Grit and Persistence – An awesome lesson one can learn from games

I received a text from my son Grant while I was at work today.  He was incredibly excited and wanted to let me know that he had finally defeated the “Yellow Devil” from Mega Man for the NES.  If one is not familiar with that game or the lore of older NES classics in general that could be easily passed over as a “that’s nice..” moment, but the amount of effort and practice and persistence it took for him to topple that monstrosity was enormous.  That doesn’t come naturally, grit and persistence is a learned skill and you better believe you can grow and improve that skill just like any other.  The cool “thing” about persistence is that it can help in learning and mastering other skills.

So let me take a moment to brag on my boy here.  I’ve been gaming since I first saw an Atari around age 6.  It was my aunt’s old, somewhat worn-out console which she had mostly lost interest in roughly a decade earlier.  I was avidly playing during Nintendo’s empirical run through the NES and SNES days and have never been able to topple that insanely tough Yellow Devil from Mega Man.  He was my roadblock that kept me from ever finishing that game, though I really did still enjoy the game.  It became very frustrating to make it to him each time and proceed to blow every life and continue on him before having to restart.  Additionally I’ve never known anyone else personally who could tackle that tower of terror.  I think that’s a 90’s wrestling reference.. In any case, kudos to Grant for his achievement.

It is pretty easy for one to disregard the achievements of others, especially if it is not in an area or field that isn’t personally viewed as valuable or interesting.  To a non-gamer that feat probably seems pretty pointless.  It is interesting when one starts to view all of life as a learning experience, seeing what is the value and takeaway.  Pretty much everything we actively do or experience has some potential for progress, learning and life.  I cannot help but feel like the level of grit and dedication it takes for us gamers to overcome the sometimes ridiculous hurdles that game developers set before us will at least have the potential to aid us in our journey whatever we pursue.

Now let’s talk some Mega Man!

boss-select

Oh little Stage Select screen, you’ve inspired many developers over the years and have certainly come a long way…  Grant likes to take on Bombman first as he is, well… a pushover.  Don’t tell him though.. he is a bit sensitive and can pretty much spawn infinite explosives so, bad combination.

This little NES gem is one of the classics.  I found Mega Man immediately captivating as soon as the first boss robot was defeated and Mega Man equipped the fallen bot’s powers!  How awesome is that?  You actually get to use the bosses’ weapons against the other bosses!  In this lies one of the other cool aspects of this game.  Each boss is weak against one of the other bosses weapons.  What fun it is to puzzle through the game, attempting it in different orders to try and decipher which boss weapon will aid the most against other trickier bosses.  That’s right, non-linear gaming.  The player actually gets to choose the order to tackle the initial bosses.  In this first iteration of the series (which spawned MANY more) the bosses are a bit vanilla.  Bomb Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man.. you get the idea.  It has also become the hallmark of the series to have at least 8 “Evil Robot Masters” and the original had only 6, but oh what a start it was.

met

Here we see the humble met, a long enduring enemy in the Mega Man series.  It hides in its helmet til do-gooder robots get close before spraying bullets in their direction.  These days Dr. Wily has promoted the Met race and allows them to drive heavy equipment and ride vehicles.  Progress!

The story goes that Dr. Light had created all of the robots to aid humanity, but the evil Dr. Wily stole the 6 boss robots and reprogrammed them to instead use their abilities as weapons.  Critique on humanity in general?  Perhaps.  We do have a tendency to weaponize practically everything that has ever been invented.  Maybe we will grow out of that habit eventually.  In any case, Mega Man is the only robot left with Dr. Light’s original programming to help, save and serve humanity and sets out to stop Dr. Wily’s evil plans for world domination.  Pretty short and sweet, just like the game if you can manage to get past a few tricky areas and opponents.  I personally always struggled with the slippery platforms in Ice Man’s stage and confronting Elec Man was always quite a challenge.  His attack hits a huge area and, while it is also awesome when the player gets it, it can be pretty daunting to take it away from Elec Man as he is pretty content to fry Mega Man and just keep his awesome electricity beam.

elecBeam

The elec-beam is awesome and probably the best weapon in the game in the opinion of the Plant Powered Gamers.  It sprays a large portion of the screen with shocky robot-busting destruction.  

As I mentioned the Yellow Devil was always especially tricky to me, even as an adult.  He is a weird combination of dodging mixed with a really small hit box topped off with a slathering of short window for actually damaging him.  No P-shooter spam here, it has to be very precise attacks that hit that beast.  His attacks, on the other hand, pretty much go everywhere so it is a real challenge to keep up with his very damaging attacks while trying to hit that tiny window of opportunity he presents all so briefly.  The game is really pretty smooth sailing after him, and Grant said it was practically a done deal after felling the big Yella’ beast.

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The jerk not only closes his “eye” which is his only vulnerable point, he also disassembles himself and flies back and forth across the room, much to the detriment of poor Mega man who is caught in the middle and has to dodge this nonsense.  Apparently Dr. Wily watched Star Wars before designing this guy and removed his ventilation shaft.  Good call, doc.

yuka

Those evil blocks may look innocent but don’t be fooled.  They are known as “Yuka” blocks and they appear and disappear in sequence.  The sound they make as they do their little magic act still gives me chills.  The still image just doesn’t do justice to their evil trickery.  

freezefire

Be ready for such logical usage of the various powers as freezing fire.  Hey, we are gamers after all.  We will be happy to create our own “version” of logic!

gutsman

Ah Gutsman, the first heavyweight boss to pull the ol’ Jump, stomp and make the ground shake maneuver.  Not sure if he was the first in gaming history but good luck finding a better known game in which it happens.  

While still pictures really cannot do a game justice, perhaps they give a taste of what this old but still very fun game holds in store.  It is essentially the same game in all of its iterations (1-10) as well as a few spin-offs on other consoles.  Give it a try if the chance presents itself, likely the feuding doctors and their zany creations won’t disappoint.

Images courtesy of Grant, our local Mega Man pro who can be found on YouTube (LinkPlaysGames)  and Twitch (LinkPlaysGames206).

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

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