So, how well do you know your enemies? Hmm?
Probably not as well as you think. But don’t worry. I’m here to help by providing the origins,
history, and even trivia of some of your favorite enemies. They can be from well-known titles
or absolute bombs. But they are memorable, and that’s what matters. And who has more
memorable enemies than Mega Man? The series has plenty to choose from, but today the spotlight
is on one of his first, Sniper Joe. He’s a bit of an odd choice since he’s not
exactly the face of Mega Man enemies, that would be the Mets, but he has an interesting
backstory all his own. Well, an interesting in-game story at least. That’s because despite
his prevalence and variations over the years, there’s very little material that lays out
why he was created, what it was based on, or even why his design was chosen. His origins,
as far as his role as an enemy, are a mystery. So it’s bit ironic that he may have one of
the most fleshed out backstories of any enemy found in classic Mega Man. Granted, a lot
of this was added later in post material, but it still made his story all that more
unique; especially since he’s intrinsically linked with one of the more beloved characters
in Mega Man, Proto Man. For those unfamiliar with the story of Mega
Man, Proto Man was the first advanced robot Dr. Light had ever created. The Doctor had
insisted on giving Proto Man a personality and bonded with him quickly. But, because
he was a prototype, a problem was discovered in his power core that would eventually kill
him. Dr. Light wanted to fix this problem, but Proto Man was afraid that his personality
would completely change in the process and fled instead.
Later, on the verge of death, Proto Man was discovered by Dr. Wily and fixed. Feeling
that he owed a debt to the doctor, Proto Man adopted the name Break Man and fought against
Mega Man in the third game. Eventually he became an ally of Mega Man, protecting him
from the shadows. Where Sniper Joe comes into this story is
that Dr. Light developed them as a mass production version based on Proto Man’s design. One hand
armed with a buster, the other with an incredibly sturdy shield. According to the ongoing Archie
comic, it was Dr. Wily who insisted on creating the Sniper Joe line in order to sell them
to the military. This would earn Dr. Light the money necessary to perfect the power cores
design and create Mega Man and Roll as well as the first six Robot Masters.
In essence, you could say that without Sniper Joe, Mega Man never would have come to be.
Of course, that’s just in a story sense. None of these details ever appeared in the original
game. In reality, artists probably realized all the similarities between Sniper Joe and
Proto Man before deciding to work it into the story. After all, they have the same shield
and even their mouth piece looks alike when Proto Man is in his Break Man form. Humorously,
when playing as Proto Man in Mega Man: Powered Up, he remarks how he hates Sniper Joes since
they feel like a cheap knockoff of himself. Like all of the enemies in the original Mega
Man, Dr. Wily modified the Sniper Joes’ programming to be loyal to him. But surprisingly they
only appeared in one stage, Bomb Man’s. Their tactics are overall pretty simple, ducking
behind their shield before firing at most 3 shots or even jumping around. Defeating
them comes down to timing and avoiding their shots. It takes ten hits from the Mega Buster
to destroy them but like many other enemies they can be defeated quicker with other weapons.
Ice Man’s freezes them allowing you to fire openly, Bomb Man’s bombs only require one
hit, Elec Man’s weapon takes three shots while Cut Man’s only takes two. Finally, Fire Man’s
weapon takes five hits to defeat Sniper Joe. It may seem odd to bring up, but it highlights
another connection to Proto Man. By Mega Man 3, players had figured out that the Robot
Master’s weapons could tear through certain enemies quicker. So when Break Man appears,
looking an awful lot like Sniper Joe, players likely tried out as many of those weapons
as they had available only to quickly discover that none of them worked. Instead, the Mega
Buster had to be used to defeat him. It’s a great example of turning players’ expectations
on their heads. Especially since a normal Sniper Joe doesn’t appear in Mega Man 3.
Of course that’s not the only time Sniper Joe appeared in a Mega Man game. Despite only
appearing in one stage of the original game, he made an appearance in almost every stage
of Dr. Wily’s Revenge on the Game Boy. They still mostly act the same, but are less prone
to jumping around. Mega Man 2 saw Sniper Joe upgraded with a walker mech called the Sniper
Armor. These appear in Flash Man’s, Heat Man’s, and Quick Man’s stages as well as Wily’s Castle.
The strangest thing though is that the Sniper Joe’s without the armor are called Returning
Sniper Joes instead of, you know, Sniper Joe. Maybe it’s because the Returning Sniper Joes
can’t jump at all. Mega Man 3 is the first time Sniper Joe saw
a major upgrade, this time being turned into a Hammer Joe. It seems like its body has been
covered in the same material used for its shield making it invulnerable to the Mega
Buster. And its blaster has been swapped out for an infinite supply of Olympic hammers
to throw. However, its legs and open eye are Hammer Joe’s weakpoints.
One of the hardiest of the Sniper Joe line appeared in Mega Man 4 as Skeleton Joe. Instead
of hammers, they throw bones and are only found in Skull Man’s stage as well as the
first level of Dr. Cossack’s Citadel. Interestingly, they can only be destroyed by a charged Mega
Buster shot or using the Flash Stopper or Pharoah Shot. Everything else will merely
dismantle them for a short time before they reassemble, similar to the Blood Skeletons
from Castlevania. Mega Man 5 features the most variations of
Sniper Joe in any game with three in total. The first are Apache Joes which fire on Mega
Man from small helicopters. Second are the Rider Joes which attack Mega Man on Marine
Bikes during Wave Man’s stage. Finally, the strongest of the three are Crystal Joes. Like
normal Sniper Joes, they can only be hit while they attack, but Crystal Joes create crystal
shards that they launch at Mega Man. They are completely invulnerable while charging.
The rest of Sniper Joe’s variations all tended to use machines, whether they were piloting
spaceships as Gunner Joe’s in Mega Man 4 on the Game Boy, mounting turrets in Mega Man
6 as Cannon Joes, or even driving a large truck with spikes on its front bumper as Truck
Joes in Mega Man 7. But the seventh game in the series also saw the return of Sniper Joe’s
classic form with his shield and blaster. This version is known as Sniper Joe 01. However,
something was lost in the, um, “upgrade” since it only takes four shots from the Mega Buster
to destroy him. The last time Sniper Joe appeared in his classic
form for a Mega Man platformer was in the eighth game. Appropriately enough, he’s named
Joe Classic. That is a little weird though considering his main attack is to now throw
grenades. For his return in both Mega Man 9 and 10, he was renamed Machine Gun Joe and
given a rapid fire attack. But these aren’t the only times a Sniper Joe
model has appeared in a Mega Man game. In Mega Man Soccer, Sniper Joes and Hammer Joes
can be spotted in the stands in several of the fields. And in Mega Man: Battle & Chase,
Sniper Joes act as one type of extra opponent racers. There’s also a hidden boss in the
game called Black Joe. And Sniper Joe’s aren’t limited to the classic
continuity either since both they and Hammer Joes appear as enemies in Mega Man Network
Transmission. In this game, Sniper Joe can now charge up one big shot in addition to
firing three smaller shots, but Hammer Joe acts the same as it did in Mega Man 3.
Like Mega Man, the Sniper Joes left a legacy when the time of Mega Man X began. Despite
being a hundred years in the future, Hoganmers are strikingly similar to Sniper Joe’s design.
They even have a little backstory since it’s said they were fighting Reploids from a Robot
Colosseum show. That kind of background makes it easy to see why they went Maverick. Interestingly,
Hoganmer chooses to use a mace in conjunction with its shield rather than a blaster.
But the last time a Sniper Joe influenced enemy appeared in the series was in X2. Disk
Boy 08 acts just like the Sniper Joes, hiding behind their shield and occasionally jumping,
though their shields can be knocked away with a charged shot. Their sole means of attack
are throwing spiked discs at X. In a way, it feels kind of fitting that Disk Boy 08
was their last incarnation. It had three eyes rather than one and seems to be getting further
and further from Sniper Joe’s design. In fact, it could be argued that it was the
last time the design ever appeared, but human designs on standard enemies are quite rare.
So it’s possible that even the Pantheons and Variants from the Zero series could have been
influenced by Sniper Joe though their aesthetic is meant to reflect X more. And finally there
are the Galleons from the ZX series who are more a descendent of the Pantheons than anything
reflective of Sniper Joe. But Sniper Joe has undoubtedly left his mark
on the Mega Man canon. It was the rare humanoid design in a game full of robots designed like
animals or guns. The only other humanoids were the Robot Masters themselves. From his
connections to Proto Man to his difficult to read pattern of attack, Sniper Joe is undoubtedly
an iconic enemy of the Mega Man franchise. Always in Mega Man’s way with shield in hand.
And that, my friends, is why you should know your enemy. It just may save your virtual