System: Nintendo Famicom
Completed: January 12, 2014
My usual modus operandi is to get a few games for a system before purchasing said system; that way, I can dive right into it. eBay makes fools of us all, and once I saw a deal on a boxed Famicom, I had to get it.
Why did I do that? Seriously, I did no research beforehand on whether it was compatible with my television set, what games were available given my limited understanding of the Japanese language, or even the cost of importing any good games that weren’t readily available for the Nintendo Entertainment System…
Sometimes, things just work out. I was able to use an RF adaptor from another system and set my television to channel 96 to see a picture (after wondering very loudly and angrily why it didn’t work on 3 or 4). I also enjoyed the fact that I could get games that were relatively expensive for the North American version on the cheap! That was the case with the first Rockman. Mega Man might cost about $40 loose on eBay, whereas Rockman was less than $20. There was another deal that completely justified buying the Famicom, but I will get to that in a later post. Plus, Rockman came in a powder blue cartridge! Bonus!!
I have been a huge fan of Mega Man (honestly, not sure why they changed the name. Rockman sounds kinda cool to me!) since I was young. I played Mega Man 6 relentlessly and borrowed Mega Man 4 from my neighbors pretty frequently (Kerri and Kaitlyn, I think we still have that cartridge…). I think this is why I’m more of a fan of the later releases than the rest of the internet.
My neighbors also had the first Mega Man game that we borrowed less frequently. I remember not enjoying it as much since you couldn’t slide, charge the Mega Buster, there were less robot masters, and it was easier. Yeah, I said that. The reason I say it’s easier is because the special weapons could dispatch the right boss in two or three shots. This is also one of the first games I remember creating mini challenges for myself: in this case, beat the robot masters using only the Arm Cannon. I was eventually able to complete this a few years back with each of the Classic Mega Man titles.
This title is almost identical to the North American release except for the title screen and one word in the ending (take a guess which one). Dr. Light builds a couple of robots, including Dwayne Johnson and a housekeeping female robot (because he’s progressive like that). His rival, Dr. Wily, gets into a Facebook war with Dr. Light on which Bill Murray movie is the best. This is stupid since that’s like asking which flavor of ice cream is the best.
The correct answers are What About Bob and cookies ‘n cream. In that order.
Dr. Light vehemently argues that Space Balls is, by far, the greatest Bill Murray movie of all time. Dr. Wily throws a hissy fit all over the internet before building (or kidnapping, the plot isn’t so clear. I don’t read Japanese very well) six robots in an angry stupor. Dwayne Johnson can’t stand this, so he eats his spinach to evolve into Rockman!!
The game itself is fairly straightforward just like its plot. Dr. Light stinks at what he does, so instead of awesome lasers or chainsaws, Rockman gets equipped with a pea shooter. “Yeah, you’ll get a better weapon if you kill someone first.”
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure this is the Highlander with robots. I’m assuming Dr. Light is Sean Connery. Was Dwayne Johnson in Highlander?
I like to tackle Bomb Man first. The problem with his stage is all the spikes. I wouldn’t mind it so much if that was his theme, like, I don’t know, CUT MAN, but I’ll chalk that up to a missed opportunity. After he spazzes around the room for a few minutes like a monkey on Ritalin, he eventually gets tired and hurls a few bombs. Easy pickin’s. Next!
Guts Man’s stage was more annoying when I was a kid. I think that’s because I never had a lot of patience. I still don’t, but at least now that I know the consequence is death, I’m a little better at waiting for the platforms. Guts Man jumps and throws rocks. He also likes to explode.
Cut Man is another stage with a lot of waiting, namely for the Suzies to clear a path. Then again, I’ve never been one to take the pacifistic approach in video games. I think that was another problem I had with this game: I felt obligated to destroy all of the enemies, taking too much time on the peons and making stupid mistakes. Speaking of stupid mistakes, have you ever tried to use the Super Arm against Cut Man? He moves a little too sporadically to really hit him, and I can never remember if there’s an arc to the throw or if it’s a direct throw. Somehow, I missed with both. Since I am writing this about seven months after the fact and I cannot remember, odds are I’ll forget the trajectory next time I play. Spraying pellets at him works pretty well, though.
Elec Man… What is with the tedious waiting?!? This time, it comes in the form of those ladders. Make one mistake, and you don’t die like in Guts Man’s stage. No, you are insultingly flung to the bottom to do it all over again unless you take your time to slowly climb the ladders, avoiding bursts of electricity and those UFO-like enemies. This might be why the first game in the series is one of my least favorites. I was always curious why they had boulders in Elec Man’s chamber. Maybe it was to trick the player into thinking Super Arm was his weakness. Out of curiosity, I tried it. Satisfying your curiosity feels like dying.
By the time I got to the moving platforms in Ice Man’s stage, I was sick of waiting. Magnet Beam across the chasm, lightning to Ice Man’s face. Done.
Fire Man is one of the first ones that feel like an actual enjoyable stage. I don’t have to wait for Sniper Joes, moving platforms, Suzies, ladder obstacles, or moving platforms that periodically shoot you. You can just run and shoot. No real delays. It feels good! The boss fight is also pretty fun, mostly because it involves a strategy other than ‘spray the boss with his weakness until dead.’ I never thought it playing this game until now, but Fire Man has to be my favorite robot master from the first game.
The Dr. Wily stages are pretty tough. I like that by paying attention to the backgrounds, it really does feel like you are storming the castle. You get a vague sense of that, though the multicolored rooms between different stages really make it feel like completely different areas in the later games. The first boss is classic: dodge the spiked blobs and open fire. Requires either fast reflexes or memorization.
One thing that is neat is the rematches with the robot masters. In later games, they had a single room with teleporters. You knew what was going to happen after the first one. In the first game, it was more random (well, seemingly the first time you play). After the first fight with Cut Man, you’re on edge. You aren’t sure when the next one will appear. They did that again for Mega Man X, which was pretty cool. What I also liked were the changes in terrain. For example, you don’t get any boulders against Cut Man, so you’re left with using an alternate, less effective weapon. Guts Man does not have those boulders, so you cannot get the high ground to help dodge his rocks. Elec Man… well, the missing boulders actually give you more space, though I guess it does make it harder to jump over his attacks. I guess it’s more of a double-edged sword.
The boss that gave me the most trouble was the Copy. If memory serves me correctly, Elec Man took about one-third of my power with one hit of his Elec Beam. The Copy takes nowhere near that much damage. The game can’t change the rules like that!! If Dr. Wily was able to build in that immunity, why couldn’t I get that?! The game is not allowed to cheat!! He doesn’t even take collision damage!! I vowed not to use the Select trick (when an enemy is hit, quickly press Select. The enemy will continue their impervious cycle so when Select is pressed again, they will be struck again. Rinse and repeat), but this boss usually makes me want to rescind that vow. I eventually took him down with the Arm Cannon, no cheating. Better to not give him an advantage.
Bubble guy is weak against rocks. He has four rocks in his chamber. Just when I thought Dr. Wily was learning…
I did eventually get more Famicom games. I have what I feel is a pretty good collection of imports that were either never released in North America, varied greatly from the North American release, or were almost identical but far less expensive. After the novelty of having a Japanese console has worn off, I’m still happy with the purchase, even if the justification came after my purchase!
Also, I ended up getting the North American Mega Man complete in the box a few months later. eBay, I tell you…
Rockman/Mega Man is a good game, but the sequels improved on almost everything. If you were to only play one game in the series, this is not the one to pick. The import has no changes and can only be recommended if you already have a Famicom and can find it on the cheap.
My arbitrary score based on nothing is 7 out of 11.