Hey there Destructoid!
My name is Ryan, I'm 26, an on again off again game tester at Nintendo (Oh, contract work), and I've been living in Seattle since I was three. As many of you know, as someone who has been playing video games for most of their natural life, Seattle is a great town to be in.
I started out gaming on the NES my parents gave me when I was four or five, which is the same console I still spend most of my time on today (literally). I've owned or lived with people who have owned all of the current gen consoles and things, but I keep going back to my NES...which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I went through three 360s in two years time, while the NES I've had for over twenty years still works like a charm (well, mostly.)
My taste in games has become more and more eclectic over the years. I think it might have started when I first played Incredible Crisis on the PS1. Since then, I've loved finding smaller, indie titles with intriguing ideas and quirky, nonsensical things like the Katamari Damacy series. I think this habit has started on a downward turn though, as I have found I also have a soft spot in my heart for lower quality games, in the same sense as my love for B movies. I really got a kick out of Jurassic: The Hunted and I love Earth Defense Force 2017, but...I have to make a confession.
When I first tried to think of a subject for this month’s musing topic, a few different ideas sprang to mind. Sure, I could have talked about the hours I’ve spent just wandering the mountains of Vvardenfell. I could have gone on about Arcanum, the game I’ve restarted so many times, yet never actually finished. But I would have had to ignore my instinct. I would have had to ignore that one, lone syllable that kept repeating in my mind when thoughts first crossed the topic.
I could not escape thoughts of a singular robot. Of course, I am talking about the Blue Bomber, Mega Man. Specifically, about Mega Man 2. I often think about what my top ten games of all time would be. The desert island list, as it were. While it always seems to fluctuate, there are certain games that will always remain on that list. Things like Chrono Trigger and Resident Evil 4 always make their way around on that list, but Mega Man 2 is the biggest constant.
Mega Man 2 found its way to North America in July of 1989. I honestly don’t remember when I first played it, being a month short of turning five at the time of its release, but I do remember being blown away by it. At the time, the graphics were nothing short of incredible. Sure, Mega Man himself had not changed since his first iteration on the NES, but everything around him was getting bigger and better.
As soon as I turned my NES on…then off again…then blew on the cartridge…then turned it on again…then hit the reset button a couple of times…I was eventually greeted with the greatest animation my young eyes had ever seen. An epic tale was being spun of the continuing adventures of the heroic Rock over the backdrop of the futuristic landscape of the year 200X. Up and up the camera rose as the music grew to an exciting crescendo…and then there he was. Helmet off, hair whipping in the wind high atop the tallest skyscraper, staring over the city he was determined to protect. I was right there with him, hands gripped around my controller (much more appropriately sized back then), ready to leap into the robotic fray.
I was hardly prepared for the challenges Mega Man 2 had in store for me. Now, there were eight robot masters, all hand-crafted by the nefarious Dr. Wily, all determined to make scrap metal out of the robot whose destiny I held in my hands. At first, Wily made good on his dastardly machinations. I was no match for the insidious traps that had been laid out before me. I was struck down, time and time again, even by the lowliest Metalls. I was terrified by the giant Hot Dogs that guarded the entrance to Wood Man’s inner sanctum. I had a deep-seated hatred of Sniper Joe and his blasted shield before I even laid eyes on Dr. Wily’s fortress.
But I pressed on, I learned from my pratfalls, copied down so many grids of red dots, and eventually (admittedly, with some help from the NES Atlas) was staring down the outer walls of Dr. Wily’s impressive fortress. My skills as a young gamer had never before been so thoroughly tested. Not only would I need to utilize all the resources I had collected, I would have to be incredibly precise in doing so; unlike the robot masters’ levels before, my weapon energy would not automatically refill upon defeating a boss. Each boss in Wily’s expansive, dreadful castle was a gigantic, beautiful monster, which both amazed and intimidated my childish mind. I had just learned how to navigate the dreaded disappearing blocks of Heat Man’s stage, and now the game expected me to jump for my life, one brick at a time, away from a huge, fire-breathing, robot dragon! Eventually, I made it through. Past the giant Mecha Dragon, past the enormous Guts-Dozer, though all eight robot masters again, and then there he was. Dr. Wily. I had made it so far, and was determined to see this adventure to its end. He may have had his deadly Wily Machine, but I would not let that stop me. After depleting his life bar not once, but twice, I thought I had earned my glorious ending.
It was a trick!
Wily escaped, dropping my most mega of mans into an ominous pit. There was no music. When I found passage at the end of the descent, there were no enemies, just corrosive, blood-red liquid dripping from the ceiling. I navigated to the end of the cave and there it was: the final gate. One last oh-faced jump through that one last shutter, where the only thing standing between me and the sweet, succulent nectar of victory was the twitchy brow of Doctor Albert W. Wily. I confronted my nemesis and he leaped in the air, transforming into an alien life form before my very eyes. I would not let this stop me. I had defeated every enemy Wily had put in front of me. This was the final stand!
I cleaned his clock.
[Note: This video shows the ending. If you somehow haven't seen it by now and don't yet want to, don't watch this. And probably skip the next paragraph.]
In the end, it was another of Wily’s tricks. A hologram, which I had trounced, revealing the doomed doctor, who upon realizing his defeat, threw himself pathetically at my feet. I won! After so many defeats, my efforts paid off. Mega Man and I walked proudly off toward the sunset. The credits rolled, and Capcom thanked me for playing their game.
I still thank Capcom for providing me with such an experience. If I am at home with some time to kill, I go to Mega Man 2. Honestly, I play through the game almost once a month. Everything about it is still captivating to me. Every song is an incredible piece, always fitting. Every pixel is perfectly placed in my eyes. And so many of the enemies are insanely weak against the Metal Blade, especially Metal Man himself, which is still entertaining almost twenty-two years later.
Just as learning to do well at Mega Man 2 is about sticking to patterns, I have patterns I always follow whenever I play. I always play the levels in the same order, always ending with Wood Man, because I still delight in obliterating the absurd notion of a robot made of wood with one charged blast of Heat Man’s weapon. I always hold Up and A before the start of levels, changing the background of stars to robotic birds. I know the jumps and the timing to get through Quick Man’s lasers of doom unaided by Flash Man’s Time Stopper power. I still laugh at the large Air Tiki robots in Air Man’s level that look like The Simpsons' Moe Szyslak. And of course I leap like a madman through every robot master’s shuttered gate.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. The more that video games grow and change, and more importantly, the more I grow and change, it is nice to always have Mega Man 2 around. Playing it is like sharing stories of memories past with a close, long time friend, and realizing that as different a person I might be now compared to five, ten, or twenty-one years ago, some things will stay wonderfully the same.
I have a terrible confession to make. I haven't posted anything in over a year! It is terrible, I know. In the last year I went from living in a house with roommates and cable internet to a studio near downtown Seattle in Capitol Hill, with no internet. I figured since this is Seattle and the stereotypes are true - there are coffee shops EVERYWHERE - I would have no trouble finding wi-fi and staying connected to the comings and goings of the things I liked to follow online. Well...what happened was that I spent almost a full year away from the interwebs. I would bring my laptop to the library maybe once a month, download a couple of doujin shmups, and leave it at that.
Then, something magical happened. I'm sure a couple of you know about it.
So I went to PAX. For my first three-day weekend.
I met some amazing people.
And I went to a bunch of incredible community gatherings. By the end of the weekend I knew two things (and they were about the only two things by that point, I drank a lot): that Destructoid is the home to the greatest people on the internet and that I had to become a part of that once more.
With that in mind, I thought it would be best to hide my old blog posts and start from scratch. As PAX was my first introduction to the community IRL, I figure this should become my first introduction to those I met and those I didn't online.
As it says over on the sidebar, my name is Ryan, I'm 26, and I call the Pacific Northwest my home. I've been playing video games for longer than I can actually remember. My first gaming memories and my current experiences all revolve around the NES. My parents gave me one when I was but a young lad and it's been a part of my life ever since. I remember exploring the countryside of Hyrule with my dad, his handle was always "Davedad" and he showed me that there was a second quest before I found out you could just make your name "Zelda" and go straight to it. I remember the excitement my friends and I felt when we finally properly put in the Konami code and saw the ending of Contra for the first time. I remember the accomplishment we felt when we disabled all the underwater bombs in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even though we never got much farther than that in the game.
I've been collecting NES games since I started playing them (at a little over 300 now, I think,) and while nothing can replace the excitement and memories I've had as a child, nothing can top the fun that can be found in those 8-bit cartridges. If I have friends over, there's a good chance we'll be trying to top high scores in Wild Gunman or Hogan's Alley or punching GEJIJ to jump to Level 99 on Super Bubble Bobble.
That's not to say I don't like newer things at all, but as someone who has been burned one too many times by the RRoD and as someone with not a lot of money coming in from working at Gamestop (PROTIP: Don't work there!) I don't invest in the stuff. I would rather track down some fantastic PS2 game for under twenty bucks (still trying to find a copy of The Red Star!) or add to my NES games than drop forty to sixty on some shiny new thing that, at this point, is starting to look way too much like all the other shiny new things out there. I guess you could say I'm a bit jaded, but if you work at Gamestop and that doesn't happen to you, let me know about what magic spells you use!
So as I said, I was at PAX last weekend and it was a blast! I had been to the very first year back when it was in Bellevue, and to one day a piece the two years prior, but this was my first time going all weekend. In some ways, I was prepared - I obsessed over sanitizing my hands, which worked out since all my friends but me got the conSARS - but I was not prepared for the awesome I experienced.
Friday, as you saw above, I met Dolphin Amazing McDolphinson himself! I honestly had to build up my courage to approach and say hello, because as a longtime fan of RetroforceGO! (and the winner of amazing question of the week treats on the NES episode!) I was a bit starstruck. But that all faded as he, Tactix, and I started talking and exploring the showfloor, because if you don't know, Chad Concelmo and Tactix are two of the nicest gentlemen on the planet. By the time I had to run off for a panel, I was convinced to make it my mission to get involved with Dtoid as much as possible over the course of the weekend. This was great, as it also meshed with my already established plans of hanging out with friends old and new and treating the weekend as it was: a three day long party designed by and for those who love video games.
At this point, I have to make another confession. I had some drinks. Quite a few drinks, in fact. Over the course of the weekend, I met a great number of nice people all over town, at the convention center and at the various Destructoid meetups, but I can hardly remember anyone's name! I'm already terrible enough with names when I'm sober, so with the lack of sleep and the excess of whiskey, there are a lot of blanks in my mind that I am embarrassed to admit!
I remember meeting Naia The Gamer and Zero Atma at the Whiskey Bar on Friday, as well as Diverse and Justice. Everyone there was super nice and a great introduction to my weekend! I remember running into Elsa and her husband (forgotten name #1! I'm sorry!) outside of Chapel on Saturday, where we talked about my friend Jake's strange toe shoes. There I met Niero (man crush!) and so many other wonderful, blurry faces. All of whom I wish had informed me of how expensive drinks at Chapel are. I had never been down there before, but it was a great night and absolutely worth the dent in my wallet.
Okay, now here is the most embarrassing part. I went to Rock Bottom for the Sunday meetup and I decided to bring some video game treats to spread the love to all the fine folk I had met over the weekend. I had an NES with a zapper, Mario/Duck Hunt, and a copy of Bible Adventures to give to only the finest of the Destructoid crew and a copy of Emperor: Battle for Dune to give to the kwisatz haderach.
So this happened:
And when I woke up Monday morning in my bleary haze, I dug around in what was left of my brain and found I couldn't remember either of your names! I am so sorry! Please send me a message or something and remind me because you guys and every single person I met over the weekend are the best people around and I would hate to have to keep referring to everyone in stories as, "uhh...this rad dude."
To make matters worse from Sunday, I lost my wallet at the Rock Bottom for about an hour! Actually, it was probably more like five minutes, but it felt like forever. Thankfully, the Destructoid family kept a look out and the incredible Stella Wong even helped me take a look around for it!
Embarrassment aside, I had an absolutely wonderful weekend inside and out of PAX. I got to spend time with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, play some great games (Kirby is made of string!) and meet a glorious group of people. I've read before that the Destructoid community is a family, after this weekend I know why.
tl;dr Hi. I like NES games. I got drunk. I love you.