Today was a sad day. It marked the first time I had ever met someone who simply had never heard of Mega Man. Not ‘hadn’t ever played a Mega Man game’ or ‘had only played Mega Man ZX games’, but someone who if a picture of a Mega Man game was showed to him, couldn’t tell you that it wasn’t Adventure Island (I didn’t ask him if he knew what that was).
To embarrass him further he thought that Mega Man was Astro Boy. But I digress.
The sad part is that, while Mega Man hasn’t been as relevant as it perhaps was in the 8 and 16 bit generations, Mega Man (and variations of said Man) has had more than a handful of praiseworthy entries in the enduring series. In the last five or so years we’ve had a couple of retro Mega Man sequels in the form of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, a collection of incredibly polished and punishing games that formed the Mega Man Zero series on the Game Boy Advance, and even a couple of DS games that while not soaring to the heights of the GBA games were still solid games in their own right. In short, Mega Man has been almost as active in recent times as he was at the peak of his popularity. Unfortunately many of the punters haven’t been paying attention. And that’s a real shame.
I can understand why the Man in Blue and his Zero friend aren’t matching it pound for pound with the likes of Marcus and Dom from Gears of War – the barrier to entry is high and the game style unabashedly retro, not to mention the games being mostly confined to handheld systems for the best part of a decade. But I simply can’t imagine a world without at the very least being exposed to one of the most iconic video game series’ of all time. Perhaps a sign of the time, mascots and franchises at some point become irrelevant, that is a fact that is inevitable. Thankfully the platforming genre, the very genre that Mega Man pioneered, is one that has had a revival by way of smaller game studios including the indie game space. So at the very least games like Super Meat Boy and Prinny: Can I Really be the Hero are keeping the spirt of Mega Man alive, even if the faces are different.
So spare a thought for those mascots that have been and gone, and if you’d be so kind, perhaps go and try a game genre you’re not familiar with. It may not be to your taste, but then again you may find your next favourite game. If not of course, I’ll be lamenting all the hairs I pulled out playing the games while you young punks enjoy young luscious flowing locks playing your soft modern video games. I kid. My hair is amazingly plentiful.