The Saga of “Nintendo Hard”

24 09 2008

I took a GamerDNA quiz recently which asked “What generation of video games are you?”. The most common response was the 90s. I got the 70s. Pong, Atari 2600, and coin-ops. I’d say that’s more late 70s / early 80s, especially since I was born mid 70s. Most of the responses I picked were that my first gaming memories were of arcade coin-ops rather than Nintendo, because I started becoming aware of the awe and mystique of games at that point in my life… the NES came into play later on, in Elementary, Junior High and beyond.

I never actually owned an NES, though. My parent felt a computer was better for me than a dedicated games machine. So, I had an Apple //c, which was pretty badass and helped form my modern computing sensibilities, but it wasn’t exactly known for its gaming power compared to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nobody comes over to your house specially to play on your awesome Apple //c, whereas I’d routinely go to my friend’s houses just to play some sweet, sweet Nintendo. (Even friends who were not actually that friendly to me at times. Sigh.)

When I watched horrible kids game shows on Nickelodeon, and I saw how they had the option of picking a full NES system, I always drooled with envy and cursed the kids who passed it over in favor of a bike or a telescope or whatever. (“C’mon! It’s the EN EE ESS! What the hell are you thinking, not grabbing it when other kids can’t have one?!”)

Anyway. The point is, I didn’t get to play a lot of the classics of the golden era. Thus, I end up being nostalgic in hindsight, and that brings us to me picking up Megaman 2 on the Wii Virtual Console. And it kicking my ass quite a bit.

So far I’ve beaten Flash Man, but that’s like saying to pushed a one legged blind guy over using a long stick. I’ve gotten to the end of Metal Man’s stage, then he slaughtered me. I couldn’t get very far at all on Bubble Man’s stage thanks to those damn frogs. And Fire Man? Aiee.

MM2 is considered to be the best in the series — a perfect balance of music, graphics, reasonable difficulty (particularly since it had a choice between “bend over” and “bend over plus reacharound”). I’ve never played it before. I had a used copy of an MM game for my old black and white Gameboy in college, when I was able to buy game systems with my own money rather than rely on the parents, and I remember it being hard but I eventually got through it… my tolerance for try-and-fail-and-try was higher then. Hell, I got through the original Castlevania Adventure gameboy cart and that thing was punishingly nasty about precision jumping.

Despite me trying to use the reflexes of a disabled guy in his mid thirties to beat a game from an era known for demanding utter perfectionism due to the primary audience being quick-witted kids with nothing to do but play games all day, I’m actually enjoying the game. I’m not GOOD at it, but I appreciate its aesthetic, I appreciate what it represents, and it’s a good trip down a lane of memories I never actually got to have but always wanted.

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26 responses

24 09 2008
tozetre

I had an NES, and mostly I got side-scrollers for it. I tried to get Zelda but dad wouldn’t let me. I sucked at all the games so, so bad- never even finished Mario. But MM was what convinced me I needed to look somewhere else for my entertainment- ironically, to the Apple //c, which kicked off my programming career. :P

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

The //c was a pretty impressive piece of kit, and I do have fond memories of the games I have on it and their awkward controls and weird purple-green-white graphics. And yeah, it definitely was a good starting point if you wanted your kids to be chained to a desktop PC in a cubicle for the rest of their lives (albeit with a swinging digital lifestyle after hours).
What appealed to me about the NES over the //c was that even though I couldn’t create things on it (I was making games even on my apple, yo, oldskool) the NES had more colorful graphics, great music, and it had this “aura” around it thanks to a one-two punch of childhood socializing and mass marketing that made it AWESOME. It almost didn’t matter what you were playing as long as you were playing Nintendo.

24 09 2008
tozetre

True- but I was out in bumfuck Saskatchewan, literally an hour’s drive (on gravel roads) from the nearest city. I couldn’t even dial in to BBSes. I was so far out that I didn’t even bother going to grade school, my parents just threw books at me. So I didn’t get the socialization _or_ the mass marketing. I think that says more for the NES, though; despite not being told it was cool, I came to the conclusion myself that it was a very nice piece of technology, and I had an adequate library of games. Good engineering tells.
I think the reason I paid more attention to the //c was that, for me, getting under the hood was always more interesting than using it normally. I mean, on the one hand I want my tools to “just work,” but on the other if I’m going to have fun with something it’ll probably involve disassembly, MMOs notwithstanding. :P Remember that //c game, I can’t remember the name, with Rocky the Raccoon and the electrical engineering logic gates? I think I can trace my early grasp of logic and reason to that game, which I played constantly. So sad. :P

24 09 2008
sptrashcan

So hard, they wrote a song about it
While I’ve never played the game myself, I hear from reputable sources that Air Man will not die. And Wood Man’s no pushover either.

24 09 2008
kamalloy

Rocky’s Boots! I loved that game. ^^ I think that means I was destined from an early age for a career in the CS/EE fields.

24 09 2008
Anonymous

I think the problem is with the Mega Man formula.
To wit, “perfect” Mega Man games stop /just/ short of “I Wanna Be The Guy” in terms of the stellar reflexes needed to succeed unless you’re using the special weapons of the bosses. It was a particularly wonderful bit of sadistic cruelty to make Flash Man, the weakest boss, the weakness of Quick Man. Who’s not only fairly strong, but has what is widely considered the hardest stage in the series.
…yes, I’ve beaten it. No, I don’t think I’ll be trying that again any time soon.
– TH

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’m really not anticipating beating it. But I think that the game can be experienced, can be appreciated, can be FUN even without “clearing” it. If anything, the game lends itself to this thanks to the nonlinear challenges and infinite continues — if you’re having trouble on one stage, wander over to another one, and so on. It’s not like a traditional game where if you’re stuck on Stage 4 you’ll never see Stages 5-7.
Still, I feel no need to buy other MM games. Getting a chance to experience the pinnacle of the series for only 5 bucks is a steal; and that’s enough for me.

24 09 2008
aj_hyena

I had a NES. I was a Mario addict.
Nowdays I just play Chrono Trigger on my ZSNES emulator.

24 09 2008
aj_hyena

As for Mega Man silliness, have you tried reading Bob and George?

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

You can’t swing a dead pixelated cat without hitting a Megaman Sprite Comic these days, it seems.

24 09 2008
tozetre

CT; best video game RPG of all time, ever.

24 09 2008
tozetre

Seconded, with an extra helping of bile.

24 09 2008
aj_hyena

Bob and George ended last year, but it is the granddaddy of Sprite Comics.

24 09 2008
pockyman

I’ve always been a fan of the Mega Man series, with 2 being my favorite. But I do understand your not wanting to try the others – in the end, they are just more of the same. Granted, I like that (I play WoW, I must. >.>) in some of my games. ^_^;
My second computer was an Apple IIC, after my Commodore Vic 20. It got me into computers and games, and I had it up until recently. ^^ I loved that thing.

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Commodores were fascinating to me. My friend who had all the awesome toys (relatively rich family, and three similarly aged brothers meant they had a lotta stuff) had both an NES we played extensively, and a C64.
The C64 was an arcane wad of strange technologies. We poked at that thing quite a bit trying to figure out how to get his boxes and boxes of pirates games to load properly… some needed special load commands beyond LOAD “*”,8,1 and others would only work after spinning their wheels for 3 minutes of disk loading, etc. I got to recreate the dark magic joy of trying to get a C64 to work once emulators became more common place… even THOSE needed to be prodded gently and poked and puzzled over to get their virtual disks to load.

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

We had a pretty nice set of Apple ][e computers in elementary school, thanks to Apples For the Students, which our grocery stores were sponsoring. I think we had like 30+ of the things on wheeled carts, one whole unit you could just schlep from room to room, very handy. Got to the point by the time I left that every classroom had one and the computer lab was fully stocked.
I saw Rocky’s Boots as one of the many programs available. I don’t know if I played it much. I must have… but the only ones that really stick in my mind are Print Shop (of course!), its big brother which did newsletters whose name escapes me, Math Muncher, and Karateka. (I was the god of our computer class when I got all the way to the end of that game… and then was foiled by a bad sector on the disk which meant it wouldn’t load any further.)
(EDIT: New icon!)

24 09 2008
pockyman

The Vic 20 was actually a bit weirder, since it used the cassette tape drive and cartridges. I never got anything to run off the blasted tape drive. -.-
I got an NES for Christmas after the launch, when the Super Mario Brothers pack was released. Even still, I played more games on the Apple II C for a good while to come, since there weren’t many RPGs on the NES yet.
Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy came along and thus began my NES RPG addiction. >.>

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

New icon! :D I couldn’t resist.
My friends were never that into Super Mario Bros. Duck Hunt, sure, but SMB usually got ignored. Later on I myself would adore SMB2, mostly because it was one of the few games the hospital playroom had during a long post-surgery recovery, then SMB3, since it was one of the few games my cousin had and we were really bored during family visits.

24 09 2008
pockyman

Heh heh. XD
Duck Hunt I got bored with quickly when I played at a friend’s place. Then again, I cheated. >.>
The SMB series have always been just challenging enough (the original SMB2 in Japan notwithstanding, I mean, oh my God @.@) for me, which is one of the reasons I like them. ^^

24 09 2008
Anonymous

Ah, memories…
…of the fact that even though I started playing video games with the Atari 400, I was (and still am, I find) hopelessly horrible at platformers. And since 90% of all console games until the PS1 era were platformers…
If it wasn’t for fighting games showing up in the arcades, I woulda gotten pretty depressed about my lameness.
Hmm… something about MM2 that comes to mind: is the Metal Blade still considered the greatest weapon in the whole series?
-NeoVid

24 09 2008
demigod

Step One: Kill Metal Man
Step Two: Win!
Metal Man’s weapon is the single best weapon in the game. When you have to kill all the bosses a second time, Metal Man’s own weapon will one-shot him.

24 09 2008
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Ah, memories…
Hey, I had an Atari 400! Minor 2049er rules.
According to the FAQs I’ve read, Metal Blade is still the shiz. I just need a way to take his roboty ass down; I can get through his stage okay, but then he’s like a blitzkrieg of pain.

24 09 2008
jaeai

I miss my Apple IIC+ . That thing had the most awesome 3.5″ drive ever. I found a joystick for it that had very touchy controls, perfect for my helicopter game.

26 09 2008
jengagne

Re: Ah, memories…
Miner 2049er was fun, but it’s no Lemonade. That damn game set me on the road which leads us into SL business today. ;)

26 09 2008
jengagne

Speaking of Duck Hunt… I was amused by this. (hope the link works…)

26 09 2008
pockyman

Heh. XD

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