I finally got around to giving Mega Man 5 a second (or fourth) chance last night. Except not really. I was feeling too lazy to dig up my cartridge so I just popped open an emulator. And I was feeling too lazy to actually go to the other room and get a USB game pad, so I just played with keys. Despite what lying liars like Scott Sharkey might tell you, key control for NES games is not acceptable! So I don’t think this playthrough counts.
However, the unexpected surprise ending to this tale of nothingness is that it prompted my girlfriend to ask if she could play. It bears repeating here that she is a person who does not do gaming, wherein “do” is a word meaning “have any involvement whatsoever with.” Occasionally she’ll catch me off-guard with a “I used to love… what was it called? Lode Runner?” But mostly our relationship is founded on her politely pretending that my job description is “writer” rather than “writer about video games.” And it works pretty well. But something about Mega Man 5 caught her attention — the graphics, for one. She finds modern games far too complicated, and while I admired her chutzpah in fighting her way through the first two and a half stages of Halo a while back I’m also fairly certain that the intricacies of the game’s control scheme cemented her determination to never, ever play anything involving 3D space again. But hey, Mega Man is the opposite of Halo — simple, colorful, appealing. I can see where it might catch the eye of someone who hasn’t spent any time gaming for the past few decades.
So I decided to dig up my USB controller after all and start her out on easy mode in Mega Man 2. I figured that’s probably the easiest possible way to get into the series. It didn’t go so well, though. I found these screenshots on my desktop this morning, apparently captured by accident as she fell into pits and mashed the screen cap button in her efforts not to die:
I saw a lot of that last night. After about 15 minutes of not making it past the initial air devil gauntlet in Air Man’s stage, she insisted I help her by telling her when to jump. Have you ever had to navigate someone through each and every jump in a platformer, receiving an indignant accusation of failure every time your guidance led to another untimely demise? Our relationship has survived many trials and challenges over the years, but ten minutes of me sputtering “GO NOW!” and her more-or-less following my commands about a second later nearly destroyed us.
But we made it. We came out of it alive, and still together. I would like to thank whoever invented save states, because this single innovation may have saved our relationship. Eventually, after many many state defrosts over the course of 45 minutes, she made it to the end of the stage… and proceeded to blow my mind by wiping out Air Man in a single try.
I’m absolutely positive there’s a lesson about Mega Man 9 in here, but danged if I know what it is.