Mega Man X 3

Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?
Who died and made you king?

Mega Man X 3 is like a whitewashed tomb: its pristine and beautiful exterior belies the putrid, rotting corpse within.  I don’t usually subscribe to the whole graphics versus gameplay diametric, but this time the relationship is definitely inverse.  In Capcom’s efforts to make a better looking, better sounding Mega Man, they actually forgot how to make a Mega Man game in the process.  Deliberately unforgiving level designs densely populated with death machines hell-bent on your destruction give way to sparse, open, and redundant rooms, sometimes filled with nothing at all.  The former – characteristic of the NES originals – was frustrating yet strangely fulfilling, to the point where you may find yourself yelling to no one in particular, “I AM A HARDCORE GAMER!!” after some astounding feat or other.  The latter will have you scratching your head, wondering when the game will suddenly kick into gear and become a real Mega Man game.  This, of course, never happens.

Mom?  Dad?  Is this a joke?
Hello? Is anybody there?

I kid you not, some of these rooms exist for no reason whatsoever.  You run into the room, only to immediately run out of it again (you even unlock a door on both ends).  And yet, during both these events, the ‘camera’ slide-transitions as if to signify ‘this is the next area’.  That’s just stupid!  If I was the artist, I’d be pissed, not only for wasting a perfectly serviceable room, but also for wasting my valuable time.

X 3 is full of these unnecessary flourishes that force you to expect more than it can hope to deliver.  The polished visuals and cyperpunk settings scream ‘anime’, but its back foot remains firmly planted in the NES era.  The ‘story’, ‘acting’ and dialogue is especially cringeworthy, and while I’m sure it’s no worse than what you’d expect to find in Mega Mans (Men?) 1 through to 6, at least they were upfront about their intentions: to be games.  By bringing the presentation forward, Capcom have announced their anime aspirations.  By leaving the rest behind, the game appears naked and antiquated.  The playable ‘intro’ would have been nice if it wasn’t just a pre-game wank.  You’re Mega Man, you run in there, blow up a few things, only to get punked by a former ally within the first minute (“you’re far too trusting, Mega Man!”).

Excuse me, waiter! There's some Elizabethan acting in my Mega Man!

This is the game’s ‘Raiden’ moment, where Zero (a robot replete with ridiculous anime hair, originally groomed to be the star of the X series) must rescue Mega Man.  Except, instead of saying “I thought this was called Metal Gear Solid because it had Solid Snake in it”, you’ll be saying, “I thought this was a Mega Man game!”  Once you’ve rescued him, though, it’s back to business as usual, and Mega Man will be handling things from here, thank you very much.  This ‘intro’ seems to have served no other purpose than to show off a playable Zero character, only to neuter the titular character in the process.  For the rest of the game, Zero is relegated to piece work and similarly showy cameos.

The hair humanises him a bit more, get it?
Robot hair is all the rage in 21xx.

I tried oh so hard to love this game, but I couldn’t help but compare it to its uglier, more frustrating cousins – you know, games with some semblance of level design.  And then it dawned on me that level design, important though it is, is never graded by the mainstream gaming press alongside the bullet points of graphics/sound/gameplay/replay value.  Even though graphics should be servant to level design; good gameplay is a symptom of good level design; and replay value is a symptom of good gameplay. Followed closely by: how many poorly designed videogames got a pass on those four bullet points alone? Answered by: probably this one, for starters! And then I started thinking about games with good level design, and booted up a new game of Super Metroid.

Mario Paint

I am a left-handed pencil-user using a mouse in his right hand. I don't do well with paint programs.

This is an excruciatingly late review, because I had big plans. Here I was, ready to talk about how Mario Paint was sort of overrated, and how the mouse was garbage, and how I was maybe looking back unfairly on pre-optical mice, and how the mouse was a portent into the future of Nintendo as an overhyped peripheral/life enhancement company, and how the music making software was way worse than everyone remembers.

It’s that music making thing that tripped me up.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think it’s still far worse than a lot of people remember. But, to prove my point, I attempted to make a lackluster version of the song “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray. Now, this is a song made with synths and drum machines, not guitars and bongos, so it’s not unfair to put into Mario Paint.

First of all, with the in-game music making program, I was able to get maybe 30 seconds of jam in there, and there wasn’t enough control over the tempo and such. However, a little internet nerding allowed me to find Mario Paint Composer, a slightly beefed-up version of the application.

Thanks to the makers of this program, to the makers of ritalin, to the slow week I was having, to my computer and the power companies and whoever built my room and my headphones, because due to you all, I made a pretty goddamn faithful cover. I even intended to record it and sing on top of it for maximum funs, and put the whole shebang on Youtube and post it here.

But, NO thanks to everyone not mentioned, there appeared to be no way for me to do this. So, I am writing this: there is no way for me to show you my delightful ditty. Unless, of course, I upload the txt file that it saves to, and you install the program, and load my file up. Oh wait! Last minute edit: I CAN’T FIND THE FILES. So you’re REALLY shit out of luck. I have since formatted both of my computers. It was on both computers. Now I think it is on neither. WHAT A WASTE.

In summation, Mario Paint wasted far too much of my time.