Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

As my new roommate Arjun is all too familiar, I’ve been playing Mega Man X on my SNES classic for the past few weeks. In these memoirs, I recount my perilous adventure. Before I begin, I’ll let you in on one important detail — I beat this child of Lucifer, this devil of a game. However, as the story unfolds, it behooves you to ask yourself this: at what cost was this foe beaten? Was it truly worth it?

* * *

The year is 20XX, where X = 1 and X = 8. A manchild just on the cusp of adulthood has just entered a new world — the salsa-lined streets of San Francisco’s Mission district. He’s ready to take the city by the horns, but before he does, he chooses to take a warm-up lap on his SNES classic. As a well-versed gaming wizard, metroidvania master, platformer perfectionist, our protagonist enters the post-apocalyptic streets of Mega Man X with confidence, ready to steamroll an aged game whose difficulty can’t possibly rival that of modern masterpieces. Of course, as you dear reader are surely aware, Mr. Van Geffen has no idea what’s coming his way.

After a tearfully easy intro sequence, Mr. VG quickly found himself at a crossroads. 8 innocent stages with 8 colorful bosses present themselves. “None could best me,” so our VG ponders, “thus, the coolest one is clearly the best choice. Flame Mammoth, prepare yourself.” Yet indubitably, it was VG who needed the preparations. For in that lava filled stage, VG found a hell unlike any Dante could possibly imagine. Despite the many health bars privileged to the Meganical Man, each hit took away many-a-bar. “Why even have that many health bars,” VG exclaimed. A mere touch from the demons sent him in a spastic state. What’s worse, the game seemed lack the common intelligence of a toddler, failing to understand object permanence. The robotic minions reappeared instantly each time VG reentered their spawn area. The onslaught would never end!

VG could only find solace in the SNES’s “reset” feature, allowing him to save any state in the game and restart from that point. With this godsend, VG pushed through the fiery level and knocked on Flame Mammoth’s door. And be sure — Flame Mammoth knocked back. The beast bounced in ferociously, bringing VG stunned to the ground. He fired back, but the puny pellets barely dented the demon’s giant health pool. In fear, VG resorted to guerrilla warfare, making camp in the upper corner of the room. Sir Flame thought nothing of this, jumping at Mega and eliminating swaths of health with each leap. VG found himself pinned to a corner — the beast was too large to jump around! Even the reset feature couldn’t save him here. Each attempt was met with the same outcome.

My painful predicament

Escape the level. Breath. Time to regroup. This was clearly a fluke, the remaining bosses surely weren’t as impossible. Yet from catastrophic chameleon to maniacal mandrill, VG found no relenting foe. Downtrodden and defeated, our hero put up his controller and retired to playing smash with his scrubby roommate. Things didn’t look so bright for Mr. Mega.

* * *

Yep, things are looking pretty bleak for me right about now. Oh, what a distant memory, with a sting as if it happened just last week. Of course, you know this isn’t the end of our story. Let’s skip ahead to a time when a little more boredom and a little less pride started to turn things around.

* * *

“Rainforest robots be damned, I’ll beat this game.” And without the shackles of self-respect, VG took to the interwebs, discovering that his hell was not inescapable. For some reason, dash was an unlockable skill found in only one level, yet maneuvering around some of the game’s levels was straight-up impossible without the ability. What’s more, defeating each boss meant acquiring a new weapon, each of which dealt massive damage to corresponding bosses. With this newfound knowledge, VG blazed through the 8 stages he once so feared. His bullets were precise, his dashes were crisp. Not even the following round of revamped boss machines could put a stop to this madman. But there was one obstacle that stood in between our hero and sweet victory. That’s right, big daddy himself. Sigma.

After loading up two extra health tanks, VG hippity-hopped his way up to the final showdown. And he was there. “I’ll feed you to the dog,” Sigma chuckled. Though insulted, VG couldn’t help but feel the pressure as the mechapuppy took a full health tank before succumbing to the yellow pellets of death. Noticeably weakened, VG continued onward to the robotic 40-year-old virgin. And just as the analogy would imply, the fiend was ready for some action. With a swift strike, Steve Carell sent Mega bursting into bits. Yet channeling his lack of decency, VG reset the game and camped in the corner, Googled Sigma’s weakness, and fired heroically from a distance. The fight was tough and his hands were sore, but with half a heath tank remaining, VG had finally slain his enemy. The game was won. It was over…

“Wait, he isn’t dead!? SHIA SURPRISE!!” The immortal words of Rob Cantor rang in VG’s ears as Sigma’s head flew to the center of the room. Two spike hands descended on Mega, casting bolts of lightning past the fire-breathing head of Boston Dynamics’ latest creation. And like the prophecy proclaimed, our hero reset and Googled as far as the eye could see. He reset past the horny middle-aged man, past his somehow unadorable pupper. He Googled through all the upgrades, cheating his way to a huge health pool and 4 whole health tanks to boot. This man reset and Googled until the game was legitimately broken and Mr. Mega could basically never die. Then, and only then, did VG put our villain to rest and close the last chapter of our tale.

Big daddy meets Foxy mamma

* * *

There you have it. Not a story I’m proud to share, but a story nonetheless. I share this with the hopes that you will learn from my folly and just quit playing these ridiculous games. Go play Mario Kart against your younger brother; that’ll make you feel much better about yourself. Finally, if you take nothing else away from this tale, remember this — I beat a 25-year-old game with extremely modern technology, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

See you robot cowboy…

Written on July 3, 2018