Welcome to the second edition of "Mega Myths"! We’re delving deeper into the first Mega Man Zero game, starting off with a Mechaniloid boss and then moving on to more mythic-based Mutos Reploids. The level of research Inti Creates went through when designing these bosses is incredible, and it’s a real blast to discover all the hidden gems they left for us to discover.
Guard Orotic is encountered laying siege to a Resistance-controlled factory. The eight heads of the snake-like Mechaniloid are fueled by the elements of the Mega Man Zero series: Two heads breathe fire, two spark electricity, two create ice, and the final two heads are non-elemental.
Guard Orotic appears to be based on Yamata no Orochi: A giant eight-headed serpent in Japanese legends. This was a vicious beast which required yearly sacrifices from one particular family. The family had already sacrificed seven of their daughters to the monster by the time the storm god Susano-o met them. The family had only one daughter left, Kushinadahime, who was soon to be sacrificed.
Susano-o vowed to slay Orochi after Kushinadahime’s parents promised he could marry her afterward. Susano-o got the massive snake Orochi drunk on sake, and the beast fell asleep, allowing him to then chop it to pieces until he’d killed it.
Like Susano-o, Zero is able to cut the heads off Guard Orotic when they present themselves. Unlike the legend, however, Zero can’t kill the beast by attacking the heads; instead, he must destroy the core.
Upon Guard Orotic’s defeat, Zero gains the Flame Chip. When Susano-o killed Orochi, he found a sword within one of its tails: A magic sword called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven), which was later renamed Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Grass Cutting Sword). Although the sword didn’t have fire properties, it did allow the wielder to control the wind. Many years later, the legendary Japanese prince Yamato Takeru used the sword’s wind powers to steer fire against his enemies.
Another possibility for the reason Guard Orotic provides the Flame Chip could simply be an homage to the traditional European view of dragons. While Japanese dragons are typically represented as water elementals, European dragons are almost always represented as fire-breathers.
Anubis Necromancess III
Anubis Necromancess III has one of the more interesting— and mythical— back stories of bosses in the Mega Man Zero series. According to Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works, he is “a Mutos Reploid that came about as the result of an undamaged heart unit regenerating through the use of nanobots and declaring itself ‘the third.’” What I want to know is what sort of Reploid that heart unit came from. Was it an Anubis as well, or was it something totally different that decided to form itself into a god? The world may never know.
What we do know is that his design is based on Anubis, the jackal-headed god whom the Egyptians believed guided the dead into the afterlife. This explains why Necromancess, in battle, delves deep into the sands. Anubis also watched over the mummification process; with Necromancess this is represented by mummy wraps on his arms and legs.
Like other Egyptian gods, Anubis was often depicted with a staff, which symbolized his divine lordship. Necromancess also carries a staff, and he’s definitely a lord over his minions, but not in the typical video game bossy way; he is actually one of the very few Mega Man bosses to summon standard enemies mid-battle. He does this in two ways. When he dives underground, he always comes back up with undead Pantheon corpses. Alternatively, he is able to wave his staff— the staff that represents his lordship— to summon more corpses from the desert depths.
While Anubis guided the souls of the dead, he wasn’t really known for animating corpses the way Necromancess does. That’s where the second half of the character’s name comes in. Webster defines Necromancy as “the practice of talking to the spirits of dead people.” Granted, in pop culture today, necromancers usually don’t talk to dead people; they make zombies.
In this mission, Zero is told that the Resistance had heard rumors that a secret Neo Arcadian base existed somewhere in the desert— and that Resistance soldiers were being held captive there. It’s up to Zero to search for the hidden base and save anyone he can find. When he arrives, he finds not only Resistance members held in a prison, but also the boss: Blizzack Staggroff. Blizzack is a proud ice-based deer Reploid, capable of slinging icicles with the best of them.
At first, I believed Stagroff had no clear mythological reference. There’s not a heck-ton of a lot of deer gods… but there are a lot of white stags, and this fella’s in white armor.
Albino deer pop up in legends all over the world, and when they do, they’re extremely difficult— if not impossible— to find. King Arthur couldn’t track one down. Neither could Hunor and Magor, two brothers who spotted a white stag and decided to hunt it down. Eventually they gave up, married a couple of princesses, and are said to have founded the Hun and Hungarian peoples.
White stags even pop up in Native American legends, such as the Ghost of the White Deer. In this one, a man called Blue Jay was tasked with killing a white stag and presenting its hide to the father of the woman he wanted to marry. When he did track down the stag, however, it turned aggressive and attacked him (much like Blizzack). The fate of Blue Jay and the stag is still unknown to this day.
Consider all the trouble Zero has in locating Blizzack. First off, the base he’s found in was only rumored to exist, so there was no guarantee in locating it. What’s more, most Mega Man levels are pretty straightforward in their theme. Ice bosses are always found in icy Arctic (and Antarctic) ice levels. But not Stagroff. You start out the search in a desert, of all places, and then you find a secret door through a pit of quicksand, which takes you into subsurface caverns. Once down there, your friends must hack an electric door to get you entry. After that you must hunt through the caves, improvising to create your own paths across jagged spike pits. Once you make it to a bigger cavern, you discover a frozen lake, and only after traversing this lake do you find the hidden base where Staggroff awaits.
Dude’s hard to find, and he’s a stag wearing white. White stag.
This monkey-based Mutos Reploid was a Special Operations soldier in Phantom’s squadron. He’s one of only two bosses in the game who directly attack the Resistance Base (the other being Hittite Hottaid). And while Hottaid is defeated before it can reach the base, Hanumachine manages to lead his team inside to slaughter innocents.
He’s a killer who, according to Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works, is a master of illusions. This implies that the smaller monkeys he creates during battle aren’t really there, but are the result of Zero’s jammed sensory receptors.
Like Maha Ganeshariff, Hanumachine is based on a Hindu god, this one being the monkey god Hanuman. There are several monkey gods in Hinduism, but Hanuman is referred to as the wisest and strongest of them. Perhaps this leadership is related to his ability to create the illusions of other monkeys that Zero faces. As for why those monkeys are half the size of Hanumachine, it turns out that the monkey god Hanuman is said to be a shape-shifter, capable of growing or shrinking at will.
Hanuman is also worshiped as a symbol of devotion, as he is fiercely loyal to his Lord, Rama. That type of devotion is found in Hanumachine. Every Mutos Reploid in the game makes a reference to whichever of the Four Guardians leads their squadron, but I would consider Hanumachine to be the most zealous. Not only does he refer to himself as “the number one apprentice of Phantom, the Guardian,” but he also claims that he will kill Zero “for the glory of the Stealth Unit!” Hanumachine is the only one who claims to be seeking glory for his master’s squadron. This fierce loyalty is also found in his master Phantom, the only one of the Big 4 to kill himself to protect his own master.
It’s quite obvious that Hanumachine is a fire-based boss, with that flaming tail of his. But that’s not just a design element. Hanuman’s enemy the demon king Ravana once had his soldiers set Hanuman’s tail on fire, which turned out to be a big mistake. The shape-shifting monkey god was able to grow and use his flaming tail to burn down huge portions of the city in his escape.
Earlier in his life, while Hanuman was still a baby, he mistakenly thought the sun was a ripe fruit and attempted to eat it— and he was subsequently punished and hurled down to earth. This may be the inspiration for the attack in which Hanumachine curls into a fiery ball and rebounds around the room.
As for that staff of his, Hanuman’s weapon of choice is a gada, which is essentially a blunt mace or club designed in India. I’ve also heard that the staff is based on the rod used by Buster Rod G in Mega Man: The Wily Wars. Buster Rod G is in turn based on Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West. Although it seems weird to mix a Hindu god with a Chinese legend, it’s actually entirely plausible. After all, some scholars believe Sun Wukong was based on— you guessed it— Hanuman.
If you take a look at the staff Sun Wukong is holding, it’s almost identical to the one Hanumachine wields. And Hanumachine’s staff isn’t really a gada anyway; gadas are only big at one end. Sun Wukong, however, carried a magical gold-banded staff called Ruyi Jingu Bang. This staff was, among other abilities, capable of changing its size. As Hanumachine preps for battle, his staff magically grows in his hands. I can’t help but wonder if Zero’s Triple Rod was also inspired by this legend.
Further evidence that Hanumachine is partly based on Sun Wukong is that the latter is capable of generating clones of himself from his individual hairs. This is the best explanation for why Hanumachine is able to create those loyal little “illusions” of himself.
Now if only Zero had X's Variable Weapon System, he could make chibi clones of himself running around...
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