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Christmas, 1991

Here is another little piece about Christmas and also the start of my love of a video game series. Mega Man is a popular video game franchise, and my extreme interest in this series started by chance around Christmas long ago. Food for thought— Mega Man is considered one of the harder series, and I do well with the original six for Nintendo. One can say that by playing the games over and over again, they became super easy for me compared to the difficulty perceived by either a new player or an average player.

My interest in the series started by chance during my fourth-grade year. In the springtime, I received a Troll book order from school that contained a Nintendo hot tip book. At the time, my Nintendo was new (I received it as a gift the previous Christmas) so I didn’t have many games. I was taking a chance that the book would have at least one game in it that I had. When the book orders came in, I had a chance to see what was in the book. It had a few games in it that I owned. As it turned out, I really liked the hot tip book. I would sit, and look through it long after it was bought. I looked at pictures of games that I did not own in the book. That’s how I discovered Mega Man 3. This game had some really cool pictures. I also liked the descriptions under the pictures. One notable aspect about the game, in my opinion, were the ladders that connect the rooms in the game. There was a picture of Top Man’s stage (a robot master) that showed Mega Man (the main character) at the bottom of some steps and a ladder at the top of the screen. I wondered and wondered how you would get him from the bottom of the screen to the ladder in the upper right-hand corner. This intrigued me.

In the summer of that year, I got the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Game Atlas Player’s Guide which showed pictures of all the stages of the featured games. Besides the games that I needed it for, it also had a section for the Mega Man series. After looking at the pictures, I discovered how the stages really played. Remember that ladder in Top Man? Instead of going up to it, the player climbs down it and falls to the bottom of the steps. Anyways, Mega Man 2 was also in the Game Atlas, and this attracted my brother’s attention since the one stage (Wood Man) contained three blue dogs. My brother always liked blue and dogs when he was a child.

Around Christmas time we were told that our one aunt and uncle, had an interest in buying us a Nintendo game for Christmas and wanted some ideas. As it happened, my brother and I by then had decided we wanted to get a Mega Man game for Christmas. In those days, like many children, video games were usually obtained for special occasions like holidays and birthdays. Anyway, we had a decision to make: which game to ask for? I wanted to get Mega Man 3 as it was the one, I looked at the pictures of for so long in my first hot tip book. My brother wanted Mega Man 2 since it had the blue dogs. We asked for both games, and Mom and Dad decided which game to talk to our uncle and aunt about and which game to leave on our Santa Claus list.

In December we attended the Christmas party on my mom’s side of the family. The aunt and uncle who asked about the game happened to be on my mom’s side. I remember my brother and I sitting down in the hallway (between the living room which had green shag carpet and the area at the kitchen and a small set of steps that led to the family room). At Christmas parties, we hung out together and did our own thing instead of socializing or playing with cousins. Our cousins were either a lot older or a lot younger. When the gifts were passed out, we opened the one shaped like a video game. It was Mega Man 2. I decided to open it up and peruse the instruction manual. Besides the normal sections like the game’s story, enemies, and controls, there was also a section called, “How to Beat Air Man.” This intrigued me since in the Game Atlas, this stage was shown as being one of the later stages to beat and here it was suggested as being the first one. This section of the manual was a walkthrough for this stage. I sat and read this walkthrough while at the party. I suggested to my brother to go to this stage first as was suggested in the manual, but he wanted to go to Wood Man and get to the blue dogs.

That night he had a dream. In the dream, I told him to go to Air Man and when he went there the Air Tikki enemies went up and down the screen and made a loud noise. When it was time to actually play the game, he didn’t want to have anything to do with going to Air Man. Wood Man was the first stage picked (by my brother) and he got to the dogs, though he couldn’t beat them. Flash Man was an early stage picked and a fan favorite among us. I liked the small red robots in the stage, and the sound that they made when shooting their projectiles. Crash Man was also picked early on and a section of the music reminded me of the music from the movie, Zoo-Opolis!, that I had watched at school in third grade. Both Flash Man and Crash Man were the first bosses we reached in the game.

By Christmas day, we had been playing Mega Man 2 for a little while and knew how the game worked. We got Mega Man 3 on Christmas. I enjoyed the stages in this game, including Top Man. Snake Man was the first stage picked in this game as my brother and I liked to tease my mom with snakes. This was a long running gag for many years. The game also posed a few difficulties for us. There were rooms with “no noticeable exits,” and a robot that shot projectiles and jumped around the room. We couldn’t figure out what to do, though in reality beating the robot (Break Man) made a hole in the floor allowing the player to continue. The other difficulty was small passages that Mega Man couldn’t fit through. To get through these openings, we discovered that we had to slide which took a while to master.

The Mega Man games are considered to be some of the harder games in the video game community, and by now I am very good at them. The series’ humble beginning from looking at some pictures of Mega Man 3, to getting two of the games for Christmas was quite amazing. It’s interesting to note that for a couple years my one aunt and uncle would buy us video games for Christmas. We also got Talespin from them the next year which I will talk about in another blog.

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