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.

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.

Stealthman

This time in my own personal attempt at creating a set of Robot Masters I present to you Stealthman.

Stealthman, unlike Novaman, is not a product of my youth as an avid gamer but rather a recent idea. His gimmick, like all Megaman bosses, is in his name and as such I incorporated “stealth” design elements acccordingly.

The key features of Stealthman are the tapered edges all along his body, as well as his thin limbs which are unusual as far as Megaman bosses go. All of this is based on the principle that stealth aircraft are thin to avoid detection and lack rounded edges because those bounce back radar signals more easily. Now I know his design isn’t actually stealth-worthy what with him being a robot whose head is jutting out and all that, but it was more to give him the trappings of stealthiness. Also, if you’re wondering about the feet, he floats.

In battle, Stealthman would naturally cloak himself to avoid detection and then shoot bombs at you. Out of those two weapons, Megaman would be getting the “Stealth Cloak.” With it, Megaman would be able to slip by those enemies which tend to react to his presence, such as Mettools and any homing weapons. It would drain meter similar to Flashman’s Time Stopper except you’d be able to switch out of the weapon at any time. Megaman would be able to still fire while Stealth Cloak is in effect, but perhaps at a reduced capacity.

As for the sprite itself, it took quite a few tries in terms of color scheme to really match up to the drawing I made, but I think it turned out well in the end.

Novaman

I’ve been on a bit of a Megaman and, by extension, a Megaman sprites kick recently, but it’s been a while since I actually designed an original sprite.

Here is Novaman. His power: Nova Spark. He’s actually based on a design from when I was a little kid, except back then he looked like a total Metalman rip-off. He had the same face, a fireball instead of a blade on his head, same color, everything.

I designed his left arm to be different from his right arm because the right one shoots normal shots while the left one is attached to the compressed star you can see in his chest, and is the arm which releases the Nova Spark. The attack itself would be a slow moving projectile which gets bigger and bigger until it collapses and explodes.

One thing to keep in mind when designing Megaman boss sprites is to realize just how few colors are actually used in the sprite. Novaman here, aside from the necessary black (for the outline) and white (the eyes), only uses red and blue distributed throughout his design in a versatile manner.

Oh, and for those who missed it, here’s some of the stuff I’ve posted previously on the subject.

Garbageman Animation

Sprite Analysis

Megaman PC Robot Masters

Megaman 10 Robot Masters (Clean-Up)

Megaman 10 Robot Master Analysis

I Was Right About the Megaman 10 Robot Masters

A few days ago I made a post about how the eight primary bosses of Megaman 10 looked quite different from their predecessors, most of which were in-story creations of either Dr. Light or Dr. Wily, and thus felt that these new robots were the work of neither. What I did not know was that the magazine which announced the eight robot masters, Coro Coro, also included basic information about them, and it turns out that all of them are robots who had normal jobs who were then affected by a virus which made them go berserk. In other words, none of the Robot Masters were designed by Wily or Light, and  my suspicions based on their designs turned out to be true.

“Congratulations,” I said to myself as my right arm patted my left shoulder, “You figured out a plot point in a game meant to evoke the nonsense plots of the NES-era.”

Megaman 10 Robot Master Analysis

These are the 8 Robot Masters of the recently announced Megaman 10. If you haven’t seen their sprites yet, you can consult my post from yesterday. As promised, I will be talking about their designs more today, laying out what I feel are key aspects of the latest set of eight.

When I look at the bosses of Megaman 10 I can sense a difference between them and their predecessors. While the game’s designs are still in-line with the overall classic Megaman aesthetic of cute and simple anime-style characters, there’s a consistent theme throughout their designs which only occurred sparingly in previous Megaman games.

The most prominent one is that the descriptor in their name dictates a lot more of their design in general than in previous games. Strikeman’s torso is designed to look like a baseball. Commandoman is a tank on legs. Sheepman needs no explanation. The properties that define them are more explicitly incorporated into their designs. The closest we get to more orthodox designs are Solarman and Chillman, and even they have somewhat unusual bodies.

While you have a few Robot Masters from previous games which do follow this trend seen in Megaman 10, such as Heatman having a Zippo Lighter for a body, they’re more the exception than the rule. When you compare Metalman to Blademan, Metalman is merely adorned with sharp spinning blades, whereas Blademan has swords for arms and a sword for a head.

Overall, these robots do not look quite like any bosses from the past. They do not resemble any of Dr. Light’s designs, nor Dr. Wily’s or Dr. Cossack’s. I think this is intentional. My suspicion is that, in actuality, none of these Robot Masters are Dr. Wily’s, and that they’re coming from another source entirely or from multiple different sources. In a way, they remind me of Megaman 6 because that game also had Robot Masters who didn’t seem all that Wily-esque, which made sense seeing as all of them were supposed to have come from different countries.

So I’m throwing it out there: I don’t think Dr. Wily is responsible for the Robot Masters in Megaman 10, and in fact I bet he was planning to attack with his own set of 8, but his minions also got affected by the “Roboenza” virus. That doesn’t mean he won’t be the villain, but I think it’ll be more him taking advantage of a bad situation. Or maybe once you figure out the cause of Roboenza and find the cure, then he’ll make his move.

Megaman 10 Robot Master Pixelization

The 8 Bosses of Megaman 10 were announced recently, and IGN had the courtesy to showcase both the character art and the sprites. The only problem is that they saved the sprites as jpg’s, and in doing so reduced some of the quality of the sprites. Wanting to see how they “really” look, I decided to reverse-engineer the sprites based on those screenshots and such, and in doing so I developed a greater appreciation for them than I had previously.

As a disclaimer, while I used an NES palette to determine colors, I was not able to 100% figure out the colors for the sprites based on the source jpg’s. If anyone knows the proper colors, please tell me so I can fix them.


Blademan


Solarman


Sheepman


Commandoman


Pumpman


Strikeman


Nitroman


Chillman

Upon closer look, I’d say there’s something very interesting and different about these designs compared to previous Megaman games. I’ll go in-depth into my thoughts about these new Robot Masters tomorrow, so for now just enjoy the pixeled goodness.