For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a gamer.
Some of my earliest memories are of playing Mega Man on a 20” television in my parents’ basement. There is even video documentation of me gawking over my brother’s shoulder one Christmas morning as he played his new Game Boy. From a very young age, I was drawn to video games.
In the years since, I’ve played a wide variety of games across multiple genres and platforms — from FPSes to RPGs, from the NES to the PS4. I owe no allegiance to one system over another, to one company over another. I just love video games.
It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that I haven’t finished every game I’ve come in contact with. Considering the amount of games I’ve played — hell, with the amount of games I own — it would simply be an impossibility. There just isn’t enough time to complete such a massive undertaking. For the most part, I’m fine with that.
Once in a while, however, one of these unfinished games will weigh heavy on my mind, taunting me– a game that I probably should have beaten, but for whatever reason didn’t.
Number one on my list of games I regret not completing — my secret shame as a gamer — is the original Mega Man.
I was a huge fan of the Mega Man games from way back in the day, and I’ve conquered all of the original titles — except for the first. My brothers had it when I was younger, and I just lacked the hand-eye coordination to beat it. I remember getting all the way to Wily’s castle, but I was never able to get past the first section. I was defeated and demoralized at age eight.
Time went by and I thought I’d lost my chance to finally take down Dr. Wily, but when Mega Man Anniversary Collection came out in 2005, I thought the time had finally come. I was much older and just all around better at games in general. Surely I’d finally be able to succeed where the younger me failed.
Imagine my surprise when, even though I was able to make it a little farther into the castle, the results were the same.
I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I think what’s stopping me from finishing it is the boss rush.
Everyone who’s played any of the Mega Man games from 2 on knows about the transporter room. It’s a room filled with eight transporters, each of which takes you to one of the eight robot bosses you fought earlier in the game. Once you beat them (for a second time) you’re brought directly back to that same room. Complete all eight boss fights and a new transporter appears that takes you to the final Wily fight.
This is not how it works in the original Mega Man. In the first game, these repeat boss fights are scattered through each stage in the castle, forcing you to fight multiple bosses in each level. While that doesn’t necessarily sound much worse at first, it makes for a much more difficult experience, especially since they don’t give you a large heath item after beating each one like they do in later titles.
Also, if you die in the OG Mega Man, you go back to the start of the level, meaning you have to redo every boss you’ve already beaten in that level.
It’s no wonder that they changed how the final boss rush played out in later Mega Man titles. I’m glad they kept them in since I always thought the unique boss fights were the best part of the series, but I’m also glad they revamped in into something much more manageable and forgiving. I’m all for a challenge and everything, but at a certain point I have to start asking, “Is it me, or is it the game?”
I still have that itch to go back and finally check that game off my list. Mega Man was such a huge part of my childhood that it just feels somehow wrong that I haven’t beaten it. I still have Mega Man Anniversary Collection for my trusty PS2.
Maybe one of these days I’ll finally have the stones to pop it back in and give it another whirl. For old time’s sake.