Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mega Man 2

Here it comes, folks. I played Mega Man 2 for the NES.

When I started this blog, the first thing my husband said was, "Play Mega Man 2! Play Mega Man 2!" And so I put it off for, oh...three years? Four? I'm such a good wife.

Mega Man 2, for those of you not in the know like us cool kids, is obviously not the first in a series of popular platform games. The first game, my husband tells me, is ridiculously hard, so I took his advice and went straight the second game in the series.

Do you want to know how popular these games were? There were thirteen of them released for the consoles that you plug into your television, nine for handheld gaming devices, and several spinoffs. These games enraptured many a young person.

And I think I know why.

Now, I'm going to say right here that I have never hidden the fact that I use Game Genie codes (or other console-appropriate cheat codes) for the games I play for this blog simply so I can get through them in a timely manner. Also, at the age of 31, my fingers' reflexes are not what they were twenty years ago. So, of course I used codes to play through this game bit by bit over three days so I could type this thing I'm typing right now.

With the codes, which allowed my pixellated little enemies to literally stomp on me to little or no ill effect, this game was hard. Frigging hard. As in, my tongue was sticking out of the side of my mouth and I was cursing like a woman possessed at my screen hard. God help my husband if he so much as tried to talk to me while I was making my little blue dude jump around on the screen, because this is what he gets in return:

Also, if you are letting your small children read this...you probably shouldn't.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little, because he still hasn't left me. Yet. I will point out right that normally, when I'm playing these games, I will look up a walk-through when I get stuck. I didn't need one this time, because my husband has been playing this game since he was nine years old. And he beat it without the benefit of Game Genie codes or Internet walk-throughs, because back in our day, the Internet was not something that was generally available in people's houses. This was the late eighties/early nineties, darlings. At-home porn theatres (a.k.a. Internet-ready computers) would not be common for another, oh, five years or so.

Anyway, back to it. Mega Man 2 is a hard-ass game, and luckily my husband was there, pointing out various ways to defeat various bosses, because he remembered how it went.

As far as platform games go, this is pretty standard. You have a little dude and he jumps from platform to platform, killing enemies right and left, and having to make it through the occasional puzzle before getting to some amped-up boss to move on to the next boss. There is a basic plot, in which the little blue dude is some kind of robot boy helping a scientist named Dr. Light defeat an evil mad scientist named Dr. Wily.

Here are the screen shots explaining the plot in more detail:


What I think makes the game so fun--especially for kids who were playing this game without the cheat codes or a friend to guide them--was that the enemies keep regenerating and coming, and sometimes it can be a puzzle to figure out which weapon is going to kill the boss. I imagine that when you finally did defeat the boss of a level, it wasn't just a video game victory; it was a sense of accomplishment. Because let me tell you, even with the cheat codes on, most of these challenges took me several tries to complete.

At the beginning of the game, you get to choose which boss's level you start with first on this screen:

They all have their special abilities, generally indicated by their name. And my husband is right: Flash Man does look really pissed off about something. If any of these guys has a reason to be really mad, I would say it's Air Man. His torso is basically eyes and a big gaping fan where you'd think a mouth would be.

You know, as I look at that image there, I'm thinking Wood Man looks like he might be having some gastrointestinal distress, and Heat Man looks kind of high.

Okay, so you can pick any of these guys you want, and when you defeat a boss, you get his weapon. In some cases, those boss weapons are the only things that can be used to defeat other bosses, so my husband's guidance in where to go and in what sequence was really helpful here.

Beyond that, there's not much to tell. You pick a level, you defeat the boss, and you hit Dr. Wily last, where you make your way through his weird-ass palace and the various robots he sets out to trip you up. Here's the weird-ass palace:

Here's one of the palace bosses that made me realize that my reflexes REALLY suck:

I'll let you play the game yourself to find out why. Normally this is where I post a bunch of shots of the main villain and the art you get as a reward for completing the game, but I'm not going to do that this time. The fun in Mega Man 2 lies in actually playing it and beating it with your own hands, so I'm not going to spoil the surprises. Go forth and play it if you haven't already when you were a kid. You'll have fun, I promise.

While I was playing this game, I had a chance to think about just all of the weird stuff that we as players swallow in order to get through a game. Sure, there has to be some kind of a story line to make you feel like you're reaching for a goal; otherwise, you're basically just running around a slaughtering/destroying things for shits and giggles.

When you think about the stories that come up for video game play, they are really weird. I mean, really weird. Let's think about this one for a minute: Some scientist builds a robot boy basically to destroy another scientist's creations. Maybe there's more to that story that was revealed in the first game, but if you take out the whole good-evil biases, it's one guy building stuff to destroy another guy's stuff. Or maybe in this case, it's about a creation defending itself against the onslaught of a creator whose shit had been broken.

And now we're probably getting into Greek mythology or something here, but the basics remain the same: The pawns that we are playing with, as video games, mostly exist to destroy things in platform games. Mario crushed Goombas and Koopa Troopers, the Bad Dudes slaughtered ninjas, and Mega Man blasts apart robots. Even poor, deformed robots with fans where their mouths should go.

It's just what happens in video games.

There's one other weird thing that happens in these older platform games. By their very nature, there are supposed to be things that you jump onto and off of to complete a puzzle or get through a level. We just accept that they are there, and that they are to be used to achieve a goal.

I understand that's how video games work. But because I drink Coke right before bed time, I lie awake and think about these things..

Let's consider this image:


Just look at that for a second. This is from the Wood Man level, and it would appear that the platforms are bamboo poles or something that demonic robot gorillas grasp and swing around on. I assume that this is happening high up, because we can see the top of the trees. So...what the hell is holding up that pole?? It's just suspended in mid-air, magically hanging right where we are supposed to be right at that moment.

And let's take a good look at this one, too:

Who the hell puts spikes in water where people go swimming? Hmm? Answer me that!

I know, I know, it's just a video game. Everything in it was simply designed to be fun with the graphics level and machine memory capabilities that were available at the time. I should just calm down and stop thinking about it. At times like this, when I chew on the improbably of something that isn't even real too much, I turn to a favorite show for advice:

Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
I should really just relax."

Oh, such words of infinite wisdom.

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