Last week a strange but beautiful coincidence took place in my life. I found myself, late Saturday night, sifting through various "Let's Play" videos, which for the uninformed are full videos (some with audio commentary) of members from the Something Awful forums playing through entire games. One game that I actually watched all videos of, back-to-back, was a play-through of I Wanna Be The Guy, an impossibly, hair-tearingly, controller-smashingly, screaming curse words...ily...difficult PC game that pays homage to all the old NES games that were just as hard. You can download it here, if you dare (I think I played it for about 25 minutes before deciding there were better things to do).
Anywho, watching such a stupidly hard game got me thinking about those games I used to play a long time ago. See, I never had an NES...or an SNES, Genesis, etc. My parents' logic was "You have a computer, so, just play games on that. Computer > than NES, et al. anyways." So, though my Commodore 64 did kick ass, I missed out on a good chunk of super-hard games. But, I when I was 5 years old, I was given a Game-Boy. And eventually, I got Megaman for it.
The hours I poured into that small, small game cannot be measured. I mean, the game was hard enough for a full-grown teenager at the time, and I was maybe 6 or 7 when I played through it. I remember writing down the password grids after each finished boss. I remember dread washing over me every time I lightly brushed into the evil, evil spikes and Megaman burst into a bunch of pulsing circles.
So, the next morning, I said told my girlfriend about the I Wanna Be The Guy game, and then my recollection of ye olde Megaman on the Game-Boy. I even fired up an NES emulator to show her what I was talking about. Her first response was "Wow, that's really hard to see," even with full-screen on my 19-inch LCD monitor. Oh Game-Boy, the youth today do not know how easy they have it.
I never did beat Megaman. I got all the way to the final level -- the Wily level -- and died at the final boss battle. I gave up after that, knowing I'd never be able to get that far again.
The day after I talked to my girlfriend, she presented me with a hoodie with Megaman's extra life sprite blown up on the front and words "The Man" below it. All I could do was laugh and say, about a dozen times, "this is awesome." I then declared, "I need to finish Megaman, goddamnit!"
But I wanted more of a challenge. I wanted such a blisteringly hard game that an hour's time would only amount to one level completed. I wanted to feel, every time a boss was beaten, that I accomplished something inhuman. Long ago, this is the feeling that older games were able to bestow into the hearts of every gamer. Games today really don't have this same feeling, and if they do, people complain of the difficulty. Seriously, grow some balls -- we had it a lot worse off 20 years ago.
So, I got Megaman 9 from the PSN. And holy shit, this game is hard. But in a very, very good way. Every mistake you make (usually resulting in death) forces you to learn and adapt yourself to perfection. After 20 or so run-throughs of Magma-Man's level, you'll know what I mean. After I beat the first boss, my yells of jubilation were clearly those of decades past. And yeah, it took me an over an hour just to finish one level. My thumbs kinda hurt, and my hands were clammy with concentration. It felt wonderful.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed projects a similar feeling, too. But Megaman 9's NES-look and completely old-skool atmosphere completes the experience. I Wanna Be The Guy pushes the feeling so far above both of these games that even finishing a part of one level brings great joy, but IWBTG isn't Megaman, so, pfft.
I have less than two weeks to finish another game. I'll do it, no problem. I've decided to finish Twilight Princess. My fancy-shmancy new Wii HD cables will allow this to happen smoothly (yay 480p! ::sigh::). But if I finish Megaman 9 somehow, that'll count, too.