Hello, readers. I’m Rob, AKA Colonel Crayon. I’m going to be doing a new article\blog-type series…Er, thing called “The Nostalgia Vault”. *echo* *echo* Yeah, pretty sweet, right? Basically, the posts will be myself ranting and recounting experiences I’ve had with certain retro games I’ve played. Why retro, you may ask? Well it’s not called The NOSTALGIA Vault just to sound pretty. No Call of Duties, no Battlefields, no…uh..Some other cliche modern video game, just the old school stuff that you and I grew up with. Keep in mind, these are NOT reviews. They’re just me talking about something I love: Retro gaming. Everything in these are entirely my opinion, so don’t take offence if I don’t like your favorite Mario game or whatever. Not every post will be about games I remember fondly, some will be about games that I despise. As long as it’s retro, and I’ve played it, I’ll probably talk about it sooner or later. You could also call this “Retro Gaming Story time with Rob”, doesn’t that sound cute? Now don’t expect any sort of strict schedule with these. I have a busy life, and I’ll just write a post when I have the chance. No telling if it’ll be weekly, bi-weekly, even monthly, it’ll just be whenever I can. That doesn’t mean I’ll only update like, once a year, I have plenty of retro games, so I won’t run out of material any time soon, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be writing stuff every single day, just because I have a ton of games. Also, keep in mind that since these aren’t reviews, and more of a retelling of things I’ve experience in games, they’ll be quite long, so sit back and get a drink or something, because you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Hopefully that won’t be too much of a turnoff. :\
With all that being said, let’s dive into the first subject of the matter, shall we?
Megaman: A title I’m sure we’re all familiar with. The Megaman franchise is a staple of action platforming, next to the likes of Mario, and Sonic. While Mario and Sonic rely on speed and agility, Megaman relies more on strategy, and careful, but quick thinking. Now, I adore the Megaman games. I love the idea of the robot masters, trying to work through the logic behind who’s weak to what, the amazing level and enemy design. It’s all just great.
I remember always playing them on an NES emulator when I was a kid. I know that may make some of you hate me instantly, but you have to understand, I didn’t have an NES, and I had no real means of getting one We didn’t have much money, and my friend who did have an NES, did not have a functioning NES. I mean, I was 9, give me a break. When your geeky best friend tells you “I have this program that lets you play every NES game in existence right on your PC”, you know what your 9 year old answer would be.
So there I was, sitting at my PC, indulging in classic Nintendo Goodness. My friend pointed me towards the Megaman games, since he thought I’d like them. I guess he was right. I have fond memories of spending afternoons playing through the original six games on the NES, and especially 2, 3, and 4. I never played the first game much. I guess that makes sense. It was the first game, after all, so some mechanics would still have to be fleshed out.
Recently, for some reason, I got the idea of playing through the Megaman games for old time’s sake, one by one. I’m the kind of weirdo that cannot play “Game #2” without beating “Game #1” first. Even if Game #1 is substantially worse than Game #2. Call it OCD? Call it stupid? I don’t know. I knew that the original Megaman wasn’t as interesting, or in depth as Megaman 2 and onwards, I knew it was simple in comparison. The robot masters were very bland in design, the levels and enemies were fairly boring and uncreative. It makes sense, it was the first in the series, they didn’t know what worked and what didn’t. The only thing I remembered well were the Robot Masters, and I thought I’d remembered it being pretty easy. But that seemed odd, since most of the time I remember the other Megaman games being pretty challenging. So what made this one easy?
Look, let’s face it: The Megaman games are difficult. That’s part of the appeal. You gotta learn the stages, learn the boss weaknesses, learn their movement patterns, learn how to kill enemies with minimal health loss, etc, etc. You don’t, and you’ll be getting a lot of game overs. To sound cliche, it’s like Dark Souls. Don’t hold that against me, I wasn’t actually serious when I said that. I’m just making fun of everyone who looks any video game, past, present, or future, with some amount of challenge and says “It’s like Dark Souls :D”. What a stupid trend. Anyways, Megaman is challenging. It makes them fun, it makes them addicting, because you want to keep going to try and finally beat *Insert Noun Here*Man, you want to beat Dr. Wily, and if you’re like me, you want to play the next game. I did not expect much going into Megaman, aside from a fun little challenge, something to warm me up before I got onto the other, more interesting games, but HOLY DIFFICULTY CURVE, BATMAN this game is SOUL CRUSHINGLY HARD!
I wasn’t prepared by any means for the blood and sweat I was about to experience, the pain and suffering, the numerous controller-chucking moments, but I got it full force. I didn’t remember even for a moment the insane difficulty of this game. At first I thought I was just rusty, and to a certain degree, I was. But the problem is that even when I got back into the groove of things, I was still being punished. My emotions were a mixture of annoyance and confusion, I didn’t remember this game being this unforgiving, were the other games like that, too? There’s no way, I beat them all when I was a kid, how could adult me have so much trouble? I’m not a 60 year old grandpa with a lack of motor skills, I’m still young, I know how to work a controller, I have good reaction time. So obviously, it’s all the game’s fault. Duh.
No, I’m not that stupid. I am pretty bad at Megaman, to be honest, but I had no idea I was this bad. I think some of it was the game’s unforgiving nature, but I’m not going to say it’s all the game’s fault and none of mine.
It’s clear, though, that this game is a bit too hard. I’m currently playing Megaman 2 now, and I’m not having near the amount of trouble I have with 1. So, obviously, Megaman 1 wasn’t the best reintroduction to the series, by far.
The game doesn’t really have any kind of story, you’re just plopped onto the Robot master screen, acting as the stage select. When I was young I didn’t understand the concept of the robot master’s weaknesses, I just played the stages out in a clockwise order. Even when I was 9 I was obsessive and weird.
This time, I tried to take things a little more logically. The Megaman boss orders always follow a bit of logic, it’s never completely arbitrary. Each boss is weak to the power of some other boss, you just have to figure out which order to defeat them in is most effective. Obviously when I was younger, I didn’t care about that. The Robot Masters aren’t terribly creative in this game, they look less robotic, and more like little kids pretending to have superpowers, having fights in the backyard. They are:
- GardenMaintenanceMan (Cutman)
- OverwightMan (Gutsman)
- EskimoMan (Iceman)
- MohawkMan (Bombman)
- OlympicTorchMan (Fireman)
- An Electrician (Elecman)
Am I a fraud for just looking up the boss orders on google? A lot of people would probably say I am. Welp, can’t win ’em all.
I chose Bombman first (It’s Bombman, not Bomberman. That’d be infringement), because I guess that’s what the internet wants me to do. I always remembered Bombman being my least favorite. His stage is very uninspired and blank, and the background tune is rather grating and kind of overly peaceful, considering the context. But, it became clear after about, oh…two minutes, that this game wasn’t messing around.
Of course, I ended up getting my butt handed to me on a jewel encrusted silver platter for a little bit. What can I say? I haven’t touched a Megaman game in years. That much is to be expected. But what I didn’t expect was that the game was still hard even after I got my bearings. Usually, games get easier when you get more used to them? I don’t know, just my experience, I guess.
It’s a trend in most Megaman games, that there needs to be at least 78 enemies per level that like to fly or hop around obnoxiously and erratically. This game really loves those types of enemies. The first enemies I’m greeted with are these weird bouncing thingies, and bombs (Hey, something that fits the level concept!) that jump out of pits, somehow, and explode into littler bombs. I always thought the bombs looked like fat Gameboy Advances, but that’s just me. The enemy that quickly reminded me that this game meant business, were those annoying sphere enemies that fly around, open up to reveal their little eyes(?) and shoot projectiles in 104 different directions. I died to these things more times than I’d like to admit. The problem is that any time you get hit, you get knocked back a considerable distance, with no way of recovering. So is it just dumb luck that these annoying enemies that shoot lasers in every which way just so happen to appear around deathpits? I think not, good sir. What’s even worse, is that you can’t even kill them until they’ve revealed their little eyeballs to fire at you. So, in order to kill them, you basically have to put yourself in direct line of fire.
Did I mention this game is rather sadistic in it’s enemy placement and design?
Bombman’s stage was probably, to be honest, the easiest out of all of them, maybe next to Gutsman. Most of the trouble I had stemmed from my lack of practice. As I approached the end of the stage, and the boss door, I was greeted by a gigantic, one-eyed, pogostick-like DEMON. The enemies formally known as “Big Eye”. Well, they can go “Big Die”, amirite? No? Okay. Big Eye is probably the evilest of all Megaman enemies that I can think of off the top of my head. They move around by hopping in a very predictable, yet unpredictable pattern. They’re so large that it’s impossible to jump over them, so you’re immediate though is “Well I’ll run under them when they jump”. Well, you’re halfway right. Problem is, most of the time, these devil-spawns enjoy hopping just a bit too low for you to run underneath. I always thought there was a pattern to when they hop higher, but it seems to be outright random. This leads to you getting cornered, with nowhere to go, and nothing to do but get hit. Lovely. To make matters worse, if you so much as touch Big Eye, you’ll lose a quarter of your health. You may not know, but that’s a lot. Seriously, I always end up just avoiding these things rather than wasting my time fighting them. It’s safer that way.
Now, in most Megaman games, you get to the boss door, and through that is a little hallway that leads to another boss door. Sort of a small resting area for you. They usually come as a huge relief, before going back into the fray of things. Now because Megaman 1 is a big fat meanie, we don’t have that. We have a long hallway with more enemies for us to kill, almost as a final “I hate you” before fighting the boss. Luckily, you at least get a checkpoint in these areas, so if the boss kills you, you aren’t punished too much, just a lot.
Bombman wasn’t anything special, he just jumps to wherever you’re standing, throws a bomb, and then does it again. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. I managed to defeat him with little to no trouble. Here’s another fun fact for you: If you’ve defeated a boss while they were in the middle of an attack, that attack can still hurt you; ergo, you can die after you’ve won. It’s never happened to me, but considering the sadistic nature of this game, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
Gutsman came next. I guess Gutsman is weak to bombs because..He’s fat? That’s awfully insensitive, Capcom.
Gutsman’s stage is probably my favorite. It easily has the most interesting color palate, design, and a few unique enemies. (including everyone’s favorite, Metool) Ironically enough, this stage is probably the one that most everybody hates, for one reason alone: The opening platform segment. I remember dreading this part of the stage, and I think everyone can sympathize. Basically, if you can’t tell from the screenshot, there are a number of platforms suspended in the air that run on conveyor belts. At first, it seems simple, but then you notice gaps the conveyor belts. When the platforms run over these gaps, they collapse. This means rather than simply jumping from platform to platform, you have to make sure you keep an eye out for the gaps and time your jumps perfectly. There’s no time to react once the platform drops, it’s instant, and you’ll be dead faster than you can say “Aw man, I died.”
The rest of the stage is rather uneventful, aside from a borderline unavoidable spike trap, and another satan sp–Big Eye at the boss door. Gutsman himself, however, is a neat little boss. He has this shockwave jump thing that’s a cliche for big fat lumbering bosses in video games. He uses it to stun Megaman, and will occasionally use it to drop giant boulders from what I could only assume is robot heaven, and throw them at you.
Now Gutsman’s weapon is probably the strangest Megaman weapon in existence. For years, and I really mean years I had no clue how to use it. When it’s equipped, you can’t shoot anything. No powerup, no nothing. You just kinda sit there looking dumb. What it really does is allow Megaman to pick up specified blocks in levels and throw them. They flash when you get close to them with the Gutsman power equipped. Now, how exactly are we supposed to know this? You try using his power and nothing even happens, why would you think to EVER equip it again, much less in front of a very specific block shaped object. Not to mention, it’s required to beat the game, but I’ll get into that in a few.
Next was Cutman, the stage I always remember, because he was always the first stage I played. Cutman’s stage, like Bombman’s is very bland and uninspired. Just a bunch of ladders and walls, nothing that screams “SCISSORS!”. In fact, there’s only one “Cutting” enemy in the entire level, and it appears for maybe, oh, half a second?
You may be wondering: “Why is Cutman weak to Gutsman power?”. Well, this stumped me for a bit, too. But think about it. Gutsman throws rocks, Cutman is literally a walking pair of scissors. Rock beats Scissors.
Yeah. They went there.
Cutman himself is pretty boring. In fact, you don’t even need Gutsman’s super boulder arm throwing power to beat him. You can just shoot Cutman endlessly with the Megabuster (That is, the default weapon Megaman has) and he’ll just get caught in a stun lock, only occasionally throwing the hedge clippers off of his head (seriously?) at you, which only requires a jump to avoid. Cutman is generally the first robot master people pick because of this exploit, but because I’m so totally a hipster, I didn’t go that route.
Next off was Elecman. Who I remember a little better. His stage theme sounds strangely like Faithfully by Journey. The level design is fairly cool, being a completely vertical stage with constant ladder climbing and stuff. Unfortunately, it has constant ladder climbing and stuff, and lots of enemies that enjoy knocking you off of those ladders and down 3 screens just for you to climb all the way back up again. It’s a mess. There are these annoying flying enemies that chase you up and down the ladders and shoot lightning bolts out both below and above you. If you’re a half a pixel away from being exactly parallel to these enemies when they attack, you’re as good as hit, there’s no room for error.
Now here is where things start getting stupid(er). About halfway through the stage, you’ll come across a small alcove with a strange item on the other side, blocked by a wall. The only way to get at it is by using Elecman’s power (which I obviously didn’t have at the moment) to blast through them, or Gutsman’s power to pick up the blocks. Now, as I’ve said, I never understood Gutsman’s power as a kid, and obviously didn’t know at the time that Elecman’s power could break through those kinds of blocks. Unfortunately, due to my small attention span, I quickly forgot about the little item and moved on. Little did I realize that it’s basically required to beat the final level of the game. This hunk of garbage is called the Mega Beam. It’s basically a magic platform gun. You shoot it, it makes a platform right in front of you that you can stand on for a certain period of time. Now, why you aren’t just given the item in between stages like the later games, I’ll never know. Again, I won’t blame them, because this is their first Megaman game, so at the very least, maybe Capcom realized it was stupid, as well.
Elecman himself is fairly boring. He shoots electric beams at you, and I guess he’s weak to Cutman’s ability because…scissors cut..electric..wires…? Forget it.
Now of course, the next logical step is Iceman. Because everyone knows that Ice conducts electricity! Actually I just realized, that’s probably the connection, there. Ice is technically water, and water conducts electricity, thus, Iceman is weak to Elecman. It’s still stupid, don’t get me wrong.
Honestly, I thought the next step would be Fireman. Fire melts Ice, right? Nope. Ice freezes Fire. I’m not quite sure they thought that through completely. I’m sure it’s meant to be taken as Water extinguishes Fire. But then, why isn’t he just Waterman? I guess that sounds stupider.
Now, I’m going to be 100% honest. I strongly believe that Iceman’s stage is the result of the 7th level of hell freezing over. This stage is the absolute WORST. It started off okay, I guess, but then there comes this water segment with these flying penguin torpedo…things. They’re incredibly annoying to avoid, and take off a load of health, and they spawn constantly throughout this small segment. It makes the 30 second trek feel like an eternity. And then comes the dreaded block platform segment that Megaman became so infamous for. Don’t…Don’t even get me started. Let me try to explain: You’re trapped in a pit, there are blocks that phase in and out of existence, and you need to jump onto them before they go bye bye, and work your way out of the pit. Unfortunately, many times this requires you taking leaps of absolute faith, due to the fact that most of the time the block you’re looking to jump to will appear AFTER the block you’re standing on vanishes. Add an enemy that’s next to impossible to kill at the bottom of the pit that will wreck you up any time you miss a platform, and you can kiss your sanity goodbye. Now technically you can kill these enemies I just referred to with Cutman’s ability, but they’re so stupidly small and placed so strangely that trying to kill them is almost more frustrating than dealing with them constantly hurting you every time you screw up.
But wait, there’s more! After that disgusting platforming segment is out of the way, we get even more platforming, except with platforms that have incredibly random patterns that also shoot you. Oh, and a bottomless pit. You fall, you have to do the block puzzle again. Have fun.
I swear these STUPID FLYING BUG-EYED PLATFORM THINGS I WANT TO KILL THEM WITH FI–Sorry. They are very irritating. Basically, they fly back and forth, occasionally shooting little pellets out of their sides to try and trip you up, and you have to time when to jump onto them, then wait for another one to get close enough for you to jump, so on, so forth. The only problem is how stupidly finicky they are. If you get hit by one platform while jumping to another, it doesn’t matter if you’re right on the mark, you fall straight through to your death. Other times, they don’t even get close to you. Their movement pattern seems entirely based upon luck, and you have to pray that they’ll actually get close enough for you to jump onto one. I actually stood still, waiting for an opportunity to jump onto the first platform for 5 minutes before it came into range.
To make matters worse, you get through the first little platforming area, and there’s another one right after….Except this time you have those stupid penguin torpedos to deal with! :DDDDDDDDDDD
I swear I died about 30 times before I finally got through these areas and onto Iceman. I was about ready to put my head through the desk.
Iceman himself is a letdown, which seems to be a trend. He just shoots little ice beams at you. I can’t really remember if he has the ability to freeze you in place or not…Oh well.
And then there was Fireman. His stage is cool, I guess. Nothing really interesting about it, aside from the palate, which is very..red. There’s fire! There’s these stupid flame throwers on the ground that shoot flames up to try and knock you off of platforms. They shoot way too quickly for you to react and often times I ended up just plowing through them after getting hit once, more than trying to carefully avoid them. Then there are these little flame demon guys that jump out of lava, and to be honest, they look pretty adorable.
Fireman is fairly forgettable. He just shoots fire at you. I think you can freeze his fire-ey attacks with Iceman’s icebeam thing, but I’m not quite sure. You can freeze those flamethrower things, but I don’t know about Fireman’s actual attacks.
So after all is said and done, we’re given access to the final stage: Dr. Wily’s castle. Can you believe everything up to this point was pathetic in comparison? Neither could I. We’re given the staple “Wily laughing at you and then hopping off into his ear-bleedingly high pitched UFO” cutscene, and then we’re immediately dropped into the first “Wily Stage”. These stages are rather forgettable (I’m using that word a lot) in comparison to the other game’s Wily Stages. I also hate them, because within 10 seconds of spawning, I’m greeted by not one, not even two, but THREEEEEEEEEE Big Eyes. What is my life.
As soon as you finish with the Big Eyes, you get this stupid room with those flamethrowers again. They’re in these little holes, and you have to jump over them, but the area is so tight, there’s just not enough room to jump over them properly. The trick is to freeze them with the Ice Beam or whatever in just the right spot so you can jump onto the frozen pillars and to the next platform. The problem is, you have to time this so incredibly well, or else it doesn’t work. You’re too slow, the frozen fire blocks your path, too early, it’s too low for you to make the jump. It’s ridiculous.
Halfway through the stage we get more stupid Bug-eyed platform things. Refer to paragraph #47 for venting.
Now after that is where the stupid Megabeam comes into play. There’s one section where you’re basically trapped in a pit, like with the block rooms, except there are no blocks. Just walls. So, you have to use the Megabeam to get up to the ladder on the other side of the room. Do I need to reiterate how blatantly stupid this design choice is? Not only is it not exactly obvious how you acquire the Megabeam, but it’s also horribly programmed. These platforms are so buggy it isn’t even funny, and half of the time you need to jump up and fire it so that you can cover more ground and lessen the chance of you running out of energy for the beam before you reach the ladder. Oh but if you jump too high and the platform is out of reach, which is incredibly easy to do..well…Deal with it. Capcom was, however, nice enough to provide respawning weapon energy pickups in the previous room to replenish the beam. Nice to know they’re still thinking of us. Another problem I have with this stupid thing is that if you fire it too close to a wall, most of the time it will go INTO the wall, making it impossible for you to jump onto it. It’s just a nightmare.
I have a headache.
And then comes the boss, ladies and gentlemen, The Yellow Devil. A staple Megaman boss, famous for his insane difficulty. Basically, the room is totally empty, and then these yellow blobs start flying from the left side of the screen to the right. You have to be lightning fast and avoid every one of them because they hurt you. A lot. The blobs start forming the boss on the right side of the screen, and then, only then, do you get ONE SHOT at his little eyeball. You miss? Oh well. You hit him? It takes off maybe an 8th of his health? And then you have to do it all over again. I don’t know how anyone beat this guy back in the day. I sure couldn’t. I had to glitch the game with something called “The Pause Cheat” to even win. No, I’m not ashamed. I had no patience at this point.
And then comes the boss rush level. Every Megaman game in existence has these levels. You fight all of the robot masters back to back before facing Wily. Unfortunately, this stage is, once again, stupid. It’s less of a boss rush and more of a gauntlet of platforms and stupid enemy placement, and then you fight a boss or two. The problem with this stage is incredibly apparent: Instead of just a room where we can fight each boss back to back, you have to get punished for a little while by enemies that widdle away at your health, while trying to avoid insta death pits. By the time you get to the boss, half your health is gone. The bosses are the EASY PART! And when you beat one boss? Welp, here’s some more annoying platforming and obnoxious enemy placement for you. 3 times in a row you do this, in one level. Then you get to the final boss of this stage, which is a clone of Megaman that mimics your currently equipped weapon and runs around like a chicken with its head cut off. Every time I got to this area, I only managed to have a few units of health left, so I didn’t even stand a chance. Did I mention this entire level must be done without any health pickups, and as far as I know, no checkpoints?
I quit after that.
After this frustrating endeavour I got to thinking “How on earth did I beat this as a kid? Was I just better? More patient?” Then it hit me. I played on an emulator as a kid. I sucked at this game. My best friend told me that he downloaded some cheat code plugins or something for certain games, and the Megaman games were one of them. I used unlimited health and lives. That’s how I beat Megaman. It was so bad, that it blinded me to how difficult this game really was, and had me ill-prepared for the challenge that awaited.
Moral of the story: Don’t cheat as a kid. It’ll come back to bite you someday.
Even with that said, Megaman 1 is still stupidly hard, and I would NOT recommend it as the first game you play if you’re looking to try out the series. Go with Megaman 2 or 3. This game is more of a novelty that can be appreciated from far away, something to show not how good the games ARE, but how good they GOT.
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