[Editor's note: Zulu takes on Mega Man 9 for his Feel the Hatred Monthly Musing piece. -- CTZ]
Mega Man 9 kicked my ass, took my lunch money, and gave me a swirly. Not since Ikaruga, has any other modern game stepped in to beat me down and strip me of my pride. Mega Man 9 however, has taken the pleasure of breaking up this gap for me. Don’t get me wrong, subjecting myself to 8 bit beatings is nothing new in my book. I tend to be very masochistic as is when it comes to playing older games. I seem to believe that I take on this pain inflicting attitude simply because my expectations for difficulty generally gravitate pretty high for the games of yesterday.
As I first clicked on the small Wii channel featuring Mega Man 9, a wave of nostalgic emotions and memories seemed to sweep over me. Everything was beautiful; the sprites, the backgrounds, the modern day achievements and implementations, the music, the weapons, bosses, the work of the ultrasound graphics synthesis, everything; yes, everything was beautiful. Only later would I find that all of this was just bait, cruelly fixed upon a bobbing hook that I would soon play trout to.
Looking for a gateway level into Mega Man 9, I discover that each level is pretty much a bitch to deal with in one form or another. After seeing the game over screen a few too many times while jumping from level to level, I eventually ended up committing myself to one level. One that looked practical enough to gun through with use of only the mega buster. Even though it is possible to master and conquer each of these levels, unlike Ikaruga, frustration seems to settle in pretty fast here in the year 20XX.
Beginning at the start of a level after death, seems to be the biggest inconvenience for me. It’s yet another staple of the Mega Man series, but this implementation has always brought out the inner sailor in me. In these moments of set back I seem to always yell vulgarity. ‘GOD DAMMIT, FUCK, PISS, CUNT, APPLE BOTTOM, JIM STERLING“, these are the words you hear coming from my apartment when I am playing this game. My verbal assaults would all be in vain though. The attacks themselves aren’t very effective due to Mega Man 9’s element type (Yes, that was a very subtle Pokemon joke. I know it was bad, you know it was bad, so ya ... I’m leaving it in here).
So far, I have only beaten one boss, Galaxy Man. It took me awhile just to get to him, and it took me just as long to take him down. In retrospect, he and his level weren’t all that hard. For all I know, it may even be considered the easiest level in the game, but going in totally blank without any subtle tips or indications, I still had one hell of a time learning the level.
As my frustration and anger grew with each new death, in hand my desire to dominate and turn the tables on this beast of a game would follow. As this pattern moves through it’s cycle, motivation seems to hit a peak, and odd thoughts and pledges soon would trail. “I must defeat and overcome this game”. “I shall spill, indulge, and bath myself in the blood of Mega Man 9″. “I shall climb the highest mountain with a mysterious old man and a raven named magmatorium. There, I shall declare my dominance“.
This is my common train of thought when it comes to taking on any game in the Mega Man franchise. I may lose a few marbles, controllers, friends, and pets in the process; when it comes to playing a difficult Mega Man game though, victory will never feel sweeter. As long as Capcom keeps throwing these babies out there, I will still be there, ripping apart my sanity, self respect, and their games.
So, what does this article really have to do with this month’s Musing anyways? I may have wrote down an experience with frustration, but what about the game itself? Well, to be perfectly honest, and to answer my own question, I never really wanted this article to be directed towards the game itself. This article is about Hate. Cheap deaths, rubber banding, poor level design, those things can all attribute to some form of heavy anger, but the relationship between hate and poor design choices can be very easily seen, expected, and exposed.
Mega Man 9 however, is different. The level design, enemies, bosses, and the whole experience is ideal. You have nothing to blame when it comes to dying. I am writing about the frustration and anger of the experience itself. The anger that builds in each of us as we attempt, fail, and try again. Taking on the role as Mega Man, we have sole control over our character’s fate. The odds may be against us in the game, but it is indeed possible to triumph. The anger I am speaking about dwells within all of us as gamers and as people. We want to succeed, but we often fall short in our attempts. This anger can either inspire us to quit and throw down the controller, or it can push us to make those choice games our bitches.
Special thanks go out to Rhi, Link, and Roth for helping me proofread.