**This is the part of the show where we spotlight a game from the 80s or 90s and tell you why it’s worth a replay on your Raspberry Pi, NES Classic, retro console, or whatever emulator you may use**
Since 2017 is the 30th Anniversary of the original Mega Man game, I thought it fitting that the first installment of this column would focus on the Blue Bomber.
What It Is: A side-scrolling action-shooter with RPG elements
Who Made It & When: Capcom, 1988
Where You Could (Originally) Play It: Nintendo Entertainment System, the original NES
What’s It About: While Mega Man’s popularity has spawned a myriad of spin-offs and sequels, the original series was pretty straight-forward, in terms of plot.
There are two scientists: Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. One is good, one is evil. Hint, their names give away their intentions.
Dr. Wily creates evil robots (6 in the first game, 8 in each consecutive title), complete with a themed base level and helper minions. I think the idea is that these evil robots are supposed to destroy the world, but all they ever do is sit in their rooms behind two sets of garage doors and wait to be defeated.
That’s where Mega Man comes in. He’s created by Dr. Light to hunt down the evil robots, defeat them, steal their unique weapon/ability, and use said ability to destroy the other robots in roshambo style.
Once the levels are breached and the boss of each stage defeated, once Mega Man has a fully stocked arsenal of new abilities, he must travel to Dr. Wily’s castle and stop the mad doctor himself.
Why It’s Awesome: Since the original game was insane kinds of hard, I chose Mega Man 2 for this. It was the first in the series that was accessible and entertaining, yet still provided enough of a challenge to keep you trying and coming back for more. This was the era of gaming before save points, where you had to play with a pad of paper and pencil beside you to jot down the code after you completed every level.
There’s something to say about a game that’s celebrating 30 years. Not only did the game look and sound different than everything else, with its recognizable animations and sound effects, the way MM exploded into balls of blue light when he died, the game also played uniquely to anything before it. For one, it gave you the freedom of choice.
The non-linear path to complete the game was part of the winning formula that Capcom delivered, because it wasn’t just about the side-scrolling action. The real fun was in upgrading yourself and using the bad guys’ skills against them. Each robot had a weakness among his peers, and figuring that out was part of the fun. In Mega Man 2, you went first for Metal Man, who went down pretty easily with just the standard Megabuster (the gun on his arm). Next, you used the Metal Blade against Wood Man, the Wood Shield against Bubble Man, the Bubble Shot against Heat Man, and so on.
But to master the game, you needed more than just knowledge. This game required a special skill set that was not inherent, but earned. When I played these games, I felt like a Wild West cowboy, quick on the draw, quick on the trigger. You had to know when to jump, had to time your shots just right. Being good at Mega Man was a life skill in elementary school, and sadly, kids these days just don’t have it.
When I was a kid, I went to a birthday party for a classmate. At the start of the night, I didn’t know any of his other friends, but he had Mega Man, and by the end of the night, after I single-handedly got us all to Wily’s castle, his friends were mine too. I know, it was a sad birthday party, but we were 8, and we did go to Chuck E. Cheese after.
If you were an 80’s kid, you know about Mega Man, and reading through this has already whet your appetite to revisit the world of 200X. So, why are you still reading this? Go play the game!
How To Max Out the Nostalgia… Play the game while listening to “Father Figure” by George Michael and watch this episode of the cartoon “Captain N: The Game Master”: