Gambling has long been an oddly common theme in games which tend to skew towards all-ages, with Vegas-style stages and opportunities to try your luck in tests of skill not unlike Wintigo casino games. Oddly enough, there is one particular character who it seems would be a natural fit for this, yet has never set foot beneath those neon lights: Mega Man.
Take for example two of the biggest icons in the medium's history:
Super Mario and Slot Machines
When it comes to video game icons trying their luck in games of chance, there are few as, well, iconic as Mario. In particular, the plumbing protagonist's favorite seems to be the slots. Or if they aren't, tough luck for him, because that's what's everywhere.
The first time of note that Mario hit the slots was in Super Mario Bros. 2, where coins earned in Subspace during each level could be used to try for up to five bonus lives per attempt. This is also where the fast fungi gardener Toad could really earn his keep as well, as he could pluck more coins than anyone in the short time Subspace remained open.
That was only the beginning, as other variations would appear in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and Mario Party. Then again, maybe eyes on where it all began should really be on Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2, where Yoshi takes the infant Mario to the slots for a chance to earn some extra lives.
The most recent instance of note, however, is also the most interesting. Super Mario 3D World's Lucky Houses appear randomly on the map. As seen above, they feature something of a casino-like aesthetic, right down to raining cash upon the player with a win, but instead of arms or buttons, Mario and friends do what they do best -- leap up and punch the blocks to set things in motion.
Fortunately, with a bit of practice, Mario and company can score some easy wins -- easier than those seen in real life, at least.
Sonic's Casino Night Adventures
Casinos in Sonic's World are as commonplace as grassy green hills, ancient ruins, or industrial factories -- and they've been around for nearly as long as the franchise has.
The most prominent of them all would, of course, be the Casino Night Zone. This portion of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 saw the Blue Blur spinning around and bouncing off of pinball flippers to land in one of many slot machines spread throughout the area. Jackpots would net rings, which could score extra lives, help pave the way to bonus stages, or -- if all the Chaos Emeralds were collected -- make turning into Super Sonic that much easier.
The Casino Night Zone was even popular enough to inspire a spin-off of sorts in Sonic Spinball. Granted, that one didn't receive the same acclaim as its inspiration, but it nonetheless helped solidify the concept while the originator would go on to appear as a classic throwback in titles such as Sonic the Fighters, Sonic Drift 2, and Sonic Generations (with the downloadable content console version focusing exclusively on the pinball aspect).
It didn't just stop there, either: Variations on the theme such as Casinopolis (Sonic Adventure), Casino Park and Bingo Highway (Sonic Heroes), and Casino Street Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I), among many others, have helped keep the theme prevalent in fans' minds over the years.
Mega Man's Roulette Encounter
Then we come to Mega Man. The Blue Bomber hasn't really come close to having anything resembling the style of America's Playground in any of his titles. One might suggest that this is due to the fact that those bearing the name are usually too young for that kind of night life, but then again, it never stopped Sonic.
Of course, that isn't to say that the opportunity to try one's luck hasn't come up in a Mega Man title. Or then again, maybe it is, since the one time such elements were prevalent was exclusive to Japan by way of Wily and Right no Rockboard, the Famicom-exclusive board game which mixed games of chance with something not unlike Monopoly.
Interestingly, while Mario and Sonic show more passion for the slots, a light version of the most iconic casino game ever, roulette, is the main way of getting ahead in Rockboard. Of course, since Mega Man acts as host, it's really Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, Dr. Cossack, and even Kalinka and Roll who get in on the action.
That leaves the big question: When (I believe "when," not "if") Mega Man returns in a new game, is this a theme long overdue to be visited? It's not hard to imagine the Classic series in particular being a good fit for this, with gambling-themed robots populating the stage of a Robot Master representing the house. Just spitballing here, but one modeled after a slot machine seems like a perfect fit -- maybe he could even dispense energy or death after being blasted three times?
Incidentally, I feel like this would be a good place to bring back those white versions of Sumatran, too. But maybe that's just me.
What do you think? We've seen numerous instances of fire, ice, water, and jungle stages over the years; is it time for Mega Man to hook up with his contemporaries and head to Vegas?
And if not Classic, maybe one of the other iterations? Feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comments below!
This article sponsored by Wintigo.