About Mega Man, Giving Up, and Sludge

I’ve been playing through Mega Man 9, which is kind of weird for two reasons:

  1. Because I’m an adult playing videogames.
  2. Because they stuck to the original formula from 20 years ago – playing a brand new, 20 year old game is kind of nostalgic.

Mega Man games are some of the hardest games ever made. I remember as a kid how frustrated I got playing through some levels. Even in Mega Man 9 there are stages that seem like a breeze until you arrive at one part that’s a pain in the ass.

Like the Heat Man level in Mega Man 2. Seems pretty easy, until you get to these floating blocks:


Learning the pattern of the blocks is alright, until you get to the part starting over the lava. Then there’s one block that switches it up, and if you’re still in the previous pattern you will die. And when you die you have to start all over again.

So you learn. You’re a bit more careful the next time going through. And you’ll die again. And again. And if your spirits aren’t broken enough to just turn it off and walk away you’ll eventually get it 1.

But that’s the thing about these old games: there are parts that are designed to make you fail. Repeating them is the only option, and in some cases there are items to lure you into making a mistake. Take a look at that 1UP. You can grab it, but you can’t get back on the blocks from there. It’s suicide, and you’ll only fall for it once.

That’s why it’s interesting to play through something like that with fresh eyes. As a kid I played a bunch of Mega Man, so going back and doing some of them again after all this time is much more of a walk in the park.

But the only reason those old games are easier is because I spent too many days in front of the TV when I was younger. It’s like riding a bike.

I don’t tolerate that much pain anymore. If I’m playing something and I get stuck I don’t try to work it out. I don’t have the patience nor the time anymore. I head to Gamefaqs. In fact, I tend to do that a lot whenever I get frustrated with anything now. Give up and Google it. Why risk failure when you can JFGI?

There are some things you need to work through, but I think it’s important to give up once in a while, particularly when you aren’t enjoying yourself. Book you’re reading sucks, but you still want to know what happens? Skim it, or go to Wikipedia. Relationship not going anywhere no matter how many of those talks you’ve had? Give up and move on. Life’s too short to not cut your losses once in a while.

But if you want to learn or create something there’s no replacement for actually doing it. You can’t Wikipedia your way to whatever you feel is your life’s purpose. You’re going to start and you’re probably going to suck at whatever you try to do – at first. You have to work through the sludge and maybe fall into a lot of lava pits.

1. Of course, anyone who’s beaten Mega Man 2 knows that the real secret – rather than trying to remember the pattern of the floating blocks – is to forego them entirely and just get on the rocket.


Top photo by Flickr user drumecho and used under a Creative Commons license