Monday, February 25, 2013

My Gaming Timeline: SNES Mega Mans A cheap way to capitalize on 1up's cover story, only I planned it before, and will make no money from this. Nov 27, 2012 1:53AM PST

So holy shit, have you guys seen the ads on this site for MMPR being released on DVD? Cause that is the perfect backdrop for how I experienced the 90s as a kid, and therefore a perfect backdrop for my discussion of SNES titles, also a huge part of my pre-pubescence.

Hell, the Power Rangers' being a franchise started in Japan (well, built on a franchise started in Japan), having rock music as one of its most important aspects, and featuring brightly and distinctly colored good guys fighting a bunch of odd villain designs is the perfect segway to the first batch of games I'll be covering for the SNES part of my ongoing Gaming Timeline blog series.

Power Rangers, morph into

Power Robots: The Movie: THE GAME!

Ok, so having played Mega Man X, X2 and 7 recently, as well as having Netflix'd a couple MMPR episodes a few months back, Mega Man does deserve a lot more credit than the Dino/Human Rainbow Ninja Turtle Force(TM) in terms of quality, but I couldn't help noticing the similarities, especially when 1up has Mega Man week and Power Ranger ads at the same time. In MMPR's defense, it lacks the "OMG this nostalgic tripe would be soooo great to watch high" which has kept the original season relevant to the conversations my generation has in its free time, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, in the context of my childhood, Mega Man played a huge part in being that game we always rented, and I loved, but never bought, because for one, it was my older brother's console and there was an unspoken rule about not buying games for it myself, two I used my lawn mowin' money to buy music CDs mostly (my first purchases being Garbage's Version 2.0 and Hanson's Mmbop, because fuck judgment), and three because if I actually managed to beat a boss in X or X2, it was a holiday fucking miracle in June.

Now I feel a bit better about my failures, because at least I know now that the Mega Man series is widely regarded as difficult, and now when I play the games and know the order of bosses/weaknesses/where crap is hidden from watching Let's Plays on the Youtubes, I can actually manage to beat a few bosses in a sitting. Of course, the thing I am embarassed about was the reason I thought I had to beat bosses in a single sitting.

Now, unlike the fact I thought the object of Tetris was to stack the blocks high pretty much throughout childhood, I did figure this out pretty quickly (I also played it a HELL of a lot more and had time to), but at first, I knew the passwords were for something, but not necessarily to save your game. I kind of figured, on my first two rentals or so, that they were lottery numbers like on the back of Chinese cookie papers.

Mega Millions, here I come! I'm gonna make a Mega Man with 12 robot masters based on the Chinese Zodiac with my leftover money. It'll be great!

I feel at this point I should stress to potential employers who are thinking what a dumbass I must be that I was seven. Also, I've done well throughout my academic career and have a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor's degree... in Communications, but I still consider the fact I kept my dick away from electrical sockets a display of superior intelligence to most people this age I happen to know.

But I also blame the game's difficulty increase in my specific case on that fucking box art, at least when it comes to the first X game.

He's only smiling cause he can't cry underwater

So if you don't know, most people who know what they're doing start off with Chill Penguin's stage because he's easy to defeat without special weapons and has a must-have item hidden in his stage (dash, which lets you move faster). Chill Penguin is on the top right of the screen when you select stages. The cursor is on the top left when you boot up the game. The top left is Launch Octopus's stage. Launch Octopus is on the box. This lead me to assume, on the first couple rentals, you were to start with him. And no, Mega Man being a totally different color didn't tip me off, cause I'd never played one before, didn't know he'd change color with upgrades, and chalked it up to them making him look more awesome than he actually ever would in the game. I was wrong, and seemingly obviously so, but I reserve the right to blame Blockbuster for my shortcomings, especially when their "strategy guides" on the back of rental copies were written by Navi's interns, and mostly described the first stage and explained to you that your controller had buttons on it you could push.

Needless to say, Launch Octopus's stage was a huge pain in the ass, mostly because of spikes, and things that sucked you into spikes, which were one-hit kills. Because of this, and the fact I never really did THAT much better in other stages, I didn't like X all that much past the intro stage. Honestly, I think I may have only rented it once or twice and given up on it. The music was good, it looked cool, I liked jumping and shooting, but it was just too damn hard. I did visit each stage and least once, and loved the design and music, but it was too unforgiving to me as a kid.

Which is why it's weird that X2 was my favorite in the series, since people seem to think it was harder. I could actually beat a couple robots in a sitting in this one, and my favorite thing in the world was learning when you beat an enemy, you got their ability. I loved the color schemes and how cool they made the X suit look. I especially loved the intro stage and Overdrive Ostrich's stage cause those hover bikes looked so cool and it was awesome when you got to ride one yourself.

He fights annoying Octopus, he smiles. He rides super bike, looks pissed. I don't get this guy.

Also, while X1's intro stage was cool and had some of the best music in the series, I actually liked fighting the giant purple robot in a factory better. It just had better atmosphere to me. Plus, you could kill the thing, and presumably have it kill you (I put "presumably" there to hide the fact I died by running into its arms as a kid, but you'll never know th... dammit) unlike the fight with Vile in X1 where you would be made Vile's bitch cause the script says so.

Fairly accurate description of how I felt the first time and Zero saves you. Power Rangers parallel: everyone wants to be the red guy.

It also had what I considered to be the most badass stage in the series, based on my love for gaining height in a platformer and badass, epic music. Storm Eagle was great for this too in X1, but my fondest memory of Mega Man as a kid period is

Volcano Scaling>Parkour... or maybe it's the next step in parkour, hmm

Flame Stag's stage. Music starts out kinda just droning but then gets epic and fire chases you, I loved the hell out of this as a kid, and the most memorable part was the music. Like, Mario and other SNES music was impressive and nice, but this was the first time a game's score made me feel like a BAMF.

That said, I thought the level was longer than it is, and that's probably because I died so much as a kid when the lava came. But I didn't mind cause as I've heard someone say of Wily Stage 1 in Mega Man 2, the music wasn't ominous, but felt like it was cheering you on to complete your arduous task. By the way, I think Wily 1 is the best song in any Mega Man (cliche I know) but I only came to that conclusion as an adult, while Flame Stag's stage is an imprint of gaming greatness from childhood.

And again, like X1, I played every Maverick's stage, but these I remember more than X1 cause X2 just left a much bigger impression on me.

The most memorable stage overall for me (Flame Stag's left a huge impression but its actual level is more vague in my memory cause of not getting past the lava) was Wheel Gator's. Music was kinda eh, the boss is boring, but I played it the most because being on a flying ship was a cool idea for a stage I guess. I also played Sponge Wire's stage a lot. Overdrive Ostrich was another badass feeling stage, Bubble Crab was annoying but at least had cool, relaxing music, and the rest I remember but not as well.

If the X games made me feel badass though, Mega Man 7 made me feel like I was just having simple gaming fun. I remember the first time I played it thinking it was far more accessible than X in terms of difficulty, and it was brightly colored. I know when people say "brightly colored" it tends to  jokingly refer to something stupid people and infants find amusing cause it's "safe," but I for one still appreciate that an artist actually had the balls to make a future that looked like it was something nice and liveable you'd buy people would want to defend. Go back and look at movies set in dystopian futures in the 2000s and probably other decades, and maybe you'll see why I much prefer the coloring box look to oppressive grayscale.

That said, I can honestly only remember the intro stage. I mean Otto mixing up Mega Man's hat is imprinted on my mind, yet I don't really remember anything past the first miniboss which is also a huge imprint on my mind from childhood. (Edit: Ok, after glimpsing at a Youtube Longplay, I remember the ice stage with the polar bears too).

In this case, every time I saw a Sonic 2 kiosk I got jealous of Genesis owners, and remembered the Robotnik car boss in Act 2. I saw this and thought "at least this game has something similar." I was a glass half full kid at the time.

But we definitely rented it and I definitely loved playing it. Weird how my mind has fragments of memories sometimes. Oh, if anyone could find this movie that starts out with a woman painting then walking with ducks in the rain and then goes to cartoons, I think one being a mouse trapped in some dough in an attic and some bigger rodent family is going to eat him Hansel and Gretel style (if it is in fact the same VHS), please tell me what it's called. It's been bothering the crap out of me for years and Wikipedia and Imdb searches can't really be that specific. I know it's weird, just tell me if you know.

I remember even more vaguely Mega Man Soccer. That one I also know we definitely rented, but I'm not sure I liked it cause it definitely wasn't rented often. Maybe even only once and probably just cause I liked the box art. I'm actually not sure, but this was possibly the first Mega Man game I tried, only I rented it once from this local VHS and game rental store called Mickey's near our house and just.. eh?

That false advertising on boxes I brought up for X1? The fact that ball doesn't actually catch fire in-game when I played it probably gave me that suspicion. Bastards.

Anyway, I hope you weren't too offended by the MMPR/Mega Man comparisons, but trust me, despite the difference in quality, they're there. So there... there. Don't be sad.

More importantly I hope you enjoyed my cobbling together of my strong memories of X and X2, the intro stage to 7, and my vague-as-hell-but-existent memories of Soccer in his universe. I wholly recommend the classic and X Mega Man series, especially their music.

Until next time, here's an explanation of Mega Man X1's brilliant game design.

It's a great way to explain why those of us that grew up with Blockbuster rentals' pro-tips would appreciate if characters stop being dedicated to spouting the same useless information.

Oh, and Silver Linings Playbook is depressing, but I felt connected to the characters in a way I haven't in a movie in a very long time, and might be one of my all-time favorite movies. Lincoln has some forced and boring scenes, but ultimately is a great human interest piece on how shit got done in Washington.

Tell me what you think of my blog or Mega Man or anything at all really in the comments below.

 Edit: There's also a Mega Man cartoon series by the same people behind Sonic For Hire (a shock humor show I actually find kind of funny) called Mega Man Dies at the End. Here's the first episode if you're intrested: 

Not really my cup of sweet tea, but Sonic For Hire has entertained me enough I'll give it a chance. I've only watched this episode so far and it's ... eh. Mostly a reference to that mediocre Wolverine flick.

Edit2: Hell, while I'm at it, here's the guy who explains MMx's design above (Egoraptr) and Jontron doing a Let's play of Mega Man 7:


And of course all the 1up Mega Man features I mentioned up top, the one about his comic books was especially intersting to me. Might need to pick up some of those Sonic/MM crossover editions. 

Have a Mega Man weekend.









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