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Features: 10 Life Lessons Learned From Mega Man

Posted by Philip J Reed

6) Get a Dog

Rush is probably the best known of Mega Man's assistants, and for good reason. He's versatile, useful and, above all, loyal. Whether he's vaulting Mega Man to greater heights, carrying him over seas of death spikes or helping him manoeuvre underwater, Rush is the self-sacrificing Tonto by your side.

Whenever you call him, he will come. (Provided you haven't worked him to complete exhaustion already.) If you tell him to teleport down into a pit and vanish, he will do it. If you tell him to teleport into a wall and back out again just because you think it's funny, hey, he'll do that too. What's more, if you tell him to stand quietly on some spikes so you can bounce around on him for a while, he will do it for you... and as you know from personal experience, that can't feel very good.

Rush comes back game after game, no matter how badly you mistreat him or neglect to thank him. (When's the last time poor Rush got to suck down an E-Tank when he was thirsty, anyway?)

That's loyalty. What's more, that's the kind of love only a good dog can provide.

7) Life is Unfair

Every enemy you killed at the beginning of the stage dropped energy capsules. Now that you're about two hits from death, they're refusing to drop anything but weapon refills.

You're trying to make perfectly timed jumps from the falling blocks in Gyro Man's stage, but you accidentally touch an energy capsule just as you're about to jump, and the resulting pause in the action throws off your timing and you die.

You're fighting your way through Wily's castle, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you'd beat it this time if you only had another life in reserve. And, sure enough, a minor enemy just dropped a 1-Up for you.

Right on the spikes.

Right on the death spikes.

And you have to watch it, sitting there, smiling. Mocking you. Eventually it starts to flicker and it disappears. The game has taunted you.

Life is unfair. In 10 games, that fact has never changed. It never will. Get used to it, bub.

8) Evil is Innate

You want your games to have a strong philosophical bent. You want something that can measure up to the utopian deconstruction of Bioshock. You want something like Half-Life 2's meditations on free will and the power of the human spirit. You want Braid's brainbending dismissal of the reliability of your own perception. Well, good, because Mega Man has a grand theme to explore as well: "evil" is not a learned behaviour, or even a desire. Evil is innate.

Consider it. Dr. Wily can never reform — whenever he is given a chance to (like at the end of, uh, every game), he comes back to torment the world some more. The only reason he stops by the time of Mega Man X is due to his passing away and even death can't keep him from reappearing, arguably, as Dr. Weil in Mega Man Zero. He's beyond redemption. He cannot change.

Of course, the obverse observation to be made is that good is also innate. Despite Wily's attempts to turn Proto Man or Dr. Cossack evil, neither of them can resist the urge to fight for the side of good when the final battle is at hand. And however old he gets, Dr. Light still devotes his energies to suppressing any evil schemes that his chief antagonist might hatch. Like Wily, he doesn't quit until he is dead and, like Wily, his influence extends beyond the grave, thanks to the power-up capsules of Mega Man X.

The good will fight the good fight, the bad will try to try to take them down. There's no changing sides; at heart, you are always who you are. Maybe you won't admit it (or realise it) until the guns are drawn, but, in the end, your ultimate affiliation is written in the stars, and there's no escaping destiny.

9) Spend Some Time Outdoors

What are you doing inside on a lovely day like this? You're reading some silly article about a video game series?! Go get some sun already! Even Mega Man takes some time to enjoy the great outdoors each time he's called upon to save the world from some villain or other, be it Dr. Wily or, er, Dr. Wily in Groucho Marx glasses.

It's amazing how free and open the stages of Air Man, Wood Man, Slash Man and even Skull Man feel simply because they take place outdoors. It's a simple design choice, but it opens up the game world to hazards and enemy types you'd never experience if you spent the entire game crawling around power stations or sewage treatment plants. There's also something rewarding about clearing enemies out of these natural environments, where they could do the most immediate harm to the human and animal population of the world. It's a good deed, and we're sure people would much rather see their forests restored to safety than some robotic sheep thing expunged from whatever the heck cybernetic nightmare it's meant to inhabit.

It also says a lot that Mega Man spends several of the games' closing sequences outdoors, perhaps most notably that of Mega Man 2. In that sequence, Mega Man chooses to walk home (rather than teleporting, or choosing it from a stage-select menu) through various environments, thinking back upon everything he's been through and how relieved he is that it's over. It's a time for reflection, and perhaps even meditation. It's a respite from the danger and destruction he's single-handedly sealed away from the rest of the world. It's precisely the kind of insight and appreciation for the world around him that only a breath of fresh air can bring.

10) Death is Not the End

Perhaps the closest thing the classic Mega Man series takes to a religious stance is its hearty endorsement of reincarnation. Without reincarnation, we'd never have the traditional endgame boss rush to contend with. And if Mega Man 9's glorious ending sequence is to be believed, death doesn't stick even the second time you defeat them. (Yeah yeah, they're robots, we know... just go along with it.)

After all, who among us has completed a Mega Man game, in its entirety, the first time through without dying? Heck, how many of us have even beaten a single robot master stage the first time without dying?

Mega Man is brutal by design. Every level is composed of a merciless series of traps, many of them instantly fatal. Each corridor is designed, if not to outright kill you, then to wear you down so that the next corridor can.

Dying is a part of all classic platformers, but the Mega Man series elevates it to an exquisitely torturous necessity. Many hazards and enemies won't even reveal themselves until you've walked right into them, requiring a certain amount of failure before success is even possible.

But death isn't always a punishment; sometimes it's the way forward. Consider the infamous Wily's Castle boss in Mega Man 2 that's all too eager to get you to use up all your Crash Bombs on its barricades, leaving all but the most careful players without enough ammo to defeat the boss. There's only one option: suicide.

If you have an extra life — and you'd better hope you do — you'll find that any barricades destroyed by the ghost of Mega Man past will still be gone. Yes, far from a magical second chance at life, you're living in a world that's already been passed through — and affected by the actions of — an earlier, and now deceased, version of yourself.

Did anyone else just get chills?

Goodness gracious, Capcom. Lighten up!

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User Comments (45)



TKOWL said:

I highly disagree with the one about "Less is more", where you basically insulted every Mega Man going up from 4. Mega Man 2 and 3 were blander than a white room, I highly regret ever playing them. Mega Man 4 perfected the use of the slide, as where it felt forced in MM3; and the Charge Shot was one of the best additions ever introduced. The Rush Adaptors were one of the most genius inclusions in the Mega Man universe: they were loads of fun to use and didn't have a separate energy bar! And the anime cutscenes added to Mega Man 8's charm. Mega Man 9 only took away from the visual department: its weapons were fantastic and did MORE. So your argument about "Less is more" kinda pointless.

And Hard Man easy? EDIT: Oh, sorry, he really is. Good point.

And about the weapons, nearly all of the stuff from Mega Man 2, besides the Metal Blade, were useless. Item 1, 2, and 3 are still the worst things in Mega Man's arsenal.

EDIT: I'm sorry, I just really don't like how overrated MM2 and MM3 are.



Ryno said:

I love how you guys regarded that overrated piece of garbage Mega Man 2 better than any other game on here.

2 is my favorite, thanks for loving how I regard it!

@Dragoon Your ramble was more entertaining than the article



JayArr said:

Oh lord. Only 3 post before some hardcore MegaMan fanboy cried and attempted to shred a light hearted article with over the top extreme purist comments while completely missing the point.

Great read Philip. Clever spin on the franchise.



WaveGhoul said:

Damnit, as soon as I saw the Mega Man Sprite i instantly thought "OMG, could this be Mega Man 11 news!?"

So much for that idea.

And MM2(especially, hands down) and MM3 ARE the best out of the classic 6 nes games...Although i haven't played 6, yet i think it's safe to say it's not one of the greats as it's even considered the worst out of the bunch, but i'll go into it with an open mind whenever it hits the Nes's VC.

And people razzing on MM2 which are in a hilariously small minority to begin with most likely never grew up with it or played it during it's release to realise just how amazing, unique and epic the entire experience was. Hell, the password screen alone blew me those awesome up beat tunes, and the unique way for putting in passwords was ace!

Bubble, Air and Wood man's stages are hands down thee best MM stages in existense imo from an art direction and imagination stand point. Throw in Flash as well, plus Heat's was alright. but for some reason I've always hated Crash and Metal man's stages...

MM2 and 9 are the cream of the crop!



Philip_J_Reed said:

Stand at the edge of the screen when he fires his Hard Knuckles. Ta-daa! He suddenly becomes the easiest buster-only robot master this side of Toad Man! (And why would somebody need their eyes checked if they think something is easy? Wouldn't the person having difficulty benefit more from an eye exam? )

And yeah, in case this wasn't obvious enough, this entire thing is tongue in cheek.

Thanks for the feedback guys! For those who don't know, I'm doing no-damage runs of Mega Man stages on youtube right now.

Parental guidance strongly encouraged. ahem.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Oh, and for the record, since no Mega Man discussion of any kind is complete without this:

9 > 2 > 7 > 4 > 10 > 3 > 5 > 1 > 6 > accidentally eating a dog turd > 8



Swiket said:

11) When you are about to face a boss fight, jump as you enter the boss door.

Nothing says "I'm gonna f you up, robot master!" like leaping through a doorway and levitating over to the next screen to surprise him.



WaveGhoul said:

I had a hard time tolerating 8 as a teenager....The cringe inducing hilarios voice acting(grenade man's voice made me bust a nut everytime, while Astro man sounded like some homosexual hair, horrible unfitting dramatic darker toned cold anime cutscenes which were depressing, Mega Man's extremely annoying girly voice...."POWER SHOT!" i wish capcom would of let you disable the voices at least...And we all know the legandary status of Dr. Light;s epic voice acting.

As for the music, talk about not sounding anything remotely in tune to anything MM before hand. It was like capcom went for a more a anime techno bubble gum-like grating ambience, and i couldn't stand any of it.

If anything 1 hasn't aged that well...I disagree big time with Dragoon calling 2 and 3 bland. MM1 was bland, but it was also the first of it's kind so we shuld all cut it some silly slack.

MM4, i felt had poorly designed kitchen sink designed stages for the most part, while Dr.Wily and Cossacks castles were horribly generic.
But I'll always have a semi soft spot for Dive and Toad man's stages.



Mabbit said:

@ post 9
Like always, I must now have an amazing debate with Chicken Brutus about video games.
I haven't played 9 or 10, so I'm gonna leave those out
2 > 5 > 3 > 4 > 6 > 1 > 7 > realizing you were screwing your own father at an orgy > 8



WaveGhoul said:

9 > 2 > 3 > 1 > 10 > 4 > 8

I'll be playing 5 tonight to see where it stands, it's been so long since i've played it.
While 6 and 7 will have to wait!

And I'm just not a fan of 10, 4 and 8....10 lacked in the creativity department, took itself way too seriously, was less colorful, the music i found was a let down and it just wasn't rocking that upbeat fun vibe that 9 had, not to mention the weapons weren't fun to use or even that useful and the bosses i found difficulty wise were irritating at first....I guess it was 'good' and it had some genious level design, but it's vibe, sound and look turn me off.



TKOWL said:

@WaveBoy MM1 feels completely different from the rest, and even so, it didn't feel bland at all. It at least kept your at your full-playing level every screen.

And horribly generic Cossack and Wily Stages in MM4? HORRIBLY GENERIC? Do you call tight-sliding, auto scrolling in the sky, Giant Robot battling levels generic? I think not. MM2's Wily Stages are only famous by the music: and nothing else.



Supremeist said:

The only time I've ever played Megaman was on my friends Wii one time, and it was pretty fun but challenging.

I just really hope we get something with Megaman on the eShop or a game. I really want some Megaman action.

Funny article btw. :3



Raylax said:

accidentally eating a dog turd > 1 - 10

/me hides

On a serious note, nice article CB~



Ryno said:

#11 Life Lesson: Use Mega as an adjective or adverb to explain something that is nearly to cool to be explained



tweet75 said:

lol whenever I hear mega man names I cant help but think they should be the names of porn stars



Tasuki said:

Nice write up there Chicken_Brutus. The only thing is and I must be the only one but kinda liked the Rush suits in Megaman 6. I thought it was much better than the change they did to Rush in Megaman 5 like make the Rush Coil a Pogo stick and how Rush Jet took off the moment you touched it even if you weren't on it good. The only thing they could have down maybe is had the Jet Suit and Power Suit separate as its own suit rather than a transforming Rush.



MeloMan said:

And, sure enough, a minor enemy just dropped a 1-Up for you.

Right on the spikes.

Right on the death spikes.

And you have to watch it, sitting there, smiling. Mocking you. Eventually it starts to flicker and it disappears. The game has taunted you.

LOL- to-death

@9 That's a winner, but I like to slide into the boss room in style personally

oh and...
10 > 9 > 3 > 2 > 5 > MM&B > 7 > 8 > 4 > 6 > 1 > Dognutt (trust me, not a classic candy bar)



SuperLink said:

I'm sorry, but I must say (at the risk of being "text-screamed-at") that Megaman 8 is one of my favorite Megaman games. I mean, other than the voice acting and the anime scenes, was it really THAT bad?

...anyway, I'm gonna go hide under a rock now...



Tasuki said:

@superlink64: Well I am not sure your situation but if you started playing the Megaman series on NES than yes Megaman 8 is that bad. If you Megaman 8 was the first one in the MM series that you played than you had nothing to compare it too. But the music as opposed to the other Megman games was terrible that bubble gum Asian techno beat just dont work with Megaman and the voice acting my god the voice acting. I have heard kindergarten plays with more emotion than the voice acting in MM8.



kevohki said:

11. Stupid design plans lead to stupid robots (see: Spring Man, Toad Man, Plant Man, Top Man, Toad Man, etc.)



motang said:

I am not much of a Mega Man fan, played them on the NES, but I like Mega Man X series more.



Punny said:

I know something like this has already been posted in the article, but another good lesson from Mega Man is "If at first you don't succeed, try try again." Dr. Wily does it all the time! Plus, many inexperienced players do this after dying so many times. Think of it as a follow-up to "Life is Hard".



Kid_A said:

Phil, have I ever mentioned to you that everything you write is wonderful? Because's true. Great read



the_shpydar said:

Phil + writing/vid'ing anything even slightly related to Mega Man = Win.
That's math, mofos.

Good piece, Phil. I especially love the "1-Up dropping on to spikes, sitting there smiling and mocking you" bit.
(now i'm reminded that i need to catch up on some of your channel vids)



Aviator said:

Very nice article Phil. Good to see you back.

there is a lone ')' in the first paragraph on less is more
I don't like the Megaman games, as I suck at them.



Link79 said:

This article kinda depresses me. There's been alot of talk lately about the Mega man series dying off due to Inafune leaving Capcom. considering the future without the man who created it is a scary thought.
We still have Legends 3 to look forward to. (so far)
Other than that it's not looking good.
Lots of great memories from this series.
It was fun while it lasted.



WaveGhoul said:

You know what I'll never understad? How most people consider MM1 one of the hardest if not 'thee' out of the 6 Nes titles? really? The only real trouble the game gave me was Ice man's stage...The bosses aside from Flame man were the easiest Robot Master battles the series has ever seen...PLUS when you had the weapon they were weak against, it didn't take more than 5 shots to take them out.

The final battle with Dr.Wily was also hilariously easy. MM2 was more difficult when you weren't playing on Easy. Quick man was such an A**hole. And then there's that iconic giant Robo Dragoon who would blast at you while you had to hop around on those tiny little itty bitty platforms. But the toughest boss goes to that trippy Machine system, where you had to blow up those blasters with Crash man's bombs. You had to get it perfectly, otherwise you'd run out of juice and you were screwed.

MM1 for me is the easiest in the franchise. I't's not even close to being the tough as nails bad boy as everybody claims it to be. I'll agree that it IS during those 2 giant pits(or was it one) in Ice man's stage where you have to hop around on those flying platforms that shoot at you from both sides.

And Dragoon I'll agree with you on MM2's Wily Castle....The level design was weak sauce, it's that damn Wily theme that everybody raves about, but you have to admit the bosses were wonderful! but those stages...Ya, they were basically the only thing i disliked about MM2.

Oh and actually I find MM1's Wily Castle to be one of the best in the franchise, much better than 2's I found. I revisted MM1 last Christmas, and Wily's Castle imo was the best thing about the game.



Link79 said:

The only reason people say Mega man 1 is the hardest is no E-tanks.
I find the most difficult parts without a free refill are these...

1.Yellow devil
2. Mega clone He still infuriates me to this day.
3. Boss gauntlet towards end.
4. Dr Wily.
Other than those moments the rest of the game is cake.



Sylverstone said:

I agree that life is unfair.

Also, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger... or in Mega Man's case - everything can kill you so don't screw up!



Wolfenstein83 said:

Mega Man taught me to wear blue underwear on the outside of my pants...hahaha!
Nah, but seriously, I love the series and this was a good article!



Fuzzy said:

Haha when I saw this article I thought it might have been by you. Nice read.

Those damn 1ups on the spikes laughing at me! I also agree with always getting weapon refills when you need some life energy. Always happens.



elbo21 said:

This was a great article! Fun read. MM2 is my all time favorite video game... period. I play it about once or twice a year. Easier to do now that I have it on my iPhone. Even with all of the amazing games out nowadays, MM2 is still tops for me. Level design, boss design, weapons... and of course, the music. Its my favorite game soundtrack, too.

I was so excited when MM9 came out... and I love the music. Everything felt like a MM game should be. But the game was a little too hard for me, so I never finished it. And MM10 was ever harder... and the music sucked, imo... so I barely ever played that one. Maybe I'll have to go back and give 9 another chance since everyone is saying it's so good. I know MM games are supposed to be on the harder side... but I just hate when a game turns frustrating. I don't play video games to be frustrated. I play to have fun. As soon as it stops being fun, I lose interest. I think MM2 has the perfect balance. Not too hard, but just challenging enough. I was hoping 9 and 10 would be similar.

@Swiket — I thought I was the only one who jumps up as I enter a boss door so I can watch MM float through the entrance! Hilarious. Its so second nature to me after doing it for so many years, I don't even think about it... its just automatic.

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