Mega Man 2- An Amazing Sequel

Every villian has to try again sometime, but with Dr. Wily it didn’t seem like he would. After getting mediocre results on Mega Man 1, Capcom hasn’t given the Blue Bomber a sequel yet. But after a while, they decided to make a sequel. And It’s good that they did because Mega Man 2 popularized Mega Man with it’s better level design and more content. When you boot the game up, there’s actually music and a story! This game is actually a lot easier than most Mega Man games, so maybe that’s why so many people liked it. Anyway, the story is as follows, straight from the game: In the year of 200X, a super robot named Mega Man was created. Dr. Light created Mega Man to stop the evil desires of Dr. Wily.

However, after his defeat, Dr. Wily created eight of his own robots to counter Mega Man. So, that’s the story. See anything wrong? Yeah, for some reason, the story for Mega Man 1 in Japan is different from the one for the U.S. I have no idea why that is, but it explains why the story is a little messed up for Mega Man 2. Anyway, there’s two difficulties to play the game on. Normal and difficult. Most people play on difficult mode because it’s more in line to other Mega Man games, but I prefer normal mode so that’s what mode the screenshots and videos were taken with. Anyway, when you select the mode it brings you to a menu saying stage select or password. Luckily in Mega Man 2 and onwards there’s actually a way to save. Thank goodness. At the stage select screen, you’ll see that this time, there are eight evil robots, not just six.

Stage Select
The eight robot masters in all of their glory.

Nice, now I can die more! Actually this is kinda off-topic but I have a joke to tell to somebody who plays Mega Man. Ask them, what robot have you killed the most in Mega Man? And tell them the robot you have killed the most is Mega Man when they get it wrong. Anyway, back on topic. The robo butt I usually start with is Air Man but for newcomers I’d recommend starting with Metal Man because his stage is easier. Here’s my usual order: Air Man, Metal Man, Bubble Man, Heat Man, Wood Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, then finally Quick Man. Anyway, I’ll be going through the game as if you’re doing my order, okay? Lets go!

Air Man’s stage is actually pretty tough for a first stage to tackle but trust me, you want to take him on first. Air Man’s stage contains Kaminari Goro’s which are little guys in thunder clouds that you can shoot to take their sweet ride and Goblins which have raising and lowering spikes on their head and produce smaller versions which home in on you and are annoying as well.

A lot of people struggle with Air Man’s fight for some reason but I find him to be one of the easiest bosses in the game. He shoots little tornadoes but the catch is, if you don’t get lucky, he will shoot an array of impossible to dodge tornadoes which makes no- damage running his stage a pain in the butt. After you beat his stage, in true Mega Man fashion, you get the robot master’s weapon! In this case it being the Air Shooter. But, what’s this? A message from Dr. Light? He informs you that you get the Item 2… What the heck is that? Well, you know how Mega Man 1 had the Magnet Beam? Well, in Mega Man 2, instead of finding the assist items inside the stage, you get them for completing certain stages. More on that later.

Air Man’s fight is almost entirely luck-based when it comes to no damage running him.

Up next on the chopping block is Metal Man. Metal Man’s main gimmick is the conveyor belts which (of course) pull you in different directions based on which way the arrows are pointing. But, what’s this? There’s a little blue object with and E on it. Well, for anyone who wants to know, COLLECT. THEM. ALL. They refill all your health so they’re very handy to have and with the order I’m using, you will be able to get them all. You can only hold four and there’s more than four in the entire game so you might not need them so I skip out on some.

Up next are these presses that do a lot of damage and, ignoring all logic, the chain hurts you. Yep. There’s also little drills called Moles that are a good way to grind after those crushers but doing a no-damage run is super hard on this stage as well because of them.

A little video of Metal Man’s stage. Apparently you can’t go through the chains on the presses.

Compared to the other stages, Metal Man’s stage doesn’t have many enemies. Why did I want you to do Air Man’s stage first though? Item 2 functions as a jet board to get you over gaps and what-not, so you can use it to get an extra life (or an extra guy if you prefer the old version) as well as an extra E-Tank! Metal Man isn’t too hard so he’s a good first boss to tackle if you don’t care for E-Tanks or Extra Lives. From him you get… THE MOST BROKEN WEAPON IN THE ENTIRETY OF MEGA MAN. The Metal Blade. The Power Pellets are basically useless now because you can fire the Metal Blades in all eight directions, use barely any weapon energy, and can pierce through multiple enemies. (I personally like to call it the Broken Blade because it’s just so dang over powered.)

Avoiding damage in this fight is pretty hard because of Metal Man’s fast throwing speed.

Up next is Bubble Man’s stage. The first real water level in the Mega Man series! Yay, lots of death spikes! The water changes Mega Man’s physics to make him more floaty and able to jump higher. Bubble Man is allergic to the Metal Blade… Wait hang on a second…

Notes:

Robot Weaknesses:

Air Man- Leaf Shield

Metal Man- Metal Blade

Bubble Man- Metal Blade

Heat Man- Bubble Lead

Wood Man- Atomic Fire and Metal Blade

Crash Man- Air Shooter

Flash Man- Metal Blade

Quick Man- Flash Stopper and Crash Bombs

Freak’in four bosses are weak to Metal Blade! The most over powered weapon in the game! What the heck!? I guess even the designers realized that the Metal Blade was too over powered and just made a bunch of weaknesses to be the Metal Blade. Wow. Anyway, after beating Bubble Man, you get the Bubble Lead. Don’t even bother using it except for the one time you have to and to beat Heat Man, the next boss, super easily. Oh yeah, fun fact, hold down the jump button when selecting a level. Then, little bird- like enemies called Pi Pis fly across the screen instead of stars. Anyway, select Heat Man next to take him on with your newfound ability… To create bubbles… His stage’s main gimmick is- DWOOOOOOP! Wait what’s that sound… IT’S THE SOUND OF PAIN AND TORTURE. Yep. Yuko Blocks. Yippee… They’re disappearing and reappearing blocks so you have to time your jumps or you’ll fall down. Sometimes into a death pit, spikes, or lava! They were used a little bit in Ice Man’s stage but there’s more where that came from in Heat Man’s… There’s a really long section of them near the end of the level. DON’T TRY IT YOU WILL DIE! Just use Item 2 to fly over the pit. Piece of cake. Don’t go for the extra life. I’ve died there many times trying to get it. After beating this actually pretty hard boss, you get the Atomic Fire. One interesting thing about this is, it is actually the first chargeable weapon in the Mega Man series! It’s not too good though…

No-damaging Heat Man is pretty hard, but if you get him into a pattern like I did he’s a lot easier.

Next up is Wood Man who literally looks like a big tree stump. His stage is pretty easy with it really just being a straight path with lots of enemies and not too much platforming. There was actually a scrapped version of this stage where if you use Atomic Fire in his stage, the trees would burn and start a forest fire. Sadly, this was scrapped due to time limitations. But this idea did get used in Mega Man 7! If you use the fire weapon in the forest section of Slash Man’s stage, the trees will burn away and a ladder will be revealed that hides a secret! Anyway, once you beat him you get the Leaf Shield which is meh. There’s only really one place in the game I use it.

A lot of people struggle with Wood Man’s fight. There’s a lot of things to watch out for! Oh, by the way, if you get into his personal space, you can shoot through his Leaf Shield somehow. Don’t ask me why.

Time to take on Crash Man who’s allergic to air. How does he breathe!? Oh yeah, he’s a robot never mind. His stage is a really long climb up with all the most annoying enemies… Tellies, Pi Pis, and Fly Boys! This stage really isn’t too difficult. His bossfight I find is actually really hard! He jumps when you shoot so you have to plan it out carefully if you’re going for a buster-only run. His weapon, the Crash Bomber seems pretty useless at first until you realize you can open certain barriers with it.

In Flash Man’s stage, you can get a lot of stuff with it! Flash Man’s stage is pretty straightforward. His stage has ice physics which are pretty annoying. His tileset looks like it’s flashing lights but really, I think that they were trying to make it look like ice but due to the limitations of the NES, all it looks like is flashing lights. Use the Crash Bomber to get some extra goodies! As long as you spam Metal Blades, his bossfight is pretty easy! Not much to talk about in his stage. After you beat him you get the worst utility item in the game. Item 3. All it does is climb up walls so it’s basically just useless because Item 1 can already do that. Heck, you can beat the game without using Item 3 at all!

Alas, I was not able to no damage Flash Man so please enjoy this video of a bit of his stage.

Up next is… Probably the hardest Robot Master in this game- Quick Man. His stage’s main gimmick is the Quick Beams. Man a lot of people hate these. But with Flash Man’s weapon- The Flash Stopper you can skip some of it. Don’t use it at the first set of the Quick Beams though! Later in the level there’s another set which is a lot harder. His bossfight is hard too! He’s very spazzy and hard to avoid. He’s allergic to the Flash Stopper so if you want to try and beat the Quick Beam section without it, you can use it on the boss. But he is pretty weak to the Mega Buster so I usually just use the Mega Buster to beat him. After beating him you get the Quick Boomerang. It’s actually a pretty useful weapon but I barely use it because I just defeat everything with the Mega Buster.

Man, the stupid Quick Beams are super tough to dodge. I was able to do them without the Flash Stopper though!

In true Mega Man fashion, once you beat all the Robot Masters it’s time for Dr. Wily! Dr. Wily flies by in his saucer and wiggles his eyebrows and brags to Mega Man that he has a brand-spankin’ new castle this time.

Wily's Castle.png
Woah, Dr. Wily has a pretty cool castle!

In his first stage, you climb his tower and awaiting you at the top is a giant Mecha-Dragon! Funnily enough, he’s allergic to the boomerangs. Don’t ask me why. His second stage starts off with you using Item 2 to fly over a huge spike pit. If you’re brave enough to stay on and see what’s beyond the first ladder, you’ll get an E-Tank! And another E-Tank. And an Extra Life. So, if you didn’t go that path, the next few screens are basically there to rub it in that you can’t get those E-Tanks and Extra Life! The boss of this stage is.. The Room. Like literally it’s just the room attacking you. Pretty creative.

Oh no! The room is attacking you! Totally not ripped off by A Link To The Past! (Coming soon… maybe.)

Anyway, moving onto Wily Stage 3 which takes place in the sewers. Yuck! After passing some large fish, there’s a spike drop! Yay, everybody likes those! I actually don’t find it too hard. This stage is actually really short now that I think about it. The boss of this stage is a giant Guts Man Tank! Wow, Dr. Wily must really like Guts Man. I guess they’re friends or something. Anyway, his weakness is the Quick Boomerang. Again.

Guts Tank

The next stage is pretty weird. We have these fake blocks that make this stage super annoying! Use Bubble Lead to find where the holes are but if you don’t even trust Bubble Lead, just use Item 2 to zip by. The boss of this stage is my least favorite one in this game. There’s these little bubbles that can only be defeated with the Crash Bomber as well as several barriers. But the catch is, you can’t break every single barrier or else you won’t have enough weapon energy left. This boss is super tedious and annoying.

Boobeam Trap

After beating that boss, time to re-fight every Robot Master in this game again. There’s not really much to mention about this. The folks at Capcom must be running out of ideas. It’s just- here fight all these bosses again. That’s it. Except… when you get to Metal Man, use the Metal Blade on him. See what happens for yourself. With all the Robot Masters defeated again, time to take on Dr. Wahwee. He just shoots at you in his jet.

Pew Pew.png

After beating him, you beat the game! Actually no, there’s another level!? You walk down a long hallway filled with Acid Droplets that try to damage you. By the way, hold right when you’re falling down the hole at the start to make your timing a lot easier. Just walk right and keep moving and they will never hit you.

Final Boss Tension

If you want to experience the ending for yourself, go right now! Play the game for yourself and once you’ve beaten it, come back so I won’t spoil the ending for you. Or you could just stay if you don’t care about spoilers. Your choice.

………..

……………………………….

Are they gone yet? I think they are… Okay, so here’s the ending. Turns out Dr. Wily is an alien!

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A very easy to kill alien at that. You HAVE to use Bubble Lead on this boss. If you use a weapon that’s not Bubble Lead, It will just completely refill his health again. After beating him, turns out he’s not an alien after all! It was just a hologram! Silly Dr. Wily!

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With Dr. Wily begging for mercy and the world saved, this quest has come to an end. Hopefully Dr. Wily will actually learn his lesson this time and not be evil again!

*Looks on shelf and sees Mega Man 3. Welp, guess not.

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Mega Man – A Truly Hard Game

The Mega Man Series tends to be harder than most other games. But none of the other games in the main series get as hard as Mega Man 1.

When you start up the game, there`s no story at all. There`s no music or movement either. Just the title and “press start”. For story you`ll have to look in the manual of the game. The story is as follows: Dr. Wright and Dr. Wily make the very first near- human robot, Mega Man along with Roll, A housekeeping robot. Encouraged by their results, Dr. Wright and Dr. Wily make six additional robots to perform everyday tasks. But Dr. Wily reprograms the six helper robots to make them evil. With Mega Man still functioning correctly, Mega Man sets out to defeat the six evil robots.

When you press start, you are brought to a stage select screen highlighted over the robot named Cut Man. A lot of first time players do this stage first because you usually don`t know which robot to take on first. The levels of this game are run and gun sections ending with a hard bossfight. One of the best additions to Mega Man games is the ability to get the weapon of the robot master you beat. But don`t go taking on the coolest robot master you see, some of them are actually really hard. There`s a weakness order of which robots to fight first. My personal order is Bomb Man, Guts Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man, then finally Fire Man. Mega Man isn`t super powerful at first. All he can do is jump and shoot. But the later games add more options, such as a slide and a charge shot. But we`ll talk about those later when we get to them.

stage_select

These are all of the robot masters on the stage select screen.

As you go off on your crazy adventure, there are enemies and platforming challenges that serve as obstacles. But don`t think it will be a cake walk! The controls are a little bit slippery so it almost feels like Mega Man`s always on ice. And those platforming sections are pretty hard! Either the enemies shoot a bunch of bullets or they are placed so it`s easy to get hit by them and fall into a pit or spikes. (Which is instant death.) So you better be ready to do these stages over… and over… and over… and over again. Feel like you need a break from video games?

Well TOO BAD because there`s no way to save in Mega Man 1. (Unless you have savestates which weren`t in the original.) So, you probably get it now… This game is HARD! I`m not fooling around when it`s probably the hardest game in the main series.

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Some of the bosses in this really hard game.  Bombman, Gutsman and Elecman.

One of the game`s strongest points is the level design. Since you could potentially begin with any stage first, the level design has to accommodate that. But! The tutorials is where the game shines… Instead of Roll popping out all like: Mega Man! Mega Man! Those blocks disappear and reappear so you better time your jumps! No! That`s not how the game does it! Instead… It teaches you with gameplay. It shows an easier challenge first. Then, It gets harder. That`s how the game does tutorials. Smart.

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Lots of variety in level design.

Once you beat all the robot masters… Oh! You thought the game was over after that!? Well too bad! Cause now you have to go through Wily`s Castle! There are four more stages you need to do, each with their own hard boss… yay…

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Dr. Wily makes his appearance.

So, you start off the first stage with one of the most annoying enemies in the game! Big Eyes! These stupid little things jump around and do A WHOLE BUNCH OF DAMAGE! After that you use one of the robot master`s powers to break some rocks. One of my favorite things about the Wily stages is that you usually use the powers you got on your quest to beat them since you`re at least supposed to have all the weapons in the game now. You go through the first stage peacefully until… Wait what? There`s just a bunch of walls you can`t get over. Nothing helps. Nothing works. And here`s where the game throws a sucker punch. There`s a little thing in Elec Man`s stage which gives you a super awesome weapon. But if you didn`t have Guts Man`s power when you got to that stage well… You have to go back to it a second time. And yes, you can actually replay stages unlike some of the other Mega Man games. If you get this little… ummmm… I don`t even know what the sprite is supposed to be… Some kind of gun I suppose? Anyway, once you get that, you`re set. The Magnet Beam is actually pretty useful. It lets you make some sections easier. The boss of the first Wily Stage is infamous… The Yellow Devil. But… if you use the glitch to beat him by shooting the elec beam and pausing a couple of times, you can beat him pretty easily. (You can`t do this on the legacy collection version.)

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The Yellow Devil, the hardest boss in the game.  He disassembles and reassembles throughout the battle!

After that, It`s just basically more of the same until you get to the last stage that is… You have to beat the six robot masters again… Two in the second Wily Stage then the rest in Wily Stage four. After you beat all of `em again, you finally get to fight the final boss… And let`s just say… It`s underwhelming… Wily flies in his ship thingy and shoots at you… That`s it. With all the robots defeated and Wily in prison,the land is restored to peace once again… Or at least until Mega Man 2.

Like my article?  Come check out my YouTube channel: LinkPlaysGames

You can also find me on Twitch, streaming live! LinkPlaysGames206

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How I Got Mega Man 2

megaman2-Art

Mega Man 2 is my favorite Mega Man game right

now, and boy do I have a lot to talk about! This little fan game called Mega Man Maker single-handedly got me into Mega Man. I originally got the game while I was playing a lot of Mario Maker but, I really didn`t like Mega Maker. A few weeks later when I was getting tired of Mario Maker, I picked Mega Maker back up again.

I started to wonder, what are Mega Man games like?

So I watched a couple of videos on Mega Man and played some of the games and I loved it. So, that`s how Mega Maker got me into Mega Man.

One of my favorites was Mega Man 2, and I wanted to play some of the other games. One small problem…

I was playing them on an emulator and if you know, emulators usually are a little buggy. A and B flipped around so you have to press B to shoot and A to jump so that would make me have to keep my hand in an akward position. Mega Man 3 just wouldn`t run properly for some unknown reason. Also, all other games besides Mega Man 1 were in Japanese. So I looked on steam one day and found something magical: Mega Man Legacy Collection. It was a compilation of Mega Man 1-6 and played super smoothly. So, if you like old retro games then give Mega Man Legacy Collection a try.

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).

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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.

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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
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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
Grow Strong. Game On.

Spelunky – One Hundred Ways to Die While Treasure Hunting.

SpelunkyMossmouth August 2013

Rogue-like, Adventure, Platformer

One of the first Arcade games that I ever played that truly captured my imagination was titled “Jungle Hunt”. It is pretty similar to the likely more popular Pitfall which is often referred to as one of the best titles on the Atari 2600. It wasn’t just some little guy avoiding ghosts and eating pellets and it wasn’t a wonky spaceship with poor steering trying to stop an alien invasion. This game took the player on a literal adventure through the digital jungle, swinging and jumping from vines, swimming in a crocodile filled river, jumping over and ducking boulders and even avoiding the spears of angry natives. Of course this was all to save “the girl” who had been abducted and was about to become soup. Sure it may be a simple twist on a cliche’ but hey, this was the 80s and I suppose we have to give ourselves some credit for progress in game design over the last 30 years or so.

JungleHunt

Jungle Hunt; Atari 2600 – Adventure Gaming history in the making.

Pitfall

Pitfall; Atari 2600 – Jump snakes, barrels and scorpions!  Stand on crocodile heads!  Swing on Vines! 

If ever a game brought back that sense of unexpected adventure in a truly deadly package, I would have to nominate Spelunky. It really has the same flavor as Pitfall and Jungle Hunt to me, with unexpected adventure, treasure and surprises at every turn.

Mine01

The little explorer is in luck today, gold bars lay just inside the entryway.  Surely luck is on his side today!

The player chooses one of the characters to use, though as far as I can tell there is no difference beyond appearance. There are several unlockable characters as well which gives one the fun challenge of rescuing fellow adventurers that appear to have fallen prey to the mines. The player must run, jump and whip their way through the obstacles, very “Indiana Jones” style but with likely far less success. There is even a “damsel” to rescue, though checking the options menu it is actually possible to save a ugly-cute pug dog instead which I find awesome and hilarious. He even makes funny whining sounds when you get close! Rescuing the “damsel” gives a bonus health at the end of each level, so it is quite worthwhile in a game that can be pretty cruel at times. That bonus health can provide a nice pad that keeps one from having to restart completely.

shop

I generally buy ALL THE BOMBS!!!  They are actually multi-purpose tools that have al kinds of benefits if one stays well stocked.  Great for “bustin'” booby-traps, diggin’ out treasure and even killing the occasional bus-sized frog.

As the player progresses through the level there is loads of treasure to collect. The game begins with a few bombs in the inventory which can be used not only to access areas that have been blocked off but also to dig treasure out of the walls, floor or ceiling. A shopkeeper inhabits many areas as well and he can sell everything from extra bombs, guns, machetes, spins of a weird prize wheel and a time or two I have even found a “kissing shop” that let you pay $8000 for a lick from the pug.. or I suppose a kiss from the lady. It’s a bonus health either way, one just likely contains fewer germs. Dogs have really great oral hygiene after all.

Damsel in distress?  I’ll pass, gimme puggy-lovins!  Truly “explorer’s best friend”.

want_to_be_saved

What’s wrong boy?  I’m gonna saaaaaaaaave ya!  (Dies 10 seconds later, dropping puppy into spider den…)

Ghost

Steer clear of this cheapskate.  The ghost appears if you linger too long in a level and he “one-hits” like nobody’s business.  He kind of works like a timer that you can run from, but still ensures that the level cannot be picked clean as there is simply not enough time.

Of course being a “rogue-like” the stages are randomly generated and every play-through is somewhat different. The levels to progress in the same pattern, though, with the first being the Mines, the next the Jungle, followed by Ice Caves and so on. There are “events” of sorts that come up occasionally that add a twist to the level. There is an event that displays “I can’t see a thing” as the level begins and light is very limited. The player starts with a torch nearby and can use it to light sconces throughout the level. There are also a few fireflies that float around to help some but these can be very challenging as it makes it hard to tell what traps might be lurking just beyond the sight-range. There is one that loads the level with snakes, another that loads with spiders and even one that tells that the dead are restless and zombies lurk about. These are fun, but again, can be pretty challenging in a game that is already pretty ruthless at times. Oh and don’t anger the shopkeeper. They will pursue your demise for the rest of that play-through and they like to hide close to exits with shotguns…

cant_see

“I can’t see a thing!” – In Spelunky, these words generally mean “Josh isn’t making it through this area; Game Over”.  My success rate on dark zones is around 10% at the moment!

rock

The humble rock.. in this game it is handy to keep one as a pet.  They are great for triggering traps and throwing and googlies that lie out of reach.  I named mine Steve.  Steve fell in a hole later.  I’ll never forget him. 

Even though the game is pretty tough it manages to rarely frustrate me. Restarting is nicely streamlined so that I can be right back in the adventure within moments which really reminds me of Pitfall and Jungle Hunt which basically restarted within a button click of losing. The game gives a journal entry telling how the player “died” though part of the story is that the adventurers in the mines find themselves again at the beginning of the mine when something… goes badly for them. Kind of a fun explanation for the endless “lives” one is likely to exhaust in tackling the challenges before them. Some of the entries can be a little snarky but most are just amusing and hey, a click of the button closes it and gets you back into the game!

Ruin_Day1

What’s this?  A Spider the size of a golf cart?  I’m sure it won’t be so bad, this is world 1 after all!  Don’t be fooled, this stinker can really ruin a day quickly.

There is a Daily Challenge each day in which the player can try once per day to do their best at the level of the day. Only one try is allowed and it ranks everyone that tries on a fairly active leaderboard. So far my best is making it into the 300s and I wouldn’t say I was terrible at the game exactly so I certainly think there is some long-term play value there. It is fun in that it gives one a sense of playing in a community rather than it being a completely solitary experience.

Trap

Not all traps are this obvious, but only rarely do they keep me from “going for it”.  This may explain why I have yet to actually complete the game.

Games like Spelunky are certainly not for everyone though. Grant is actually turned off by the ease of losing and finds it frustrating. Certainly a bad jump can quickly end the adventure and occasionally the enemies will “ping-pong” you into oblivion. While this sort of bad luck can be a pain I will take it in stride if as a trade off I get a non-stagnant level layout, refreshing itself each time with new treasures and dangers to discover with each attempt. Grant does occasionally find it amusing watch my exploits though, so it may have some merit in watching the disaster that is likely to unfold when watching a friend play. It’s all pretty light-hearted with about as much violence as a Looney-Tunes or Tom & Jerry cartoon, though it does have some “blood” animation. It is pretty tame but I find it odd that there wasn’t an option to turn that off.

IceCaves01

Don’t let the cute alien and his UFO fool you.. those things are quite explosive when they crash and often “ping-pong” you into a long fall below.

Bonus Content:  Grant and I have actually played Spelunky on one of his streams for his YouTube Channel.  Check it out if you want to see a bit of gameplay footage with a little “Gameroom Banter” between us.  Give him a follow or a like, it totally makes his day when someone takes interest in the games he enjoys!

Josh and Grant Play Spelunky!

The Plant Powered Gamers’ stat breakdown:

Fun: 9/10 Angry Old Shopkeepers: Loads of fun with quick game-play and only occasional irritating bits of bad luck.. well okay, maybe every game ends in a bit of bad luck but it’s still fun! Hey, when I am almost to the 4th level and a UFO ricochets me into a laser-shooting mammoth which then bounces me into a bottomless pit.. well.. it makes for a good story.

Replayability: 9/10 Shiny Gemstones: It is a rogue-like, after all, and that is one of the hallmarks of one well done, which Spelunky certainly is.

Value: 10/10 Whiney Pugs: The game regularly goes on sale, being fairly old now. Mine actually came in a Humble Bundle and likely cost less than $5 even though it was the main game I was buying the bundle for. It is awesome when one finds a few bonuses that are fun in the mix though. For its normal price of $15 I think it is perfectly on par with similar games that have similar value in terms of time played before boredom would set in, but with older games just stick it in the Wishlist and grab it for half of that. Besides, Summer Sale is almost here!

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