My earliest gaming memories revolve around watching my brother and our cousins tackling some true Nintendo classics. One game stood out above the rest for a number of reasons. Great music, awesome character design, and a story that appealed to my five year old brain all helped Mega Man 1 capture my attention. The biggest reason, however, was the fact that I couldn’t beat it, and I still haven’t.
The classic Mega Man games are challenging. Combining action and platforming, they often can be an unforgiving mix of pattern recognition and kneejerk reaction. I’ve never really had the dexterity, dedication, or will for that sort of thing. I enjoy challenge, but I never learned to savor the frustration that frequently comes with the challenge of older games.
The entire series remains one of my favorites of all-time. Even if I couldn’t beat the robot masters, my imagination let me create my own; my small fingers gave me the crude ability to make them real. I bought toys, watched the awful cartoon, and kept trying to beat Mega Man 1 (and eventually Mega Man 2).
The X series guaranteed that my childhood love of Mega Man would be solidified long into my adult life. I owned Megaman X on SNES, later PC, and now Wii U. Though it brought even more abilities and moves, it also brought with it a more relaxed and more forgiving difficulty curve. Finally, the conclusion of a Mega Man game was in my reach.
Sadly, I never played X2 or X3. For a long time, I didn’t know they even existed. Kids these days don’t realize the Dark Ages we all had to go through when we were younger. A chance encounter in a magazine, word of mouth, or blind luck in a store were my only real options to discover new games.
Thankfully, when I got my Playstation, my cousin Will drove me to Toys-R-Us to pick up a game or two for it. When my eyes spotted Megaman X4, we both lit up. He had been one of the cousins playing the original Mega Man games with my brother. We were both fans of the series.
Megaman X4 is my favorite Mega Man game, ever. It’s just too perfect. The music is incredible, the boss designs are awesome. Even the story is more interesting than previous entries in the series; of course, the anime cutscenes really went a long way to help that along. It’s one of the few games that I never mind replaying.
After X4, the X series began to fizzle out. I wasn’t into handhelds as much, so I never really got a chance to get into Battle Network or the Zero series. I keep thinking I should, but sometimes our favorite series are best kept to specific places and times. Time and natural evolution often have a tendency to transform classic games beyond the reasons we loved them, especially when those reasons aren’t always easy to describe.
The way Capcom has treated the Blue Bomber over the last few years has made me both miss Mega Man, as well as yearn for his freedom. That’s largely why I didn’t hesitate to back Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter recently. The man behind it, Keiji Inafune, was a pivotal force behind the original Mega Man’s creation. As someone who has had direct influence over the series since its very beginning, I put my faith and my money behind his ability to channel the spirit of Mega Man into a new series free of Capcom’s corporate failings.
I was recently surprised to see a trailer for a different game he has been working on, a game that’ll land on the Japanese 3DS eShop this year. The developer behind this game, Inti Creates, were also behind the Mega Man Zero series and Mega Man 9 and 10. Take a look:
Frankly, I was pretty blown away after the first time I saw this. It started off a bit dull and I could care less about its attempt at plot, but man did those boss fights look awesome. With a single trailer, Azure Striker Gunvolt became a must own, assuming it makes it here to the United States.
It is difficult to really put into words why Mega Man and its spiritual successors are so important to me. I suppose the simplest answer is that Mega Man is part of the very foundation that has made me into the gamer that I am today. It was part of my beginning and I hope games like it never stop coming. When I am old and decrepit, I hope I am still able to pick up a controller. Whatever I end up playing with that controller, I hope at least one game can owe its existence to the rich history of one of game’s most classic series.
This entire post was written while listening to The Megas’ album “History Repeating: Blue”. I really recommend you check it out, as well as their other work!