let’s talk about mega man! and also astro boy! and also my life about ten years ago!

One of the gifts I was given for Christmas was Mega Man Legacy Collection 1+2 on the Switch. Thanks Mom. Now, I already have the first Legacy Collection. Three copies of it, in fact (PC, 3DS, PS4). You know, hey, when you like someone’s product, you sometimes have to give them a little walking around money (even though I didn’t actually pay for two of them, but let’s roll with this bit). But I wanted the second specifically so that I could replay Mega Man 9 and 10 without needing to plug the Wii back in and have to fuck around with replacing batteries.

So I turned on the game, loaded up and played through Mega Man 9. And…it…

it fucking sucked!

This isn’t really meant to be like a review or anything, but I’ll just say this: the game is way too fucking hard. It’s very much a product of its time, where seemingly every platformer had to be hard as fuck (see examples: Super Meat Boy, I Wanna Be The Guy), or else you weren’t a real man or whatever. Keiji Inafune straight up admitted a lot of the level design for the game was inspired by a meme on Nico Nico Douga; a cute, funny little music video that exaggerated the difficulty of Mega Man 2. And as a result, the game suffered tremendously. Mega Man games are not that hard. Or at least, they weren’t.

Now, getting back on topic, of which there is no real topic other than me going on a nostalgic ramble about shit that happened ten years ago (or about).

So, Mega Man. I played it as a kid. I had the Wily Wars (via the Sega Channel), which was an ugly, buggy remake of Mega Man 1-3 with terrible controls. I also had one of the shitty Game Boy ones. And I liked them, mostly because I didn’t know any better; that there were better versions of the games out there. But then I sort of dropped off from caring about the games as a teenager. I don’t why, really. I remember being really annoyed at the deluge of shitty OC Remixes of the otherwise great music. The sprite comics (do people still make those?). Playing the X games (which I don’t really like) and being annoyed at the attempts at gritty drama. And I say all this despite the fact that I was, and still am, huge into Sonic the Hedgehog, which had all of these things. Not sure why I was so accepting of Sonic’s melodrama, but felt that Mega Man could fuck off. In any event, I didn’t care about Mega Man for a long time.

Then I became an adult. And I know that I’ve talked about this a lot, but it bears repeating: having a full-time job with weird hours that prevents you from having any sort of outside life really fucks with you. Waking up at 4 am every morning and clocking in at 5, and not a minute later, or else you would be locked out of the building fucking sucks. I’m not a morning person even at the best of times, and it was even worse here. Slowly wake up in the frozen Colorado weather, drink some coffee, throw on my uniform, and see what’s on TV, just so I have some noise to keep me from going back to bed. What’s on TV at four in the fucking morning? Nothing! There are infomercials for crap you will never need or want (I think “Hip Hop Abs” was the hottest thing at the time), or some decrepit televangelist saying something racist or homophobic.

Eventually, I remembered that Adult Swim existed, and they would start airing reruns of Astro Boy. That little robot boy borne the pain of the world for me. I was in this transition period in my life: losing contact with my high school friends and working all the time to the point that the only friends I had were my co-workers. I had a lot of free time on my hands. I consumed a lot of media. I started listening to Bowie. I started listening to shoegaze. I was looking at pictures of outer space, and then getting into Noctis. I wanted to become an artist, because I hated being an inventory manager for a company that would frequently threaten to fire you in the most passive-aggressive manner, even when you were doing well.

This was also around the same time that the beginning of the modern day “Indie” scene in games really started to pick up steam. I loved video games! I wanted to be an artist! Maybe I could start to make my own stuff! Granted, even back then, I knew that “the scene,” as it were, was a total joke. Thin-skinned, buffoonish white men like Jon Blow were hailed as visionaries who would “save” games from the evil major corporations, despite having the promotional backing of said corporations, and then would proceed to do fuck all in regards to not helping perpetuate the cycle of exploitation in game development. I figured that eventually things would change for the better. Ten years later, things haven’t changed much. Oh well.

And if it wasn’t Braid, it was usually a game about two squares bumping into one another meant to symbolize the creator’s unrequited love for a girl he saw walk past Starbucks a couple days ago, that would be getting all sorts of love and attention. At the time, I had no artistic talent! I had unrequited feelings for a girl! I could be an indie superstar! I have an external hard drive still full of shit I worked on, but never released, because of pesky things like “personal pride” and “what the fuck dude I’m not shameless enough to put this bullshit out there publicly.” Unless there’s suddenly a demand for a really short Knytt Stories level I put together. Or an attempt at a point and click adventure that never got past one room.

Now, here’s where Mega Man comes in. I decided to actually try and complete a Mega Man game, now that I was an adult. Mostly because I was finally starting to pick up on the fact that hey, he looks an awful lot like Astro Boy! I picked Mega Man 2. Mega Man 2 is the best one in the series. You see, not only was indie game development making waves, so too was indie games criticism. People writing long meandering pieces about their personal lives that tangentially connects to the game in question they’re writing about. I was going to do that, too. I had grand dreams of being a writer; it was literally the one skill I had as a teenager, aside from being really good at taking a beating. The plan was to make games, and write about them, too. I was eventually going to be one of those cool kids on Select Button (though seeing as how I’m now on one of their podcasts, I guess I am?) that everyone loved even though I was pretentious and completely full of shit (this parenthetical aside to let you know this is a subtle shot at another artist I don’t like). Mega Man is a cute, adorable character who does his best. I was too busy trying to be “deep” and be one of the boys, that I didn’t bother to stop and think about why I liked all this cutesy, brightly-colored shit with feminine leanings to it. But that’s another ramble for another day.

Mega Man 9 was coming out soon. I was so pumped for it. And I got it, and I played it, and I never made it past the first Wily level. I wouldn’t make it past that level until like a week ago. So I instead bought the Endless Attack DLC and pretty much spent all my time with that. The lesson of Mega Man 9 is that it’s fucking shit, but the Endless Attack is incredibly fun and well worth buying the game for. It’s good for a quick run before you have to go to bed, because you need to be up way too early tomorrow. But at least you’ll have an episode of Astro Boy to keep you company when you do.

The real point of this whole post, aside from taking an opportunity to talk about loving Astro Boy and Mega Man, is that this all came together in this period of self-discovery. A time of trying to figure out my place in the world. While the talent wasn’t there, the ambition and the inspiration certainly was. I’m trying to get back to that point. For too long, I’ve been complacent, or focusing on other things that completely killed my drive and did nothing but hurt me in the end (see: bitter angry end of the year blog post). I need to go back to that idealistic me. I tried to fucking kill myself back in September, and I never want to go back to that dark place again. I’m a much different person now than I was then, and the world is much different too. But there still has to be that little spark somewhere. Hopefully I’ll find it.