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.