In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Why do I love MegaMan?
It is becoming something of a dire time for Nintendo recently. The 3DS is doing fine, but it seems as though it’s not enough to carry the company. The Wii U continues to struggle in finding its audience and even though I did solve all those problems in my last article, it seems that there may be trouble ahead in the next financial year. In these times of turmoil it would be prudent to take some time to really contemplate the future of the company. Alternatively, I could bury my head in the immeasurable desert sands of nostalgia and talk about all the reasons MegaMan is awesome.
The first question you have to concern yourself with when discussing MegaMan is: Classic or X? With all due respect to X, I choose Classic. MegaMan X is, in its own right, extraordinary, with some of the best game play and art you will find on the SNES. There’s just something about the original NES games that are just beyond compare for me though. Both series do many of the same things equally well: Music, Level design, Boss fights, Music… MegaMan music is really good. But when I tear away all the superfluous elements, pressing right on the d-pad just feels that much better on the 8-bit console. Pixel perfect controls is exactly what you’ll get whilst handling the blue bomber and Capcom sure as hell knew it, because these games are tough old cookies. Or are they? Well yeah. But like my high school tutor, they were also completely fair. There is not a single trap in all of the classic series that isn’t explained to you fully before its implementation.
I won’t bore you with the intricacies of game design, but playing the first ten games is essentially a master class in the subject (feel free to watch Egoraptor’s Sequalitus for an in depth examination). The real challenge of MegaMan is patience. Taking your time and observing your surroundings is the key to avoiding the pitfalls put in place by Dr Wily. Of course taking your time isn’t always an option because these games are constantly changing up the pace. Once again those pixel perfect controls come into play as you are forced to dance around lasers, and chainsaws, and bombs (oh my!). All of this builds into one single, expertly crafted experience that is above all, fun. Did I talk about music yet? No? MegaMan music is really, really good. I behoove you to find me a better soundtrack than MegaMan 2’s. You can’t, it can’t be done! CrashMan’s theme was the bomb! Pun intended. And AirMan’s theme blew me away. And FlashMan’s um… was … good. Whatever, the music was fantastic, which makes sense considering the heavy hand music plays in the games theme. It’s pretty common knowledge that MegaMan is called Rock in Japan, to compliment his sister Roll. There is also Bass (Forte in Japan) the anti-MegaMan created by Dr Wily. Or ProtoMan also know as Blues, who introduces himself into the battlefield with his signature whistle. Heck, in MegaMan X5 the mavericks were all named after Guns N Roses members. Musicality even factors into gameplay as there is a strong sense of rhythm to your movements as you traverse levels.
It’s easy for me to sit and gush over these games. I do it most days. But the best way for you to understand their virtues would be to play them yourself. The first 6 NES games are all available on Wii, Wii U and 3DS virtual console, and the two modern day revivals 9 and 10, are available on the Wii shop channel (accessible on the Wii U). The SNES entry 7 is yet to be released unfortunately and 8 can be found on the PlayStation or Sega Saturn. There is one other title in the Classic series that is a true challenge to find and play. That is MegaMan & Bass only released on the GameBoy Advance outside of Japan. Be warned though this game is for enthusiasts only as it is not only the hardest game in the classics, but possibly the hardest one of all the MegaMan incarnations. I think that’s enough homework for now though, if I’ve succeeded at anything today it is in giving myself an appetite for a replay. I’m pretty sure I can get my MegaMan 3 time to about under an hour this time…