By Kratch 1 Comments
Like love and hate, there's a thin line between Fire Man and Ice Man.
Wait, shit, no there isn't.
A couple of things stood out to me while playing through Ice Man's stage. The first was that it contains the earliest form of the "head shot" in any games that I've personally played. When one of the enemies is shot in the legs, it separates and continues attacking with its head, but when shot in the face, it's destroyed completely. I'm sure its not the first example of the one-head-shot-kill, but it was fun to conceptually connect zapping a silly green cartoon robot in the dome to sniping a dude's brains out from two hundred yards in a modern military shooter like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
The other thing I noticed and was impressed by, and that a lot of the other stages have as well, is multiple ways to get through sections of a stage. This isn't to say that the stages branch off. They are extremely linear, but there is often multiple ways of getting through an area. For example, there are two sections with disappearing and re-appearing blocks that you must memorize to get to the next area. After I was having trouble with a later section, I looked up a playthrough video on YouTube, and noticed that the maker of the video solved both blocks puzzles in a different way than I had. This, coupled with the use of all of the robot masters' weapon abilities, show a little of the depth of the Mega Man games, and why they are still talked about and loved.
Fire Man's stage has, like most of the levels so far, some pillow-punchingly frustrating moments, but it was definitely easier than Ice Man's disappearing blocks and floating platforms that, by the way, shoot you to your death the moment you think it's safe to jump.
Using Mega Man's gun that creates temporary platforms can help a lot in this and Ice Man's stage, and it got me thinking that giving the player the choice whether or not, and when, to use the robot master abilities was an incredibly ingenious chunk of game design. This is because it does a couple very interesting things at once.
First, it creates an experience in which the player has to figure out which weapons and abilities work the best for which enemies and situations. Not only that, but the player must also experiment with the order they choose to play the levels in. While this may seem a bit frustrating and time-consuming today, (and is the main reason why I'm using the internet to do the brunt of the work for me) when you're a young kid who only gets to buy or rent a few games in a year, it makes the game feel much bigger than it really is. It adds a layer of depth that creates multiple playing possibilities. You could spend weeks trying all the different weapons and abilities on different enemies, areas, and bosses.
The second thing that the combination of weapons and choice of sequence in receiving those weapons does in Mega Man is allow the player to set his or her own difficulty when playing the game. This doesn't mean that you can make Mega Man super easy, but if you know which weapons to use and when, the game becomes manageable to someone like myself who plays a lot of games but isn't exactly Billy Mitchell, and if you are an evil game-playing savant like the dark lord of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, the game is designed in such a way that it's possible, barely, to get through it without using the extra abilities, just your trusty Mega Buster. So, there is a difficulty range, though not exceedingly wide, that the player self-imposes. As I said before, pretty ingenious stuff.
Next time, we delve into Dr. Wily's castle, but the Mega Log may go on hold for a bit. The epileptic explosion of a fighting game Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has taken hold of me and refuses to let go. If I can tear myself away, I may write something about it. Also, I've somehow gotten into playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 online and am surprised at just how much I'm enjoying it. Toodles.