"Any form of real betrayal can be final. Dishonesty can be final. Selling out can be final. But you are just talking now. Death is final." -Ernest Hemingway, Islands in The Stream ----------------------------------------------
It's been one bad decision after another on the part of our evil doctors since Mega Man, Sonic, and their pals hopped through the dimensional uber-portal and entered the Skull Egg Zone. Poor allocation of resources, underestimating the effectiveness and resourcefulness of their adversaries, failing to strike with critical force at the optimal time, the "management" side of Team Evil has played out as a guide of all the worst screw-ups that plagued both sides in World War I. Clearly, Sun Tzu wasn't required reading for either mad scientists or Overlanders. Apparently, neither was TV Tropes.
Now, only Knuckles and Amy Rose are still rocking their heavy metal duds, and to put the cherry on top of the Screw-up Sundae, Wily and Robotnik pulled them off of annihilating Team Chaotix (who don't have the ability to reverse the transformations) and sent them after Mega Man and Sonic (who do).
But sure, they're not worried. Flop sweat goes along with the whole evil genius thing, as do pocket protectors and sharks with fricking laser beams on their heads. They've got all the Chaos Emeralds, they've got 100+ Robot Masters, and according to the cover, they've even got that Chaos critter in a mutated Rock Monster form as well. They've got no reason to worry, right?
A few issues back, before Yardley started doing the artwork, the theme I brought up was that of the cosmic joke, about how evil is its own worst enemy, because they don't play nice with each other. And now, we finally see that the cracks are beginning to show. So run along, evil doctors. Scheme your schemey schemes while you still can... and while there's still a presumed air of cooperation between you two.
So we rejoin Sonic, Megsy, and their flying helpers just in time to see Knux and Amy Rose slamming down and laying up the smack like an angry god's fists. Thanks to external speakers, because God forbid robotic critters communicate with one another in shortwave encrypted data bursts or binary, the good guys are made aware that their fight has a timer on it: They wait too long before dropping the Spinshot, Sonic's last two pals will be blowing themselves up to try and take the good guys with them. And this time, it's quite a doozy of a fight, with two bruisers charging at them.
Traditionally, both Sonic and Mega Man have trouble with brawlers. On a good day, Sonic narrowly avoids getting his butt handed to him by Knuckles, and Amy is... well, I have this theory that cuteness, especially cuteness with a hammer, is a force of nature several factors more destructive than most tropical storms. Thankfully, they manage to burn out the cute circuits with a well placed burst of that Fire Tornado weapon Mega got from Blaze Woman earlier, and after a Spinshot, they're down to Knuckles... with Mega Man bringing the pain train.
Knuckles Man is like most star athletes: The best way to screw him up is to get him hammered. With his left cross out of commission, a page-long, highly coordinated alpha strike lets them put Knuckles back into fur and skin instead of steel. And then to celebrate, Amy jumps on Sonic with a tackle hug and takes over the moment. They get Knux back up on his feet just in time; Mega Man gets a call from Proto Man. They've found something.
Suffice it to say, this is a start. They know where they have to go to stop the insanity; now it's just a matter of getting the band back together. The heroes split up, with Sonic taking Amy to go find Shadow (because apparently, she's very good at tracking male hedgehogs, nudge-nudge), Mega and Rush going for the recuperating Blaze and Silver, and Knux and Tails going for the teleport pad to help Team Chaotix and Proto Man break the lockout.
But the bad guys have their own problems up in the Egg to drag them away from their war machine project: Somebody's messing with the system, and they're venting Chaos energy from the crystals. Guess who's responsible? Yeah, her. Big surprise, right? She's always getting herself into trouble.
That Chaos Devil's not so bright, but it's loyal, at least. The thing listens when Robotnik chews it out like a puppy dog. Rouge spits out a few angry words before they drag her off to be put through the upgraded Roboticizer. At the start of the issue, we did see one of those stage select screens with a question mark in the corner. Seems Rouge is the question mark, and they plan on having her lead the uber Robot Master army.
But don't worry, the bad guys aren't the only ones bringing an army.
This guy is a frigging Army of One. As my good pal Revokov liked to say in his Supercondensed X reviews, "What now, bitch?!"
When it comes to strategy games, I'll take turn-based any day of the week over "Active Time Battle" or any system in which stuff keeps happening when I'm trying to plot out my moves. It's not like I take forever to send my Wanzers to crush my enemies in Front Mission, or decide if I want to use a Double or the Triple Tech in Chrono Trigger... I just like having the time to sit back amidst the chaos and the music and figure out what the heck needs to happen. I loved Demon Stone, but to be fair, that fight with the Red Dragon near the end of the game drove me nuts. And no, I've never beaten Front Mission Evolved. Mostly because that game ruined a good thing and didn't transfer well to a sh'mup, buuuut...
The fact is, Wily and Robotnik sort of stopped planning after a while. They figured they'd done enough, and then they started having to shoot from the hip. It's kind of like what happened back in World War II with Germany. They were developing jet planes even in the early stages of the war, but things were going so swimmingly, Der Fuhrer declared that the uber-planes weren't necessary: The old prop planes they had in the Air Force were enough. And so, they lost two years of development time, time they really did need, because by the time the Allied bombers started knocking on their doorstep, they'd lost an opportunity. The same goes for Wily and Robotnik here. They stopped making preparations for what they had to know was coming. They lost their opportunity.
To be fair, they still have a lot going for them. It's going to be one brutal throwdown when all the Robot Masters come out swinging. Sonic and his pals are finally going to realize that Mega Man is anything but a chump... nothing defines a man, after all, quite as well as his enemies. Side joke: What do you call a superhero without an arch-nemesis? Unemployed! And of course, the doctors have their uber war machine, which looks like a cross between the one from Mega Man 9 and the one from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. And that Chaos Devil... thing. Oh, and Rouge, for all the good she'll do them. So it's not like they don't have a lot of junk to throw at the good guys.
It's just not going to be enough at this point. I can see some of you shaking your heads. Of course the good guys are going to win. You know it, I know it. Reality and the cosmos demands that Duo shows up, flattens everything with his Shining Fingers, and the main force of Team Hero runs inside and blows that base to crap before hitting the cosmic reset button.
But for as much as the bad guys supposedly know at this point about their rivals, for as many defeats as they've suffered, how is it they still couldn't account for all the things the good guys could pull out of their hats along the way? Why wasn't there some sort of de-roboticization fail-safe built into the Roboticized Masters, like making them blow up if they were tampered with? When they realized that the Roboticized Masters weren't working as well as they'd hoped, why didn't they immediately send out the Robot Army?
Well, writers have to do a thing called pacing. They have to build up encounters with progressing difficulty so the good guys have a chance. If they have to write the bad guys a little on the stupid side (which seems ridiculous in hindsight, as they're both super geniuses), that's just how it goes. But at least, amidst all the wrong decisions Wily and Robotnik are making, the creative team behind this project is addressing the Cosmic Joke.
When the chips start to fall out of their favor, the coalition of evil begins to fall apart, and the backstabbing begins. And the good guys all chuckle, because that's one constant in the universe we can all live with.
For The Blue Ink.
When he isn’t writing “The Blue Ink” reviews for The Mega Man Network, Erico (The Super Bard) spends his days keeping track of the “Legacy of Metal” fanon, dabbling in cooking and tea-brewing, and exploring the human condition from his Iowa stomping grounds.
The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.