Mega Man and Me: A Love Story Without a Happy Ending

Mega Man

Like many gamers in their late 20s, I have a fondness for the Mega Man franchise. Back when other kids were talking about industry standards such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, I was all about the Blue Bomber.

So much so that my parents wouldn’t let me rent Mega Man games from the local grocery since I’d already played them, while my brothers gave me shit because each new title was just like the last. I didn’t care. No other game did what Mega Man was doing, and even when they tried, they couldn’t do it nearly as well.

I was still a youngster when the original Mega Man game came out in ’87. I can’t remember exactly when we brought it home, or whether we owned it or just rented it, but what I can remember is that I was horrible at it.

That didn’t stop me from becoming hooked. I loved how you could travel to any level you wanted, and that you would get new weapons once you took down each robot master. I was eventually able to take down each of them, but Wily’s castle always resulted in my undoing, and I still haven’t beaten it to this day.

Mega Man

Somewhere along the way, I finally got my hands on copies of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3. I can’t rightly remember if my brothers owned either of them or I had simply rented them enough times to beat them, but I finished both of them. I still remember how freaked out I was when Dr. Wily mutated into a weird Xenomorph-looking monstrosity during the climax of Mega Man 2.

The first game I actually owned for myself was Mega Man 4. I got it for Christmas from my Grandma because my mom hated video games and refused to buy them for me. It was one of the only games I was actually good at, so I found myself replaying it again and again.

After a while, I would trade Mega Man 4 to my cousin for 5, and I gave it the same treatment. I played it and then replayed it, documenting every password, collecting all four letters of “BEAT,” and discovered each robot master weakness. I had it down to a science. However, despite my overall enthusiasm for the series, I could still see the cracks starting to form. Charge Man? Really?  

I remember seeing Mega Man 6 on the counter of K.B. Toy store and knowing that I had to have it. It was the first video game I bought with my own money, and I had to save my allowance for months before I could do so.

When I got it home, I was a little underwhelmed, the classic formula was really starting to wear thin. I would get through it in just a matter of a few days, and I don’t think I ever played it again after that — not to completion, anyway.

Mega Man 6

When the series jumped to the SNES, I was faced with a dilemma: I was still young and very much unemployed. I was relying on my allowance for my game purchases, which meant that I could only afford to purchase one game, and that game would have to last me a while.

If Capcom had only released Mega Man 7 then none of this would have mattered. I would have bought it and went about my merry way, just like I had done with Mega Man 6.

That wasn’t the case, however. You see, Capcom wasn’t content with just continuing the Mega Man franchise. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who had become burnt out with the original series, because along with the new system came an offshoot of the mainline Mega Man series — Mega Man X.

One day, while wandering through the video game section at a Best Buy, I stumbled across both Mega Man 7 and Mega Man X. The choice was tough. Do I go with the old tried and true, or venture into new territory?

Looking back, it didn’t really matter much, since the X series wasn’t exactly a huge departure from the original formula. They did have their differences, though. Mainly, the robot masters were now all based on different animals rather than just simply being multiple variations on “Blank Man.” It wasn’t until I brought the game home that I discovered the other, albeit small, deviations from the classic paradigm, which came in the form of upgradable health, reusable energy tanks, and, of course, the Dr. Light capsules, all of which were hidden throughout each level.

And let’s not forget the wall jump.

Mega Man X

Like a lot of gamers back then, I made the switch to the X franchise, not that we were given much choice, seeing that Mega Man 7 was the only mainline Mega Man game came to the SNES after the six titles were released for the original NES. I guess it just showed that gamers really were ready for a change. Lucky for Capcom, the company was able to meet that demand before gamers went elsewhere.

In 2008, Capcom would revitalize their classic Mega Man series with the release of Mega Man 9, and then again in 2010 with 10.

I downloaded both titles the first day they were available. Unfortunately for me, Capcom decided to make them as “faithful” to the original games as they could by keeping the difficulty level insanely high. In my opinion, they made the games too hard, and they weren’t much fun because of it.

Since then, Capcom has apparently given up on the franchise. They’ve only announced a couple games in recent years, and in both cases, they were cancelled before they ever saw the light of day. Maybe someday they will come back, but things aren’t looking too promising.

Mega Man 2

Maybe if Comcept’s spiritual successor, Mighty No. 9, does well, Capcom will see the value in their property and put out a couple more titles. But even if they don’t, I have a whole library of classic Mega Man titles that are just itching to be played again.

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