Never mind memory lane; how’s about the scrapheap instead?

Mega Man 9 (2008)

Since the missus does be out at work all day and I’m working from home, alone all day, inevitably my mind turns towards sex robots. Are sexbots nearly here? God, but the more I think about them, the more I wonder if I could cope with one. Imagine living in a single bedroom apartment with one? One night, after you’ve had a row with it or it catches you flirting with Alexa, you leave your sexbot (personalised to look like your favourite weathergirl) out on the landing, detuned – or so you think.

But I could just see it bursting through the door at one o’clock in the morning because you programmed it wrong. “Master, would you like some toast for breakfast today?” it asks in a too loud, flat but unmitakably sinister robotic female voice. “G-God, no…” you whimper, clutching the duvet for dear life. 

Then it tries to run a scan on your face and comes up as a fail, because it’s too dark. So its inbuilt security measures kick in, leading it to point at you and give you a metallic scream, I’m picturing Invasion of the Body Snatchers here. No, you can think of all the reasons you like regarding why you wouldn’t want to get a sexbot for your home. The deviancy behind owning one, how to explain it to the neighbours, the risk of social ostracism, the cleanup required, none of that stuff would bother me at all.

But dealing with the uncanny valley at all hours, that’s where I’d have to draw a line. You think it’s bad being woken up in the middle of the night by pet cats or dogs jumping all over you? Just wait until the anime booby monster bursts in and starts firing lasers.

And men will sexualise anything, you know. You’ve got to be aware of that. I’m not going to be the kind of wet lettuce who now apologies on behalf of his gender; after all, when the Twitter massive find out I’ve been Googling sexbots, then I’m in for the cancellation chop as well. I’m just saying, Capcom didn’t help us in Mega Man 9 when they included, for the first time ever, a female Robot Master. Or is that Robot Mistress? See, even individual words get sexualised, and then you’ve got no hope. The word ‘daddy’ is also off limits now. I heard someone mention a master-and-slave system on a call the other day and I had to excuse myself. 

These sexual linguistics threatened to overshadow the fact that Mega Man was making his first classic appearance for over ten years, which seems like almost no time at all for the grand return of a series when you think about it – after all, now this game is over ten years old as well. Although that doesn’t really matter, since it came out ‘deliberatly aged’, like the wardrobe you might keep your deactivated old sexbot in upon the release of the new e-weathergirl model.

Mega Man 9 generated huge interest when it was announced, and they really were going the full lash with the classic shtick – it’s got the 8-bit graphics and sound of Mega Man yore, although I doubt this game could actually run on a NES to be honest with you. You won’t be fooled, and this might be because you’re likely playing the game with a PS3 controller or similar. Whatever it is, there’s something about the game that won’t really take you back to the past as you might expect, AVGN style.

It’s quite a throwback though, to when games were nice and simple and weren’t all the same shades of brown. Early copies of the game came with a decorative NES cartridge that you could open up, if you wanted to feast on the goo inside. There was even a cover art done up for this release that mocked the poultice, crappy box-arts from the very early NES games.

So strict an adherent to the old way is Mega Man 9 that the boy in blue can’t even slide or charge his Mega Buster. In that way, you could say that this game emulates Mega Man 2 the most. In fact, this one stays so close to 2, my personal pick of the series, that it even lifts songs and jingles directly from Mega Man 2 – probably a few too many of them. Still, the original stuff here sounds great, particularly Tornado Man’s theme which was used in the trailers. Not forgetting the theme used for Splash Woman, the cause of all this Pavlovian trouble.

It’s no guarantee that you’ll get to listen to all of the msuic though because bloody hell, this is a hard affair, especially if you haven’t been on your Mega Man A-game for some time. There’s a fair few insta-deathtraps in the levels, probably too many, and if you were hoping this game copied every little detail from Mega Man 2, then forget it – there’ll be no easier difficulty settings for you here. There’s even an achievement or trophy in this game which you can earn by beating the whole game without taking a single hit.

You’re joking, aren’t you? Poor Mega Man gets smacked in the face a dozen times just putting his blue metal shoes on, or at least he does whenever I’m playing. The game’s not as insurmountable as you might fear though, because at lease Mega Man can go down to the Mega Mart, by which I mean there’s a shop system which is moreorless the same as Mega Man 7 – collect screws during the levels, which is a bit like picking the bones of your enemies, and you can buy more lives, cans of Robo Red Bull, and a few other doodads. And if you can find yourself one of the many ways to farm screws, while you go off and watch a different TV, then happy days – the win over Wily is almost yours.

You won’t have much longer to go after that – there’s no intro level or, God forbid, any kind of midway level. I suppose this roots the game even deeper into the NES psyche – but then, there’s only one Wily Fortress as well, and even the early games had more than that. I suppose the price of the game reflects this, but Mega Man 9 is really just business as usual: you need not expect some kind of classic Mega Man extravaganza with thirty-odd levels, a celebration of the series.

After over ten years out of the picture, with the last two Mega Men leaving a bit of a sour taste, or definitely making a sour note (and if you include Mega Man & Bass, being sour-balls hard), 9 could definitely have done more to interest fans new and old. This is very much a game for Mega Man addicts to get a quick fix , a rush, before it’s goodbye, see you later, that was a nice trip down memory lane wasn’t it. Never destined to be a great, like a load of other samey NES games from 35 years ago.

I suppose Mega Man 9 does serve its purpose, does its job. It was definitely better than Sonic 4 anyway. Tell you what, I could accept my sexbot having some programming typical of a woman. “If you don’t know, then my circuits aren’t going to tell you”, before storming out of the room, that sort of thing. But if she had Sonic 4 programmed in there, I’d have to consign her to the same fate as Mega Man: the scrapheap.

20 April 2021

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