Mega Man goes viral yet again, and there’s still no cream for it

Mega Man 10 (2010)

I understand that internet security is big bucks nowadays, owing to the fact that there is a relative lack of experience and knowledge in the field (what field?), and also because this kind of information and data is important to keep under proverbial wraps. After all, my whole life is on my phone, and I’m sure you’re the same.

If my phone fell into vagabond hands, they could go off and pay for all kinds of contactless purchases, or go onto my social media and put sackable statements against my name. I wouldn’t even mind any of that too much, to be honest, so long as they don’t find where my journal is saved, and they don’t release any of my search history – there’s absolutely no coming back from that.

I suspect the data thieves have some bigger fish to fry than me, though. After all, I hear that the major concern nowadays in aviation, and where the big money is going, is making sure that the onboard computers on planes cannot be hacked. I’m probably giving budding terrorists some great ideas here, in which case I should be given the maximum penalty – my search history being read out in court, in front of my family. But I’m told that such an operation really could be as easy as some lad sittin on the ground with his laptop, clacking a few keys, pressing Enter and then bringing a goddam plane down before lunchtime.

Add state-sponsored terrorism into this mix and it really does become a case of which nation’s boffins are the best at putting rubber raincoats on their software. There’s too much software in every vehicle nowadays of course, as we can see from the 737-MAX. Or, at local level, those of you who’ve ever suffered an ECU failure on your car will have known all about it.

If you don’t already know, where any kind of hacking, phishing or general online snoopery is concerned, a lot of work has gone into encryption, security and digital signatures to combat it. It’s a networking arms race, one side trying to get a decisive advantage over the other in the balance of internet power. The net result of this e-brinkmanship means that the weakest link in the internet security chain today is the end user – that’s you and I. And because both of us have a bit between our ears, we’ll already fancy ourselves as being tech-savvy enough not to fall for the oldest tricks in the hacking book.

Well, we may be able to spot a ropey email that claims our Netflix is about to expire and we need to pump more money into a strange URL, but there’s a bit more to it than that. After all, how many times have you left a password on a Post-It note? Or, God, copied and pasted your password from somewhere else. And heaven forbid you’ve ever emailed your password to someone.

They’re great at targeting businesses as well, those pesky hackers. At one of my old jobs, some nitwit clicked a link in an email that they shouldn’ta done, some irresistible offer on “Amazon”, a lot like the eye-rolling deals that get advertised to you by Wish and other desperate Chinese crowds. Ransomware, us leet hackers call it.

Well, she clicked it and then suddenly every computer in the office was locked, with the files getting chewed up by what I like to imagine was some sort of virtual computer graphic with big chomping teeth, like the piano from Super Mario 64.  I don’t know how much we paid, if anything, to get the virus off our jugulars but it gave me a few hours of doing absolutely nothing in what was normally a non-stop office, so I was grateful as all hell to that hacker. Honestly, if I met them, I’d shake their hand. They’d have to buy the beers though, since it was my wages he stole, after all.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. To my eternal shame, I once recommended to my dad that he download Bonzi Buddy, which to readers under 50, was a purple monkey character that claimed to help you ‘surf the web’. He was advertised on websites everywhere, no doubt aimed towards gullible children who were experts in that particular skill of badgering their parents until they relented and downloaded it. That was me, although I should have known a bit better at age 10.

It didn’t get any better. I’m certain we lost an old computer of ours to the twin perils of Kazaa and Limewire, in those heady early days of music piracy. I’ll give you a tip: when you see a download of The Phantom Menace, weeks before the film was even due to be in cinemas, you’re best off avoiding it like the plague – I’ll remember that for the next time.

That hasn’t stopped me from getting my grubby hands on all kinds of entertainment (well, not the most frequently downloaded category – there’s other sites for that). I’m assured the modern day Pirate Bay is absolutely safe, but these assurances come from some long-forgotten comments in some dark recesses of the internet that get an upvote or two. Not exactly concrete, legalese assurance, is it?

So when the wafer-thin premise of Mega Man 10 popped up on screen to tell us that this week’s trouble was being caused by a software virus called Roboenza, I wasn’t surprised. Dr. Light will have forgotten his password or clicked the wrong link, and then suddenly his desktop’s changed to an evil Dr. Wily logo asking him for money. Now he can’t do anything, except ask Mega Man to go and sort it out.

But how does he know that Mega Man hasn’t also gone haywire? Well, the good doctor’s got a bit of insurance here, because there’s three robots who he can ask to go and put an end to this virus faffery – Mega, Bass or Protoman. It’s good practice having these backups, a little like having more than one password, or not storing all of them on the same Notepad text file.

So begins Mega Man’s tenth adventure, or more like his fiftieth. And I really don’t see the point of this one, although I didn’t see the point of Mega Men 4, 5 or 6, either. Mega Man 9 at least had that great selling point in that was a blast back to the past, a proper authentic 8-bit game for the modern era, if 2008 can be called that anymore.

Capcom, ever eager to overegg the pudding, came out with a second 8-bit return to the classic Mega Man era. Erm, guys, that ship has sailed, the tune has been sung, the password has expired. Ever heard of new tricks? I suppose it doesn’t have as many musical cues lifted directly from earlier games that Mega Man 9 had. And with a couple of new characters, you’ll finally regain the ability to slide and charge your weapon.

Also, and this is certainly a sentence I never thought I’d write, but Sheep Man is one of the all time great Mega Man levels. The very concept of a Sheep Man in any game would put you right off playing it full stop, I’m sure. But I think it’s a Blade Runner thing, you know? Well, maybe you know, but I don’t – five cuts later, and I still don’t understand that film.

With that, I’ve gone through all of the selling points of Mega Man 10, although I suppose more of the same is always a good thing for the die-hard fans. And you can pick it up for half-nothing, either by itself or as part of a collection. If you’re still desperate, you could probably find a place to pilfer it from. Just don’t end up getting the Mega Man virus, because it multiplies like crazy, ends up costing you a fortune, and you’ll never get rid of it.

7 May 2021

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