I find it curious how after all this time there is still no dedicated thread for Mega Man, so let's try and fix that.
Mega Man, known as Rockman in Japan, is a platforming science fiction video game franchise created by Capcom, starring a series of robot characters each known by the moniker "Mega Man".
The series started in 1987 with the first (classic) series, until eventually expanding in many others across different consoles and generations.
The series now counts more than 50 titles and spin-offs and has sold more than 36 million copies worldwide.
2. Classic Mega Man
In the story behind the original series, Mega Man is a robot originally named Rock, created as a lab assistant by the scientist Dr.Light with Dr. Wily as his partner. Following treachery by Dr. Wily in which he reprogrammed most of Dr. Light's robots, Rock volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot to defend the world from Wily's violent robotic threats, thus becoming Mega Man.
3. Mega Man X
The Mega Man X series made its debut in December 1993 on the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
The series is set in the 22nd century, almost one hundred years after the events of the first Mega Man series. The story revolves around Mega Man X, the final and ultimate creation of Dr. Thomas Light, who is discovered by world-renowned archaeologist Dr. Cain and used to create an advanced race of robots known as "Reploids" (called so because they are literally replicas based on the design of X). However, not long after their creation, some of the Reploids begin to go "Maverick" and attack humans. Dr. Cain is asked by the council to put a stop to this, and, as such, forms a special unit to stop these "Mavericks" known as the "Maverick Hunters". However, the leader of the Hunters and Dr. Cain's creation, Sigma, goes Maverick himself, taking many of the Hunters with him. Thus, the "Maverick Wars" begin to take shape...
4. Mega Man Zero & ZX
The Mega Man Zero series made its debut in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance and takes place one-hundred years after Zero had sealed himself after the Elf Wars. In this time-period, both the "Maverick Wars" and "Elf Wars" have ended, but a new threat has arisen. A young scientist named Ciel, leader of a "Resistance", is searching for the legendary hero Zero to help in the fight against the oppressive forces of Neo Arcadia. She comes across the ruins of the lab in which Zero was sealed and awakens him. Thus, Zero joins the Resistance and takes up his sword once again to fight against evil.
The Mega Man ZX series made its debut in 2006 on the Nintendo DS and is set over 200 years after the events of the Mega Man Zero series.
In this new era, the difference between humans and Reploids has become nonexistent, and a new combination of "man and machine," called "Humanoids" has emerged. A new series of "Maverick" uprisings begins to occur, which proves to be a dangerous threat since all beings on Earth are now part machine in nature and thus susceptible to the outbreak. Vent/Aile, orphans from a Maverick outbreak that occurred ten years ago, get drawn into the new conflict, along with Girouette, the head of their delivery team.
5. Mega Man Legends
The Mega Man Legends series made its debut in 1997 on the Sony PlayStation.
The story is centered around the Mega Man Volnutt, his partner Roll Caskett, and Roll's grandfather Barrell Caskett, as they search the world, "digging" through ancient ruins, in search of Quantum Refractors (the major source of power for their civilization). Along the way, they skirmish frequently with Reaverbots and Air Pirates.
Mega Man Legends differs greatly from the platforming gameplay of past Mega Man games, the main factor being the three-dimensional worlds, and three-dimensional movement therein. Unlike the original Mega Man series which are platform games, Legends is an action-adventure game with elements from Tomb Raider like the ability to grab onto and climb up ledges, a left/right dive maneuver, manual camera control, and lock-on targeting, the last of which was also featured in games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The player controls Mega Man Volnutt across the title, in which he has to complete different missions such as investigating ruins or fighting pirates. The player travels through a large world, with various dungeons that are explored in a certain order, as well as a town with non-player characters to talk to. The plot is revealed through cutscenes
6. Mega Man Battle Network
The Mega Man Battle Network series is the fourth series from Capcom's Mega Man franchise, which started in 2001 with the release of the first game, Mega Man Battle Network. The series was primarily released to the Game Boy Advance.
The series is set in a parallel universe from the original Mega Man series, where the Internet has become integrated with almost every piece of electronic equipment in existence (from TVs to ovens). In fact, it's become so complicated that special programs called Internet Navigators, NetNavis for short, are needed to efficiently process all of the data. NetNavis are stored in hand-held devices called Personal Terminals (PET). These devices act as phones, pagers, instant messengers, news beams, and hacking devices all rolled into one, essentially making them portable computers.
The main characters of the series are a fifth-grader named Lan Hikari and his NetNavi MegaMan.EXE, this universe's incarnation of Mega Man. Although MegaMan.EXE has no body (unless the PET device itself counts), he can wander around in cyberspace and explore computer systems as if they were alternate worlds. Together, Lan and MegaMan cooperate to fight off cyber criminals and viruses.
The series uses a hybrid action-RPG/card battle system. Battle screens feature a 6x3 grid, with each character initially controlling half of the playing field, which can be modified by Battle Chips.
7. Mega Man Star Force
Mega Man Star Force is a Mega Man series created by Capcom in 2006. The series is set in the same parallel universe as the Mega Man Battle Network series, about two-hundred years after it, in the 220X time period. The main character, Geo Stelar, who is the son of a missing astronaut, Kelvin Stelar, reluctantly joins forces with an alien named Omega-Xis to foil evil plots led by Omega-Xis' own kind and by many other enemies. Throughout this process, he tries to find out what really happened to his father, and ultimately to change his depressed lifestyle. The result of Geo Stelar's EM Wave Change with Omega-Xis (fusing together much like MegaMan.EXE's Synchro Chip) forms the Star Force Mega Man.
8. How can i play the mega man series, and where i should start ?
Mega Man classic, Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero/ZX all have legacy collections currently available on PS4, Switch, and Steam.
You can either choose to start off with the classic series, with legacy collection 1 and 2, or you can directly start off with the X series, with legacy collections 1 and 2.
Classic series is a good, although not the best, place to start off, most of the games in both legacy collections are easy enough for beginners and can help them getting acquainted with the basic controls and feel of the whole series, definitively worth a try.
Mega Man X is seen by many as the best place to start off, the first title of the X series is considered one of the best games of the whole franchise and serves as the perfect trying ground for the rest of it, it features a more dynamic gameplay compared to classic, especially in terms of movement, if you wanna play it safe, start with X legacy collection 1, and work you way until X8.
I do not recommend starting off with the Zero/ZX series, as said games are way harder compared to your average Mega Man game, and also because the story will not make much sense since said series assumes the players has already played the X series before, you should try and keep this one for last.
Mega Man Battle Network and Star Force are RPG titles rather than platformers, it's a completely different section of the franchise and the enjoyment of said segment may vary for different people, same with the legends series, which is exclusively 3d.
9. In Conclusion
This might not be the best introduction post that the Mega Man franchise deserves, but i tried my best regardless for getting the ball rolling, thank you if you made it this far! And always remember what you're fighting for !