-by Dylan DiBona
*Disclaimer – My apologies if this piece seems of lesser quality than normal. I’m writing this on the go, coming back from vacation.*
We all have those series of games that everyone seems to love, but when we try it- it doesn’t do the trick. For me, that series is Mega Man (even X). On paper I should love Mega Man; I love platformers and I love action games. I’ve tried more than a handful of times but the Mega Man games simply feel too hard.
We’ve come so far in the medium that we know how certain things should feel in video games. In Mega Man 1, the blue bomber was heavier and thus slower. This was fixed in subsequent games in the series, a welcomed change.
We know good gameplay from bad, but one place fans and critics aren’t definite on is structure. This can mean a couple of things but today I’m using the term to describe the overall build and pacing of a game.
I was born and raised in the Ps1/Ps2 era, when games were generally getting easier. In the NES era, games were so small they could generally be beaten within an hour; and since games were actually more expensive than they are today, things needed to change if consumers wanted more worth for their dollar.
To bulk up playtime, developers increased the difficulty of their games to create a false sense of longevity. One of the most infamous cases is that of Capcoms Mega Man.
Being a huge fan of Shovel Knight, I decided to go back to the games that inspired it. I recently purchased the Mega Man Legacy collection which holds every game on the NES; and from a totally unbiased newcomer point of view, these games just aren’t welcoming to newcomers at all.
Mega Man is all about memorization and studying the stages. That’s fine with me, but the series doesn’t make it easy or even fun at all. For example, in Mega Man 6, I had to jump over two lava pits. Little did I know when I did, a mechanical fish hopped out the lava and killed me. Now as a player I know I should remember the threat for next time. What I don’t like is that the game offered me no way of preparing for the threat, the water didn’t bubble, the fish didn’t hop out of the water early; the only way to learn was dying.
The Mega Man games like to punish newcomers, which I don’t think any game should do. Take Mega Man 1 for example, the easiest way to beat the Yellow Devil boss is through a pause glitch exploration. How is that fair or even enjoyable?
I don’t like it when games hand over victories, but I also hate repetitive deaths and seemingly impossible challenges. I’ve come to realize I appreciate the illusion of challenge than a genuine threat. I’d rather a boss get me down to 1 HP than actually kill me.
But as I said before, difficulty is one of the biggest gray areas for fans. Some people like they’re games very hard like Dark Souls so they feel like they’ve overcomed something. Other like they’re games easy so they can just have fun and experience the game for what it is.
So what do you guys think? Easy games or hard games? Is Mega Man stupidly hard or am I a weak willed gamer? As always, thanks for reading.