The Blue Bomber is Back!

A long time ago I was ecstatic upon hearing that a new Mega Man game (Mega Man 9) was being released.  I wasn’t excited just because a new game was coming out, but that it was designed in the classic Mega Man style with emulated 8 bit graphics, the classic game-play, everything.

My excitement quickly subsided when I found out that the game was only being released for consoles – it was silly but I had a slim hope there would be a PC port.  I haven’t really been a console gamer since the Super Nintendo.  Even though I’m a huge Mega Man fan, I put Mega Man 9 out of my mind since I wasn’t about to pay for a console just for one game.

Around Thanksgiving, Liz randomly announced that she would be ok if we got a Wii.  She was on a business trip, played Wii Sports with some coworkers in her hotel’s lounge, and had a great time.  Stunned, I stammered that of course I would be ok with getting a Wii.  We got one as a Christmas present to ourselves.

The world of possibilities that I had closed off from myself was now open.  I immediately downloaded Mega Man 9. 

As a kid I religiously played every NES installment in the series.  As the series went on, Mega Man was given more tools to defeat his enemies, such as the slide move, the mega-buster, more forms for Rush, and friends like Auto, Flip Top, and Beat.  Many of these additions were controversial among fans as they made the game much easier.  The mega-buster, the most contentious, allowed Mega Man to charge up and release a large blast, made clearing out enemies less work.  While these extras did add some freshness to the series as it went on, they also diluted what made Mega Man so great in the first place.

 Mega Man games brutally demand perfection in their execution.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve made it through three screens of moving platforms, if you lose focus during the fourth and die, you’re doing it all over again.  You only get so many lives and once they’re all lost, even if you’ve gotten as far as the level boss, you’re doing the whole level over again. 

All Mega Man games are about recognizing patterns—learning when and where to jump to avoid dangers and defeat enemies. The most wicked, seen throughout the series, are disappearing blocks where you must memorize their pattern to get across danger.  “Does the sound of these blocks haunt your dreams?” Joel over at Spectacle Rock once wrote about Mega Man.  Any fan of the series hears the sounds of those blocks in their deepest gaming nightmares.  

             He hates you.

Mega Man games are just plain mean and they hate you. 
And yet I love them.  I bow to their demand of perfection.  I’ll play the same level, over and over and over again, memorizing how to beat it; slowly crawling my way through.  They’re not games that are to be played casually.  You either sit down with the focused intent to win or go play something else.

Mega Man 9 gets back to those roots and still brings many new challenges that truly make it a new game.  While most of his allies return, Mega Man no longer has the controversial mega-buster.  He can no longer slide.  It’s just his blue-suited self and his three-shot arm cannon.  The robot bosses are new and creatively designed. 

I really, really love the weapons you get after defeating Hornet Man and Galaxy Man – hornets who attack enemies and fetch power-ups and steerable black holes.  The game’s levels are fresh and yet do enough to tug at the deep-seated nostalgia I hold for the series.  The music in the Mega Man games was always top-notch and that hasn’t changed in this new addition.

I very much like Mega Man 9 (though I do kinda miss the slide move).  And I’m once again ecstatic to hear of a new game being released; due to the ninth game’s success, Mega Man 10 will be released soon.  Luckily, this time I don’t have to bury the news in the back of my mind.