By Leo Stevenson
Back when my gaming addiction was only beginning to blossom, there seemed to be an abundance of simple and fun games that didn't pose too much of a challenge -- not even to a five year old. One fateful day, my Dad brought me a new game to play that brought a whole new meaning to “challenge." Even as a young boy, I knew art when I saw it. This game was an absolute masterpiece; easy to admire, interesting to observe, but difficult to fully grasp and comprehend.
It was Megaman 2.
From the opening Capcom jingle (that one that you’re now hearing in your head), to the final desperate struggle against Dr. Wily, Megaman 2 positively shined. The blue bomber rightfully holds a dear place in my heart and I'm delighted to explain why.
Megaman 2 was one of the first (somewhat) non-linear games I ever played. Sure, the levels all go left to right and there's only one path to each boss, but it's the order in which you choose to tackle the bosses that makes it so compelling. You have the power to select any level, in any order, at any time. You have the power! Be it Air Man, Quick Man, Metal Man or any of the others, each has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Fiendishly, the game is designed so that depending on your choices you may end up playing the ultra, mega hard version of the game.
As a child I found this to be simply incredible. I couldn't fathom that the game could be capable of something so seemingly complex and I was convinced that it could think. It was determined to stop me from winning. So, I was doubly determined to beat it.
There was no way that I -- a boy of flesh and blood -- would be beaten by a mere grey plastic box, but I was, many, many, many times. I took the wrong path through the bosses time and time again. I witnessed my little blue champion explode numerous times and I saw that dreaded game over screen more than I care to recall. Thus, the “Gamer Rage” seed was planted. Being young, the rage was relatively tame and easy to control, yet it was ever present, bubbling away under the surface, ready to explode at any moment. The “Rage” would follow through my gaming days and Megaman 2 was the catalyst.
Eventually the idea of tackling the bosses a specific order came to me. I gradually discovered the correct order and gained more confidence in beating the game. The rage was kept in check and I finally beat the last boss, who for me turned out to be Quick Man. Or, so I thought.
As Quick Man's body disintegrated, I remember doing my first "Completion Dance of Excitement." I was ecstatic, but only for about four seconds. After I defeated Quick Man, the game revealed that it hadn’t quite finished with me yet. Not only was I not finished, I was FAR from finished. The rage grew until my "Completion Dance of Excitement" morphed into my first "Unbelieving Defeated Foot Stomp of Death" (Patent Pending). All this dancing and stomping and grunts of dismay had attracted the attention of my Dad.
"What the bl***dy hell is going on in here?!"
"Nothing Dad, I promise," I managed to squeak out.
I knew I had to hide my true nature, for it would be shunned by society. They'd never accept a monster; think of Frankenstein, Dracula or the kid you used to have to "get off ground around."
"Well, whatever you're doin', just stop it. If you can't play quietly and without screaming at the TV you won't play at all."
This wouldn’t do. This wouldn’t do at all. I immediately jumped to the most rational of conclusions. “This game is trying to get me banned. It wants me to get mad enough so my Dad stops me from playing, that way I'll never beat it,” I thought.
With renewed calm and determination, I continued down the path to Dr. Wily, the devious creator of the 8 robots I had just destroyed. I picked up the controller, selected Dr. Wily from the level select and hit Start.
“This has to be it”, I thought. Once again, I was very wrong. My exact thoughts when I realised just what lay ahead of me were “This game hates me. I hate it, it’s stupid, it's too hard and I never want to play it again." Apparently, the crafty devil had built two of each of the bosses, as well as a giant dragon-bot. To make matters worse, he lived at the end of the longest, most dangerous road I'd ever seen. Why an evil genius would live in a castle surrounded by swamps, forests, saw mills, laser death traps and fire breathing robo-dragons, I’ll never know. After collecting all 8 powers from the defeated bosses, I thought that the remainder of the game would be cake, and at first it was.
Then the levels got progressively harder, the bosses more than twice as tough, and the normal baddies were now super baddies. After many nights and days of trying, dying and trying again, I finally made it to Wily. His door contracted upwards and I jumped into the screen so Megaman would hover in the air for a few seconds as the screen scrolled. With trepidation, sweaty palms and the rage inside ready to burst I faced Wily. Quick Man's Laser was sure to do the trick. So, I used the laser.
Wily's health barely flinched.
Saw blade? Same thing.
His hover car of death was making short work of my health bar and even after beating his robotic army twice I still couldn’t even scratch his paint.
“Why won’t you just die?!” I demanded.
The beast was anxious, but I kept it in check. I hadn't come this far just to get banned. I tried every weapon twice, and nothing worked. All I had left was the useless weapon I hadn't bothered with. Every other enemy I faced had laughed it off. Bubble Man's bubble beam.
“As if bubbles can kill a super death car,” I thought, but what choice did I have? With a brand new health bar -- after being freshly trounced by Wily -- I equipped my Bubble Beam and entered the boss room once again. With no lives left, it was do or die time. If I died again, I would certainly get banned, especially since the chances of the NES being drop kicked through the TV were high. I couldn't let that happen. I had to win. I readied myself and Wily dived at me. I closed my eyes and fired my pathetic Bubble Beam...
... and Wily's health dropped by almost a 1/4.”WHAT THE HELL?!”, I couldn't believe it. The one weapon that could do no harm to anything else in the game could apparently obliterate the end boss. I fired again and again, pumping round after round of sudsy water at the old crazy haired villain and he went down. He went down hard. I was victorious. I had beaten the unbeatable game. I was the king of the NES!
"Hey Leo," Dad called from the front door as he came in. "I got a new game for you to play!" It was serendipity, a new game just as I finished my last one.
"Yay Dad! What is it?"
"Well I thought you'd like it. It's Megaman 3!” he exclaimed.
Next time: There's a "Super" Nintendo? Yes son, but you're banned, remember?