For The Love Of: Mega Man (VIDEO)

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chris-littlechild - September 26, 2016

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We gamers can be a jaded bunch of bastards at times, can’t we? In terms of the fancy techtastic we’ve got at our disposal to enhance our experiences, we’ve never had it so good, but still we bitch all over the Internet. Which is, y’know, justified to an extent. The fiendish practise of on-disk DLC, overpriced and apparently mandatory season passes… we don’t have time for any of that crap. Nuts to it.

Then there’s the big ol’ casual vs hardcore debate. Why anyone’s remotely assed about anyone else’s gaming habits, I have no damn idea, but there it is. As the industry’s become more mainstream, simple touchscreen mobile games and such have become more popular. Most games these days, to be more accessible, drop you scrote first into a heap of tutorials and hand holding.

There are exceptions, true enough. Dark Souls and the like won’t pander to anyone, and will happily kick your ass all over the place. Overall, though, games are much friendlier than they used to be, that’s for freaking sure.

 Most of my video game memories from the nineties center around my beloved Genesis. Back then, licensed games weren’t terrible sacks of crap, not even the Disney ones. They were hard-as-titanium-nails platformers, which isn’t something you’d expect from The Lion King or Aladdin. But games were damn tough back then. They took no prisoners. On that note, let’s take a look at one of the most notoriously ballbusting series of the era.

Mega Man first hit in 1987, brought to the NES by Capcom. It was set in the year 200X (which seemed impossibly damn futuristic at the time, I’m sure), and introduced an I, Robot-like world of renegade helper robots who now want to murder our asses.

The goodly Dr. Light’s creations had been reprogrammed by his rival Dr. Wily, who wants a private army to take over the world. Among the ‘bots are six of Light’s advanced industrial worker machines: Elec Man, Fire Man, Bomb Man, Ice Man, Cut Man and Guts Man. These crazy assholes are rampaging across the city, so Light modifies his personal assistant robot into a fighting machine to destroy the rogues and kick Wily’s ass. This, natch, is Mega Man.

 So there you go. As plots go, it’s a little half-assed, but it gets the job done. So the stage was set for players everywhere, who had no idea what the hell they were letting themselves in for.

Each of the six robot masters had their own stage, which you can take on in whichever order you like. Each level is a run and gun platforming deal, rammed with traps, insta-death spikes and enemies spawning at exactly the right time and place to knock you into a deathly death-pit of death. Right from the start, Mega Man had no mercy on us at all, and we loved it for it.

The main series would see eight releases from 1987 to 1996, none of which screwed with the original formula all that much. A free path through the robot masters’ levels, a weapon unlocked by defeating each one at the end of the stage, all that good stuff. The trick was that each boss was weak to another of the boss’s weapons, so there was a ‘best’ route through each game, but that was left for players to find out for themselves.

 Outside of that, Mega Man has taken on a couple different side projects. The X series began on the SNES in 1993, and added whole new elements. Here, the Blue Bomber was more agile, able to dash and climb, as well as getting fancy-ass new special abilities from equipment. These games follow a different timeline to the originals. A couple years later, the 3D Mega Man Legends titles arrived, adding a bit of the RPGtastic to the whole thing. Then, 2001, this was taken further with the Game Boy Advance’s Mega Man Battle Network games, which were full-fledged RPGs set in a virtual world.

More recently, good ol’ Megs has gotten his shit together and hit a Sonic-style revelation: the classics were the best. Mega Man has done all sorts of things over the years, even joining the cast of Super Smash Bros to kick an ass or two, and that’s all well and good. You can’t beat a slice of 2D sidescrolling goodness, though.

The original series was rebooted in 2008 with Mega Man 9, which brought a great throwback title to last gen consoles. Fans and critics had such a boner for it that another sequel was made in 2010. Sonic’s trying something similar with next year’s Sonic Mania, which just goes to show that these iconic bastards never die. The Blue Bomber’s thirtieth birthday is coming up next year, and I’d sure be down for another three decades of dastardly and bastardly difficult yet perfectly designed platforming goodtimes.


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