When I was a kid, I didn’t have a “traditional” hero or someone to look up to, because I wasn’t reading comic books and wasn’t a big movie buff. Instead, like many people my age, I looked to the NES for heroes. The one that most influenced my childhood and teenage years is one that began as a side-scrolling adventure character who tested not just my skills as a gamer, but my appreciation for quirky bosses and gameplay.
Mega Man first came into my life by accident, by the way of a video-rental place that actually burned down. We came into a copy of the game because we had nowhere to return it. So, instead of playing outside like a couple of normal eight year-olds, my friend and I slapped the unusual game into the NES and fired it up. Mega Man was unlike many of the side-scrolling games we had played at that time, which were limited mostly to Contra, Bionic Commando and a few other sad games. We played for hours into the night, and whenever we would play “make believe,” I always called Mega Man or Cutman — he was badass and could cut you — man.
So my love affair began, a trend that would continue for years. I was excited when Mega Man 3 hit and I accidently discovered my first cheat code (or glitch?) during Christmas vacation. I had both of my controllers plugged in and didn’t notice that something was on the second controller holding down the right directional pad. I fell into a pit and, for some reason, I didn’t die. I could jump out and jump super high, but I could not fire my weapon. I was immediately confused. Did I break the game? Was this a special version? Was I dead and suffering through videogame Hell?
It was a cool sensation knowing I had this air of invincibility and invulnerability, but the coolest part was seeing the ghosts of the Robot masters coming back and having to fight them again. That, and the series’ music…the Mega Man 3 opening, Gemini Man and Hardman. Their music has stuck with me for a number of years.
I had difficulty finding the last few Mega Man games in Canada, but I found Mega Man 5 in an odd street deal that involved a hug, 50 cents and a couple of awkward conversations. This would be the last original Mega Man game I would play. For a little while, things quieted down, until one day I found Mega Man X in a bargain bin — and then discovered fan fiction.
Mega Man X was not the first time I tried my hand at fan fiction, as I had once written a story set in the Mortal Kombat Universe. It sucked. But Mega Man X was to be my opus. I could do my hero no greater justice than write him in a way I thought was epic. The first thing I did was create a new character named “Crystal,” a Maverick Hunter like X with the power to manipulate lasers or time fluidity. I wrote her death scene as Armored Armadillo killed her by crushing her skull while X watched on helplessly. Ah, how I miss fan fiction and all its little cliches.
Playing Mega Man X introduced a new storytelling dynamic, and with a storyline and Mega Man, what could go wrong?! I came back into the series for this brief stint, and it was just as fun as the original games, not to mention prettier. Also, being able to play as Zero opened up a new world of possibilities, and it was cool to see the universe from a different angle. Plus, I had a lightsaber?! Megaman + Star Wars = about as close to sex as I’d felt up to that point in my 15-year-old life. Death and Zero never seemed to agree, either, so this was epic tuned to wicked. Can you detect the fanboyism here?
I skipped the Battle Network stuff, which rubbed me the wrong way like the Mega Man on Captain N. But this one wasn’t cool, so I let it fade into obscurity. Except for the Mega Man NT Bobblehead, which is on my desk. Like all things, my interest faded away for a long time. And then, a rumor. A screenshot. An announcement. MEGA MAN FREAKING NINE! I almost exploded.
An eight-bit revival on a next-generation console, and I’m suddenly I’m eight years-old again and with a PS3. How is that for cool? I was so surprised to see Capcom pull this off, but since they have, I need to thank Capcom for bringing me back to my childhood hero, this time in HD and in 5.1 surround sound. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the phone’s off, the door’s closed, and I’m back in eight-bit pixelated joy.
Mike Dodd is co-founder and host of
This Week in Geek, an International radio show and podcast and a place where gamers and “geeks like us” can chill. His gaming column appears on DailyGame every Friday.