Performance Review – Mega Man 9: From Hell’s Heart I Stab At Thee

by


Everyone is up in arms about Mega Man 9. A new sequel to the classic series that’s resurfacing after ten years. That was enough to send the hardcore fanboys into a tizzy. Then Capcom really pushed their joy button: it wouldn’t be returning to the cartoony sprites of Mega Man 8 or going the polygonal route… it would look just like the NES installments that the fans have a fondness for. And they went nuts for it. What a ballsy move! The mock box art they produced a few months later that poked fun at Mega Man 1‘s original shitty box art made them even giddier. It’d be just like the old days!

Then the game launched on WiiWare and the locust-like fans descended upon it and devoured it in record time. Reviews flew up left and right from die-hard fans spewing jizz all over the game’s aesthetics, gameplay, music and challenge. But most of all, its nostalgia. Hell, this blog even produced one of those. But what about those that are uninitiated? What about the gamers that never grew up with a NES or Mega Man to play on Saturday mornings? What about those with no fond memories tied to the Blue Bomber? Would they have anything nice to say about it?

I knew something smelled about Mega Man 9 the moment I saw that fucking awful box art. It was the stench of pandering. Of manipulation. Capcom knew exactly what it was doing by going back to NES sprites. It was preying upon its loyal fanbase, feeding upon the memories of Mega Man 2. It seemed less like appealing to our sense of good gameplay and more about appealing to our sense of nostalgia. Play our game, it’ll make you feel like you’re back in 1988. It all seemed so very underhanded and slick; predatory.

Well here I am to give you an impression of the game that’s untainted by goggles of vaseline-smeared nostalgia, unfettered by years or training to play this type of game and uncaring of the feelings of anyone it happens to cross on the way to its inexorable opinion. I hope this grump ruins friendships. I hope it dissolves marriages. I hope it scorches the very earth it stands on and poisons the water until all that’s left is blackness. There will be no getting along, no compromises, no uneasy truces.

So the demo got released on the Playstation 3, so I decided to bring a skeptic’s eye to the experience that was garnering so much unadulterated love from my peers. I boot up the game and… die on the first screen in the level. Fucking thing jumped out of a pit and made me fall to my death. Okay, so I know those are there now. I try again and get a bit farther, only to nicked by little bits of debris that these birds drop. Annoying. I get to the second screen (!!!) only to find these things that sweep across the floor and speed up if I jump or get near them. I try to figure out how to get past them with trial and error and end up wasting a life in the process. This sends me all the way back to the beginning of the level. I try to get back only to get killed on the first screen again. Game Over! Unlock full game?

NO. WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU ASSUME I WOULD WANT TO PAY $10 FOR THIS AFTER PUTTING ME THROUGH THAT? I was so fucking livid. Just writing this makes me froth with rage again. What have you given me, Mega Man 9, that resembles entertainment? The entertainment of watching myself die? The glee of watching every bit of self-confidence I’ve built up over the past 24 years of my life fly out the window due to your “challenging” gameplay? You’re not challenging, Mega Man 9, you’re cheap. But at the time, I didn’t want to dismiss it so easily. EVERYONE was raving about it. So I took a deep breath and tried it again a few hours later. With lots of effort, I actually made it a few screens more forward. Now I was battling a robotic elephant that threw a ball at me. I wasted most of my life bar fighting it. I crossed to the next screen only to find… another elephant. The game wanted me to do it again. FFFFFFFF Needless to say, I died and got sent back to the start of the level. I worked my way back and this time beat the second elephant. Whew, that felt good, maybe I can get farther this time. No, the game wants you to fight a THIRD elephant after that, and this time there’s bottomless pits all over that you have to watch out for in addition to its huge ball it throws at you and the suction from its trunk. And that’s where I became unable to progress.

Why SHOULD I try some more? So I can be rewarded with another fucking elephant? I wasn’t having any FUN, mind you. It was a stressful experience every single time I picked up the controller and tried to play it. Where is the fun?! What makes people love this franchise?!?! You jump and shoot, that’s it. Gameplay straight from the 80s. And people are satisfied with this? They’re CLAMORING for this? If you are, you’re being a fool. I feel like ever since this game has been announced, I’ve been surrounded by bodysnatchers, invading all my acquaintances and replacing them with loyal followers that gush about “classic” NES difficulty. NES difficulty got left to the wayside because it’s a bad idea that frustrates people.

Magus himself decried this sort of god-awful so-difficult-you-don’t-want-to-play-anymore philosophy in… hmm… ANOTHER MEGA MAN GAME, IMAGINE THAT. He makes an excellent point on how, when you get old enough, you just don’t give a shit about how much a game is “challenging” you. Fuck you, game, I have shit to do with my life. Why spend weeks memorizing elephant balls when I could… I dunno… move onto a game that isn’t such a fucking hardcase? Who has the patience for that? Like, what’s so fucking novel and fantastic about putting three elephant enemies in a row? That’s design meant to frustrate you, to make you feel humiliated and incompetent and like a little man.

How is someone new to the franchise supposed to adapt to this? How are they supposed to appreciate this? CAN they, when it’s all so geared toward the gamer that’s been playing these since the 80s, memorizing the order of which bosses to fight and has no problems achieving world record time attacks? This article by the Wall Street Journal seems to think so. But there’s a crucial difference between an infuriating game and a difficult, rewarding game. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to do well at the rewarding game while you just quit the infuriating one. For example, I bought Braid not to long ago, and after getting past all the levels that were presented in the demo without too much of a problem, I hit a massive brick wall in being able to progress further. Almost every single puzzle I came across I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to solve. I felt like the world’s biggest dunce and that everyone was laughing at my lack of mental ability behind my back. But then I came back to it a few weeks later and the solutions plopped themselves into my lap after a few minutes. THAT felt great. On the other hand after a few minutes of being emasculated by Mega Man 9, I don’t think it deserves my time. I think that anyone playing this with a clear mind will see right through Capcom’s ploys at winning your heart. They’ll see it for the frustrating waste of time it really is. Disagree with me? HA. Fine. Bitch at me. Scream at me. Insult me to my face, I don’t give a shit. Mega Man 9 deserved to be called out and I’m willing to take any amount of fanboy rage it takes to do so. Dr. Light can lick my ass.

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25 Responses to “Performance Review – Mega Man 9: From Hell’s Heart I Stab At Thee”

  1. Rick Says:

    *NOSTALGIA GOGGLES ENGAGED* Mega Man 9 gooooooooooooo.

    But seriously, you seem to get an idea in your head, a preconception of something, and it takes a Godlike miracle to convince you that you are/were wrong in your preconception. Especially of things you refuse to watch or play past ten minutes. You did the same thing to Folklore.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s entertaining as hell when you lambaste me and others for our ability to enjoy a game that is truly a fun and rewarding experience like Mega Man 9 is. I’ve never felt a $10 game lived up to its purchase price, generally being too short or not made well enough to garner the purchase, but MM9 lived up to all my expectations of nostalgia, difficulty, and fun. So what if I’m wearing my goggles and can’t see it from your unfun perspective? Which of us is the lesser person here?

  2. John Mora Says:

    I didn’t have any expectations of Folklore and it certainly fulfilled those. :3

  3. Tintenfisch Says:

    EEHH YOU’RE JUST A LITTLE BLUE DWEEB, MEGAMAN

  4. rd Says:

    Just because you suck at playing it doesn’t make it a bad game.

  5. Sean/Shard Says:

    I played the fist 3 Megaman games when they were new, but none since, including 9. However, I can completely empathize with your reaction to 9 because I feel the same way about Ninja Gaiden. Cruelty and fun can’t xo-exist. I heard so much word-of-mouth about how amazing it was and now at near-completion of the game, I still can’t fathom what people see in it that’s “fun”.

    Admittedly there are some technical achievements in Ninja Gaiden that are absent from MM9, but I can’t help but think of it as the spiritual successor to NES-era punishment. I just don’t have the time and patience for this nonsense anymore.

  6. John Mora Says:

    Red Dragon, I’m not saying I couldn’t get better if I put my nose to the grindstone and really dedicated myself to becoming an expert Mega Man 9 player. But looking at the amount of time and frustration that would take… why bother? I don’t have the time or interest to put up with MM9’s shit.

  7. Toaster Says:

    You just don’t get it, John.
    I understand why you might be angry with the game for it catering to the nostalgic crowd, but to bias your entire review around that single point is rather pig-headed. It’d be fine with this if that were all the game really had going for it (i.e. Kingdom Hearts, Crisis Core), but with MM9, this sure as hell isn’t the case. The appeal of the classic Mega Man games is that they can still be a lot of fun even under the constraints of a seemingly simplistic move set and their graphical capabilities. As most recently illustrated by “Too Human”, big budgets and extended development times do not good make a good game. With Mega Man 9, the developers the freedom to focus the efforts on somewhere other than graphics; they were able to build upon the already established Mega Man formula and focus on the things that are actually important to a videogame (such as intelligent level design, and useful sub-weapons that aid to the actual design of the game rather than the standard “ability pool”).
    If anything, releasing Mega Man 9 with out-dated NES graphics (along with the “shitty” box-art) is a statement of itself, and much more than trying to appeal to the niche nostalgia crowd. This decision however does extend beyond its graphical sheen, and Mega Man 9 feels like a “true” Classical Mega Man game. It’s not a cover band reminding you of how good the original really was, but more like 2 Pac still releasing tracks from beyond the grave. In short, Mega Man 9 fucking delivers.
    You wouldn’t pick up on these nuances though, seeming as you never did play the original games in their former glory. But when has “I missed them” become a valid excuse? You can literally buy all the classic Mega Man games for under 20 bucks anywhere on the internet or at a local GameStop. I missed Chrono Trigger when that came out because I had a Genesis, but I later made an effort to play the game years after its initial release after hearing how good it was. Just because you missed something good when it first came out, doesn’t mean you should be ignorant to its existence. Any self-respecting gamer/critic would agree.
    And I’ll address this argument before you even make it: Hell no, we would not tolerate this sort of thing from a Final Fantasy game, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges. The role-playing genre is already antiquated enough as is (especially in its infant days), that a fresh coat of paint coupled with zippers and cinematic flair are really the only things that have helped the formula steadily evolve. The Mega Man games however are polished enough already and are just as fun as they were 20 years ago, the core mechanics don’t need to be re-envisioned.
    But you seem content on sniveling over how you died on the first stage in the demo, and how you feel left out of the loop as never having played these games before. So you don’t get it, and you feel left out of the nostalgia wagon. I suppose that a game like this would be hard to appeal to new comers to the franchise given its inherent difficulty, but this is exactly why they included the Shop—for shitty players like yourself. Something I view as more of a handicap to the games already established balance than a bonus, it’s like being able to cheat whenever you want. Being able to pause the game and refill your energy whenever you see fit, because I never actively sought out Bolts but was able to buy a plethora of Energy Tanks for the Wily Levels. Of course I didn’t need to abuse this mechanic, nor did I really have to. But it was there as a cushion for people like yourself. The game is trying to appeal to the masses as best as it can.
    I’m not trying to convince you to try and give the game another shot, because you’ll just think it’s unfair and overly difficult. Once you’ve formed an opinion (let alone enough of one to write a grump about it) you’re next to impossible to convince yourself otherwise. I guess Mega Man wasn’t made for people like you, I’m just disappointed by how utterly wrong you are about all of this.

  8. Valkysas Says:

    You took damage on the first elephant?

    the first elephant that has a ladder positioned across from it’s face and above the path of the ball, so you can just hold on to it and shoot the elephant without even risking taking damage?

    something isnt wrong with the game, mora. something is wrong with you.

  9. John Mora Says:

    I don’t think my opinions are unswayable. Look at my Orphanage review. And how can I take advantage of the shop in a demo? Or even if I bought the game I keep dying before I can complete a level, so how can I keep the currency I need to buy things?

    I’m not saying I couldn’t go back and buy the Mega Man Collection, but why should I when what waits for me is ass-punishing fiendishness? And playing something years after it has made its initial impact can be a poor substitute for having played it when it first came out. I played FFIV for the first time in the Final Fantasy Chronicles collection (along with CT for the first time) and loathed it because of how simplistic, dated and unfun it was. Other people love it because it was the first RPG they got into and they formed a deep connection with the game and characters that just can’t exist for me in the same way. Meanwhile, I loved Chrono Trigger, even years later.

    All the nice things you say the Mega Man franchise has going for it doesn’t mean much to someone like me that gets taken out by elephant balls.

  10. rd Says:

    Mora, you say that to every single game you find to tough for you.

    Obviously I was just poking fun at you anyhow.

  11. John Mora Says:

    Just thought I’d respond thoughtfully to my critics. ;3

  12. Toaster Says:

    Elephant balls.

  13. BZ Says:

    This sounds a lot like what my dad said ten years ago when I tried to get him into video games with Goldeneye.

  14. Rick Says:

    More aged thirty years just now.

  15. John Mora Says:

    I also don’t think I’d have the time/motivation to do what I did with Goldeneye now.

  16. BrianB Says:

    Man. More like Mega Dan.

  17. John Mora Says:

    Th-thank you?!

  18. james Says:

    They didn’t just do the graphics the way they did to appeal to nostalgia. They also did them because Capcom wasn’t willing to shill out the bucks needed for a modern-day Mega Man. The series wasn’t selling enough anymore.

    So the team basically buckled down, said screw the mainstream, and made a game for the hardcore fans. That’s why it’s so difficult. It’s not meant for Johnny Off-the-street.

  19. John Mora Says:

    But James, you ARE the voice of the mainstream.

  20. KJ Says:

    No, John. You ARE the demons.

  21. james Says:

    If I’m the voice of the mainstream, then Capcom succeeded beyond their dreams, because I support the punishing difficulty.

  22. Chad Says:

    Dear John Mora,

    I think RDs comment remains. You are no judge of difficulty.

    Love, (Respectfully)
    Chad

  23. Grump Talk: Listen to How an Idiot Plays Mega Man « Grump Factory Says:

    […] might remember my scathing, incendiary piece on Mega Man 9 a few years ago. Back then I couldn’t even get past the third elephant on the stage! I was so […]

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    […] to say to each other. Scott Pilgrim touches on River City Ransom, Ninja Gaiden (the original), Mega Man, A Link to the Past, the NES and SNES and many other things I never owned or played. Yet I’m […]

  25. Jose Ole Says:

    You got a game over on the demo? I thought the demo of concrete man’s level was actually more deceitful toward the difficulty level of the overall game. If you actually got to play the boss, it might give a hint that it’s a difficult game (i still have trouble perfecting him without the laser trident), but the level itself is easier than some of the old NES stages. All in all, 9 was way more gimmicky than 10, mostly with unexpected spikes, pitfalls, and forced use of the weapons (lava jets in wily stage 1), where 10 felt like a more reasonable hard (more interesting stage layouts with less memorizing whether to fall left or right when advancing downward). Either way, the game isn’t Contra, Battletoads, or Ghosts n Goblins hard, but it was definitely geared to people who were fans of the original series with almost megaman zero/megaman zx difficulty.

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