In high school, several friends and I would gather at one of our houses with the dream of beating all the Mega Mans in a single night. We would get three TVs going, each one of us playing through our assigned Megas. The aim was 1-8 in the original series and then 1-6 in X. We attempted this multiple times and each time it was Mega Man 8 that thwarted us because of the drastically different sprite and control. He is just so damn slow in that game. The sound FX of that game still give me nightmares, as I am sure it does Mega Man too.
Those nights came flashing back to me when Crosstix asked if I could take down Mega Man X for our SNES month. We will be celebrating the SNES for September’s launch of the SNES Classic. I boasted that the game would take me roughly an hour and a half. This would fit perfectly into our schedule and so we set it in stone.
Then when I got home I got nervous. I had not played X in years. I remembered how easy and fun it was. Then I got thinking, I forget all the weaknesses of the bosses. My anxiety kept rising as I realized I did not remember where all the secrets, hearts, E-tanks, and capsules were. There was no way I wanted to represent my bread and butter so clumsily. I was afraid that I would fail and film it all to be seen.
It is time to get my Mega Man groove back after all these years. Que the Rocky soundtrack and the training montage.
First step is finding the old SNES out in the storage closet. I located it and all the necessary cords. The SNES controller has cracked open and exposed the wires. That means it’s loved right? After hooking it up, I popped in the game. No signal found, but the red light is on. The console has power, but is not transmitting to the TV. I blew in the cartridge and plugged it back in. Success! The game booted up. SNESs were built like a brick. Drop them off the roof and they still keep ticking.
At gym. I usually watch Netflix while running. Today I turn on Youtube and watch speedrunner Caleb Hart’s Mega Man X run at AGDQ 2013. His precise jumps intimidate me. I swear it was not the pecks. This video will have to be repeated many times for sequence of levels.
After work the house is empty. Its midnight, but I have to practice. I boot up the game to those classic Mega Man tunes bring me back to the late nights in high school. I progress through the first level with no hitches. The first time I ever played Mega Man X at a friend’s house and panicked when I was dominated by the first boss. I had never seen a boss that required you to lose. I’ve always resented that and dreamed of beating the game right off the bat with that dirty Vile.
I play through Chill Penguin, Storm Eagle and Boomer Kuwanger. Kuwangers stage has the hardest jump in the game. I repeat this jump over and over trying to master the feel. I am not able to complete it once. Great start.
At the gym again, I mixed in a few Did You Know Gaming’s Mega Man entries. I figure I must completely know my enemy to beat my enemy. I now know that Mega Man was not supposed to be the lead for the X series. This will be crucial in my defeating of X. Now I know, and that is half the battle. G.I. Joe!
I work my way through the 8 Maverick bosses. I am trying to use the suggested speedrun route so that I can beat the game as quick as possible. With limited practice I am not sure I can take down Boomer Kuwanger with little to no health. I also cannot make the crucial jump so that I do not have to return to the stage. I need a new route and fast!
I decide to prioritize the upgrades and go Chill Penguin, Storm Eagle, Flame Mammoth, and then return to Chill for the heart. This route lets me complete these stages and get the upgrades fast. I then will deviate and go Launch Octopus followed by Boomer Kuwanger and Sting Chameleon. The water is needed to get the heart and then I complete the armor upgrades, and Boomer makes Sting a walk in the park. Then I will finish with Spark Mandrill and Armored Armadillo. Then repeat Armadillo four times so that I can get the Hadouken.
I did not have the time to complete the 8 bosses today, tomorrow I will try out the route.
The route is working well as long as I can remember it. Old age sucks. I am feeling the effects of retro gaming. Just like when I would do the Mega Man marathon in high school, I have already bruised my thumbs. It used to be several games before the agony set in. Now I am out of touch. I need my calloused battered gamer thumbs back.
But, I made it and got the Hadouken. Maybe tomorrow I can actually beat the game.
I used the password to speed past the first stages. Got to save the precious thumb time. Sigma stages are harder than I remember, and a lot harder than speedrunners make it look.
I discovered that the Hadouken requires full health to execute. This will make my plans much tougher. I struggle through many levels. As I retry them I find what will work for me. This is not going to be the fastest run, but it needs to work.
The Spider Boss and the Wall boss, I will need to be able to beat without using the Hadouken. I hate the stupid spider. Thankfully ice works pretty well. I need to use more of Sting Chameleon’s weapon in the levels to pass the wall climbing areas.
I finally make it Sigma. Without enemies I practice nailing the first two forms with the Hadouken. This saves HUGE amounts of time. It takes me a few rounds to figure out how I want to take down the final form. I settle on using Launch’s weapon and using the dodges I remember from high school runs.
Done. Now that I have beaten it once I am all set. A few days of rest and I am sure it will work out fine. Easy Peesy.
I watch the latest Star Trek. Every great athlete must take time off to rest their specimen of a body right? That logic sounds good to me.
I stretched a few times. I feel good. Tomorrow is game time. Let’s do this!
Ok, so I pretty much fail as a speedrunner. The practice time it took me in researching, planning, and working out a route, was a decent commitment to get my time down sub 2 hours. Speed runners are whooping this game in less than that time! To actually run this game, I would need to dedicate hundreds of hours and practice levels and jumps over and over just to do a decent time. Much respect to those who do this work regularly. You speed runners must have chiseled thumbs of the gods.
Mental note, send thumb ice packs to GDQ’s next charity event.