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.

Progress Report – Backyard Remodel

Far be it from me to claim any particular natural skill in handyman-type projects.  I can, however, manage searching the internet for information and I also enjoy learning new things.  This coupled with a bit of a paradigm shift in my view of and approach to working in and around the house has really helped me begin learning to do a lot of these sorts of things and I couldn’t help but share my progress on the back deck.  We have a nice space out back but it was not well maintained when we moved in but a year ago.  I’ve been slowly doing what I could with it but have moved on to a more organized, task-oriented approach.  I don’t really multitask well and handle the process of finishing a project much more efficiently if I see each part of the whole to completion.  Thus after getting rid of all of the ivy that had managed to mix itself with poison ivy which was arduous and quite an itchy task, I set out to try to salvage the back deck.  After a bit of research I realized every time I have ever used water-sealant in the past was not applied correctly.  I have to attribute the credit to finally teaching me the proper process where it is due.  I do not know this fellow personally, but he had a great and informative video and the results hold true, though I think his estimation of finishing the project in a day might have been pretty generous.  He was incredibly thorough, which was fantastic for me at my level of inexperience.  One issue I find with many very knowledgeable people is that when they teach something that they are so familiar with, they leave out some things that they find obvious and simple but to the student it can seem to leave gaps in the instructions.  Not so with Mr. Hazelton’s video, it was just right, even explaining the tools used.  I wouldn’t have even know that such a thing as a “deck pad” existed had that not been pointed out and likely would have tried to roll or paint it on instead.

Ron Hazelton – How to Clean, Renew and Seal a Wood Deck in One Day

Perhaps my lack of experience is at least in part to blame for the longer work time, but I am quite happy with how it turned out.  In the past I’ve made attempts to simply “wing it” and clean up and water-seal porches and decks but had no clue there was such a thing as wood cleaner/brightener, having always used Bleach to little effect.  That cleaner/brightener was magical.  Coupled with a peaceful day of playing with our new pressure washer it already looked pretty good out there.  Now with new paint to cover and protect as well as to provide contrast for the flowers and plants we intend to set out I have some hope of creating a really nice space for us to hang out on cool mornings and afternoons.  It’ll probably be great for picnicking out back in the fall too!

A life-long love of learning is something I truly hope to impart upon Grant as he grows.  Hopefully things like this provide that example that one is never too old to seek advice on even what seems to be the most mundane project or idea.  It is amazing in the world we live in today to be able to seek out the advice of experts with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks and the cost of this information is amazingly free (unless you consider having to watch an add or two as payment).  Removing the fear and worry of failure is also very important to me and I hope as Grant and I approach this whole homeschooling thing we can recapture that understanding that one of the best ways to learn is to get out there and “mess something up”.  We learn best by doing, after all, and the doing is rarely flawless, so we might as well embrace and enjoy that process.

Now how about some before & after photos?  I cannot help but be eager to show off the final product.

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Here are my before photos, before we even began the cleaning process.  Yuck!

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Here are the after photos, after cleaning and staining.  I do believe Suzy snuck a kitty photo in there… not sure if it’s relevant.  Such a diva, that Niko.

Do you have any projects that you’ve been putting off out of either a fear of failure or lack of knowledge?  Cast that fear aside!  Seek out that knowledge!  Get out there and mess something up!  You’re bound to learn so much more than if you continue procrastinating.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Prime Day Approaches

Hello and forgive me for a brief tangent from my usual content.  I don’t intend to turn our little blog into a glorified advertising platform, though I will on occasion plug a product, service, webpage, youTube channel, etc. that the Plant Powered Gamers find awesome.  One of these magical “services” is the online shopping platform, Amazon.  You may have heard of them… In any case, we love our time at home and tend toward avoiding unnecessary trips to town and that makes shopping with Amazon a pretty straightforward slam dunk.  We tried out Prime a few years ago and have never really considered dropping it since.  They bundle so much value in to that membership fee that it would be silly for us to drop it.

Free Movies?  Got it.  Cheap movie/tv rentals?  Got that too.  Weird, hard-to-find baking ingredients?  I’m looking at you, Teff Flour.  They have that as well.  More rare and used video games than the local flea market?  Yep, though you’ll have to do without that special, authentic flea market smell of roasting pork rinds and fried butter sticks.  Fast, free shipping on virtually every order that is labelled as “Prime” (which is most of the time in our experience)?  You betcha.  If you happen to shop at Whole Foods they offer an in-store discount to boot.  Sweet.  Cheap rice, beans and greens all around!

So their deal during the first half of July (2-17) is that you can get a free 30-day Trial of Prime, just check out the link below.  Plus a bit of commission change goes to the Plant Powered Gamers as a bonus!  It’s like getting a 1-up Mushroom you get to share with Player-2.

Prime Day – Prime Membership

So here we are, several years into being Prime members and I am still finding bonus stuff they are offering to throw our way.  Today as we were streaming on Twitch – basically youTube for gaming videos – Grant and I noticed someone had a Twitch Prime membership.  Curious as to what this was we checked into it and found it was a free bonus included in our Prime membership anyway.  They offer free games every day, far more than any normal mortal could play through.  I simply linked my Twitch account to the Prime one and I totally get to download and keep them.  The games are tied into your Twitch account, but there is no need to actually use Twitch to watch streaming if that is not your thing.  It basically seems to be set up like Steam but with less emphasis on selling games and more emphasis on you watching people play them.  We actually use it mostly to meet up with other gamers to play multiplayer games at the moment (Ultimate Chicken Horse, anyone?) What’s more, Grant totally gets a free entry in this as well and can download the same games they offer me.  Even if you value these as “cast off” or “mobile-equivalent” $1 games, which many are not, if you take them up on their offer that would be a pretty sick value for the cost of the membership that is already giving you free movies and fast shipping.  Yikes!  You can check the next link to see what is up with this whole Twitch Prime thing:

Prime Day – Twitch Prime

Now they are offering a load of other goodies that we are not familiar with, and one might want to look into those as well.  As we here at Plant Powered Gamers have no experience with the other services offered I don’t really feel right promoting them, but don’t let our inexperience deter you if they catch your interest.  Prime Student, Pantry and Free Time all sound like they could be quite awesome, we just haven’t had the need nor opportunity as of yet to try them out.

One last note on that free trial above.  It lasts a month and they are hosting “Prime Day” on the 17th, officially.  It will be a day chock-full of silly online deals for many things you likely don’t need but may want anyway.  If you are capable of utilizing a bit of self control I encourage you to give that free trial a go and land the 16th of July right in its midst to see what it is all about.

Again, thanks for indulging my moment of deal promotion and another thanks if you actually check into these through our links to Amazon.  I wouldn’t bother to promote the service if it was anything less than spectacular.  It really is something we use pretty much every week to save time and as mentioned, bonus entertainment is the icing on that digital cake.

The Plant Powered Gamers are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Mid-summer Musings

July has already made its way to us, or perhaps we to it.  Mid-summer in the southeast really encourages one to take an occasional lazy day, or at least midday, in order to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity.  This coupled with lots of time doing rather brain-free tasks in the yard of late has left us with plenty of time to ponder plans for the coming year.

Grant is fully in summer mode, loving the freedom and questioning why that sort of freedom ever has to end.  I realized that there was honestly no good answer to that question.  This left us once again returning to the discussion on trying homeschooling.  I have wanted to homeschool Grant since he was born.  I admit it may be more appealing in my imagination than the reality, but I love trying new things, new approaches and time with him is never a waste in any case so it’s hard to imagine how this couldn’t be a fun and exciting experience.  Grant is a straight-A student, having made it now though to the 6th grade and has never made less than 90% marks on his grade reports, so I know that it isn’t the case that he is just being lazy.  When a solid and productive student like that can be so incredibly dissatisfied with what they are doing and the things they are learning it just sets warning bells off for me.

Thankfully there are more resources on homeschooling than I could use in a lifetime, so I am in no fear of running out of methods, plans and ideas.  Currently we are leaning towards the “unschooling” or “Sudbury” methods.  I believe he has some pretty solid interests in science and technology and that will lead us into the other necessary subjects as they become needed.  He also quite the fan of fantasy literature and we have a great library to facilitate which is just a few miles down the road.  I am hoping to encourage him to do both some creative writing as well as outlines and scripting for his YouTube channel.  It is actually pretty exciting thinking up all of the ways we may be able to follow his interests and focus education to be very personalized.

Now this was not the intended focus of my writing when I began this, but then my focus shifts like the wind in regards to what I feel up to sharing.  I’ll be sure to share anything that we run across that seems amazing enough to be duplicated and of course I may mention our progress in passing or perhaps regularly, according to how interesting it seems.

In any case I have to give a link (that is like a digital shout-out) to the two pages that are acting like hub-worlds for my research and planning:

Bright Horizons Academy

This is the cover school that we chose to use.  They cover anywhere in Alabama and allow complete curriculum flexibility.  They also provide a massive list of links for great homeschooling information and inexpensive/free material.  This was the list that actually led me toward the unschooling information which I really was not even aware of until about a month ago.

Stories of an Unschooling Family

This page is actually a blog written primarily by a mother of several homeschooled children.  They have been unschooling for several years and it was great to see how that process unfolded for them as it gives me some insight as to what to expect.  As a bonus she does vlogs and a podcast and being Australian, she has a pretty awesome accent.

If any of you, my dear readers, know of any other great resources be sure to leave me a comment and let me know.  Wish us luck!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Are You the Ultimate Chicken? Horse Maybe?

Following is a collection of musings by the Plant Powered Gamers on the delightful pass-time of deadly parkour with friends.. digitally of course.  Sharp and pointy things hurt us real folks after all, let’s leave the rough stuff to the happy digital animals of Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Some of the greatest things in life come from “mash-ups” – peanut butter & jelly, Tom & Jerry, ice cream and waffles, the duck-billed platypus… well that’s reaching. Finally, it all culminates in the ultimate platforming player-constructed sandbox death-trap race featuring cute and nimble little animals that are also great dancers.. Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Title

Party games beware, there is a new king in town. I can barely imagine how fun it would be to bring this game up to 5-8 player capability, but at up to 4-player-generated mayhem it is a riot. The game is available on Steam and PS4 and has online multiplayer as an option. Our experience is soley with the PC version as we are not currently equipped with a PS4. While it offers various modes, the Party mode is my favorite by far. The players can select one of 12 base stages to begin altering as they see fit with their choice of helpful or hurtful place-able objects that are offered at the beginning of each round from the “party box”.

partybox

The “Party Box” holds all manor of fun ways to confound and kill your friends.. and sometimes yourself!

A bit of strategy must be used to make the level difficult enough to keep the other players from making it past one’s traps while still being manageable by the player who placed it.. though getting caught in one’s own traps is a pretty common occurrence. There are bonus points to be had for catching your “friends” in traps you placed as well as a variety of other feats. Points accumulate through each round until someone crosses the “finish line” in point totals or a set number of rounds have passed, which keeps games from dragging on too long.

hub01

So many cute animals to play as.  So many levels to choose from.  So many deadly traps awaiting in each one.  Let’s go add more, shall we?

Players may take their pick of one of the many cute animal characters and can even dress them up in cute costumes which are unlocked by collecting “?”-Boxes scattered in stages. The animals have some pretty adorable and funny sound effects and “dances” as well. The controls are a little “slippery” but I suspect this is intentional in this sort of game as it only adds to the amusement to be had when stumbling off a ledge or into a booby-trap. I am already a rather mediocre at platform games, so Grant and I have had a lot of good laughs at my mishaps. We have even made several new friends online while playing, which is a great bonus.

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The levels can get pretty deadly as the match draws close to its end.  It leads to some insanely funny, mostly-luck-based platforming stunts.  Bonus: you can pretend that you planned it all out just perfectly and you really are that amazing.. at least until the next round when you miss the first jump or give a hug to a buzz saw near the starting point.

Grant is a pretty proficient with platforming games and as such usually comes out ahead. This game will certainly sharpen one’s skills quickly, though, and I have had a fair share of wins to put under my belt.. what an odd phrase that is. I can only imagine one would need a large wrestling-style title belt in order to place things under it. I digress.. In any case, there are several recordings in the archives at Link Plays Games’ YouTube Channel, so check it out if you like! If it seems entertaining then I would strongly encourage giving it a try. Being a rather inexpensive game to begin with, getting value from it should be quite effortless and it is a perfect fit for those odd times when we catch ourselves with 15 random minutes to fill while waiting on something.

dancin

Seems like the perfect place to dance a ‘jig.  Good call, Chameleon!

paperAirplane

Ah see the racoon in his natural habitat.. flying majestically upon the top of a paper airplane, sailing to his goal at the end of the pointy-stick-filled-jungle-temple with cursed coin in tow.  Quiet now, let’s not startle him..

changinClothes

Now don’t forget to collect and wear the proper attire before heading out into the deadly levels.  Just stop in at the friendly clubhouse and see what can be found in the costume trunk!

Light and fun, give Ultimate Chicken Horse a look and see what fun a bunch of animal buddies can have when equipped with buzz-saws, crossbows and a few gallons of honey….

If you are interested in seeing a bit of gameplay footage, head on over to Grant’s YouTube Channel:  Link Plays Games

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

 

In Need of Tunes for Yard-work Season

Weeds and grass seem to be in overdrive mode here in the southeast, marking the peak of the summer “yard-work season”.  I always found this to be a very tedious chore when I was younger, simply being assigned tasks that didn’t make much sense to me by my parents.  Why would I ever care if the yard I was playing in looked nice, neat and attractive?  I actually found it rather backward to pick up all of the “good” sticks which could make perfectly awesome swords, guns, stick-huts and the like and toss them into the trash or the ol’ burnin’ pile.  Now as I have slowly become more comfortable caring for my own home I do see a certain appeal to “prettying it up” a bit.  One of the main shifts I experienced was when I began viewing it as an art project, under the recommendation of my lovely and clever wife.  Now whether she is totally manipulating me into hours of work to get herself a pretty place to chill out in the back yard or if it was just the right words falling at the right time is beyond the scope of this little article.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the results of that bit of research anyway; she is a clever gal.

I generally love to hear the music of nature while I am working outdoors.  After I have been at it a while the chipmunks, birds and field mice seem to decide that I am not out there to bother with them and they go about their business as long as I don’t make any sudden moves or loud noises.  It is fun to watch them and hear the tweeting, singing, tapping and skittering as I play real-life Minecraft out back.  I do on occasion enjoy having some music running and that is where I realized that our current lack of a portable stereo was a problem.  Now we seem to have moved on past the age of the boom-box and even cd-players.  These new-fangled bluetooth speakers seem all the rage, and I do enjoy some Pandora.  That eclectic mix of songs has led me to quite a number of new songs and artists I enjoy.  Besides, where else can you actually find “Final Fantasy 7 Radio”?  One-winged Angel, anyone?  I know my neighbors adore me!

In any case, I am not  exactly an audiophile.  My parents had recently picked up a Bose brand speaker, but those things are no small investment.  I found this little gem on Amazon…

The Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker.
Pretty well rated?  Check.  Roughly 25% of the price of the Bose?  Check.  Plays music from my iPhone?  Check.  Seems worth a try and worst case, Amazon has one of the best return policies I have ever had to deal with.  I should have a chance to try out both speakers side by side within the week and I’ll have to do some comparisons.  We have several Bose speakers in the house that are wired in and they perform magnificently.  My curiosity leaves me wondering if there will be a significant difference in audio quality between the two when taken outdoors.  I’ll have to post some before and after photos of this project after a few weeks of my new musical assistant to go with the audio test.  It’s certain to be relevant.

Til then…

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

The Little Things – A Tale of Rygar’s First Victory Over the Evil Lygar, Perseverance and How Little Actions Often Matter Most.

As we approach Father’s Day this year I found myself reminiscing with Grant about great moments in gaming that I had with my dad. Now while dad wasn’t really what one might call a “gamer”, he did still enjoy some games, especially in the early days of the NES. We had an especially fond connection in regards to games in which the setting was based on the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome. That is where our tale begins today…

To say growing up in rural Alabama was a little weird for me would be quite the understatement. While gaming is a pretty widely accepted hobby these days it was mostly the realm of the “nerdy” kids at my school. I played sports and such mostly because that was what my friends enjoyed, but I never really developed much interest in it. It was great exercise, though and I’m glad I had that in my life. I liked drawing and painting and games and generally just playing imaginatively even into my teenage years. That worked its way into Role Playing Games eventually, but that is a different tale. As we approach Father’s Day I just thought I’d relay a short tale about my dad and how awesome and thoughtful he was regarding me and my rather unique interests. It’s also a fine opportunity to share one of the most unique adventure games I have ever played.

When I was small and our NES was still quite fresh I had a pretty unique way of getting games – at least I have realized in retrospect. As it was the only way I ever purchased new games it was just the way it was done at the time and never gave it much thought. Going to town was pretty unusual for us, so when I had finally mowed enough yards or raked enough leaves to be able to buy a new one I would just hand enough money to dad when he and my mom went out on a trip or date or a regular trip to the store. This was an awesome way of handling it on dad’s part as I really valued every game that I worked for and as a bonus he never failed to bring back an interesting title though he oddly avoided the “big name” games of the time. Being a fan of mythology he mostly stuck to games that seemed to be related to that genre. Trojan, Rygar and Kid Icarus were three true treasures that came out of this mutual interest we shared. Most gamers with any experience in the retro realm are probably familiar with Kid Icarus, though the other two are perhaps of less renown. Rygar, however, was one of the true hidden gems dad found for me and I still enjoy playing it on occasion today.

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Just check out those locations!  What an interesting and varied world lay before Rygar to explore.

Rygar is a side-scrolling hybridized with an isometric top down adventure game that actually has some RPG-style elements. Wow, how is that for covering all of the bases?  Rygar, the main character, actually advances in strength and toughness with each monster he defeats. This means that the player can essentially power up without limits. The downside, as a kid with no real understanding of exactly how this worked, I was constantly annoyed at how tough the bosses and even some regular enemies were and how quickly they could defeat me. It was my dad who actually figured this out. The instruction manual was a bit vague but somehow he pieced together the rather archaic information presented there and simple game-play experience and found that with a good bit of battling Rygar could take down even the bosses with ease. The problem? No save feature. That’s right – Rygar is an RPG-style adventure game that you have to complete in a single session. Once that power button has been hit (or your little brother bonks the NES with a badly thrown ball) you get to start from scratch.

As I mentioned, my dad isn’t really a gamer, but he made it a point to play games with me anyway. Looking back now as a dad myself I realize how awesome that was of him to take the time to do something as silly as playing some NES with his “weird” son when he likely had little or no interest in the game itself. It has really influenced the way I behave as a parent and how I view time with my son today. All of this culminated in the day that I beat the game for the first time with an amazing bit of help from my dad who was absolutely being the hero of the day, giving me a great “boost” but allowing his boy to nail the “slam dunk” and win the day… indulge me in sports reference!

bigbadBot

The “Big Bad Bot” himself, whom my dad found was accessible early in the game if you were a sneaky guardian of Argool…

I woke one Saturday morning when dad was about to go to work. He had gotten up early and fired up Rygar. He had found a particular enemy that I suspect was meant to be a deterrent – a tough, higher level opponent that would tell the player “you’re not strong enough yet, come back later”. Dad had fought that guy repeatedly (this is in the days of easily respawning baddies by simply moving the screen off of their spawn location. He had found this big nasty “robot dude” that shot powerful wave beams at you. They did a lot of damage and the robot took a ton of hits to defeat, but dad had been defeating him for who-knows-how-long, and had gotten to the point where Rygar had become so strong that he was able to defeat the thing with a single attack! Dad showed me his accomplishment, smiled and headed off to work simply telling me to let him know if I was able to beat Lygar (the final boss) this time around, knowing I had been struggling with that final battle each time I had made it that far.

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A few of the bosses.  Unique patterns, projectiles, movement (or in Lapis’ case, not moving from its floating platform..)!  How exciting it was to make it to each of these big baddies and how awesome it felt to take them down with all of that dad-assisted power!

No kidding, the first three bosses were beaten so quickly that I was able to simply rush through the game. The first boss went down to a single hit! Dad had really given ol’ Rygar the workout of his life and he was ready to save Argool! Rygar and I steamrolled that game with no trouble after my dad’s significant “boost”, and I was super proud to tell him how it had gone when he made it back home. I was able to repeat the trick he had shown me soon after in order to share the game’s ending with him and this simple strategy and the patience it taught me in the form of proper preparation is a lesson I value to this day both in games and reality (who says games aren’t educational?!). This is easily one of the simplest yet fondest memories I have of something cool my dad did for me. No trip to the beach or Disney World. No pony or car. Just a simple gesture of taking interest and helping me in something I was interested in, so keep that in mind all of you parents and grandparents out there. Even if the child doesn’t quite seem to comprehend in the moment, those little things we do for them as parents, those simple little choices and seemingly silly games we play along with them now could impact and influence them the rest of their lives!

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Lygar’s inner sanctum lies inside the maze of his floating castle which is itself epic.  Guarded by “shadow” versions of many of the game’s toughest enemies, it is quite a trek.  Lygar himself is no pushover as he spits.. teeth?  Thorns?  Some weird projectile.  I remember as a kid I decided they were poisonous teeth from his serpent arms, as they were obviously responsible for my repeated demise.  But not this day, Lygar!  Today he falls and Argool is freeeeeed!

Now just to make a few more notes on Rygar, I’ll link some gameplay footage on Link Plays Games YouTube channel for those interested. Don’t be deceived by the games old, pixelated style as it’s quite a lot of fun. It is simple at a glance but involves a fair amount of searching and some of the NPCs offer legitimately useful clues which was sadly rare in those days of yesteryear. It is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda in that the world is quite open and the player is left to find their way around. Some areas are restricted by items needed to access them, which keeps the player in safer zones until Rygar has toughened up sufficiently but from my experience one can move much faster than the game may expect and it is not hard to find oneself tackling enemies and especially bosses that are nearly impossible to defeat without a bit of “grinding” to increase Tone which is Rygars measure of attack power and Last, his measure of toughness (how many health bubbles Rygar has).

Rygar’s weapon of choice is certainly unique.  Now I have heard the rumor that yo-yos were originally used as weapons and while I am no historian and not particularly interested in weapons and warfare in general I sadly cannot discount the tendency for humans to weaponize pretty much anything (remember that catapult in Monty Python.. they weaponize a cow for goodness sakes!).  If those ancient yo-yo-weapons were anything like Rygar’s diskarmor, I’ll believe it though.  He makes it look quite deadly at his side and can whip it with startling speed.  It is really cool to see some variation on the typical weapons used in games at that time in any case and it makes for a cool visual.

Rygar must navigate his way around the world and battle past the five bosses in the world in order to access the various tools and powers needed to be able to assault Lygar’s floating fortress – which at the time of the games making was a site to behold. That level’s rather sinister and anxious music is still pretty firmly embedded in my mind from those early years of assaulting that maze-like castle.

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Sinister floating castle that is viewable early in the game from the tallest tower in the first bosses domain yet still unreachable til the game is near complete?  Epic NES foreshadowing, check!

I cannot say that there is a tremendous need to practice so much as patience to power up Rygar. In today’s world of save-states it isn’t as much of a problem, as one can actually pick up when convenient at the point previously reached but when the game was originally released this was a major limiting factor! Count your blessings fellow gamers. It is also the first “metroid-vania” style game I ever played, requiring a fair amount of backtracking over previously visited areas after different items had been gained.  It also had a pretty unique “hub-world” which the player doesn’t actually begin from, instead having to battle through the games first few sections in order to reach it.  This is the first game I had ever played which used the “tutorial stage” setup, in which the game is learned in the first area and allows for experimentation without tremendous potential for loss.  As Rygar works his way along those beginning cliffs and mountains, checking doors, caves and often reaching dead ends, the game also hints at the fact that it is going to require a bit of searching and exploring to find the correct paths.  All in all it is well worth the effort and Argool and Rygar will thank you for your effort in all of their 8-bit glory (think pixelated doves and rainbows.. majestic).

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Thought I was kidding?  Proof.  Enjoy.  Majestic.  It’s the friggin’ door of peace, respect it!  Lygar was the last joker to try closing it and you heard what happened to that guy, right?

The Plant-Powered Gamers strongly recommend giving the game a try if you ever have the chance.

Dad, thanks for being awesome. Happy Father’s Day.

PlantPoweredGamers
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