Mega Man X

Not to be confused with Mega Man 10, and certainly not Mega Man Eggs.

There’s a video on youtube which goes into excessive gory detail about the smart design of MMX, which is well worth a watch even if you have no interest in the Mega Men. Since watching it, I’ve really started noticing the smart design elements of good games. Did you know, in level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., there is a wall you can only get past by taking a running jump? It’s in a little ditch with no enemies nearby so you can learn by doing.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand- I’m playing the SNES version, which came bundled on the SNES Mini. (Apparently it was released on mobile devices? Playing a game like this on a touch screen sounds about as much fun as driving nails into my teeth.) I consider it separate from my ill-fated new-years resolution to play all the Mega Mens 1-10 (not X), since the X series is its own standalone thing.

While playing those, I think I came to the realisation that me and Mega Man just aren’t compatible. The gameplay cycle core to the series is the acquisition of boss-enemy weapons each time you defeat one, with each boss being weak to another’s weapon type. Bosses are HARD in these games, so taking advantage of these weaknesses is key to success.

This is where the incompatibility came into play. Often these weaknesses would let you finish a boss off in seconds, with them barely having the chance to get a hit in. It felt too easy- learning boss attack patterns and countering them is fun for me, and that’s what I was expecting, so I tried to beat each boss with just the standard blaster.

This was fine for the first two games, if occasionally frustrating. By the time I got to MM3, though, the series had definitely decided my way was incorrect. Several bosses were nigh-impossible without using the right weapon (and before you accuse me of just being a scrub, I looked up guides that all said the same damned thing- only luck and prayer would get me through that fight). It just wasn’t fun, for me.

Mega Man X, though! The same gameplay loop is in place, but now using the RIght Weapon actually changes the way the boss battles, instead of just killing them effortlessly. Electrocuting the Armadillo boss makes him drop his shields, so he can’t deflect shots any more! Cutting off the Octopus boss’ tentacles means he can’t grab you any more! It’s great.

Fin or Bin:

Sorry Mega Man, it’s not you, it’s me- we just don’t work together. But thanks for introducing me to your cousin, we’re having a good time from start to Finish.

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