Let it Slide
Everyone loves Mega Man. Well, maybe everyone except certain Canadians. ;) [ Editor’s Note: Here, Joshua is referring to Jason Lamb, Canadian, one of our podcast hosts… and notorious hater of legendary platformer. — Bailey. ] But it’s pretty safe to say that Mega Man is a timeless classic for anyone who enjoys platformers or video games in general. Like any video game franchise though, there have been endless debates on which game in the series is the best. Some say Mega Man 2 is the best. Others claim 3 is better. Well I’d like to put my three cents in and say that they are all equal. Equally dumb and inferior to Mega Man X.
“Butt-!” You cry, (why anyone would cry “butt” is beyond me) “Mega Man has the Slide maneuver. It’s just like X’s Dash!” Oh but it isn’t the same. See the Dash serves a traversal and platforming purpose. The slide barely serves as an alternate means of level traversal. The Dash can be used in conjunction with your jump to increase your horizontal distance when jumping across pits. All the Slide does is scoot you across the ground slightly faster. Whoop-dee-funkin-doo. I mean, I’m all for faster level traversal, but the Slide just seems like the most inefficient way to do that. Plus when has blindly tearing through a Mega Man stage ever been a good idea? You’d get mauled by robots or get stun-locked down a pit. You can’t even fire your buster when sliding. At least X can fire his while dashing.
Another thing worth mentioning is that in the Mega Man games with the Slide the levels are explicitly designed to use if for completely arbitrary reasons. Oh here’s a ceiling that just happens to be too low, better slide. Oh here’s a branching path, one of them you have to slide under because reasons. In Mega Man X, the levels are designed to let you naturally learn the advantages of the “Dash Jump” as the levels rarely force you to use it.
How about that Wall Jump? If there’s a move in Mega Man X that changes the game more than the Dash (and Dash Jump) it’s the Wall Jump. Is there anything more annoying than jumping over a pit or to another platform only to miss it by mere pixels and fall into the abyss or onto a bed of spike because Ceratnium armor apparently can’t stand up against puncture wounds? Well in Mega Man X, if you miss that all important jump, X grabs onto the side of the wall or platform and starts a slow, controlled descent down it. This allows you to make short, controlled “hops” up the vertical surface and back onto solid ground. X is basically Ezio from Assassin’s Creed or Cole from Infamous; able to scale almost any vertical surface with ease. This combined with levels that aren’t constantly screaming “Wall Jump Here” allows for freedom of exploration and experimentation in the level and makes the platforming more forgiving rather than relying on pixel-perfect precision and mischievous Phantom Ledges.
So there you go, two big reasons why Mega Man sucks and why Mega Man X is so much cooler and fun to play. (and I haven’t even talked about the ridiculous bosses or samey-same story) Mega Man is basically the little kid rolling around in the dirt with the kid next door while X is the older brother climbing mountains and trying to establish world peace.