Mega Man Dying

A day or two ago, my 9 year old son got an urge to play a Mega Man game. As a NES fan from the 80’s, I heartily approved. We have the Anniversary Edition, so he could pick from 1 to 8. He settled on the original, despite my warnings that it is probably the toughest one. Ignoring my advice on such matters is a talent of his but, as he had played Mega Man Powered Up on the PSP quite a bit, he did have some idea of what he was getting into.

Let me give some background before I go on. My son loves playing “Twitch” games on his Fire Tablet. I’d say he spends most of his game playing time on those, and he is super good at them, just FYI. He does play a good chunk of console games though. He’s played through Ocarina of Time on the 3DS. Completed Super Mario 3D World before I did, if I’m not mistaken, and has mastered Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. But, those games aren’t Mega Man.

So, anyway, he played through and beat Bomb Man (no easy feat, frankly), then went to Guts Man’s stage. Anyone that’s ever played Mega Man knows how horrific the lifts are in that stage, and that is where things got bad. He had trouble getting the timing down (been there myself), and eventually just cut it off after only a couple of tries. This is not the first time this has happened, and it is almost always on older games that he likes or that I’ve recommended. Tonight, the same thing happened with Mega Man 5. He was able to get to Gravity Man, but couldn’t beat him. He was turning it off, but I actually took over and played a bit. On a side note, I can still rock Mega Man 5.

Mega Man Guts Lifts

There is no joy in this place.

The bottom line here is, he has very little patience for games that require some memorization along with trial and error. Basically, any game prior to the Nintendo 64/PlayStation era. The thing is, I don’t think it’s just him, I think it’s something that affects most gamers that missed out on the pre-3D era of gaming.

Why is it though?

I believe it has to be that games are just easier now than they were on the NES/Super NES/Sega Genesis. In many ways, this is a good thing. Some of the lost difficulty is due to better design and more in-game options (in terms of how to tackle different challenges). There’s also the fact that dying in a game now does not penalize you very much. Most games have auto-save features that mean a loss only penalizes you a few minutes of play time, if that. I come from the era of Ninja Gaiden. One mis-timed jump or stray hawk with no lives left could totally wreck your day.

Ninja Gaiden

Oh, come on!

So, while I wholeheartedly approve of the advances in gaming, I do think that patience in gaming has been completely lost on this generation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and I’m not faulting the current generation of gamers in any way as they’re playing with the hand they’ve been dealt, just like those of us that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s did. We had no choice but to try and try again. If that last life was gone, it was a lesson learned and in most cases, we just started over from Level 1. Even when passwords and saves became the norm, there were still punishments for having lost that just don’t exist all that often now. It was just the way it was.

When I started this blog post, I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me, and now I see that the answer is nowhere. I try always to write with a conclusion in mind, but sometimes when I’ve written my thoughts out, I realize that it’s nothing more than an observation, and that seems to be the case here. I suppose it’s just interesting to me to watch someone steeped in today’s games try games that I cut my teeth on, and the reactions that doing so elicits.

For the past few console iterations, we’ve witnessed a changing of the guard that continues even today. I’m out. My son’s generation is in. Such is life.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be in my room playing Castlevania.


Never gets old…

  1. I see this in my nephews all the time (my son is only 2, so he can only watch me play Mega Man right now, which he loves). Our games were harder, because we needed to get our money’s worth out of them. If you took the average length of some of these games, but made them really easy, you’d be able to beat them all within an hour. Multiple playthroughs, learning all the enemies weaknesses, remembering that tricky jump, getting the timing/pattern down; that was how a game’s length was padded and what made them fun at the same time.

    Nowadays games have auto-save and are much more forgiving, but you get that play time back, because the games and their levels are much bigger. There is a lot packed into these titles. Super Mario 3D World is a great example. There is a lot to do in that game! I still haven’t finished it, myself.

    The patience thing I find frustrating, though. One of my nephews seems to have this weird thing about losing. Most of the games out these days don’t really have a consequence to losing, so it’s almost like you don’t ever lose. You run out of lives in a Mario game, and they just give you five more and send you right back into it. When I get my nephew to play a Mega Man game, for instance, if he loses all of his lives and realizes he has to start the level over again, he has no interesting – onto the next game. I literally watch him go through my NES games looking for one that he can avoid losing in.

    I’m okay with all the advances in gaming – heck, I love save states in my virtual console games! I do find it a bit frustrating when I watch kids today with such a lack of patience and not wanting to lose. I think it’s a great life lesson!

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