Wily Machine was the hardest up to date, and still is one of several hardest ones until today. 

And to top it all - between RM stages and Wily castle stages you have the famous "Doc Robot" levels, where you have to pass 4 levels (and you can again choose your order) in which you need to defeat 8 RMs from the previous title, Mega Man 2, but with enhanced abilities. And, some of them are.... really really hard. Doc Flash Man, Doc Quick Man, and Doc Wood Man. 

Doc Flash is considerably easier than the other two, but still he's a no joke, and can easily kill you. The problem is, you need to jump over him regularly through the battle, and he's so big, it's really hard to not get a body collision.

Doc Quick, considered by many fans as the second hardest boss in all Mega Man games. As his name says, he moves so fast over the screen, jumping and running, throwing boomerangs. And, a body collision with him does you a ton of damage - basically if he touches you twice with your full energy, you have 30-35% of your energy left. And with that energy it's almost impossible to beat him with buster only and no E-tanks, because you can't avoid him or his boomerangs enough times to survive until you buster him out. And needless to say, it's really hard to avoid body collisions with him.

Megaman 3 Speed Run
The moment of truth - defeating Doc Wood Man

And finally - Doc Wood Man, considered by most of the fans to be the hardest existing Mega Man Classic games boss to defeat with buster only and no E-tanks. His leaf shield is that big that it's almost impossible to jump over it. And it does the same ton of damage like Doc Quick's body collision. Needless to say, Doc Wood himself does the same amount of damage by body collision. Only the falling leaves do a half of that damage ("only"), and you're lucky when you manage to get hit by them and not the leaf shield. But long story short - try it out and you'll figure out why he's the hardest one. Be prepare to meet pure and true frustration.

Alright, now to get to the walkthrough itself.


The first level I played was Gemini Man. Most of the people play that level first, as when you try to go fast you get a lot of damage, therefore face the boss with less than a half of your health. Also lots of pits so easy to die. And Gemini is the hardest one after Needle and Shadow. However, not much trouble in this level, pretty much an ordinary play. Worth mentioning is that I defeated Gemini Man with no damage both times, in his level and in boss rush, and like I said he's among the harder ones.

Second was Magnet Man. overall nice and not so hard level (once you master it), and one of the easier bosses. Nothing much else to say, played pretty much as usual. 

Then, third, Spark Man. One of my favorite background themes from all Mega Man games, such a catchy beat. Right at the beginning of the stage, there's a nice trick that you can pull, sliding shortly and quickly jumping over the electronic obstacle before it hits you. I was so close to pull it here, yet a little too slow (6:14 in the video). However, since then I mastered it, and as I'm planning to do this game again but this time speedrunning (this was just a buster run), the trick will be there 🙂 Not much left to say, Spark Man is also fairly easy, beaten with no issues.

Fourth level was Snake Man. Definitely my favorite background theme. And an enjoyable stage. At the end there's a sky part with lots of pits where you can die, but nothing too serious. Snake Man himself is fairly easy, however does a ton of damage and can kill you in like 5-6 contacts. But all was good here.

Hard Man was the fifth one. This is the only level with no pits or spikes, so you can't get an instant death. From that side, it's an easy level. At the end you have to face Proto Man, who also appears 3 more times, but here he's a bit more difficult, but if you master it it's not a big deal. And Hard Man is pretty simple - just mash fast and if you have enough energy he's dead meat.

Megaman 3 Speed Run
Proto Man (here in Hard Man's stage) - really challenges your mashing skills

Aaaaand... this is where I made a mistake. I was planning to leave Needle and Shadow to be the last 2 RMs (as I'm actually playing it the hardest possible order, lol), however I mistakenly chose Needle as 6th. Boy, was I so pissed. I almost reset the game. However, I continued. Normally, doing a buster run, I tend to reach Needle Man undamaged, as back then he was much harder for me to defeat than he is now, and reaching him undamaged isn't hard as his level is not so hard, but this time I completely screwed it up. Performed his level so poorly. Because I was pissed due to choosing the levels in for me wrong order. So I reached him with less than a half of my energy. And that's the moment when I didn't care anymore. I actually wanted him to kill me. And.... I defeated him with no damage. Lololol. I defeated Needle Man in an actual walkthrough with no damage and buster only. Back then, it would take me about at least 30 fights with him, to get one no damage win. That tells you how big this was. The message of the day: never give up!

Then seventh level, Top Man. The one that was meant to be the sixth one. Of course, I was still mad, but I always loved Top Man's level so I played it pretty well. Didn't rush since it wasn't a speedrun, played it safe, and reached him. But... he is the easiest RM in Mega Man 3, and yet he was the closest one to beat me in the entire game from all the enemies. I was just still angry about my mistake with the levels' order, so I wasn't paying enough intention. However, I did beat him, just about.

Then the last RM level was the hardest RM - Shadow Man. Also his level is hard and it's easy to die, most of the people play his level second, but some madmen like me do him last, lol. However, defeated him with no issues. 

Off to the Doc Levels!


Starting with the easiest one, a revisited Needle Man's level, where you face Doc Air Man and Doc CrashMan. Overall they're not that hard. However, as I was still mad, I did mess this one up as well. Got a lot of damage before facing Air Man, just out of the confusion. I was expecting to leave Air Man's boss chamber barely alive. However, he touched me only once, and I had quite a bit of energy leaving him. All was good again. However, then I took a lot of damage in the next section again, which is the place where I almost never take any damage, and this much damage definitely never before or after this time. I cleared the screen barely alive, lol. However, I got lucky and got a few energy drops from killed enemies, and at the end before Doc Crash there's a big energy recharge. So I was near full again, and defeated Doc Crash Man with no issues.

The second Doc Level was revisited Gemini Man, containing Doc Flash Man and Doc Bubble Man. The first part of this level is scary, with lots of pits and many enemies who can easily knock you in them, but I played it safe. Reached Doc Flash with no issues. And defeated him almost perfectly, left the chamber near full. That's very important in this level, as there are no recharges, unless something randomly drops from dead enemies. And it did for me, so I reached Doc Bubble full. Which gave me the courage to try to just quickly kill him by mashing. And that almost got me killed, lol. I never tried to mash him out before, had literally 0 experience. Just before I got killed, I switched to safe strategy, which was enough to kill him and barely survive.

Okay, now we get to some real serious stuff. The third Doc Level was Spark Man's stage revisited, having Doc Metal Man in the middle, and Doc Quick Man at the end. The level is not hard, did most of it well, however got too much damage on my way and reached Doc Quick not full, which was already scary enough. Aaaand, a body collision right away. However, I did remain calm and focused, had the things in control, therefore defeated Doc Quick even without full energy and a body collision at the start of the fight. One down, one to go.

And that one, the absolute king of hard bosses, was waiting in the middle of the fourth Doc level, Shadow Man revisited. The first half is fairly easy minus some groundless level parts, anyways reached Doc Wood full. That was it, there we are, I call it "a moment of truth", to be or not to be. That's what it all comes down to. If you defeat Doc Wood, the rest of the game is a joke compared to him. If you don't, go home and try tomorrow. 35:13 in the video. I defeated him, and even avoided all the leaf shields apart from 2 that are mandatory to take in the way I fight him. You can survive one more leaf shield hit apart from 2 that are mandatory, the fourth one would kill you. However, I did get only 2 mandatory ones here. The rest of the level was dangerous, again so many pits and dangerous frogs and baloons who can easily knock you in the pits, but I played it safe and made it to the last Doc Robot, Doc Heat Man. And this is probably the best example of how much the lagging in this game is your enemy. It's so easy to make a mistake and get hurt because of game's lagging. However, I played it as safe as I could, and defeated him. That's it, the hardest part is done.

Off to the third sequence, the last one - Wily's castle.


Just before entering the castle, you have to defeat Break Man, who is actually Proto Man in disguise, but that's easy as he just walks jumps and shoots. Worth mentioning, however, is the fact that he's only vulnerable to buster.

The first Castle level is short and easy, no issues there. Reached the boss, Kamegoro Maker, who's probably the easiest of all Mega Man 3 bosses, also known as "Turtle dispenser". Easy beat, no issues. By the way, there's a section just before the boss, where you can slide faster than the Yoku blocks and jump out of the air, but if you make a mistake, you die, as there are the spikes under waiting for you. I did pull it successfully here, but I played it safe and waited for the Yoku blocks to get to the place. Happens at 40:28 in the video.

The second level was even shorter, and overall easy. The boss, Yellow Devil MK-II, can be hard, but if you practice enough it's fine. Defeated him just like usually.

The third level is short as well, overall not hard but just before the boss you have 2 screens of moving platforms surrounded by the spikes from all sides, and it's easy to die if you're not paying enough attention. However I managed, and went to the boss. This boss is actually a holographic Mega Men, 3 of them, they appear and run over the screen, you have like 5-6 seconds to figure out which one is the real one and to shoot him. They all shoot at you and their bullets are almost unavoidable. But what makes the things easier is the fact that in the first loop the top one is always the real one. And of course, I had to make a mistake and not to climb to the top on time. That caused me to lose half of my energy before even touching the boss. I was afraid it's over, as I was depending on pure luck at that moment. But I did get lucky, and find the right ones in the next 2 circles, and defeated the boss. Happens 45:00 in the video.

The fourth Castle level is actually just a boss refight. But it still has 4 enemies before reaching the boss chambers, and they were able to take 25% of my health. My mistake. Anyways, reached the RM refights. As I was doing all 8 of them in order the game placed them in, the first one was one of the hardest 2, Needle Man. And I was not full at all. Also to mention, I was really anxious here, as this is where I died last time, fighting Needle in a boss rush. That's the closest I reached to completing the game in the past. And at 46:52 in my video, we were both near the end of our energy bars but he had more. However, I tried to completely ignore my anxiousness and focus on the fight, which paid off - I defeated him. The next was Magnet, played it safe and killed him with no damage, which made my energy near full (every RM in boss rush leaves a huge energy recharge when defeated). The third one was Gemini, like I said earlier I defeated him with no damage, so I was full. The fourth one was Hard, mashed hard and he gone. The fifth one was Top, where I performed much better than in his level, and I was full again. Sixth was Snake, where I played it carefully as I wanted to defeat him with no damage so I don't need to pick up the energy recharge, and I did it the way I wanted. Then the seventh one, Spark, a routine battle, full again after defeating him. Then the last one, the hardest one, Shadow Man. Imagine my excitement and anxiousness! Back then, I could never be sure I'll beat him, that's how hard he was. However, I played as safe as I could (like you can play safe wih Shadow Man, lol), and managed to defeat him.

Megaman 3 Speed Run
You can't reach the final confrontation, unless you've firstly defeated a giant crab - Wily Castle stage 5

Fifth Castle stage is just a bossfight versus Wily Machine/capsule. The first form is easy as usual, but the second, Crab-like, is way harder. This was actually the last boss that could kill me, as the very last boss is easy. But I managed to kill it with just 1 hit received. And that was it, off to Gamma/Wily, the last boss, which is the only boss immune to buster. That meant using the RM weapons. The first form is defeated by the Shadow blade/shuriken, easy. For the second form you can use Top Man's or Snake Man's weapon, I chose the Snake one as I don't have to use the Rush Jet too, and I can defeat the boss without taking damage (using Top Spin would mean taking damage). And finally, at 53:40 in my video, I defeated the final boss (with some style, khm-khm), which meant I've done it - passed Mega Man 3, the entire game, with buster only, no E-tanks, no death, no glitches, no turbo. Something I've been wanting to do for freaking twenty five years! One boy's childhood dream from mid 90s became reality, thank God. Honestly, while the ending music was going on, I was standing up in my room, tightening my fists and shouting "Yes! Yes! Yes!", that's how happy I was!

Just to add that apart from the rules mentioned above that I applied to this run, I also chose to do it in the hardest possible order: leaving Needle Man's and Shadow Man's stages to be the last 2 in Robot Masters part (ok made a mistake, but choosing Needle as 6th instead of 7th doesn't change much, after all I still didn't play him 1st or 2nd), then did the Doc Robot stages from easiest to hardest, defeating Doc Quick in the previous last Doc Robot level and Doc Wood in the very last, and even in boss rush I decided to simply follow the order made by the game, which meant fighting Needle Man first (that makes the fight even more dangerous as you can reach it without the full energy - that actually happened to me in this run) and Shadow Man last.


That was 02nd September 2020, the day I'll always remember!

Seriously, as a kid and later a teenager, I always dreamt of beating Mega Man 3 this way. But to be honest, I always thought it's not possible. Because you just can't beat Doc Wood with buster only and no E-tanks. It's just too hard. He alone took me 25 years to beat him that way. That also happened in 2020, and I also have that fight recorded on my Youtube channel. But even after I learned how to beat him, I never thought I'll be able to beat him in an actual walkthrough, as he's just too hard. And to not die by many other difficult bosses or pits, spikes, something.... no, that can't happen. Yet, I kept practicing, never gave up, and I made it happen.

But, that's not all: since September 2020 and beating the game in a buster run, I've been practicing for a - buster speedrun! That's where it really goes to the hard possible level. My estimations it will be between 47 and 48 mins, which is 5+ mins shorter than this buster run. Aaand... I'm now 95% ready. Just have to practice several levels more, to perfect them, and in 2-3 weeks from now I should start attempting, so hopefully you'll see another article, similar about this one, but about a buster speedrun!

But until then, enjoy this buster run, it took me years to achieve this, and enjoy our favorite Blue Bomber.

Written by Beg Adnan Hrustemović on 26 Jul 2021

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