Thoughts on “Mega Man Difficulty”

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I count myself among the many who loved Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10. The retro revivals of one of my favorite video game series of all time, they had the great gameplay, catchy music, and cool boss characters that I came to cherish from Mega Man as a whole. However, something always felt a bit off about them, like a meal that’s almost perfect, and I stated as such in my review of Mega Man 10 when I said that the game is poor at giving moments of respite to the player.

I recently read an interview between the original creator of Mega Man, Kitamura Akira, and the manga artist behind Mega Man Megamix, Ariga Hitoshi. They discuss a variety of topics and I highly recommend checking out the entire interview, but one comment in particular stood out to me, given my experience with the newer Mega Man games:

Kitamura: Making the last enemy encounter in the wave easier was a key idea. It leaves the player with a softer impression of the game’s difficulty. I think the reason that people don’t replay games—even good ones—is that when they remember playing the game, their minds go back to the extremely difficult parts and enemies, and then replaying the game starts to seem like tedious work. I wanted the player to feel like he was improving at the game too, and that was another reason to make that last enemy easier, I think.

Upon reading that, it all made sense. Mega Man 9 and 10 are really fun and exciting games, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve come to believe that they catered a little too much to that hardcore retro gaming audience that cherishes older NES-era games precisely because of their notorious difficulty and seemingly unforgiving gameplay. I’m not surprised that this is the direction they went, as it is those kinds of players who are the most ready and willing to dive into something like a Mega Man revival. I don’t even think it was all a bad thing, because the tighter and more complex and difficult level designs were something I found to be exhilarating, but what Kitamura says (about how people don’t replay games when it starts to seem like tedious work) strikes a chord. I know that Mega Man 10 implemented an easy mode to cut away some of the tension and difficulty, but the levels are clearly designed without them in mind, and it’s a constant reminder that you are playing a “lesser” version.

If I were to go back and play these two games, I would probably spend most of my time doing boss rushes because I love that sort of thing, but when I remember that obnoxious spike wall leading to the mid-boss of Jewel Man’s stage (or was it Jewel Man himself?), I sigh and lose the will to go through such ordeals. Maybe if that wasn’t such a “gotcha” moment, and maybe if there weren’t so many of those moments, then I would remember them even more fondly than I do now.

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Waku Waku +NYC Blog: Why I’m Excited About Inafune Keiji

New York City Anime/Japanese Pop Culture Festival Waku Waku +NYC recently announced the appearance of Inafune Keiji as a special guest, known for his work on Mega Man and Mighty No. 9, and I got the opportunity to write a piece on Inafune.

ALSO IF YOU BUY A VIP PASS BY 11:59PM EST ON JUNE 7TH YOU’LL BE GUARANTEED TO MEET INAFUNE

A lot of people probably know his story already, and if you’ve followed Ogiue Maniax over the years, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Mega Man and Inafune, whether it’s analyzing the sprites in terms of their usage of black pixels, creating my own Robot Masters, or creating a guide on how to use Mega Man in Super Smash Bros. I pledged to the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter almost as soon as I could.

I know it’s not the first time he’s been to the US, but if you’re on the east coast especially, I think it’s worth it to come meet Inafune in person.

10 Tips for Using Mega Man in Smash Bros.

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I’m not a super high level player, but I’ve dedicated a good amount of time to learning the intricacies of Mega Man as a character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U. For those of you curious about Mega Man, or looking to use him as your primary character, here are ten tips you might find useful.

1) Mega Man is more durable than he looks

Mega Man may be small, but you might be surprised how much he can survive. He’s actually among the fastest-falling characters in the game, and above-average in terms of weight. This means he’s slightly harder to kill off the top of the screen than Ganondorf, and harder to kill off the sides of the screen than Mario. Combined with his tiny frame, it means that Mega Man can live for a pretty long while, and in this game the higher damage you’re at, the more knock-back your attacks have (this is often referred to as “rage”).

2) Mega Man is extremely maneuverable in the air

Mega Man moves very similarly to how he would in his source games, and it means that Mega Man is very “wiggly.” If you’re just using Mega Man exclusively you might not notice it, but pick a character like Marth or (especially) Little Mac and try to move back and forth in the air. It can feel like molasses compared to Mega Man. Because he also has a crisp second jump, the ability to act out of his Up Special, and high fall speed, it means Mega Man can quickly weave in and out while in the air. When combined with his heavy array of ranged weaponry, it can be a strong way to keep the opponent guessing.

3) Mega Man is a mid-range fighter, not a long-range one

The first thing you probably notice when using Mega Man is how many projectile-based moves he has. They occupy approximately 50% of his moveset, while other melee attacks such as the down tilt (Slide) and dash attack (Top Spin) are also designed to hit from afar by moving Mega Man forward. However, if you think you can stand on the other side of the screen and throw stuff at the opponent all day long, you’re in for a rude awakening. Not only do some characters out-range Mega Man (Link and Toon Link, for example), but his projectiles do relatively little damage. Instead, they’re best used as a means of getting close to the opponent, getting the opponent off of you, or covering your retreat, depending on what’s needed at any given moment.

4) Mega Man is about patience and slow, gradual damage

Related to the previous point, Mega Man is not a combo-oriented character, nor is he generally a heavy hitter. If you get too eager or brash with your movements, you will suffer because Mega Man doesn’t have as many tools for fighting at close range compared to other characters. Wear the opponent down with projectiles, grab and throw them as they’re trying to shield to get them in the air, and then, rather than expecting Mega Man to be able to immediately follow up with some ridiculously strong attack or long combo, use this time to improve your physical position relative to the opponent’s, or to gain a small lead. For example, slide into them as they try to land.

5) Pellets are your friend

Mega Man’s jab, forward tilt, and neutral air attack all mimic his basic attack from the Mega Man games, and while they do not pack much power they are extremely versatile. Pellets are very quick to come out, can neutralize most projectiles (including those reflected back at you), and can halt head-on approaches. It can also cover up some of his other weaknesses. When Mega Man uses his Up Special (Rush), for instance, he usually suffers some kind of cool-down upon landing that renders him vulnerable. One way to cover for this is to land while shooting, which offers you some projection. When fighting a character like Peach who possesses a strong ability in her signature float, you can shoot at her to keep her at bay, to damage her as she tries to retreat. Just keep in mind, again, that the range on the pellets is relatively short compared to your other projectiles.

6) Mega Man has only a few KO moves

Unlike a lot of characters, relatively few of Mega Man’s attacks are meant for outright finishing the opponent off. However, the few he does have can be extremely potent as long as you understand their strengths and weaknesses. Up Tilt (Mega Upper) is basically a shoryuken from Street Fighter: it’s quick to come out and can KO very early, but leaves Mega Man wide open to an attack if he misses. Back air (Slash Claw) is quick and reliable, but really only works as a final blow if the opponent is near or off the ledge. Down Smash (Flame Burst) is very strong but has a very small window of opportunity combined with long start-up and cool-down, which means it’s best used for punishing the opponent’s attempt to roll behind you. Up smash (Spark Shock) is quick, but lacks range and for a KO move is pretty weak. As for the last notable attack…

7) When it comes to Mega Man’s forward smash (Charge Shot), quality is better than quantity

I know that it’s tempting to use Mega Man’s charged forward smash to try and hit the opponent from a distance, but it’s actually not good for this purpose. The opponent can generally see it coming from a mile away, especially because it travels further the more it’s charged, and if you miss you’re very much a sitting duck. Instead Mega Man’s Charge Shot is best used intelligently. For example, use Charge Shot to catch an opponent rolling back, if they’re trying to recover after being knocked off the stage, or if they’re trying to land. This last one is especially important, because in this game if the opponent tries to air dodge too close to the ground they become vulnerable for a brief moment, perfect for a giant energy blast to connect with their face.

8) Mega Man is good at keeping his KO moves at full power

Smash Bros. has a system called “stale moves” where the more you use an attack the weaker it becomes, and the way to restore the power of your attacks is to use different moves. This is another area where Mega Man’s pellets shine. All of his basic Arm Cannon attacks all do low damage already so they are less affected by this system, and all it takes is a few rounds of fire to bring your other attacks back to their maximum potential.

9) Mega Man’s air attacks are great for air to air combat, but terrible for air to ground combat

Mega Man’s air attacks are all very potent against airborne opponents. Forward air (Flame Sword) and back air (Slash Claw) are both quick to come out, do not count as part of Mega Man’s body, and Slash Claw can even KO at decent percents. Up air (Air Shooter) and down air (Hard Knuckle) both count as projectiles and can finish the opponent off early in certain situations. However, with the notable exception of his neutral air mentioned above, all of Mega Man’s air options have long landing lag, which means that if he lands while performing an attack, it will leave him vulnerable. If you try to hit the opponent with a Flame Sword and they shield, for example, they can generally retaliate without you being able to do anything about it. This doesn’t mean you should never use them against a grounded opponent, but it should be as a punishment after they’ve whiffed an attack, or if you’ve tricked them into not shielding.

10) Metal Blade has  a ton of uses

This point could probably be expanded into ten different sub-points, but it’s important to understand just how versatile Mega Man’s Neutral Special (Metal Blade) can be. It counts as an item, which makes it unaffected by Stale Moves. It has different properties when fired as a projectile and when thrown, including damage (higher if thrown) and range (can travel eight directions if fired but only four if thrown). It can be used while Mega Man is running away. If you’re coming in from off-stage, you can fire Metal Blade to keep your opponent from coming after you. If held as an item, Metal Blade can be dropped instead of thrown; try using this against an opponent recovering onto the stage from below. Perhaps best of all, while the opponent can steal it from you, it means that as long as they’re holding the Metal Blade they don’t have access to their regular attacks, thus limiting their options.

I hope that this helps out you aspiring Mega Man players, either to look more closely at the character either or to start you off on your quest to defeating all of the proverbial Robot Masters around you. Keep in mind that these tips provide a fairly general overview of Mega Man, and that each point can be elaborated upon in much greater detail. I didn’t even really talk about the other special moves! Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun playing.

Smash Hype

I’m attending a midnight launch for the new Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and of course I’m super excited. In the coming days, if you see a Mega Man on wi-fi called Nobie, that’s me. Let’s fight like gentlemen.

Speaking of Mega Man, I’ve already played the hell out of the demo. While this only gives me limited exposure to the cast and how they can fight against Mega Man, one thing I do want to say about the character is to not give up on him. He may seem awkward and clumsy at first, but it’s because he’s actually really counter-intuitive to how you’d typically play a character in Smash Bros. All of you aspiring Blue Bomber players, keep that in mind!

A Couple of Cool Things About Mega Man’s Final Smash

Yesterday was the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Invitational Tournament, and during it we got to see Mega Man’s Final Smash in full. Previously, it had already been revealed that it was a combined blast from five different iterations of the Blue Bomber, but what we didn’t see is that the set up for the attack is actually the Black Hole Bomb from Mega Man 9.

I love this, because while Mega Man’s moveset in the new Smash Bros. is basically an elaborate homage to all of the games of the classic series, it was conspicuously missing attacks from the most recent retro-style games. With the Black Hole Bomb, this has been remedied. Mega Man 10 is still missing, but at least we got one step closer.

It also makes a kind of weird science fiction-esque sense that Mega Men from multiple universes and timelines would converge inside of a black hole.

As a side note, seeing Hungrybox get a kill with Kirby’s up-throw in yesterday’s final brought joy to my heart, as it means that throws have killing power at relatively decent percentages again without having to factor in elaborate follow-ups, something that’s been missing since the original Super Smash Bros. unless you count some of Mewtwo’s and Ness’s throws in Melee.

P.S. Where is Mewtwo. WHERE IS MEWTWO.

 

Are You as Excited as I am About Mega Man in Smash Bros?

Nintendo just revealed the new Super Smash Bros. today at E3, and the Villager from Animal Crossing as well as Mega Man have been confirmed as characters.

Next to NiGHTS, Mega Man was my #1 wish for Smash Bros. (and putting in a character more flight-themed than even Pit is a tall order), so I am super, super hyped. Sure, the Sonic reveal from Brawl was cool in that we got to see that console rivalry materialize in a way which was not some game about the Olympics, but Mega Man is a bigger deal to me.

We know nothing about the balance or the depth of the game outside of the fact that it seems to not be wildly different from its predecessors, so obviously this isn’t based on how great the new Smash Bros. is. Rather, it’s because Mega Man as a series is very precious to me, a piece of my childhood.

While NiGHTS into dreams… and Pokemon taught me all about being a part of a fandom, I think it was actually Mega Man which first taught me how to be a fan. By providing an exciting world with a clear template for personal input, the Robot Masters, the series allowed me to exercise my creative imagination as young as the age of 4. I still remember Cockroach Man and Glue Man to this day.

There’s a bit of information about his moveset from the trailer: He has his slide, Charge Shot, and Rush Coil, as well as the ability to access moves from a variety of Robot Masters from his own franchise. Exactly ow many weapons are available is unclear, but it looks to be quite a bit more than, say, his entry into Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Even if we didn’t know that, however, there’s something about Mega Man which makes him easy to imagine in Smash Bros., even more than in his other fighting game appearances. The run speed, the jump height, the various interactions of his attacks, it all makes sense. Perhaps the only disappointing thing is that he can’t absorb other characters’ powers it seems, so no Mega Kirby vs. Kirby Man.

I don’t have a Wii U or a 3DS yet, but this may be my incentive. Well, that and Pokemon X/Y.