Published on October 14th, 2014 | by Lee Davies
Game Diaries – Mega Man (1987) !FINAL UPDATE 01/11/2014!
Updated on 1st November, 2014
Format played: Wii U Virtual Console, NES
About Myself and why I’m here
I’m a gamer with a long history playing Nintendo consoles, home or handheld. All the way back to the original NES through to modernity with the Wii U and 3DS, and I look forward to what Nintendo will bring to the future. Nintendo, however, did not start my love of gaming they came a little later in my early years. Computers, and gaming especially, were something that was bound to happen with a father as a computer teacher, and a visionary grandfather that owned an Atari Pong system. Apart from Nintendo, the BBC Electron, early PCs, Commodore 64 and the Commodore Amiga all shaped my early interests in gaming.
The explosion in the quality of the eShop has infused me with an interest in smaller independent games, but also reinvigorated my interest in classic retro games. Here, I get to the point of what this series of documents is trying to achieve…
What are the Diaries?
They are a series of documents and what happened when I played/replayed some classic games from my childhood. You can now go online and find all the information in the world on every one of the old NES and SNES games. So, instead of adding to the professional core of reviews and previews, this series will document how I felt during a playthrough in a far more informal manner, and as such may contain garbled English (I‘ll try to keep it to a minimum). I apologise in advance for the extreme length of each document, but I hope this will resonate with gamers who are currently playing through, have played through, or even encourage others to pick up these wonderful games for the first time.
Wednesday, 15th October, 2014
Mega Man (1987)
Even with all my experience of games, especially Nintendo related, I have only ever played a Mega Man game on the original Gameboy, all the way back when I was in Secondary School. I can remember enjoying it immensely, but never completing that said game, due to a difficulty that seemed to pervade that generation of games.
When loading up any game for the first time I tend to wait to see what the opening title screen of a game will morph into. It was no surprise to see that Mega Man’s static screen exuded confidence, a bold yet simple statement of its intent to play a solid game, and its iconic music. Something reminded me of Star Wars and its slanted writing drifting away to the vast expanses of space.
I need to remember to press the + button (START) to start, this is an old-school game after all. Let’s get started then. Opening story short and sweet, Dr. Light created Mega Man to defeat the Robot Masters designed by the evil Dr. Wily. The very next screen is a Level Select screen, wow. No linear progression, it’s all up to me where and how to proceed. 6 robot bosses to choose from, starting at the top left and in a clockwise fashion we have Cutman, Gutsman, Iceman, Bombman, Fireman, and Elecman, with level select information situated in the middle. Let’s try my first nemesis;
The opening of the level seems simple enough. Confronted with 4 platforms and 3 moving low-built moving robots, I should be able to shoot them and progress upwards to the ladder. First strange feeling of the initial play. Press A to jump and B to shoot, what the hell! This feels backwards and will take a little getting used to. Second strange feeling, these weird feelings are coming thick and fast. When moving in a direction, left or right (by the way after a quick series of movements I’ve decided that it’s better to play using the D-Pad and not the Analogue Stick) Mega Man takes a fraction of a second to stop after you’ve stopped inputting any movement information to him. So, in effect he slides for about 2-4 pixels. Another thing to get used to, I expected him to stop on a dime, as Donkey Kong tends to in DK Country Returns.
Anyway, back to those moving robots and platforms. Ahhhhh, when you shoot the moving robots they are not destroyed, they only pause their movement for long enough for you to jump up and onto the next platform, but not long enough for you to shoot the next one and then jump up onto that platform. This first screen is taxing, frustrating, and making me want to turn the game off. Fiddly, pixel perfect jumping, a sliding Mega Man, what feels like reversed controls (A and B buttons), non-destructible enemies, if this was 1987 I would be cursing like a trooper, oh wait I am cursing.
I make it past the first screen, after what seems like a lesson in frustration management and the loss of a life, but only with a little luck on my side as well. The next 2 screens are dispatched a hell of a lot easier than the first, they required timed jumps and no chance placement of the enemies. Now, I’m in a room with a very long screen filling vertical ladder. 3 double laser shooting enemies descending and 3 ascending. I’m in the middle of the ladder, if I get hit just once from the wrong side it’s a plummet back down to the bottom. Arrrgghh! Let’s try it one more time, well at least these floating laser shooters can be dispatched with a single shot, but my second attempt ends in another failure and another drop. I’ll try dodging them by positioning myself between the laser shots. After numerous tries I do pass this screen, but am faced with its clone one screen up. Get hit on this screen and it’s a drop down to the bottom, and a long climb back up.
Forget this, I obviously need more practice on other levels. I must have made a difficult choice. Reset the game, and back to the Level Select.
Let’s get it over with and said. I’m not enjoying this. It’s too fiddly and pixel perfect jumping is frustrating beyond acceptability.
Thursday, 16th October, 2014
So, let’s start again. Working at the mine. Bloody hard-hatted 3-directional enemy hits me and it takes a few shots to work out he can only be hit during his shooting phase. Timing is everything. 3 down and it’s onto a death drop and moving platforms, more precision jumping, yay (sarcasm). As if jumping from moving platform to moving platform wasn’t difficult enough, then the plaftforms disappear under you when traversing a trackless path. Ohhh, this is taking all I’ve got to keep cool. 3 moving platforms down and I just realized that the save states can be abused heavily in this game. Safely across the ravine, and boy do I feel a massive sense of accomplishment. I can only understand how it must have felt to totally master that section without any save state in progress. There is no way in hell that I would have completed that little section without throwing my NES controller into a wall (a few times).
Moving on straight into a very happy looking green enemy who dive bombs me back and forth, back and forth relentlessly. Try again, little jump, shoot, take him out. Now, 2 simultaneously, and got them both no problem. Am I getting good at this? Well, I’m certainly used to the controls now. It’s hammer time, a hammer throwing miner who throws his hammers at your exact spot so you have to keep moving forward. Not too quick or you’ll walk into him, not too slow or you get hammered. The first 2 encountered cause no problem, the 3rd is on ledge which makes maneuvering a tricky task. After the 4th I’ve taken a couple of hits, but nothing I can’t handle. Then, it’s a drop down to numerous happy green homing guys and many gaps to choose to drop down. Choices, choices. I’ll go for the farthest to the left, and at the bottom – spike death!! Nothing like a spike up the bottom. I saw a health pick-up on my descent to hell, so I’ll get it next time. Missed the extra life on the far left. Who needs extra lives when you’ve got the beauty of the Wii U save State function.
At the bottom is ‘hoppy’, a spring loaded bouncing robot that towers over Mega Man. He’s so strong, and a death occurred from an all out frontal assault. After a few attempts I can see his jumping pattern is random, and I can make it under him and run away. No, I’ll try a few pot shots in his back. OK, took it out, that’s one tough enemy. Through the upward opening metal door and I’m confronted with ‘ostrich miners’, the hats that jump up and shoot 3-direction projectiles. Run and gun, run and gun baby. Shoot as fast as possible and it’s all too easy.
Playing with headphones on the GamePad and it’s nice to toe tap to the catchy upbeat tune of the Gutsman stage. 4 hard hat‘ostrich miners’ and another metal door. I take it that was a transition corridor giving me health drops and those orange things (don’t know what the hell they are for), and some rugby ball shaped pellets, too (????none the wiser????). Boss approaching by any chance.
Yeah, I’m right. Here’s Guts Man. He causes some serious earthquakes which momentarily incapacitate, and he’s throwing exploding rocks at me. The change in tempo of the music is excellent, nice tune. It’s a war of attrition. I need to jump to dodge the earthquakes, and jump at the precise right moment to dodge the exploding rocks. Now, he comes at me like the Hulk, and I have to jump over him all the time shooting like crazy. Lucky I have full health. Absolutely love the way the music stops when Mega Man is caught out by an earthquake attack and the screen shakes, the music shakes, Mega Man looks as if he is collapsing, awesome animation. More repetition, but finally I did it, yeah, die you Guts Man you. 4 little slivers of my health left and I feel like a hero.
Celebration music and my points tally. Turns out the orange pellets were for points accumulation/multiplier bonuses, still don’t know what the blue rugby ball shaped ones do. And it’s back to the Level Select screen. Don’t like the repetition of the music on this menu.
Friday, 17th October, 2014
As you can see I’m trying to do at least a level a day, but there will be days where it’s impossible for me to get around to playing. Different feeling and vibe on this level. It resembles a military facility with music slightly Tetris Russian in feel. Oh happy green homer is now all changed to blue. Wall hugging projectile shooters. When closed they offer themselves protection are invulnerable to all my attacks, opens up, it shoots, but is susceptible to attack. I killed it too quick to note it’s pattern of attack. The next one answers my question. 4 shots in quick succession starting high and radiating downwards with each shot. Plenty of places to position Mega Man to stay safe. I like the way Mega Man can ascend, or descend, a ladder and still shoot sideways. You know I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Mega Man only shoots left and right, but I expected this, so I don’t miss the fact that he could have potentially shot in other directions like up, so many other games do this, not Mega Man.
Ascending up stairs and taking out numerous enemies of this variety is easy if patient and waiting in a corner, scoping out their patterns, looking for a safe spot to stand, getting there and jumping just before they shoot to take it out. Need a little health now and all these wall mounted launchers drop are those red/orange score multiplier bonuses. Health please. No health, all the way to the top and not a single health drop, this game is so stingy on the health handouts. Bunker in front of me, and I’m attacked by what look like hundreds of white Pac Men, try to run forward only to be met by many small blue bouncing robot enemies. Damn, too many of them, aright. Save state abuse time. Worked out you have to run past the Pac Men whilst shooting with a little jump near the end to take out the first blue robot. And then react to what the other 2 were doing. The many blue robots actually turned out to be only 3, I was hoodwinked by the sheer ferocity and tenacity of the Pac Attack.
Moving Maltese crosses with central eyeballs are easily dispatched with 6 shots each. Just be careful of their direction of movement and make use of your surroundings. The music is starting to make me like it on this level, what a catchy little tune. Mega Man seems an easier game to play now I spent an hour or so with it. The second screen with Maltese crosses proves problematic for the NES to handle. 4 of them moving independently of each other, me jumping up and shooting a continuous stream of bullets and here comes slow down to make your mother proud. Oh, that was creaky. Just fully noticed that Mega Man’s shots travel through the walls, nice. The next screen has a cross traversing across the smallest horizontal gap ever, and then pausing for 2 seconds before making its way back. Guess I’m going to have jump up past him and not risk taking a hit, and it was easier than I thought it would be.
Whenever I tap the GamePad screen, in effect to pause the game, so I can write this diary, when I get back to the game I get the jump and shoot buttons back to front, and end up jumping off a ladder when I just want to shoot at something. And no, I don’t want to change the controller settings on the GamePad, I’ll stick with what it’s supposed to be and eventually it’ll be second nature, hopefully. Just did it again, 3 times in a row and jumped into an enemy when I should be shooting, ???? Arrrggghhh!!!
Onwards and upwards, and it’s more Pac Men presumably from the looming bunker. Yep I was right, but no blue robots. That made my life easy. Happy blue homers are no problem, even 3 simultaneously, bring it on. Yey, it’s here, that all important Massively sized health pick-up. Now, I mean business. Can’t be far to go to get to Cutman himself.
Wasn’t expecting those orange ‘walnut shooters’. Flying across the screen , shooting in eight directions at once and invulnerable to all my attacks unless opening when they shoot at you. Well, I move down quickly by jumping, in other words falling, to dodge the worst they have. A red spring jumper, that tough one from the previous level, which was blue in the Gutsman level, approaching. Time my run to go under him, a little luck needed to send it soaring over my head, and me on my way. Metal doors must mean that the boss is through the next corridor. Pop up sentry projectile shooters, easily dispatched, run and gun! That is, if they are located on the floor. Ceiling huggers require a stand still in a safe zone, jump at the right time and shoot approach. 3 shots and it’s down. 3 turrets and it’s boss time. Let’s get it on Cutman.
Running at me, ay!!. As long as I am quick and keep moving, this should be a cinch. Except those scissors he’s now lobbing at me. Do I need to jump, yes and they’re like boomerangs, watch the backlash. My bullets actually knock him back and stun him, which makes him vulnerable for a short time, so I pile in and he is easily defeated. 2 down, 4 to go.
Don’t like the sound of Iceman, I’ve just got used to Mega Man’s slippery feet without ice under them.
Monday, 20th October, 2014
Damn modern technology. I just tapped the touch screen to select the Bombman level, forgetting this is an NES Virtual Console game. Just goes to show that this game still keeps up with the big boys of modernity, in that I’m thinking this is a new game.
Into the level I go, and faced with what resemble robotic trees, or maybe they’re futuristic skyscrapers viewed from a massive distance away. Little red springers are no match for me now, well except the kamikaze version that leaps across half the screen giving you no time to react. Well, giving my old fingers and brain no time to react anyhow. Dispatch 4 of those and the gaps in the floor are populated by enemies that rocket upwards out of the depths and explode into 4 pieces. New enemies always catch me out, I’m always standing exactly where the explode into. Good level design, or evil level design, either way it’s a well made game that punishes not knowing where everything is. They repeat, so many of these rocket exploders continuously pour forth, one at a time and it is possible to find a safe place to stand and watch the fireworks. Onwards Mega Man. After passing these explosive fiends and destroying the next 2 shooters, I’m faced with another big blue rugby ball, pick it up and a wonderful upgrading sound is heard, but nothing on my status bars (read health) has changed, hmmm. Anyhow, climbing up to the next area and I’ve got full health after picking up 2 small health pellets, can only be good.
Wall mounted projectile shooters again, they love it when your climbing to put 4 of these in your way. Easy to take out 1, not to so easy to dodge the other’s shots when doing so. Patience needed, and pattern following. I’m at the top and looking at some serious shield dude. He looks a lot like some of the fellows on a previous level. However, his attack pattern is different and he protects himself a lot. Will try numerous methods to get past him unscathed. Can’t jump over him because he just jumps backwards into your head, so have to tactically jump his shots and wait for an opening. Slow steady work. Thank you save state abuses.
Arrgghh! They come out of nowhere, they’re bullet bills. Shoot them too close to you and its blast radius will still do some damage. Either take them out from a distance or jump Mega Man, jump. So, once past all the oscillating Bullet Bills, with a penchant to be a Spiky Blue Shell, and a few wall mounted projectile shooters, I’ve come across those low built moving platform robots I despised from Elecman’s stage. Only 2 of them to overcome on my selected path, so a couple of well timed jumps and it’s back to the ladders and up.
Those annoying Bullets Bills are sometimes unforgiving and relentless in their path selection to ram me. A screen up and it’s the floating walnut 8 direction shooter, who only shows his weak point upon shooting. All this pixel perfect jumping whilst dodging enemies, their firepower and ascertaining their trajectories is brain melting, but in a good way. Working my way through and stopping at certain points to allow the enemy to fire, and me knowing it’ll be safe here, is taxing, but rewarding, I’ve messed it up more times than I’d like to admit, but once again save states have helped me through it with a full complement of health left. You may be saying, man-up, play Mega Man as it’s meant to be, die and go back to the start of the level, repeat. And, I’d say I haven’t got enough time I just want to play through this quickly, but see everything it has to offer. Plus, my old man age would let my frustrations get the better of me, and I think I’d never see the end of game credits if the save states were not there.
I passed all of them floating walnuts and dropped down a hole only to miss the ledge on the right and the opportunity to nab an extra life, albeit guarded by one of those hard green shield wielding maniacs. And, now there’s one protecting the entrance to an upward moving metal door. Wow, these levels do seem short, but that’s not surprising giving the difficulty that original owners of the software back in 1987 must have gone through to get here. This time he’s on a higher ledge than me, and is making no inroads to press his protective advantage, so he’s now a sitting duck. With well timed jumps and a volley of shots I have access to the, what I’m now calling, the Boss Tunnel. It’s a double door, fancy! Bombman must have a bigger expense allowance than Gutsman and Cutman, I scream favouritism. Dr. Wily has a lot to answer to, and corruption is another of my charges laid at his door. This tunnel leads down past those moving Maltese Crosses with eyeballs in the middle, doing their thing horizontally. I’ll try to just drop down at the right time. Let go of the ladder and, get smacked once by the next ladder full of them a screen down. At the bottom it’s time to meet Bombman.
He’s a jumper and a leaper that’s for sure. He doesn’t stay still, and is constantly lobbing Bob…ombs at you. He’s a cinch, I kill him at the first time of asking. My health is looking extremely shaky, and with his dying death throw, his last bomb careens toward me and revenge, he got me in the blast radius as I’m trying to turn and jump away. Double death. Let’s try it again. The best technique, that works, is to move away from him when he throws, jump as the bomb explodes to avoid the worst of the radius, then let out a volley of your shots. Repeat until you have no room and if he hasn’t moved do the same but moving toward him. So, on the second time of asking I took him down with no problems whatsoever. Am I getting good or what? What? No, I’ll say it again, the save states allow me to return to these unforgiving classics in a way that I would not be able to approach them had they not appeared. Thank you Nintendo, these eShop Virtual Console games are now accessible and I’d recommend them to anyone.
Tuesday, 21st October, 2014
Dropped straight into a scrolling area of ladders, labyrinthine corridors and blue pop up enemies that shoot in 5 directions above me. So, as long as I stay low and time my attacks properly I’ll be fine. That was incredibly easy for the first part of the screen, especially as Mega Man’s arm cannon shoots the entire length of the screen and can take out enemies that can’t even reach me. The second part where you are descending ladders is slightly more problematic, but it’s a matter of choosing a safe place to stand and timing your run to the next safe place, whilst taking out any other enemy near you. Spoke too soon, now there are enemies falling from the ceiling, lava based enemies at the least. They can however, be dispatched with a single shot, it‘s just their trajectory of descent changes randomly and can be somewhat annoying.
All the while they are raining out of the sky, I now have to navigate a series of platforms with plumes of lava bursting out of a lava lake and fire columns issuing from a number of platforms, this might be more infuriating. The fire plumes are thankfully regular in their pattern, so it’s all about waiting for the falling lava to descend from directly above you, and then make a move to jump, so that fire rain is not likely to disable you when you land.
After a couple more screens of fire plumes and an ascent to a more open area, I’m faced with very difficult pixel perfect jumps between series’ of the aforementioned fire plumes. This is made a little more tricky by the devious placement of the environmental structures. Ledges just happen to be placed where it makes jumping a little more difficult, the ledge has to be jumped over and ducked behind in rapid succession before doing it again to get past just 2 of the plumes. Once past the first 2, a series of horizontally fire-spurting nozzles must be overcome. Easy? Not hardly, there are platforms to jump on and between each attack. Careful pixel perfect jumping is the key to victory.
After a short descent down a ladder, 2 very near identical rooms with lava jumps, falling lava bombs, and fire plumes greet me, and are, very happily for me, past with little trouble bar the minor hiccup of a jump 2 pixels too long resulting in a little lost health. Oh well, can’t be perfect every time. When the bottom/second level screen scrolls along I am faced with the biggest slowdown of the game so far. It’s really struggling to render my jumping, shooting, fire rain, plumes, and all that going on at the same time. Slow motion gameplay. But, forget those glitches, it’s onwards and upwards. These ladders make me weary for an imminent attack that only hindsight can counter. Whoa, no imminent attack took place, but the next screen is unlike anything I have seen yet. Flashes of very fast moving light that can only be traversed by pure timing, and I just don’t have the timing. I’ve tried so many times, move too late, or too early, in the middle. Whatever I do, I just can’t get past the 2 sections on this screen without taking a hit, so I do, and lose a little health each time. I take those hits and love them for it. I just hope for some health pick-ups soon. Upwards again.
Another large scrolling room with slowdown problems. This time a tricky little section with oscillating bullet bills moving horizontally across the screen, fire rain, and easy to clear jump sections. The difficulty is just compounded by the very cleverly placed indestructible low built robot (of Elecman fame). I really do have to commend the game’s makers for the well thought out ways of catching the new player out. Every part of every level, seems to be trial and error at first, then when you’ve mastered it, you can get through that section without a single hit. I suppose that was their purpose, a smallish game, based around small but heavily replayable levels, where you are encouraged to replay and replay until your mastery became so great that you can finally beat it. At the end of this room, I see the metal doors of destiny, Fireman here I come, but not before realizing that the fire rain before those very doors can be farmed for health and bonus multipliers and such.
The transition corridor holds nothing more than 4 ceiling hugging turret shooters that can be blown up from far away, and without them getting so much as a single shot at me. Easy pickings.
To tell the truth I haven’t enjoyed the music on this stage as much as in previous ones. I hope that changes with the boss fight. No just a faster paced version of the normal Fireman level tune. I take care of Fireman in record time, he is the easiest boss I’ve encountered so far. True, his fire shots are a little powerful, but they are easily jumped 2 out of 3 times and I can deal him far more damage with rapid shots in that very same span of time. The tricky thing to take into account is that when he does shoot, it leaves behind a burning floor that can deal a little damage too. So, by jumping forward or backwards when leaping over his attacks, most of his assault damage is taken care of. It’s just about hitting that attack button, B, as fast as is humanly possible. It was a close call at the end of the day, but this was my first time against him, and subsequent meetings would favour my style of play. Bad luck Fireman, I now return to the level select screen. 4 down (Gutsman, Bombman, Cutman and Fireman), 2 to go (Iceman and that evil level of Elecman).
Thursday, 23rd October, 2014
Frozen tundra, frozen ??palm trees?? in the background. Hell, Iceman has frozen Donkey Kong’s Island (Tropical Freeze 26 years before Retro released it, hmmm). Damn fast walking big shouldered green robot who upon the destruction of his body launches his head into a sky dive kamikaze attack. Try it again, but shooting the head first. Yeah, my idea worked, one head shot and it’s no more. The music is quite thrilling on this level, and more involving than anything before, but not my favourite tune.
Mega Man slides so much on this level, it’s so slippery. Huh, what‘s this now, I can pretty much shoot those walking robots anywhere with one shot now and they explode into oblivion. Wonder what was happening with the first one I encountered. So, after a very linear flat opening I’m approaching a big drop down into an ice free pit, yeah less sliding.
What’s this, big shocker for me. I pressed the SELECT button (-) and it pauses the game. Then, just to try I press the START (+) button and it brings up a sub-menu where I can select weapons collected from fallen robot masters. Why didn’t I know this? I feel like a bumbling amateur, but at the same time feel excited to try out different weapons. I’m faced with one of those low built Elecman stage moving robots, and after some trial and error have found out that Cutman’s weapon destroys them, FFS. All that anguish at the start of the game, alleviated by an accidental press of a subsidiary button I did not even know existed.
After that revelation, and the destruction of one of the most frustrating enemies, I facing kamikaze penguin planes. I was expecting them to be similar to the huge bullet bill bombs, but one shot later and no explosion and my fears have disappeared. Many, many kamikaze penguins, will they ever stop, and little platforms to jump over later and it’s back out of this repetitive pit and up into the frozen tundra again. And, thankfully no more penguin pilots at the moment. No enemies along the slip sliding walk at the top, but faced with a huge drop down I wait to take out the enemies on the right so I can collect the massive health drop. Then, it’s the drop down into a water pool. Water?? Not so icy, Iceman’s not living up to his reputation here.
Take a hit from that low built moving robot, so I do it all again and ready myself with the Cutman weapon before once again dropping down. Empty pool, with short lived appearing platforms to jump up and out of the seemingly death trap. Not too taxing after you get used to the pattern and which direction to jump upon landing on each one. And, it’s another big drop down to a safe ledge. Directly next to me is another pool, another low built robot, easily dispatched, and more platforming heaven (or hell depending on how you see it). That was much more involving including some misleading platforms that did not need to be jumped on to make it out. Feels good when you work out something like this.
After a stretch of icy wasteland, I’m looking at a drop to Hades himself (death) and some helicopter powered moving platforms (they have happy little faces). Similar to other jumping sections it’s pixel perfect only, the moving platforms shoot horizontally, so after jumping to another, you may also have to dodge the previous platforms incoming fire, as if pixel perfect jumping wasn’t difficult enough. Four moving platforms are followed by a single stationary platform with one of those large blue rugby ball shaped pick-up’s, and I have a theory. I choose my Cutman weapon and drop onto it, yep, that pellet is for powering up weapons. More heli-powered platforms. The platforms are now moving about in a very randomly patterned sojourn and with kamikaze penguins let loose, this is tricky, but not frustrating. If I fall, or get hit I know it’s down to my inadequacies. There were only 4 of them, but it seemed like there were more due to the random nature of their movement. Those confounded penguins continue to pursue me even after passing by the pit of eternal soul collection. Another drop down puts them out of contention, but I fell past a one-up, who cares.
Got myself 2 health pellets and 3 weapon pellets. Looks like this could be preparing me for the boss. Arrghghgh! Springer, with the shields of a boss. Try again and let it jump over me, trial and error due to the randomness of its movement, but once passed it’s onto the wonderful metal doors. Kamikaze penguins populate the hallway and if I keep moving and shooting I can hit every one of them with no problems.
The Iceman cometh. Heck, that is some precision jumping required, this could take quite a few go’s. He shoots horizontal ice projectiles 3 at a time at different heights. I only need to jump over the lowest, but in doing so set myself up for hitting the one in front of it at a higher level. Thinking logically Fireman’s weapon should easily and heavily damage him, but after trying I find that the fire weapon is useless (against Ice???). As useless as my normal arm blaster. So, I stick with my trusty original weapon. After every 2 successful jumps, I have the opportunity to save, massively abusing the save states. But, there is no way that I could do this without them. O’ my old reactions, and eyes. And, after many, many, many frustrating resets due to getting hit (just one of his attacks takes my energy down about a ¼ at a time) it’s the victory screen, which stands still for far too long after tallying up points bonuses and what have you. It’s only 10 seconds, but it feels like a lot longer as if you’re left hanging due to a frozen console.
Friday, 24th October, 2014
It’s him the trouble maker from the start of my nightmares, but now I have the antidote to those meddlesome low-built moving robots, extra weapons for Mega Man, especially Cutman’s. Those 4 platforms at the start pose no challenge whatsoever, haha. Back to the ladder climbing section then, that sent me to death by anger, so many days ago. I don’t even need Cutman’s tool here, just climb as fast as possible and take out the descending robots only. If you’re quick enough the ascending robots will never reach your position. See, a little experience goes a long way into how you approach each level, I’m becoming used to Mega Man’s do and don’ts. So after those 2 climbing sections I’m faced with another platforming puzzle, similar to what I first saw during the Iceman stage. Appearing and quickly disappearing platforms that need to be traversed in a, generally, upward motion. There are 2 ladders at the top, one located to the left and the other to the right. It was so easy to reach the right hand side ladder, so I naturally thought it would be the wrong choice, but as luck turned out, the left hand ladder led to 3 weapon pellets. The right hand ladder led to some more appearing blocks and another ladder up and out.
I’m on top of the world. A simple section is followed by some jumps across a bottomless pit, but these prove to be very easy. I was expecting some homing missiles to appear from the side of the screen, but I was left to my jumps and that lack of enemy attack made it easy. 2 long screen length ladders to choose from. Due to my skeptical nature I’ll take the ladder furthest from my starting location in the bottom left of the screen, ahh, I’ve been standing still for too long and I am attacked by 3 robots from above and 3 from below. Try again, get a move on and I manage to get to the ladder and up it only taking one hit from my health. Let’s move on. Well, the 2 pathways are still evident, electric traps on the right and on my side the left, those low built robots. Easy once you know their weakness. Keep on moving up. And up, past some more of those annoying ascending/descending laser shooters, and I’m looking at a pick-up of some sort stuck behind a thick wall. I tried every weapon, until Gutsman’s can be used to pick blocks up, cool. Wonder what this new pick-up does. Well, at first it appears to be nothing, but hidden in the START menu is a new weapon. And it appears to create platforms. That might be handy on some of the more tricky pixel perfect jumping sections. Might give it try later on.
Left or right. Well, I’ve been lucky with the left hand side so far, so I’ll stick with it. Very similar setting to before, but one screen up there is screen length ladder with electric beams shooting out, so perfect timed climbing is the order of the day. Turns out it doesn’t have to be so perfect, there is a little leeway between turn off and turn on. Too early and its all the way back down to the lower screen. The next screen is not problematic until at the top of the first ladder, I have to climb off it and jump up to the next ladder in quick succession, all before the electric gets turned back on, whilst dodging a small springer intent on kamikaze death. I’m at the top, save, save, save, save, save.
At the top, it’s exactly the same as the last time, with those single block jumps and no enemy attacks, easy really easy. Onto the next screen, 2 jumps up dodging electric beams, and onto a ladder is now like 2nd nature to me. Heavy duty springer, on a short platform is defending the metal door to the boss corridor. This takes a few tries until I’m able to let him jump over me and I can easily run past him taking no damage. The transition corridor contains ladders??? That’s a first, no moving across, up instead. Two moving upward screens each with 3 electric beam shooters. Easy stuff, just don’t be overeager and move too soon. Whoa, I’ve climbed out of the bottom of the end of level boss stage. Bring it Elecman.
Think I’ll try the Cutman weapon as it had such good results on his previous henchmen. Those electric blasts he shoots out require some damn fine tuned jumping to come out on the other side intact. Now, I had no time to get used to Elecman’s attack patterns, as only 3 hits from Cutman’s weapon was sufficient to totally destroy him. Easiest so far, but a huge bit of fortuitous luck in choosing a weapon that he is susceptible too, or maybe he’s just a bit of wussy. Whatever, it’s over the 6 robot masters are no more. Let’s see what’s in store for me now.
The level select screen now includes a new level to select in the centre. It’s Dr. Wily himself. Whooo, hooo, time to bring the pain to the evil mastermind.
Monday, 27th October, 2014
Special Stage – 1
Dr. Wily you have crimes against humanity to answer for. Running away in a spaceship ehh. Come back. Now, you’ve made me have to traipse through another level. Let’s get it done.
Flat level, and not a wall in sight. Huge red springers, with those hard to attack bodies of theirs, wait until they leap high and run under as ever. 2 of them, one after each other. This level looks like it’s going to be a war of attrition. Over a little 3 block wall and back to the flatness, oh, I’m wrong. There’s another wall very close by and a large springer waiting half way up and leaping from the top down at me. A lucky close call and it’s under and onward. A blocking wall, time to use Gutsman’s weapon. I bet this level is also going to be an attrition on my weapon energy levels also. Once inside the blue complex I’m met with some incredibly challengingly placed jumps and flame plumes. They must be jumped whilst moving and not from a standing jump, but don’t overdo it or you’ll catch Mega Man’s head above and descend too quickly. There’s a lot to take in for such a seemingly innocuous jump. And, a pixel out, damage. After 3 hard to judge jumps, I move up to the next room which includes some more jumping, spike pits and a huge health pellet, which I don’t need so I’ll dodge that. Get that jump to the health pellet wrong and it’s death. The easiest looking jumps are not so. They require precision jumping every time, wow, I can’t imagine doing this on a perfect run.
The next screen is unbelievable. Up a ladder and there are 3 little red springers, but one likes to kamikaze jump before you can get off the ladder. After many repetitive retries, 1 in 4 attempts he doesn’t jump so far on his first jump and won’t knock you down the ladder into the previous screen only to have to do it again. What ever way I approach it, I have to take a hit, but at least I’m not playing Groundhog Day anymore. A couple more little springers and a few more blocks to move via Gutsman’s weapon and I drop down to the next screen. And this screen has 3 spike pits to leap across, with the added danger of huge explosive bullet bills. This is made tricky at the end of the last jump due to proximity of the wall to the location where the nuclear explosive bullet bills appear from. It is a hard grind to destroy the enemy at the right time, jump across, and dodge the next. A little easier after repeated attempts to jump the first enemy, and then move quickly before another appears, MASTER TIP – only 1 bullet bill appears at a time, use it to your advantage.
After, yet another climb downwards a long drop on the next screen reveals a large open area with moving heli-platforms, and their pesky horizontal pellet shooting habits. Jumping onto and past the first 3 posed no difficulties, and aided with a little luck no health depletion. The fourth heli-platform is flying very near the top of the screen, and because the screen is bordered at the top and bottom by spike death, I jump off onto the far-most right area for apparent safety. An easy climb up the screen length ladder reveals I’ve just climbed into a pit with no way out. Too high to jump out of the huge wall, hang on, I’m going to use my new weapon, that platform creator. Here goes, OK out of the first section, but here’s the conundrum, use too much of that weapon and you can’t get past the next section and are therefore stuck for all eternity looking at the walls. Well, I try again, but sparingly, hope I don’t to use this weapon again later. Once out of both pits, then it’s on and up to the next screen. Similar to another area a while back, but with no infuriating kamikaze springers. Short room with no enemies. BANG!! Boss time. That was a surprise, no extra health pellets, etc. before this one then. Dr. Wily means business.
What the hell, attacked numerous times from the left by flying yellow blocks that are establishing the Boss himself, the Yellow B…… (Frank Miller reference). And after trying to shoot his red eye and missing I faced with a repeat of those flying blocks in the opposite direction. Well, I made short work of that, dying that is. This will be tough and a physical strain of the save state. The jumps between each block, which seems to have a predictable pattern is pixel perfection again. For example, the first 2 blocks, number one chest height, number two above your head. The first must be jumped over, however jump too high and the 2nd one catches you. I’ve rarely experienced anything so difficult that I must laugh loudly at the sheer gall of the game’s creators to throw this boss in. And, it’s not even the evil Dr. yet. After one movement of the boss I manage to get off one shot, and his energy depletes by a miniscule amount. What were the makers thinking. How is this possible without dying a million times? There’s one point at the Yellow B’s transition that requires a running jump to leap over 2 blocks at the same time. I’ll get back to you when I’ve finally beat him. Ohhh, arrghhh!
2 shots, 2 cycles, 3 shots, 3 cycles, 4 shots, 4 cycles, you know the score…it goes on for 8 cycles and an annoyingly frustrating Boss is over with. I did change to the Elecman weapon halfway through and that did seem to deal out a little more damage. Was expecting to face Dr. Wily, but it’s just moved me onto another level. I’ll rename this one to Special Stage -1, wasn’t expecting more than 1 extra end of game level.
Tuesday, 28th October, 2014
Special Stage – 2
This stage starts off on a lonely platform and a massive drop down. Take a breather and check my stats. Well, the game has topped up my health bar, but has decided not to top up any of my weapon energy bars. I guess these Special Stages are truly a war of attrition after all. That makes me a little worried about being stuck in another platformless pit with no juice left in my platform making weapon, or a moveable wall and no Gutsman energy left. No use fretting over the unknown, let’s move on.
Well, it wasn’t a lonely platform, but many in a single string, with the most annoyingly well positioned enemies. Well positioned in terms of their ability to hit you with their suicide dives. Some of them appear below platforms and can’t be shot until the suicide dive bomber moves upwards to get you. These bits do really test your skills and more importantly maybe your patience. But, I get through it with minimal fuss. Nice effect, with the outdoor section leading into what looks like a temple area, nice 2 small weapon energy upgrade pellets, but I fell for that, one of the floor areas is fake and I drop through to the screen below, and don’t collect the pellets.
Whoa, boss. It’s Cutman again, let’s get it on. He’s following exactly the same pattern as before, so I’ll try to take care of him as before. Done him with no damage to myself, going to need to keep a clean sheet if I’ll have any chance to complete this game. And once Cutman has been taken care of its such a strange feeling, but I’m standing here and nothing’s happening. So, I walk to the right, nothing, walk to the left and I drop down another hidden section, that I swear wasn’t there whilst fighting Cutman. Oh, well. More platforms and some 5-direction shooters. Stand in a safe place and jump, then run. Another temple, and another drop down. I was being clever this time knowing where to jump over the invisible gap, except it has been moved and I jump directly into it. This game is truly the master of hind-sight induced playability.
Elecman, welcome back from the grave. Well, at least I know your weakness, and thankfully it hasn‘t changed. 3 easy shots later and he’s a pulp of explosive energy. Same place for the hidden exit. This time no suicide runners, just exploding missiles. They ascend from beneath gaps in the platforms and explode into 4 pieces, leaving very little room to get to a safe zone, tricky pixel perfect jumping, timing, and landing in the right zone required all throughout the movement from left to right. Only one really tricky section where 2 explosive mines appear convergent, and the temple opens up to reveal a ladder downward, no hidden invisible drops this time. Pleasant surprise. Another boss by any chance? Not at all, a downward moving area with 3 Eyeball Maltese Crosses, easy thanks. Elecman’s weapon is extremely useful here for the next 3 screens, due to its 3-way directional shooting. An enemy below is now no problem, however, I am running low on juice for this attack. Some energy pellets would be well appreciated. And the next screen fulfills my request, but only after taking out 4 wall mounted Omni-directional shooters with the aforementioned weapon.
Keep on moving down. And it’s boss time. This room is like a chess board on acid. Flashing like a disco ball, who is it? It’s me?? Well, Dark Mega Man. Just like Dark Samus, Dark Link, etc. Let’s see what I’ve got. How come he’s a clone of me, but one hit from him and I’m sent down 1/6 of my energy, one hit from me and it’s as if a fly just hit him. Dark rules apply. It appears to be easy due to the fact that when I hit him he retracts away from me, but he’s jumping around like a yo-yo, and when he jumps on my head it’s a massive chunk of my health that suffers. Eventually though, fortune favours me and I can pretty much trap him in a corner and pummel him with umpteen shots. When his feet are touching the ground he’s getting hit by me, so he can only shoot while he’s jumping, and those shots go soaring over my head. At the end of the day, he was quite the easy boss, with a bit of luck.
That’s it end of Special Stage – 2. I was quite expecting some more of the old robot masters to appear. Other Stages I now expect.
Thursday, 30th October, 2014
Special Stage – 3
Mega Man is staring at an abyssal drop populated with 3 Maltese Crosses, time it right and jump. Down on the next screen I have a little ledge I’m perched on, another drop below and to the far left (by the way I’m on the right hand side), but 3 more crosses and a ceiling mounted pop-up shooter to get past. Timing seems to be the key to leap between their protestations of my presence and safely descend. Just as I thought, a mirror image of the above screen is where I land, but with more enemies and more deviously placed to inflict the maximum of frustration and damage before I carry on. Once past this screen, and down again, yet another mirror image room and more deviant robots to take care of. It’s just a lot easier to time a run through them and not bother about shooting, but this room looks a little on the tricky side. Elecman’s weapon may be able to dispense of a few of them before I even descend to the lower level.
That’s it, for now. The descent has finished and I’m facing a long empty looking low-ceilinged corridor. Whoa, an incredibly fast blue streak just overtook me and now I being forced along, as if being pushed, to the right. If I run to the left I still move slowly to the right, run to the right and I fly along. Kamikaze penguins attack, but keeping a constant stream of fire going they get nowhere near to me before being pulverized. After a small moment of calm, a steady stream of exploding bullet bills attack, easy to take care of, just the same as the penguins before them. However, the opening to end this section must be given careful consideration. The last bomb must be jumped, so as not to create an explosion too near to yourself and take an unnecessary hit.
Boss fight, too early for the end of level, so it’s got to be a repeat of an earlier enemy. Let’s see. Well, I got that completely wrong. A flying saucer, robot type thing that is covered by shields and very difficult to damage with conventional weapons. I look at the big blocks in the middle and realise that may be Gutsman is the way to go. 4 blocks and 4 attacks later, the spaceship is still flying, but heavily damaged. Now to finish it off. Well, I try an assault melee, stand my ground and shoot like crazy, it works, but I am concerned of the damage I took, until I see that this was no mid-level boss, but rather the end of level boss. Man, that was one short, easy to complete, level. And now, I’ll be given full health back at the start of the next one, that’s that.
Friday, 31st October, 2014
Special Stage – 4
I wonder how many of these extra stages there are to play through. Well, here it goes Stage 4. The first 2 screens require an upward trajectory through those 3 ascending and 3 descending laser toting robots. Experience has taught me to keep moving up and the lower 3 will not get a single shot off. Experience has also taught me that that is not as easy as it sounds, as it requires that I kill all 3 descending robots rather quickly, and before they get a single shot off at me, whilst leaping around platforms, dodging the impending doom of the ascending robots and climbing ladders. All done though, and I have a huge rugby ball weapon energy pellet stacked on 3 moveable blocks, Gutsman time. That filled my Gutsman power up to 1/3 full. His power runs low on energy rather quickly, but it has proven useful on a number of occasions in the last few weeks.
Moving on to the right, I notice, well it was not hard to notice them, large golden robot masters embedded within the ceiling. I’m anticipating them to drop down and attack, but they don’t. Whilst I’m threatened by this non-existent attack, I didn’t take care to notice ceiling mounted units, and pay the price of my negligence. Oh, well, load save state, and resume from the beginning of this corridor. Take no damage, take no damage, it’ll serve me well against future bosses. And, to get to the end of this corridor, taking no damage, whilst dodging all the well positioned sentries and environmental hazards is taxing, but perversely rewarding. Two ladders at the end take me to the top of the screen. A little jump across and I’m facing another of those unforgiving rail rides (seen in the Gutsman Stage), where pixel perfect jumping and platforms that disappear under you all add to the fun. I make it all the way to end with the added lucky bonus of falling off near the end and landing on a platform at the bottom that houses a pick-up I’ve never seen before, a circular pellet with a lightning bolt etched on to it. After checking my menu’s this pellet has just restored all my Robot Master Weapons to full energy, result. Now, it’s a matter of jumping back onto the moving platform, up a short ladder and through into a teleportation device. Where am I going?
Bombman! Look at him, cocky little freak, tossing his bombs around without a care in the world. Let’s knock you down a peg or two. Have at you. Well, the strangest, and once again, luckiest thing just happened. Upon first trying him out, his first leap caught me off guard. He leapt the entire length of the screen and landed on my head, so I couldn’t even get out of the teleporter. After a quick reset, I stayed in the teleporter and waited for him to finish his long jump. He duly reciprocated his leap, but got stuck between the wall, and the top of the teleporter, unable to throw bombs and just vibrating violently as if in some sort of seizure. Well, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I emptied my arm cannon into his pulsating body, beat him, and never even took one step out of the teleportation device. Once defeated I was whisked away to number 2.
Fireman. Can’t be so lucky again. So, this time it’s down to the wire. Let’s go. The Iceman power seemed effective against him, not extremely strong, but far more effective than my regular arm cannon. Took him down with only losing 1/3 of my health. Back into the teleporter.
Iceman, the precision jumping boss. At least I should be able to abuse the save states here and pass him with little damage to my name. Just a lesson in patience and resetting after a dismal performance. His attacks are so powerful, even with just under 2/3 health, just 2 of his attacks are enough to finish me off. Eventually, he’s a goner and I did in a much faster time than my original attempt. Teleportation time again.
Gutsman. Hello, you were easy the first time, how about now? Absolutely no problem, whatsoever. As long as I time my jump when he produces his ground shaking pounds, the rest is a piece of cake. What’s that 4 robot masters now, surely that’s got to be that.
Quite so. The teleportation device has taken me to a similar styled room, but the far right hand side wall is missing meaning progression is no longer through teleportation, but by Shank’s Pony. Ominous long empty corridors normally lead to bosses. At the end of this corridor is a weapon energy pellet, so I top up my Iceman tool, as that was the only one that incurred usage. Metal doors are looming, and here we go.
Spaceship flying in, that’s got to be the Wily one himself. Oh, the lower half of the spaceship has blended in from the background to reveal a mech similar to ones that Dr. Eggman loves to drive around in. This one has some awesome looking appendages though. So, it all starts off with an onslaught of circular white bullets that shoot at exactly where I standing. No time to stand around gawking, moving is the key to his defeat. It seems I can damage the shooting device and the lower body. After some trial and error I have chosen to use Cutman’s weapon as this seems to hit multiple times per shot. Changing direction and jumping at the right time is critical to survival here. This is going on forever and I’m running low on energy for this weapon. I hate bosses with no indication on how much more damage I have to do to them because of a lack of a simple health bar system that was in place on all other bosses. How does the end-of-game boss get away with it? What I am going on about? I have been so absorbed in just dodging this enemy’s shots and trying hard to position myself in such a manner to get a safe shot off that I didn’t notice that he does indeed have a health bar. So sorry.
Well, looking at it and after a grueling battle his energy is about halfway, pheww this must have been incredibly tasking back in 1987. Still going at it, and the most difficult part of his attack is when he moves forward giving you very little room for maneuver on the right hand side of the screen. He’s down. Big explosion and the front half of his machine is destroyed, opening up the inner chamber and now I can see the evil one himself.
Huge circular white bullet pulses this time. What to do? Well, the shots circle around themselves in some sort of oscillating motion, like some demented centrifuge. I’ve tried jumping, moving, everything. But, I have found a weakness in Dr. Wily’s form of attack, in that it does not reach directly below his vehicle. It’s a very small safe area that must be traversed at the greatest of care. Too much either way and it’s either a pulse shot to the head, or the mech to the guts. After each of his shots I have a small window of opportunity to jump up and get a shot off at the small glowing ball of weakness near the front of the machine. After many shots of many different weapons the Cutman power seems more suited to the job, it gets numerous hits in at a single attack. I also realise that my area of safety is only created by my jumping out and luring the shot away at the right time and ducking back under his machine before it does me damage. Get the timing a little out of kilter and it’s white pulsar to the brain, followed closely by a huge amount of damage to Mega Man.
This is it, I have him down to 1 sliver of health, I’m on 4 slivers of health. I just hope there are no more iterations of change that his spaceship will go through. Just got to play it cool and get one more hit in. Did it, on the second time of asking. Wily falls from his broken and still exploding spaceship. Does he stand tall and proud of his actions and tempt Mega Man to metaphorically finger wag. No, he sprawls in massive protestation on the floor begging Mega Man for forgiveness. So, he has known all this time that what he was doing was morally corrupt. What was he actually doing? Creating an army of robot masters I suppose, but now your reign of terror is over, and so is this diary, well soon over. Mega Man’s too good he should have popped a cap in him and said he left you no choice. You know he’ll be back in number 2 don’t you Mega Man, and 3, 4, 5, etc.
As the ending credits run through their usual course, it’s amazing to see how little people actually put time into making this classic compared to the length of credits in modern games. And, now Mega Man has lost his suit, and looks like a regular guy. I thought he was a robot???? He meets up with what looks like a parental duo. The guy is obviously a scientist with that beard, Dr. Light, but who is the girl???
Mega Man (1987)
Summary: After initial frustrations with the control system, devious difficulty and Mega Man's slide, this game rewarded patience and learning, mostly through hindsight, of enemy patterns. A classic that truly lives up to its name. I can't wait to play through Mega Man II