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Sentry avatar 3:05 PM on 04.23.2009  (server time)
Those About To Die: In the Year 200X

I was given a Nintendo Entertainment System on the evening of my fourth birthday. Though Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and Tetris were the first games that I ever owned for the system, Mega Man 3 was the first title that I specifically picked out for myself. I knew nothing at all about the franchise, save for the busy box art depicting a little blue, armored man shooting an electrified robot. Later, I would question the artistic interpretations of those original sprites I'd come to know as Mega Man and Spark Man, as well as why they were fighting over a fourteen-inch wide ravine, on top of what appeared to be scaffolding.

These are the mysteries.

Over the years, a lot of laughs have been had at the ridiculous nature of some of the less-imaginatively named Robot Masters. Seeing as I have no emotional attachment to any games outside of the original NES six (or Megaman X-X3 on the Super Nintendo), we'll just skip the ludicrousness of "Cloud Man" and Count Chocula lookalike "Shade Man".

Having been forced to depart from the "practical" nature of the original six Robot Masters (who were created by Dr. Light in service of mankind) for subsequent "Dr. Wily" releases, the members of the Capcom team did as best they could to continue a naming convention that at least SUGGESTED some utility, as opposed to being nothing more than walking deathbots. But, let's be fair, when you're introducing eight more robots to each new iteration, you're going to run out of good ideas pretty damn quick. And despite the implied toothlessness of an adversary who's been dubbed "Plant Man", his stage did contribute some of the most enjoyable gameplay and music in Mega Man 6.

Not to mention those aggravating-as-hell grasshoppers.

Originality and ingenuity of enemy robots (or their assigned monikers) aside, there can be no conversation about my current gaming strengths without eventually discussing those original NES Mega Man titles. I am, quite simply, not the most hand-eye coordinated individual in the world, and instead need to rely on observation and tactics if I'm going to stay alive in a virtual realm. What better tutor than a series of games that implies, if not demands, that you quickly learn the patterns of every enemy you encounter; most especially - the Robot Masters.

Sure, the classic "rock, paper, scissors" mechanic that beats within the chest of the series makes for a far easier boss battle, but you'd first have to fight your fair share of Robot Masters to ascertain precisely WHICH weapons work against WHICH bosses. And no matter how perfect your knowledge, you will always have to fight at least ONE boss with nothing more than your buster weapon, which means that you WILL be forced to determine where lie its weaknesses.

It is for this reason that I have always held dear the impressive league of Robot Masters. Observation, precise timing, and counter-tactics are the lessons that I was taught, and they remain with me to this day. They provided me the invaluable ability to recognize pattern in my adversaries and adapt, that I might learn to defeat them as efficiently as possible.

Robot Masters, I salute you.. and take your weapon.

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