The Return of Talking Time

Go Back   The Return of Talking Time > Talking about media > Talking about television games > DIY Anatomy

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:18 PM
Glass Knuckle's Avatar
Glass Knuckle Glass Knuckle is offline
Jump and shoot?
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,658
Default A Critical Look At Mega Man Stages

I mentioned before that I wanted to try this, and with all the Mega Man talk flying around, it might as well be now. I'll be playing through each of the NES games and reviewing their stages, with the help of vgmaps.com and screenshots where necessary. I'm not going to go over the story, explain the game in detail, or post as though I'm doing a single runthrough, but if anyone feels like I'm treading too close to Let's Play territory I'll take my spot in the queue. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but we'll see what happens.

I'm not really grading on a curve, but I'll give stages credit for standing out or doing something interesting for where they are in the series. The main things to look out for are:

-How well does the game teach new players to survive obstacles without killing them? This is particularly important in Mega Man since any stage could potentially be someone's first.

-How well does the stage mix threats? I'm talking about things like fighting a big enemy while a bunch of faster ones try to distract you, or fighting enemies with projectiles while jumping over pits.

-How much of a basic platforming challenge does the stage offer?

-How much choice is the player offered in how they approach obstacles?

-How well do the game's weapons factor into the player's choices?


We'll be starting with Mega Man 1 *rolls die*

Guts Man's Stage and Music

If you don't remember the weapons in this one, here is a handy explanation.

I'm going to avoid talking about the Magnet Beam for the most part since it's basically a "get out of platforming free" card. It can be used pretty much anywhere to great effect.

Since vgmaps doesn't show enemies or moving objects, most of my screenshots will be for that purpose.



We start off with three...erm...*checks art book* Metalls on platforms of various heights. A nice touch here is that Mega Man starts within their attack range but not in their line of fire, so a new player can see right away what mets do. The following platform is kind of difficult to get the hang of, but the first one doesn't have a hole in the track, so players are free to stand there and watch how the next one works.



I like that there are multiple places where one could jump from the second platform to the third, though the third one goes on a bit too long. I'd have preferred a few staggered gaps to 4-5 (depending on where you land) identical ones in a row. I don't like the last jump, as you have to already know that you're supposed to be standing on the edge of the platform to make it in time, which most people aren't going to be thinking about while they're trying not to die on the gaps. At least it's early in the level.



The next enemy we see is...Bunby Heli? A-anyway, these things fly forward and dive downward fast when they get close. Fireman's weapon is great for fast-moving things like these. This is a nice, safe place to see them initially and there's a health refill right after, so they're being pretty nice now. Next up is Pickelman (Ha! Sorry, I haven't paid much attention to the names until now), who throws picks at you without mercy until you kill him. There's four of them in a row and they can take a while to figure out (don't try to dodge, just move forward slowly while shooting). It may have been better to put that energy refill in the middle of these guys. Despite the platforms, there's no functional difference between fights. I'd have put at least one of them at a different height or something.



The following drop is a good introduction to what we'll see much more of throughout the series. The first two screens of it have more Bunby Helis, and some will be lower than you. There are two spike traps below, but both offer plenty of time to move out of the way. The large health and extra life are nice rewards if you manage to get to them or have the Magnet Beam. The bottom pits you against one Big Eye, who I kind of hate in this game for taking so many hits and taking a third of your health bar if you touch them. The Ice weapon is useful if you can catch them in a high jump, but it's difficult to do here since he's lower than you.

And that's it. The whole level. Doesn't seem like much, and even for the first game this was a pretty short one. Aside from that Big Eye at the end, each enemy is introduced in relative safety, and everything but the mets are made easier with the right weapons. The main failing of this stage is that it offers each obstacle in turn without mixing threats. The closest it gets is making you fight Helis on small platforms, but you're supposed to fall anyway so they're actually less threatening than the first ones. It's a decent stage to start with if you make it past the moving platforms, but bland overall.

Graphics and music are serviceable for the first game, and the rocky background at least gives you the sense of being in a real place, unlike some of the others. For a mountain/mineshaft theme, it could have used more variation in the terrain during fights. The most jagged piece of the stage is where the health item is between enemy groups.


I'll avoid talking about the boss fights for now, since I'd rather compare them all together if I continue this. Again, not sure how this is going to work out, but I'll keep at it as long as there's some interest.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:26 PM
Sprite's Avatar
Sprite Sprite is offline
Crazy Old Bird
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: New York
Posts: 18,075
Default

If you managed to do all of them, I would be very interested in a comparison/contrast between 9/10 and the NES games, and what lessons level designers as a whole seem to have learned in the interim time. I'm a big fan of 9's rooms which teach you a new gameplay concept works in a safe environment, though I wonder sometimes if that's too blatant a "let me teach you" moment. I forget, did the earlier games do that?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:49 PM
Kazin's Avatar
Kazin Kazin is offline
Life depends on change
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 5,713
Default

Hey, this is pretty cool. I'll keep reading it, keep it up! And I echo Sprite's statements about 9/10.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:53 PM
Bongo Bill's Avatar
Bongo Bill Bongo Bill is offline
oh my car
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Colorado Land
Posts: 19,404
Default

This interests me.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-15-2011, 07:03 PM
Parish's Avatar
Parish Parish is offline
Your life is forfeit
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rally, Nerf Cackolacka
Posts: 11,146
Default

This is nice. I like it.

The great thing about the placement of the crazy lifts so early in Guts Man's stage is that it gives me a sense of whether or not I'm in the "zone" for playing this game. If I can make it past the broken tracks without falling, I know I'll do fine and keep going. If I screw up, it means my action reflexes are feeling "off" and I should play something with menus and turn-based commands for a while.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:01 PM
dosboot's Avatar
dosboot dosboot is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,239
Default

This sounds great. Keep going and we will keep reading and have lots more to say I'm sure

I also want to say something about this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprite View Post
though I wonder sometimes if that's too blatant a "let me teach you" moment.
This general sort of thing in games starts to bug me nowadays, although not really in Megaman. I've never been brave enough to say it though, because clearly designing levels to cleverly teach the player should be praised, right? I can't give a perfect example at the moment of when a game overdoes it, but it comes down to those gentle introductions feeling like a waste of time when the real thing isn't THAT threatening.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:43 PM
Destil's Avatar
Destil Destil is offline
TARANTUL
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 20,761
Default

For some reason I always thing this stage is about twice as long with a second wire-platform section after the drop. That's more inline with later games in the series, which is possibly why I think that. Or maybe Powered Up did that? Or both?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:48 PM
Prinnydood's Avatar
Prinnydood Prinnydood is offline
Promoted to Gabby Jay
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 4,510
Default

Powered Up extended Guts Man's stage quite a bit, adding more dropping platforms into the mix.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-15-2011, 08:53 PM
Rascally Badger's Avatar
Rascally Badger Rascally Badger is online now
This Guy
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Hell, Earth
Posts: 8,873
Default

I have beaten every Mega Man game except for Mega Man 1. I have never gotten past those moving platforms. Never.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:10 PM
Prinnydood's Avatar
Prinnydood Prinnydood is offline
Promoted to Gabby Jay
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 4,510
Default

And hilariously enough you need the Super Arm to get the Magnet Beam that would make that part a breeze. At least it can be used to get through that stupid zigzagging platform section of Ice Man's stage.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:12 PM
Donny's Avatar
Donny Donny is offline
SPACE DEPUTY
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,354
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prinnydood View Post
And hilariously enough you need the Super Arm to get the Magnet Beam that would make that part a breeze. At least it can be used to get through that stupid zigzagging platform section of Ice Man's stage.
You can actually get it using Elec Man's weapon as well. Which means doing Elec Man's stage TWICE. There is no easy solution there!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-15-2011, 11:16 PM
Prinnydood's Avatar
Prinnydood Prinnydood is offline
Promoted to Gabby Jay
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 4,510
Default

Hm, I did not know that. Making Gut's Man's stage easier by going through Elec Man's twice seems like a good trade to me.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:33 AM
Sanagi's Avatar
Sanagi Sanagi is offline
who's she
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: fairbanks, alaska
Posts: 10,656
Default

Good read. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Big Eyes are so bullshit in Mega Man 1. Wily stage 1 makes that abundantly clear.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:47 AM
Loki's Avatar
Loki Loki is offline
#deadfish2017
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 14,384
Default



I think you're expected to run forward quickly and hop over the Big Eye. I'm not 100% about this as I've ever gotten past a Big eye without tanking a hit. People complain that the floaty-shoot platforms are MMI's biggest failing but them Big Eyes really are a special kind of bullshit.

Edit: Going back and giving it a shot it looks like it can be done with some careful timing but it's awfuly specific and seems a little too tight to be the "correct way" to proceed.

Last edited by Loki; 12-16-2011 at 03:12 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:59 AM
Brickroad's Avatar
Brickroad Brickroad is offline
Lv. 7 lawful woods faffer
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tampa Bay
Posts: 24,608
Default

Glass Knuckle just became my favorite poster.


Snake Man next!
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:53 AM
Glass Knuckle's Avatar
Glass Knuckle Glass Knuckle is offline
Jump and shoot?
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,658
Default

I forgot to mention this, but another problem with that Big Eye is that there's no escape. A lot of encounters with similar enemies in the later games happen in a large flat area (allowing you to run backward and scroll it off the screen) or when you're climbing up a ladder. Here you're dropped into the room, and nobody is going to have time to jump over it and probably won't manage to kill it unless they know it's there. They could easily have put it by the boss door instead to solve that.

Thanks for the feedback. This is exponentially easier than a Let's Play, so I'll try to post one or two stages per day. I'd love to do 9 and 10, but I don't have any way to get screenshots from them and I'm not sure if vgmaps covers them (can't access it from work). At worst I could link to a video playthrough and grab stills for whatever I want to discuss. I'll see what I can do about it when we get there.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 12-16-2011, 06:14 AM
TheSL's Avatar
TheSL TheSL is offline
World of Darkness Returns
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Kansas City, KS
Posts: 22,542
Default

Why wouldn't you guys just run under the Big Eye? He (randomly?) alternates between short hops that would hit you and tall ones where you can waltz directly underneath.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12-16-2011, 07:15 AM
MCBanjoMike's Avatar
MCBanjoMike MCBanjoMike is offline
Sudden chomper
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 15,644
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSL View Post
Why wouldn't you guys just run under the Big Eye? He (randomly?) alternates between short hops that would hit you and tall ones where you can waltz directly underneath.
But to pass under a big hop, you need to commit yourself before knowing what type of jump he's going to make. Choose poorly and you'll get hit, although I suppose a 50% chance of taking the hit is better than the 100% chance you get if you don't try. Anyway, while Guts Man is usually my second stage when I play Mega Man today (after Bomb Man, who has the best music and is the easiest robot master to beat), the platforming bits used to terrify me. Once I figured out that the timing of the platforms dropping was based on the left side, where they are attached to the rail, it became a relatively easy thing to pass the stage. But the first few times were absolutely harrowing.

The Big Eyes are kind of bullshit, this is true. They basically act as an extra boss gate: don't have at least 1/3 of your life left? Try again! But those floating platforms in the Ice and Wily stages are definitely more infuriating, since they're so damn broken. I think that I've made it through Ice Man's stage without the magnet beam once in my life. Either way, I don't think I'll ever feel compelled to do so again. Magnet Beam 4 Lyfe, yo.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 12-16-2011, 07:35 AM
Refa's Avatar
Refa Refa is offline
Obtuse Ham
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2,658
Default

The Big Eyes always take a large jump (which you can walk under) if you jump right before they do. I thought that was common knowledge.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 12-16-2011, 07:35 AM
Balrog's Avatar
Balrog Balrog is offline
Hungry in Dungeon
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 13,100
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSL View Post
Why wouldn't you guys just run under the Big Eye? He (randomly?) alternates between short hops that would hit you and tall ones where you can waltz directly underneath.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 12-16-2011, 07:59 AM
Loki's Avatar
Loki Loki is offline
#deadfish2017
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 14,384
Default

The problem with Guts Man's stage too is the steps leading down to the Big Eye means that it's harder to run under him if he's using a big jump to hop up to a new level.

Stop pretending it's so easy people!
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 12-16-2011, 08:20 AM
Glass Knuckle's Avatar
Glass Knuckle Glass Knuckle is offline
Jump and shoot?
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,658
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refa View Post
The Big Eyes always take a large jump (which you can walk under) if you jump right before they do. I thought that was common knowledge.
That's news to me!

My point was only that this particular Big Eye is in an awkward place that puts you at nearly every possible disadvantage when fighting it. That'd be fine in a Wily stage, but in this case I think it ends up being the hardest one to get past, though we'll find out for sure soon enough.

I mean, sure, most of us can get under it or kill it just fine, but I'm trying to look at this from the perspective of someone who hasn't been through it countless times already.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 12-16-2011, 09:04 AM
Brickroad's Avatar
Brickroad Brickroad is offline
Lv. 7 lawful woods faffer
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tampa Bay
Posts: 24,608
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glass Knuckle View Post
I mean, sure, most of us can get under it or kill it just fine, but I'm trying to look at this from the perspective of someone who hasn't been through it countless times already.
Man, speak for your own dang self. I always get hit by that Big Eye. Those things have way too many gorram hitpoints.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 12-16-2011, 11:24 AM
TheSL's Avatar
TheSL TheSL is offline
World of Darkness Returns
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Kansas City, KS
Posts: 22,542
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brickroad View Post
Man, speak for your own dang self. I always get hit by that Big Eye. Those things have way too many gorram hitpoints.
I've seen your MM LP's! You take a lot of hits.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 12-16-2011, 11:55 AM
taosterman's Avatar
taosterman taosterman is offline
Gesundheit!
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Ann ARR-BRR
Posts: 9,704
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refa View Post
The Big Eyes always take a large jump (which you can walk under) if you jump right before they do. I thought that was common knowledge.
WHAT

Also I love this thread. More, please!!
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 12-16-2011, 02:50 PM
Daikaiju's Avatar
Daikaiju Daikaiju is offline
King Of Space-Time
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 15,756
Default

Ooh, I could never get those platforms right. Thank God for the magnet beam.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:16 PM
Glass Knuckle's Avatar
Glass Knuckle Glass Knuckle is offline
Jump and shoot?
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,658
Default

Ice Man's Stage and Music



Most of the ground in this stage has the usual "ice in video games" slipperiness to it. We start off fighting a few Crazy Razys. These guys die in one hit to the face, but shooting their legs three times will destroy them, causing the upper half to effectively act like a Heli. They'll also do this if they touch you or run into a wall. I like these guys. It's an interesting gimmick, and since the legs take three hits it's pretty easy to kill them without setting the upper half loose. Oh, and they'll occasionally shoot at you if you leave them on the ground.



The next section is a series of jumps in water (which just slows Mega Man down a little in this one) with Gabyoalls (?) on the lower parts, which travel across the ground slowly and speed up if you're on the same level as them. They can also be stunned by shooting them, but that isn't always an option. Most special weapons kill them though, which is one of the most useful things weapons do in this game. This section also has Pepe, a penguin that moves in a sine path, making this the first area with multiple enemies on the same screen. Good start so far.



This is Adhering Suzy (HAHAHAhahahaaaa). It moves back and forth between two walls, with a long delay in between. They're rarely dangerous (these two move vertically), so they mostly exist as something to pump bullets into for fun.

The following screens have those dreaded vanishing blocks, and thankfully vgmaps shows all of them. Both of these rooms are designed very well. The first immediately teaches you that you sometimes have to ignore the first block that appears after the one you're on, and instead jump to the next as yours vanishes. You'll have to know where the next one will be of course, but there's no pits here so you can take your time with that. The next room is more of the same, but also teaches you that you sometimes have to jump to a block that will appear immediately above you. Again, no pits here, though both rooms have one Gabyoall in the water, which is a minor punishment for failure, but also greatly rewards having an offensive weapon.



And then...this happens. These are Foot Holders, which move so erratically that they might as well not have a pattern. I just rode one of these for a while and it stayed within a certain horizontal boundary, but made its way across most of the vertical area on the screen. So...you really can't count on them being where you want them once you commit to a jump, and as an extra kick in the sack, they occasionally shoot horizontally and sometimes have shoddy hit detection. There are 8 of these, with a tiny (and slippery) platform breaking them up in the middle. I swear these things only exist to troll you for not having the magnet beam, or for using it on the previous blocks. The energy refill is probably just there because they felt bad about it later.



After some freebie items, there's another Big Eye before the boss door, though this one's on flat ground at least.

I forgot to mention it before, but in this game the hallways between boss doors have enemies in them. There's not a lot else to say about the horizontal ones, but this has Pepes and I think Guts Man's had Metalls.

This was almost a solid level for the first game. The few enemies it had were used well, special weapons were extremely helpful, and the block sections teach you everything you need to know about them for the rest of the series. Unfortunately those Foot Holders are just terrible. They'd be ok if there was only one at a time between solid ground, but jumping from one to another is mostly a crap shoot.

The graphics are nice though. The clouds and ice look fine, and the frozen palm trees make it look like this used to be a tropical place that Ice Man came in and ruined. You don't often get hints and what awful things the bosses are actually up to. The music has a decent melody for half of it but is kind of annoying otherwise.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:43 PM
Daikaiju's Avatar
Daikaiju Daikaiju is offline
King Of Space-Time
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 15,756
Default

Ice Man made me hate and dread moving blocks. SO MUCH RAGE.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 12-16-2011, 05:58 PM
Prinnydood's Avatar
Prinnydood Prinnydood is offline
Promoted to Gabby Jay
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida
Posts: 4,510
Default

I love how in Powered Up, Mega Man will cry out when he's slipping. It's a little thing but it's neat to see all of the Robot Masters do it in their own way too.

Ice Man's stage is tailor-made for the Magnet Beam. I've done that zig-zag platforming part exactly two times and both times were by luck.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 12-16-2011, 06:01 PM
Glass Knuckle's Avatar
Glass Knuckle Glass Knuckle is offline
Jump and shoot?
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,658
Default

They're all from the Official Complete Works art book.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
888meoaman.foroqve8me!888 , analysis , best of talking time , everlasting pea8888888888 , in-depth , jetpack , jumpjump slideslide , level design , maybe the best thread , mega man , mega man 4 is amazing , punching dog suit , robot dinosaur fossils , rockman , still the best thread , super fighting robot , the little metal boy , zush mizine iliptoz

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:17 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Your posts İyou, 2007