I’d like to think that Capcom compiled all its early Mega Man games in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection (2004) with me in mind. I’d also like to think that the sun doesn’t rise in the morning until I get up. But I digress…
I’ve written before about Mega Man X, which was the first Mega Man game that I actually completed. It wasn’t, however, the first Mega Man game I played. Early on, I rented Mega Man and Mega Man 2 for the NES, both of which were damn difficult. Like, seriously, in that traditional, old-school game way. I never finished either game before surrendering to the slippery, unforgiving controls. Later on, my brother discovered the series, and several of the games made their way back into our house. I remember giving Mega Man 2 another go over a Christmas break, and I remember feeling just as inadequate as a gamer. Really, how hard does it have to be to get a little guy in a blue suit from one goddamn ledge to the other?!?!
Short of Mega Man X, I didn’t think much about diving back into Mega Man’s world until the release of the Anniversary Collection. Mega Man 1-8 plus two arcade games all on one disc? Yes please! The compilation was released for the Gamecube and the PS2. I got the Gamecube version, and Mega Man looked as pretty and pixelated as ever. While I can’t speak for games other than Mega Man 1-2, those games were faithfully ported. The rest of the games looked and played very well…and I was much more patient with those unforgiving controls. In addition to the eight games, there were also two unlockable Mega Man arcade games: The Power Battle and The Power Fighters. At least, I think they were on the Gamecube version; I remember seeing them mentioned on the PS2 box. Either way, it really doesn’t really matter. I was not a Mega Man master and I didn’t unlock any special games.
I managed to make it through all eight games at least once, but it was no easy chore. When I got the Anniversary Collection, I was in a slow, intermittent gaming period. I had finished grad school, was working two jobs, had to help coordinate another cross-country move, and then had to find work in a new place while my husband started school. Life was tumultuous for a couple years while we re-settled. I had eliminated the bulk of my gaming backlog before the move. The Anniversary Collection however, which I had yet to beat, was one of the few games that I couldn’t let go. When we moved in the summer of 2005, almost a year after I bought the game, I was only in the midst of Mega Man 5. (Yes, of course I followed the strict by-numbers path, but you had the option to stop and start games at whim, and with saves.) I’d left games unfinished before, but this Mega Man compilation was different. I was driven to complete the games it to make up for missing them the first time round.
After the move, I was unemployed; and I was confident that unemployment wouldn’t last more than a couple weeks. Those weeks turned into four long months that were peppered with a couple temporary jobs. During the days that I was home, my routine consisted of job searching in the morning and Mega Man in the afternoon. As hard as it was progressing through those last few Mega Man games, that little blue guy gave me a sense of purpose. Eventually my goal became to find a job before finishing Mega Man 8. Um…yeah. It didn’t happen — I finished the game around Thanksgiving on my last day at a temp retail job.
I took a little time off from Mega Man between the holidays, yet with nothing but sad, sad time on my hands and few games to play, I eventually restarted the first game in the series. It was during the Ice Man boss battle on an appropriately chilly day that the phone rang. I paused the game and picked up the phone. I don’t remember much of the actual conversation except setting the day and time for an interview. This was a place I really wanted to work and I was insanely happy after the call. I immediately called my husband with the good news, and then I called a couple other friends. And then in my joyful frenzy, I remembered that I had to go to the grocery store before dinner. I left the apartment and returned about an hour later. Between my armfuls of food I noticed that the TV was on…? Oh shit! Ice Man! I dropped my bags in the kitchen and quickly tried to unpause the game. No dice. There sat Mega Man and Ice Man frozen (haha) in the midst of battle. Well crap. I couldn’t even remember if I had saved the game. Crap. Crap. Crap! In my frustration I just turned everything off. Off.
I never returned to the game. I got the job (best Christmas present ever!) and that was that. Gaming took a backseat for a couple years and the Anniversary Collection sat unnoticed until we faced another move. Which meant another purge. Which meant any unused things had to go. And that included Mega Man. I’d like to think that whoever bought my copy of the the game picked up right with the Mega Man/Ice Man battle. Or maybe the game is sitting in some derelict warehouse somewhere and Mega Man and Ice Man are waiting…just waiting…for their chance to be revived.