I used to love video games. I can easily say, there was a point where I wanted nothing more than to just sit down and play video games all day long. I miss playing them, but I realize that I just do not enjoy them the way I once used to. I look back on to my childhood, before I developed Lupus and began my life as a patient, and remember a very specific blue character. Mega Man was one my favorite video game character. He did no wrong, he fought Dr. Wiley, ran around and saved the world. It feels like a lifetime ago, back when Japanese influence had just started to penetrate the American market, but I jumped right it.
I think I can say I’ve played almost every Mega Man game released in the US and a few that never made it, thanks to the wonder that is emulation. I remember when I got my first video game system. It was a Nintendo Entertainment System, and not the older, box-shaped system. And the controller was different as well, shaped like a dog-bone. My first game was Mega Man 5. That was the game that opened the door. It was challenging, but not beyond reach. The rules were simple, go right, shoot baddies, don’t fall into holes, don’t touch spikes, jump from disappearing square to square, and defeat the boss. I remember how accomplished I felt when I finally defeated the 8 robot masters for the first time! being around 7 or 8, I thought I had beat my first video game and was ready to buy my next one ASAP. Lo and behold, I was mistaken. Upon beating the 8th robot master, The level select screen now had a W in the middle. Selecting it turned the screen black, and and a castle with massive skull in the middle appeared. I realized that the game was not done yet, there were still levels to beat. And I never really got to beating them. I felt overwhelmed, gave up, and didn’t pursue the game any further. It’s funny to think that one of my biggest regrets is not completing an 8-Bit NES game.
Though it did not end there. I kept going on my vicarious adventures as The Blue Bomber. I bought Mega Man 1 through 6, not even aware that there was a 7. Not knowing about 7 for the longest time, I stumbled onto the Mega Man X series. Mega Man X blue my mind away (pun intended). X was faster, stronger, and had upgrades. Oh I loved the armor upgrades! Gaining new abilities and varying up the game mechanics just took the core gameplay that made Mega Man a great game to a whole new level. X1 to X3 were phenomenal in every which way. In X3, being able to call in Zero and play as a new character, with different abilities just changed everything. Taking it a step further, playing as X or Zero in X4 on the Playstation, with anime cut scenes, voice acting, and larger than life bosses; looking back, it feels like at one point, Capcom really had soemething good going.
Switching to the Sony Playstation, I noticed a Mega Man 8. One of my favorite games, with beautiful graphical environments and solid game play, I noticed that I had jumped from 6 to 8 without even knowing there was a 7. Looking into it, Mega Man 7 was a nearly impossible to get SNES game that just sort of happened and disappeared. I still know very little about it, and never really pursued it. Next came the Mega Man Battle Network series, the first of which was amazing, the second and following could just never hold my interest. Capcom released a slew of Mega Man X games for the Playstation as well. X5 and X6 were both shoddy attempts to update the series. Mega Man X7 on the Playstation 2 was a disaster, and X8 was a silent return to the basics, but it had been so long that most players did not want to watch their blue hero struggle to keep up with modern gaming. Introducing forgettable new characters, such as spotters, commanders, and Axel did nothing to help the series much either.
Somewhere after X4, Mega Man Legends was released. An Completely different take on Mega Man, it threw us into a world where the only similarity between the old and the new was the protagonist’s name. An equally engaging sequel was released, as well as a fun spin off involving the Bonne family, the Legends series seemed like it take Mega Man into a new direction. Capcom crushed those dreams a little when they brought up Legends 3, and then took it away just as quickly.
Capcom focused on their Mega Man Battle Network for time being, emulating the Poke’mon series with dual version releases. Capcom threw us bone with the release of Mega Man Zero, a series that did not let you play as Mega Man at all, but as Zero. The story took place years and years after the final X game. No sign of Sigma, you played as a Zero that looked completely different than his pervious incarnation. No more buster, Zero now had his gun, but always his iconic z-saber. Mega Man Zero tried once again to change up the mechanics, as well as the story, and in my opinion, successfully did so. The games brought back the challenging aspect, they each game building on the previous, removing some mechanics and adding new ones. Mega Man Zero gave me hope for what might be in store for our hero. Mega Man ZX and Advent followed for the Nintendo DS. Nothing truly special there. Capcom took a full 180 return to the basics by releasing Mega Man 9 and 10 for the Wii, reintroducing core mechanics at their retro-est.
Mega Man has been around a long time, actually he’s turning 25 this december. It has been a long journey. He really is a great part of my childhood. It sad that as I got older, I began to appreciate these games less and less. I’m glad I took the time to sit down reminisce on those days. Random rerelease collection versions, spinn offs, and cameos have always brought a smile to my face. While I wish I had played every single game to completion, I know I’ve not even mentioned games like Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up for the PSP. There really is just too much in the Mega Man universe for me to write about in just a single post. While Mega Man Legends 3 is gone, with no real sign of any new installments, and Capcom’s floundering these past few years, I can only hope that the blue bomber is off fighting for ever lasting peace somewhere.
The first and the greatest Mega Man resource out there: The Mega Man Homepage
My favorite Mega Man webcomic from back in the day: Bob and Geroge
And a little humor: miniMega