Thursday, March 04, 2010

It's Boss Time! Also, Blog Posting Time!

So this week herald the arrival of the tenth installment in the Mega Man series. With a new Mega Man game comes eight new robot masters to fight. And what better way to celebrate the arrival of eight new old school bosses to fight then by profiling them?

Why the box art? Because the only Mega Man 10 boss lineup pictures I could find were fanmakes

Except I can't because I haven't managed to beat any of them yet. Okay that's not true. I did beat Sheep Man, which is an act that is much more impresive then it sounds.

In any case, since the game hasn't even been out for a week it's probably too soon to profile the bosses from that game anyway. So instead will take a look at arguable the hardest boss from the previous instalment in the series.

Fear his disturbingly small head

I may not travel the Mega Man fan circles much, but I think few would disagree that Plug Man is the hardest boss in Mega Man 9. What actually makes Plug Man so hard is much more elusive.

It's not his attack pattern, which largely consists of alternating between short and long jumps around the room. Occasionally during his jumps he will fire his special weapon, Plug Ball, which travels round the room and drops from the celling when it's above you. Plug Man's pattern is downright sedate compared to say, Concrete Man, who will sometimes be completely easy and sometimes utterly destroy you. No, Plug Man would be complete joke, if not for the fact his boss room is designed to murder you.

The den of the Satan

To the uninitiated eye, Plug Man's room doesn't look dangerous. After all, it doesn't have spikes on the ceiling or anything. What makes it so dangerous are those two block pyramids. Remember how I said that Plug Man's pattern was basically just jumping around firing his wall-crawling weapon? If the room was completely level this would be a complete joke to avoid. Those block pyramids mean that it's impossible to just run under him, and they limit you options to dodge the Plug Balls. Those little valleys between the pyramids become funnels of death as you move to avoid a falling Plug Ball, only to be crushed by a falling Plug Man.

It's actually kind of a refreshing callback for the series, one of many that characterizes Mega Man 9. See, when most people think of Mega Man boss fights, they think they all take place in a large flat room. However, this is really was true of the later games, where they needed to be flat in order to accommodate the slide. There was a time boss room layouts were just as much a part of a robot masters attack pattern as their weapon. Don't believe me? Then let's step back a couple decades and look at another boss that depends of the room to be effective.

Bet you didn't know he had something on his back

Quick Man is also arguably the hardest boss from his respective Mega Man game. He's fast, does a lot of damage and has the indecency to be completely immune to Metal Blade, and let's not even get into the instant-death causing Quick Lasers you have get past to even fight him.

A rare shot of someone not Time Stopping Quick Man, also a surprisingly hard shot to find on the Internet period

The thing is, Quick Man doesn't really have a dangerous pattern. It mostly consists of him jumping up high and tossing Quick Boomerangs and running across the room. Sometimes he will even spend time running into walls. What really makes the fight hard are those raised areas of the room that once again, limit your mobility. If you need even further proof for some reason, then look no further to the re-fight with him that takes place in a flat room. He suddenly becomes easy to dodge since you can run under him or jump over him without too much danger.

So I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that sometimes a little terrain variation add a little spice to a boss fight. Honestly, it's something I wish game developers would take a bit more to heart. Sure, flat rooms make things simple, but what's life without a few complications?

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