Mega Man 9

Megaman9coverDate Completed: July 28th, 2016

I don’t remember when Mega Man 9 came out but I do remember that it came out before trophies were a requirement for the PS3 and it did not support them.  I had hopes that they might be patched in after the fact but that never materialized.

I’ve played enough Mega Man games to know how they play out but this one is different.  IT IS HARD!  All Mega Man games are challenging but this one seemed to be unusually unforgiving.  I played the game all the way to Dr. Wily’s stage and eventually I got to a part that I couldn’t get past no matter how hard I tried.  Being stuck is no fun, so I took a half-decade break from my save game.

My two sons have been getting interested in Mega Man games.  All of the previous 6 NES titles still hold up as fantastic games and I was surprised to see that my younger son was even able to play his way to some of the bosses.  My older boy purchased the Mega Man Collection for his 2DS and my younger son has been playing Mega Man virtual console releases wherever he can.  With all of the Mega Manning going on in the house I decided that maybe it was time to go back to my old save file and finally finish the game.

I had forgotten everything about Mega Man 9 in the several years since I had played it, fortunately YouTube walkthroughs quickly reacquainted me with all the tricks I needed to get past the parts that I had been stuck on in the past.  It took a few tries (and a lot of energy tanks) but success!  I finally righted a great wrong and my save file is no longer incomplete.

When I first bought the game my brother-in-law once remarked that ‘they’ should make more games like the classic NES games that we all know and love.  I’m happy to say that in the years since we’ve seen lots of classically styled games get released and classic gaming has a bright future ahead of it.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  ??
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Action

Super Smash Bros. 3DS / Wii U

SmashBoxAccording to WordPress this is going to be my 100th post! So, congratulations to me.

Super Smash Bros. came out for the N64 when I was in college but it was later in the N64’s life cycle and I had already begun moving away from the N64 as a platform of choice.  I might have never tried the game at all, except some of the gentlemen down the hall were REALLY big fans of the game. I wasn’t especially good friends with the gentlemen down the hall, but they enjoyed gaming and avoiding schoolwork as much as I did so we had a lot of common ground. I played a LOT of Smash with those gentlemen, enough to forge some lifelong friendships and move off campus together the next year (where of course we played even more SMASH).  When the Gamecube came out I bought one and we Smashed even harder. Smash became one of the games that defined my college experience, so it is psychologically impossible for me to not purchase new versions when they are released.

This time around Nintendo released Smash Bros. for two consoles, the Wii U and the 3DS. They are NOT the same game as I originally believed although they do have a lot in common. The roster of characters are identical and many of the levels are the same, but there are unique features to each that make the experience for each game distinctive. The games are NOT cross compatible – you can’t play against a Wii U owner with the 3DS version of the game, although in a somewhat unusual move you CAN use the 3DS as an extra controller for a Wii U.

The game hasn’t changed much since the Gamecube iteration. To get started you only need to learn two buttons – attack and special attack. Pressing in a direction with one of the attack buttons will slightly alter which move is performed. All fighters use the same controls so even if you are using someone new you should be able to get a few hits in. This is in contrast to other fighting games (such as Injustice which I recently reviewed) where all fighters have different controls that must be learned separately. I’ve good results introducing new people to Smash by showing them how to jump, and use the two attack buttons. Both of my boys (Who are 5 and 3 years old) were able to play the game and my 5 year old even managed to beat me once or twice (more on that later).  After learning how to use your attacks, advanced players may learn the other two buttons – block and throw.  These are helpful to know but not entirely necessary for enjoying the game.

Fighting games generally aren’t noted for being fantastic single player experiences and Smash Bros. is no exception.  Fortunately Smash makes up for a somewhat lackluster single player experience by including BUTT LOADS (Figuratively) of different modes that can be enjoyed.  These include (but are not limited to) Classic Mode, All-Star Mode, Street Smash (3DS), Smash Run (3D), Smash Tour (Wii U), Event Smash (Wii U), Special Orders (Wii U) and online battle modes.  Completing each of the modes with each of the 50 playable characters will take a significant time investment.

Fight

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So, Smash is great, but what was my experience like?  Well, on the 3DS I played through most of the single player challenges myself and the only achievements I have left are the ones like ‘beat all-star mode with every character’.  I tried a few online matches for fun but never really got into it.  One of my colleagues at work got a copy for Christmas (I bought mine at launch) and we’ve had a few cooperative battles on break, which is a lot more fun than work.  Taking Smash on the road is a lot of fun, but the opportunity to play it doesn’t come up as often as I would like.

The Wii U version of the game is all about the Amiibos for us.  I may have gone a bit overboard with Amiibo fever – I signed up for the Lootcrate Amiibo promotion which netted us most of the launch characters.  My boys both wanted Link’s Amiibo for Christmas ( I couldn’t convinced them to ask for different characters – Link is too awesome ) which combined with the Lootcrate promotions brings our household total to about 13.  I thought the game would be too hard for my boys to play themselves so the Amiibo integration seemed like a good way to get them involved.  It turns out that they are both able to play the game with at least some measure of success and they HATE it when their Amiibo beats them.

My 3-year-old son isn’t entirely sure what he’s doing so he generally stands still while spamming the attack button.  Sometimes he decides he’s controlling a different character than he started with (which doesn’t affect his results any), and sometimes he gets bored and wanders out of the room. My 5-year-old son is a bit more hardcore about it.  He and I have an agreement to not attack each other so I’m often left attacking the Amiibos on my own.  Periodically this strategy results in my older son winning as I take all the damage and he shows up to knock the bad guys off the stage.

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My progress with the Wii U version achievements is a lot slower since the boys insist that we play the 2 minute Smash battles.  I’m OK with that though, it’s a lot more fun than playing alone.  I think Smash will be a popular diversion for the boys and I for a long time.

Pros

  • Lots of playable characters.
  • Single player story mode was enjoyable.

Cons

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~40 hours
System: 3DS / Wii U
Genre: Fighting

Mega Man

Date Competed : February 1, 2013

Mega Man Stage Select

I have a lot of fond memories of the original Mega Man from back in the day.  I never owned a copy of the game but my next door neighbor did have one and it was one of our go-to games for years.  Mega Man stands out in my memory as one of the more difficult games of my youth and beating it took YEARS.  Beating Mega Man on the original NES still stands as one of my greatest gaming achievements.

The Virtual Console release for the 3DS has state saves so beating it a second time didn’t take as long as the first time.  The state save system takes several taps on the touch screen and isn’t as convenient to use as on some of today’s finer emulation software.  I mostly used it before difficult jumps and boss fights.  Using the state save system I was able to complete the game without dying at all.

The graphical style of the game has held up very well over the years.  The only thing that stood out to me was how small the screen was.  A few of the long jumps seemed harder to take but I assume that was more of a function of my lost skill rather than the small screen.  Either way the state save system eliminates mitigates any difficulty issues with the game.

Mega Man is a great game and it has held up well.  Along with the Mario and Contra games it is one of the few series I plan on exposing my kids to when they are old enough.  It is a welcome addition to the 3DS virtual console and is well worth the purchase.

Pros

  • Nostalgia.
  • State Saves.

Cons

  • Small Screen.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  2 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
Genre: Action