Johnny Vs. Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, and The Wily Wars

You might recall a couple of weeks ago when we posted the first episode of the "Johnny Vs. Mega Man" marathon of reviews. This time out, he's joined by rival ClementJ642, who apparently has a good Let's Play channel where he's gone through the series before.

We hadn't planned to update about these with any great regularity, but after watching "Johnny Vs. Mega Man 3 & The Wily Wars" above, we figured we'd go ahead and share it (mainly after the Rush Jet part). Bear in mind, there is Not Safe For Work language, so only watch when your boss or mother aren't around.

And as long as we've posted the first and the third, we figured we might as well post the second, too, in case you're interested but haven't been following Johnny's channel since the first one:

Cinemassacre’s Mike Matei Reviews Mega Man 10

Not too long ago, Mike Matei of Cinemassacre (home of the Angry Video Game Nerd, among others) posted a review of Mega Man 9 on Xbox Live Arcade. He's back, and this time he's giving the same treatment to Mega Man 10.

As before, we didn't notice any of the NSFW language more typical of the site's content, so you should be able to watch without worry. And all told, it's an interesting look at what he thinks did and didn't work about the tenth entry in the Classic series, though we think he could probably use a little more Blade Runner in his diet.

Analyzing the Cultural References in Mega Man 6

Mega Man 6 brought the adventures of Mega Man to a worldwide scale. But how well do the stages, enemies and characteristics of the Robot Masters stack up to their supposed national origins? Gamer and Japan enthusiast Gaijin Goomba is tackling this question with an in-depth investigation of any possible clues the game can offer. This is part one of the segment, covering four of the eight World's Strongest Robot finalists. Perhaps you'll learn something new!

Thanks for the tip, GeminiSparkSP and Gaijin Goomba!

Cinemassacre's Mike Matei Reviews Mega Man 9

Here's something we hope you'll enjoy: A review of Mega Man 9 from Cinemassacre. However, it's not James "The Angry Video Game Nerd" Rolfe doing the honors, but his partner in gaming and high jinks, Mike Matei, who we've featured here on the site previously. And while a review of Mega Man 9 does seem a little late, given that they tend to deal in retro games for the most part anyway, it still fits with their site.

Oh, and for those wondering, we didn't notice any NSFW language during our viewing, though we could have missed something; if it's there, it's kept to a minimum.

The Blue Ink: Archie’s Mega Man #21 – Time, Humanity, and the Universe

Issue21Cover "Victory won by violence is tantamount to defeat, for it is momentary" -Mohandas K. Gandhi

-------------------------------------

I look forward to seeing The Mega Man Network link to a preview of the Mega Man comic book done up by some website or another, because it always means that said issue is in the mail... and due in my mailbox in a day or two. That was certainly true this week. The link to the preview went up on the 9th, and issue #21 hit my mailbox on January 10th. I do so love the Post Office, they're so damn punctual in my town.

Just the premise of the 21st issue set my heart to fluttering, and not just because 21 is such a good number for me (the 21st "Lightning Strike" Unit was headed up by my OC Bastion in some stories you might recall reading years ago). We were expecting the triumphal and most likely violent return of Xander Payne and his two surviving henchmen, the last vestiges of the Emerald Spears terrorist organization. Considering how much I fan-gasmed over the "Spiritus Ex Machina" story arc when it happened for its thought-provoking and probing look into humanity, robots, and our co-dependent relationship in a changing world, you can imagine how tantalized I was. I was like the Cookie Monster before he went vegetarian and decided that cookies "were a sometimes food." I wanted it. Needed it.

And Flynn, Jamps, and Spazzie didn't disappoint me. Ehh... correction. It seems Spaziante isn't listed in the production credits for this issue. Kudos to Gary Martin instead! So now let's dive into the Rockin' New Years' Eve fireworks and see what's up.

---------------------------

Coffee

Thanks in no small part to being an uber-awesome, kid-friendly superhero that has saved the world two and a half times over (and putting the kibosh on a massive terrorist plot to boot), Mega Man has been officially invited to participate as a guest host at the New Years' celebrations in whatever big city he operates out of. Robotropolis, New York, Tokyo, whatever. The fact is, Dick Clark isn't around and whoever they got to replace him isn't doing this one, either. But they still have that big damn glowy drop ball.

Naturally, few things are ever peachy-keen when Mega Man gets involved. Our favorite young cop/old crusty cop combo is back in action, and Agent Stern is as chatty as ever. Yeah, you drink that coffee, mister. Try and be Agent Gibbs. Oh, wait. Nobody can be as awesome as Agent Gibbs! Well, we still like him anyhow. Stern and Krantz are on the premises because they believe that the three Emerald Spears peeps who got away might decide to try something here, what with Mega Man being around and all. As they've discovered after interrogating Harvey Greenleaf and the rest of the captured Emerald Spears, their deposed hippie leader may have started the group, but he was more of the heart behind the organization than the brains. He left the planning, the day-to-day operations, the training... well, basically everything that wasn't speechifying up to his right-hand man, Xander Payne.

As I've mentioned before, it should have been a rule for Evil Overlords: Never make anyone your second-in command who's more cunning, capable, and ambitious than you are. And Xander beat out Harvey in every category.

BoomingNewYearsEve

Oooh, dramatic reveal! The guy flunkie of Xander Payne's is actually his younger sibling! Well, now we know why he stuck around. It's an unnumbered rule: "Do what you have to for family." Xander's big plan, unsurprisingly, involves explosions. Well, he may not be original, but he sure is determined. His plan this time isn't to take out the leading authorities in robotics-- he lost that chance-- so this time he's gonna frag Mega Man and every deluded human being who's around to party with him. I gotta respect a fella who's that committed. Doesn't mean I like him, doesn't mean I don't think he's wrong, but he believes in something. From here, he splits up: Baby brother and the lady Spear will make to disable the robotic sentries, and Xander Payne will get the ball rolling on the rest of the plan.

We flash over to Mega and Agent Stern, and Mr. Grump himself has a nice little moment with Mega Man talking about his gut feelings and his instincts. Yeah, Peppy Hare's the right model for advice here. "Trust your instincts! Do a burrel rawl!" Thankfully, Mega Man is smarter than the average robot, so while he may not have a gut instinct, he is able to make some good deductive reasoning. If Xander Payne is around, how would one go about drawing him out so they could stop him before whatever he has planned goes off?

Simple. You make yourself a target.

Meantimes, Xander's little brother Theo and the lady Spear continue to mess up one Federal Blader sentry after another with their laser shooty blasters, and have their own precious little moment. She asks him why he stuck around, he tells her that Xander needs him. And then this happens.

StupidlyLoyal

We have our first in-comic kiss, ladies and gents, and it's a pair of bad guys who do it! I like seeing bad guys getting their mojo on with each other. After all, it's not like they spend all their time deciding how to kick puppies and play with unlicensed nuclear accelerators. What are their hobbies? Do they put ships in bottles? Do they set up playgrounds in their spare time? Are they convention folks who wear costumes and speak Klingon? Come on. Even bad guys have lives. It's nice to know they're getting their groove on between missions. Such acts lead to that most awesome of tag teams... Battle Couples.

But enough about them, let's get back to Mega Man and his plan. Sure enough, as soon as he starts Rush Jetting over the crowd and popping off fireworks, Xander Payne whips out his big ol' energy discharge sniper rifle and takes aim. And this is the kind of rifle that fires beams of energy that curve around to always hit their target... damn, we're years from the Stardroids and we have a human who already has access to the Spark Chaser?

Mega takes the hit right in the head, but he's made of sterner stuff than Payne reckoned on: Short of shoving a wall of death spikes at the Blue Bomber or squashing him under a hydraulic press, you're not gonna take him out in a single hit. And now that he's fired, Mega Man has his location. The chase is on.

But let's spend one last bit of time on our new favorite Battle Couple, shall we? Agent Krantz, following the trail of destroyed robots, meets up with Theo Payne and his gal... who we find out is named Simone Miller. Oh, and apparently, she and Agent Krantz have a history.

CollegeRoommates

Like Master Oogway says, "there are no coincidences." It seems that, like Wily, our dear flaming-haired Simone is someone who had the skills, but lost the chance to make it big for one "small" reason or another. The Archie folks have left a huge door open for later exposition and hijinks. We can't rest until we know what happened at the Academy, and more importantly, if it involved pillow fights and boyfriends! Naturally, Agent Rosie Krantz proves that she's got more gumption than the reject, taking both Theo and Simone out and then placing them under arrest. Heh, don't go asking this agent to frisk you.

Meanwhile, Agent Stern follows up on Mega's report and corners Xander Payne on the rooftop. Payne starts spouting off his doctrine, and in a surprise move, Stern agrees with the problem... but not the solution.

TheSolarianArgument

Like Payne, Stern believes that humanity's become too reliant on robots, that their proliferation has caused many of our skills, talents, and abilities to atrophy. He's just not about to start setting off bombs to prove the point, and in that regard, he draws the line in the sand. He fails to stop Payne, and after making sure he won't go tumbling of the roof, it's left to Mega Man to finish the job.

In his best big damn hero moment yet, Mega Man faces off with Xander Payne and his own code of ethics. He takes a blaster shot at point blank range which does little more than scuff his armor, he crushes Xander's gun, and he uses Rush to fly Xander's bomb up into the sky. After a little lobbing goodness, Mega takes aim, fires, and sets off one last superhuge firework.

Good Guys get another notch in their belt. Xander Payne loses the fight. In his creepy followup, though, it becomes clear that we haven't seen the last of Xander Payne. Mega Man refuses to end him, referring him to the proper authorities. That whole "don't hurt humans" thing of the First Law rears its head, but Mega's okay with it. To him, that compassion isn't a weakness. To Xander Payne, that refusal of Mega Man to "do what must be done" means that the battle is lost... but the war's still worth fighting.

TryingHuman

Mega Man ends the party with a speech about what he's learned from humans: He's seen a lot of bad attitudes and misguided ambition in his short life so far. But he's also seen humans worth emulating: Dr. Light, Agent Krantz, and even that gruff sonofagun Agent Stern. So long as there are folks like them around worth fighting for, folks like that to look up to, then maybe there's hope for the world yet. Doomsday is still not set in stone. It's the start of a new year. It's 20XX at last, by the in-comic calendar.

Say hello to the Brave New World.

-------------------------------------

I was rather harsh in the review of the last issue, so I'm super happy that I get to turn around now and praise this one to the skies. The only problem is, the things I loved about this issue are things I've already covered in reviewing issues 13-16, or the "Spiritus Ex Machina" arc, which I picked up in graphic novel format over the holidays. So naturally, it's tough finding new things to praise... but we'll try.

I've said before I love Xander Payne. He makes a terrific villain because of his fanatical devotion to the cause, his utter disregard for human lives in the quest for his cause, and the fact that as an ex-military trooper, he's automatically a more dangerous man than Wily. The one thing that made me chuckle in this issue, and perhaps shake my head a little, was him wearing a long yellow scarf. If any bastard was magnificent enough to mimic Proto Man's awesomeness, I suppose Xander Payne could get away with it. Now we discover that his brand of megalomania is more of a family affair, and even if he fails, he's got Simone and his little brother Theo to keep up the good fight. After all, Mega Man ruined their dinner...

It's clear that giving Theo and Simone their own names converts them from nameless redshirt NPC mook to something more dangerous: A known entity. You give someone a name, you automatically double or triple their character shield... that thing that says no matter how many Storm Troopers fire at Han Solo, they'll all miss him by a mile.

Even worse, by living up to his status as a Paladin who lives by the Laws of Robotics as he has to, Mega Man has exposed his one critical weakness to Xander Payne. The only thing that allowed him to acts during the A.R.T.S. Convention was a modification on the First Law comparable to Asimov's "Zeroth Law" of robotics. A man as capable, as scheming as Xander Payne won't stay in prison for long. And while he's in there, he's not going to be wasting time. He'll be thinking. Planning. Preparing himself for the next battle. The common theme across multiple genres is that "Villains Act, Heroes React." I've mentioned this principle with Wily before, but I know that Xander Payne is going to stretch it to the limits.

What drove me batty in the last issue was the frantic and unfocused presentation. Yes, it was a time travel arc. Yes, time travel is always a pain in the neck. The fact is, at the end of the day, regardless of what theme or cultural relevance I can correlate to this comic book, there's one thing that drives my reviews: Was it fun to read? Was it worth reading?

By a wide margin, issue 21 blew the door off of issue 20. I mean, look at all the things happening! Mega Man and Agent Stern talking about trusting your instincts, an honest to God romantic interlude during battle, a morality play and an argument about the human condition, and at the end of the day, Mega Man even has time to do a John Dorian Scrubs speech to finish out the episode? This was my meat, potatoes, and even the strawberry rhubarb pie at the end. In one resounding explosive chord, the Archie Comics team shouted one thing high and loud.

This comic is far from over, and the world is getting bigger all the time. I savor the last sip of my Pinot Noir, smile, and tuck this issue on my shelf in a place of honor. Here's to the new year, everyone. Archie is, in the words of Steel Massimo, giving it everything.

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.

The Blue Ink: Archie’s Mega Man #20 – Dropping Acid on the Circuits of Time

"I wish I had never invented that infernal time machine... it's brought nothing but trouble." -Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future Part III -----------------------------

Aw, dammit. I just finished up writing the review for issue #19, and what should hit my doorstep but December's issue?! I thought I'd have a chance to rest on my laurels for a bit, maybe finish copying over the new material for the Legacy of Metal co-authored project "Maverick Hunters," but I suppose that'll have to wait. So will hitting the gym.

Oh well. I made it twice this week, that's something, right? Duty calls, and I will answer the trumpet for my heroes' duty. And yes, I watch where I step in a game called "Hero's Duty." Additionally, a shout-out to Ryan Jampole, who commented on issue 19's review. For those who don't know him, he does the pencils for the comic. I have mad respect for a guy who can do good pencil work, especially considering my own skills in the art department are... somewhat lacking:


Heroes by ~Ericosuperbard on deviantART

The cover tells us that it's Mega Man's 25th birthday. Well... in about a week, at least, it will be. They also give us the countdown to the crossover. Gar, I still hafta find somewhere closer to home I can get my hands on the Sonic issues. At least I've got until March to figure it out.

But enough of that. We have another comic to review! Like the last issue, and the "Who Else But Guts Man" segments, this is another filler issue. Unlike the "Grrrl Power" issue of last month, this one is a lot tougher to wrap your head around. Why? It's not just because it doesn't expand on the world in a meaningful way, but because it involves time travel. Get your flux capacitors fluxing, everybody, because it's time we were most excellent to each other!

(wavy lines)

----------------------------------

Sometime in the not so distant future...

Dr. Wily and a host of robots including the Mega Man Killers and the Wily Wars three have invaded and captured the Chronos Institute. In the process, they also deactivated Time Man with a vengeance. Well, isn't that terrific? While Wily sends out a skirmishing force to slow his enemy down, he hops into the Time Skimmer and decides it's time to go "back to the future." Yes, I know that phrase is trademarked, but this issue is about time travel, and as ridiculous as it all is, I intend on using every last gag in my repertoire.

You might notice that the Chronos Institute and the Time Skimmer are both MacGuffins taken from the almost universally panned game Mega Man II for the Game Boy; even Inafune and the other staffers dismiss it as the black sheep of the series in the Complete Works artbook. Sometimes, outsourcing your game icons to other third party studios, like Retro Studios, can result in super-awesome glory. Other times, outsourcing your game icons and turning the reins over to someone else is a surefire solution to make sure nobody wants to buy your game. Thanks, Metroid: Other M. You destroyed two decades of Samus's awesomeness in one fell swoop, and dragged the gender gap back twice as far.

Now, any time you start messing with the time-space continuum, bad things start to happen. You can create nightmarish alternate realities, you can cause yourself to become confined to a wheelchair, hell, you could even destroy humanity itself by breathing on a flower wrong. In the case of Dr. Wily taking the Time Skimmer for a joyride, he ends up creating a quantum temporal feedback pulse which grabs hold of Mega Man like the fist of an angry god and shakes him like a James Bond martini. What results from this is our Mega Man... from the future... being sent... further into the future...and passing through one game after another with no clue of what in the Hell is going on, or what in the Hell to do about it.

He finds himself in the Lanfront Ruins, confronted by Ra Moon. Before he can do anything, he takes another quantum leap and ends up facing Gamma from Mega Man 3. And before he can do anything there, bwoo-wip, he's off and facing Quint in one of Dr. Wily's multitudinous space stations. Seriously, I would love to know where this broke-ass mad scientist does his shopping for supplies. The discounts must be obscene.

Quint, who we know is actually a rebuilt Mega Man brought back by Dr. Wily to face his current incarnation (an event which should cause world-ending paradox, by one theory of temporal mechanics), mutters a few things about the inevitability of fate, then hops on his jackhammer Sakugarne and tries to... jackhammer him. Yeah. I did mention that Mega Man II was an absolutely horrible game, didn't I? Hell, I own it, and I still won't play it. At least the utter failure of Mega Man II forced Capcom to take the reins back and make some decent titles to make up for the suckage.

We time hop some more, and find ourselves in the midst of Mega Man V's prologue, where Terra beats the stuffin's out of Mega Man just to spite him. And just like before, we have little time to contemplate this series of mysterious events before we jump the shark and hit up Mega Man 4, then Mega Man 6, and finally Mega Man 7 with Mega Man facing a strange black and golden/orange robot with helmet fins. Ah, now we are in business. Their conflict leads to Mega Man and Bass (yes, we all know he's called Bass, and more importantly, that he isn't a fish) making physical contact moments before the next time jump... which brings Bass along for the ride.

Joyous occasions, everyone! It's Mega Man 8, when our Blue Bomber was castrated and given a super high squeaky girly voice, Dr. Light sounded like Elmer Fudd, and they didn't bother syncing up the audio properly! For reference, I offer this comparison: "Oh, no! Godzilla!" Bass is, of course, a grumbly bumbly and Mega Man takes it in stride.

We then time jump to Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, where Mega Man finally decides after being kicked around the time-space continuum for way too damn long that maybe it's time to do something about it. And when you're faced with a giant glowing ball of cosmic energy that continues to grow every time you jump, you have to make like Captain Picard in The Next Generation's series finale and shoot it.

Of course you're willing to take that chance, Bass. You have what amateur psychologists would refer to as Jan Brady Syndrome: "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" At least in this case, this robot that Mega Man hasn't met yet does what's necessary. You can always count on Bass to do something that's in his best interest: In that regard, he's callously Chaotic Neutral. Thankfully, ginormous temporal anomalies seem vulnerable to small arms plasmafire, and the thing blows up, supposedly fixing the cosmos and setting everything back to rights. And now, for the kick in the ass.

Hahahaha! Oh, you didn't. You really didn't. Just... give me a two by four so I can beat my own brains out here. What, it was all a dream? You had to use that particular trope? Come on. We revert back to the present day, and current Mega Man's short term memory blows in response to the wave of temporal colon cleansing that just happened. End result: He knows nothing. We know everything. Nothing changes... and it never happened.

And I sit back and scratch my head.

--------------------------------

I like time travel. It's one of my favorite gimmicks to use, one of my favorites to study. I recently was perusing some of Orson Scott Card's older works and stumbled across a fantasy gem of his called "Enchantment", and I highly suggest that you give it a looky-loo if you're up for a day and a half's worth of casual reading. I'm not immune to romantic comedies involving time travel, either, although my tastes gravitate to the older films in cinema and not the new Nicholas Sparks generation of spinoffs. I dream of owning a Delorean that plays the theme song to the movies when I start up the engine. I whimsically laugh at Mark Twain's novel where the hero goes back to King Arthur's court.

Time travel done well is a pure source of joy for me: It is a way to explore the ultimate what-if, because rest assured, without a serious jump in power production or some game-changing developments in quantum mechanics, it'll remain a dream. Perhaps it should stay one, too. Stories involving time travel always carry a cautionary note inside of them: That perhaps being able to change something isn't the same thing as having the right to change it. That maybe we'd best leave the time-space continuum alone.

When I pulled this issue out of my enormous, Amazon package-capable mailbox, my first reaction was a grimace at the title of the issue. "Rock of Ages"? Mmm. Well, I know I have little room to speak, given my own penchant for trying to create witty titles for every chapter in every story I do, and in every Blue Ink review I've written so far, but the joke just seemed to fall flat on me. Or maybe I'm just a little biased towards the rock song with that name... and the movie it spawned more recently. I had no idea what it would be about. I walked in with no expectations, a blank mind, and one single thought pervading my heart: "Oh boy, it's a Mega Man!"

Then I started reading through it during my pre-work constitutional, and I started blinking. I pulled it away from my face, wondering what the devil was going on. I was as confused as Mega Man was: What was the point of this issue? It all seemed so... well, slapped together. There was no grand theme here, no running story, just a series of haphazard events. This was not time travel done well: This was plywood and fiberboard time travel.

I turned it around, and tried to read it backward. Nope, didn't change. I set it off to the side and went about my life, letting my brain spend a couple of days to process it. Maybe it would grow on me. It's my habit to give every Mega Man thing its fair shake: Too many people pooh-pooh our Blue Bomber already, it wouldn't be fair for me to do the same. My pal Andy jokingly calls me the forgotten son of Keiji Inafune in his more cheerful moments, going so far as to say every time I die while playing one of the games, he feels a pain run through his chest on the other side of the world and knows that I have failed him again.

Well. I got this issue Wednesday, and I'm writing this Blue Ink on a Friday. I gave this issue consideration and time. I tried to reason with it. I tried to figure out what was going around the table of the development team, and what was running through their heads when they came up with this issue's plot.

In the end, I surmised they wanted to come up with some sort of end of the year "giant preview" story for us. Perhaps this issue was a way to hint at (if hinting meant picking up a crowbar and beating somebody while yelling at them) what other stories and characters we might be introduced to in the future. Maybe this was some kind of giant shotgun blast of possibilities with the choke pushed all the way out for maximum shot spread. Or perhaps the Archie team is really just so focused on the upcoming crossover arc that they're reaching for the ideas and stories that can be told as quickly as possible with the least amount of work and thought.

So here's my verdict, and you can read the following five words and skip the rest: I didn't like this issue.

Issue #19, where Kalinka, Roll, and Quake Woman got to be big damn heroes? I enjoyed that. Perhaps it wasn't filler, as my initial assessment labeled it as. It expanded the world and showed us new possibilities, new opportunities. It let some of the lesser characters have their moment in the sun. It was innovative. It was a wonderful read, a real feel-good piece that you'll pull down off the shelf time and time again, because like all good stories, like all the good movies I stick into the DVD player when I'm making sushi, it generates a positive aura that makes my food and my work even tastier.

This issue wasn't any of those things. I imagine they had a motive for doing this. I imagine that the motive is one I suggested two paragraphs above: They wanted to give us a taste of things to come. Now, I'm all for an appetizer assortment when I go out with some friends. Who doesn't enjoy dippin' chicken strips or a little shrimp scampi or stuffed mushrooms? But in this case, they have faltered: They gave me a sampler platter when I wanted a blue cheese cheeseburger with fried onion strips. Four paragraphs up, I said I walked into this issue with no expectations. Perhaps I need to amend that: I had one expectation when I opened this issue and gave it a read.

I expected to see some care and attention put into the plot. It doesn't matter how pretty a car looks if the engine, the thing that drives it, is made of junk. I hope this is one lesson that I don't have to suffer under again. I hope that the writers aim for more wholesome, more organic stories that don't rely on snapshot moments, but rather a flowing and continuous presentation. I really hope that they never ever pull out the "it was all a dream" trope again, because I swear to God, I almost felt a blood vessel pop inside my head when I got to the end of this.

At least the next issue seems to be a piece that will act as an apology for this abomination. We'll see the return of Xander Payne and Mega Man will have his hands full. It'll be the start of a new year. Hopefully, it will be a new year with less of this brainless filler and more good storytelling.

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.

Rockman Xover First Impressions - Yeah, It Sucks

Well, here we are. The most infamous Mega Man game ever made is now out in Japan. The level of hatred this title has accrued is practically viscous. And yet, even now with the released game in my hands, I can't bring myself to hate it, or hate Capcom for making it. I mean come on, it's a game. Maybe it's just me, but even as huge of a Mega Man fan as I am, I just feel like, if I'm gonna take the energy to hate something, it's gonna be something more important than this.

But I'm also going to tell you like it is. And Rockman Xover is really nothing special. But you knew that already. We all expected as much. In honesty, the game's gameplay and design is passably amusing. What really bogs it down, however, are the glitches and other oddities I've ran into. And moreover than that, dealing with switching my iPad between two regions has been seven times more frustrating than anything this game has thrown at me.

The top video is my first 20 minutes with the game. I do apologize about the sound quality; the recording device was actually recording from the iPad's mic and not the game's direct audio. Fortunately I more or less kept quiet (though see if you find the one spot where I react to the game's "variety" in stages, hehehe).

Once you've watched that, you can press on to see my additional details and gripes about the game. We're going down the rabbit hole, and there's no coming back.

So as you know, the game is free to play, meaning that you can always try it out without any risk if you have a corresponding iOS device (and I won't mince words here: if you buy an iOS device to play this game, you are an idiot). So what does cost money? As it turns out, Rockman Xover has two currency systems. The first is zenny, which is earned from every enemy you beat. But there is also a currency called "crest" (kuresuto... yeah I dunno), which you can only gain by purchasing in real money. Crest can be bought in quantities ranging from ¥85 to ¥5,700.

Crest is used to buy premium Battle Memory cards, as well as assist items such as E-Tanks, P-Tanks and Rescue Calls. Zenny, meanwhile, can be used to buy standard Battle Memory, or items that you can gift to friends. These items will also be gifted to you the more days you play the game.

The gameplay itself is largely the same as the small bit we showed you before. Funnily enough, they even threw in a tutorial, just in case the concepts of jumping and shooting are mystifying to you. Curiously, the progress meter that was on the bottom of the screen is now gone. Enemies will drop Battle Memory cards and usually one map piece per stage. Annoyingly, the game gets paused every time you pick one of these it up so it can show it to you. As easy as the gameplay is, it can throw you off if you grab a card while trying to jump. Enemies also drop items to refill your EP and PP.

EP and PP themselves are another kind of currency, in a sense. You spend EP to play quests and PP to play team battles. EP and PP refill over time, but enemies tend to drop refill items enough that running out never became an issue. Furthermore, when you level up you can points you can spend to increase your EP, as well as the cost allotment for carrying Battle Memory cards.

The stages themselves have been pretty underwhelming so far. In fact, they've all been the same stage! Every stage in World 1 is the same city background, with the same music and same two enemies (Raybit and Batton Bone from MMX). No matter what boss you pick in the world, it's always the same stage. The bosses themselves are pretty uninteresting; even elementally themed characters like Flame Mammoth and Spark Mandrill just jump on you or punch you every turn. Of course, the bosses so far are all Lv. 1; they may gain new attacks as they become stronger. Bosses also have their own Battle Memory cards, though I have yet to see them put to use. Beating a boss wins you an armor piece on top of the XP and zenny and such.

The "auto" button is also gone, it appears. However, before boss battles, the game will ask if you want the battle to play automatically or not. Since boss battles are basically back and forth slap fights, I'm guessing this feature is here to speed along what is otherwise an inevitable outcome, depending on your stats.

You can also have the game automatically chose the most optimal Battle Memory cards to put in your deck, which I personally find preferable. Looking over the sea of cards you'll quickly accumulate and comparing their various stats can be time consuming. I'm also not sure if there's any way to sell or otherwise discard cards you don't want. You can also spend zenny to power up your cards.

In spite of everything, there are some things I like about the game. It definitely, even if just a little, has a certain sort of... "charm" to it. Despite being a very simplistic game with little effort put into presentation, you do get the feeling that the creators had some interesting ideas. I really do like the idea of a Mega Man card game with cards based on all the enemies and support characters from all the series. Also, I can't help myself, I really do like OVER-1's design. It's a clean, balanced design that combines attributes from various series. I even like his silly furry boa.

It also is mildly fun to play through and see what kinds of cards you get. Even when I'm tired of jumping and shooting, I still want to press forward a little and see what else I can get. After all, that is the appeal to these kinds of games. Capcom is really banking that you'll cash in on some crest to get nice cards. I might, considering that I was forced to buy an iTunes card to even register a Japanese account in the first place. *muffled curses*

But, let's get to the bad. And oh yeah, all the social RPG and death of Mega Man stuff aside, there is quite a bit of bad. Primarily, the game is pretty glitchy and has major issues with its account system.

So, in the first bit I played (video above), I didn't run into any problems. However, after hassling with getting the video footage off of my iPad, when I tried to run the game again it just didn't want to work. The screen would blink for a moment, as if trying to load the program, then it went right back to the home screen. I have no idea if this was an error that occurred from switching my iPad account between regions or what, but in the end I had to delete and re-download the game to make it work.

And that's where problem number two comes in. There is, so far as I can tell, no way to recover a game account. In fact, when I made my original account I didn't even make a password for it. There is the option to link your account with Twitter or FaceBook, but I didn't since, honestly, I don't care. So after reinstalling, I was forced to make a new account, with my original just floating out somewhere in the void. I'm thankful that I didn't use any special item cards from magazines, because those would have certainly been burned. My new account is now linked to Twitter (which, so far as I know, does nothing). I guess if I ever have to reinstall the game again, I'll see if that helps in recovering the account.

Additionally, I've run into some crashes and such while playing the game, which is pretty unusual for something running on iOS. I don't know if my WiFi connection is bad, or maybe the servers for the game are just overactive right now, but there have been a number of instances where the game just stops loading, or pulls up a 500 error internet page. Other times the game just shuts down randomly in mid-play. I really can't find any trigger to it, though I suspect it's due to a weak connection. Thankfully, your quest progress is saved (each quest is composed of four to five stage segements), otherwise every crash would mean wasted EP.

I've yet to try out any of the other features, such as the team battles and Master Boss. I kind of want to get the ropes better before venturing into the social stuff, although I have had a few random people send me friend requests (between each stage you are shown three random players whose profiles you can browse).

And that's pretty much it. Long story short, a mildly charming time waster that doesn't even come close to satisfying a core Mega Man fan. And although you might say that the game is intended for other audiences, the content is inserted with Mega Man fans in mind, for sure. For people who don't like or don't know about Mega Man, I'm not sure what appeal this game would have next to the 300 other games that are the same thing.

And I've written more about this game than anyone has any right to. Interesting idea, Capcom, but please give me a real Mega Man game to review next time! ;)

The Blue Ink: Archie's Mega Man #17 - Origins

"Playing God is indeed playing with fire. But that is what we mortals have done since Prometheus, the patron saint of dangerous discoveries. We play with fire and take the consequences, because the alternative is cowardice in the face of the unknown." -Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue "Children are the keys of Paradise... they alone are good and wise. Because their thoughts, their very lives, are prayer." -Richard Henry Stoddard

----------------------------------------

If you couldn't tell by now, I like to find quotes that offer a bit of insight into the major themes and issues that each comic presents. It's kind of like the bible readings you get before a sermon: They cue you in to what the speaker's planning on talking about. Well, in spite of the best wishes of my Great Aunt Elma, I'm not a preacher, and happier for it, I think: Religiously, I'm a half-Methodist, half-Presbyterian with this glaring streak of secular humanist. I doubt there's a branch of the Christian faith that covers that particular outlook.

The first quote refers to Prometheus, one of my favorite figures in mythology. The bringer of fire, of knowledge, of technology, of everything that allows mankind to grow and evolve. Cast down by the gods for passing along divine secrets, humanity's greatest friend and benefactor is punished for eternity. In a sense, this short little jaunt is all about Prometheus, thematically: Light, Wily, and Blues all take on aspects of that Titan who gave humanity the keys to the kingdom. The keys in this case are the secrets behind advanced robotics... creating a race that will become man's equal, and in time, perhaps his superior.

We begin with Mega Man sorting through some old records of Dr. Light's robots, and stumbling across a notation for DLN-000... a robot reported missing. He confronts his creator, and Dr. Light finally tears the band-aid off his oldest wound so he can tell his son the truth: "You aren't my first boy. There was another."

Enough of a time ago that Dr. Wily was still on better speaking terms with Dr. Light, and his hair was in a ponytail versus the twin-pronged devil horn configuration he sports later on, a thin and virile Dr. Thomas Light was putting the finishing touches on his newest and bestest creation: A prototype humanoid advanced robot who he would call "Blues." Notice also that Blues was built as part of a weapons development program; Light has yet to go fully anti-war in his stance. He still pays the devil's due, because the military has the money, and he needs it.

But there's also that strong sense of parental guidance in him: Blues is more than a robot. Holding to the line that will forever separate him from his comrade, Light believes robots are more than machines, that if they are made human, if they learn, that they will be possessed of willful spirits of their own. Hence, Blues is his son, first and foremost.

After activation, Light brings him into the world and shows him the wonders in it. They go to art museums and music concerts. They go shopping and Blues gets his trademark yellow scarf/bandana from a window display at a department store. Light exposes his son to the culture, what makes the world a bright and wonderful place, and watches with pride as his son grows and develops. And yet he's still surprised when Blues takes all that he's learned and has an original thought, an original composition.

An original song.

And yes: That is the actual melody written out. They include the slide at the beginning, which I leave out sometimes. I love his whistle. Love it. It's always been the best part of who he is. You hear the whistle, and you know that things are gonna be okay. In Mega Man 5, they turned it on its head a little bit, having the impostor Proto Man whistle it out of tune before the original showed up and BADONKED him. "Sing it right, you daft goose!"

The end effect of his exposure to the world around him, to Light's unapparent parenting, is that Blues has become his own individual, with his own thoughts, his own hopes, his own dreams. Like a real child, he sees the world and his own potential in it, and he is eager to make his loving father proud. Light likes to say that his robots are his children: Blues is his first test of that principle. It is a test that he will fail.

All culture and easy living aside, the day comes when the military demands to see the results of Light's work. Blues is suited up with a Sniper Joe-ish helmet and armed with a super shooty arm cannon, and then he hits the field of battle. His targets are all automated gun-drones, and he quickly starts blasting through them, astonishing everyone with the potential of robotic warriors. But all that fighting puts a strain on Blues' systems, and he starts to short out, leaving him open to the attacks of the hover-drones.

In a panic, Light stops the test and gets out to the field, diagnosing the problem: He installed Blues' power generator incorrectly, resulting in an imbalance. It's kind of like messing up the timing belt in your car's engine, from what I read into it: It makes it so you don't get the full power transfer you expected, and can lead to a whole host of other problems.  Though the military is disappointed in Blues, they see the potential in the technology, and urge Light to develop a less advanced, less power-hungry model: These will become the Sniper Joes that Mega Man will later fight against.

Blues comes to back in the lab, and walks in on Light and Wily while they argue over whose fault Blues' malfunction really is. That of course causes them to start throwing more personal barbs back and forth. Stopped by Blues, Light explains that he wants to take Blues offline so he can redesign his boy's power core. Wily argues against it, saying that taking Blues offline for that much time might erase his personality data and destroy who Blues is. And as Light leaves to get to bed, Blues whispers the question that neither doctor hears, but should:

"But what about what I want?"

Later that night, he goes to Light's room, wanting to speak with his father about his concerns. But he overhears a conversation that turns his wavering heart into a lump of cold iron.

While speaking with a younger, hotter, Hellooooo Nurse Dr. Lalinde, Light makes the mistake of speaking those fatal words: "It'd be easier if I removed that rebellious streak. If I altered who he was." And this is the tough part about being a parent: Watching your children grow and become their own individuals, trying to decide how much to mold them, how much to force them to your way of thinking. Light makes his mistake, and Blues hears him. Our man in red realizes, perhaps wrongly, that if he is going to remain as he is, then he has to strike out on his own. He will either leave, or Light will destroy him in his efforts to save him.

It is necessary for the story. The son must abandon the father. The eldest must become the wanderer, a robot without a home. Prometheus must be banished from Olympus.

It makes it no less heart-breaking.

----------------------------------------

Oh boy, oh boy! You know what time it is? It's time for some Guts Man filler! No, not that kind of filler...

We still have a few pages to use up in this issue, and Guts Man is always the comical choice when you want to have some fun. But wait, what's this? A new challenger approaches! DLN-065, Concrete Man!

This is why you never put two Betta male fish together in the same tank: They end up tearing each other apart deciding who's the Alpha Male. The problem with Guts Man, besides his posterior and his supreme hugeness, is that he's got a big ego to match. Concrete Man has been brought by Dr. Light to help repair a dam that Gutsy is working on, and if you can't tell by the picture, it's raining and there's a high probability of flash flooding. Finishing the project is a must.

Naturally, they don't get along. How can they? They're basically the same! But when push comes to shove, like Spongebob and Patrick who are forced to cooperate to save a baby egg when its warming light goes out, Guts Man and Concrete Man manage to get their bricks together in time to save the dam before it collapses and drowns out the whole city.

It's a short little piece, filler in the best terms, but I'll admit, it's nice seeing Gutsy again. And after the job is done and they shake hands, what do these two do to wind down? Do they drive into town, pick up a couple of floozy hookerbots and void their warranties all night long? Nope.

They hit up a Karaoke bar and sing a sloppy rendition of Rockman 8's ending theme by Ganasia while chugging down Asahi Super Dry beer... er, E-Tanks, I mean. Points to the Archie crew for actually finding a translation for that song... and using it.

----------------------------------------------

Filler is a controversial thing: Anime renditions of certain manga use them to fill in the gaps between the manga-based story arcs, or to wait until the manga "catches up" with them. Cartoons and other shows that rely on an ongoing storyline instead of an episodic format can dabble in this as well. Some of the most successful shows on the air today, like NCIS and Burn Notice, use a blend of both: Episodic with dashes and hints of the main "season plot" sprinkled in.

The Guts Man segment was clearly filler. After all, it's Proto Man on the cover (and in a very deceptive pose, because at no time is he setting stuff on fire and scaring people), and the bulk of the issue focused on him. We finally got a thorough look into his past, which matches the canonical biography: Malfunctioning power generator, fled because he didn't want to be messed with.

Aside from that, we saw a different perspective of Wily than I envisioned during the formative years of Blues' existence. This is a Wily who has some sympathy towards robots. Though he won't come out and call them his "children" like Light does, he also doesn't see Blues solely as a machine. He holds Light responsible for the malfunction inside of Blues' power generator, and argues against a total overhaul, on the basis of fearing loss of personality data.

The Wily I envisioned in GRL was much more pragmatic: He hated pronouns applied to robots, always corrected Light by calling robots "it" instead of he or she, and saw them as tools... a means to an end, not a new species. The Wily presented in the comic flashback is a more sympathetic fellow. His edges are rounded off, his ambitions are driven not by madness, but a desire to be the best. His misanthropic attitude is the result of bitter pills swallowed over too many years of being overshadowed, of being blamed, of being scapegoated. Actually, I did that too... only here, it's his own fault, rather than the result of external power-mongering.

It is small wonder that Blues feels a sense of obligation and gratitude towards Wily: Not only did the "mad scientist" repair him with a new nuclear-powered generator, but he managed to keep his personality intact. That is something that, in Blues' mind, Light never planned on. This is another heavy issue, and it's one that had to happen: First time readers wouldn't know the background behind Proto Man. They wouldn't know the tragedy of this Promethean figure. It was a story that needed to be retold.

Perhaps that's why we had some filler with Guts Man in this issue: The Proto Man origin story is some heavy duty stuff. Kids reading this comic are going to grow up fast: The world of Mega Man is a dangerous one, and you have to harden up to survive in it. After something that heavy, we needed a little Guts Man to brighten up our day.

Maybe things will never be perfect. Maybe Proto Man and Dr. Light will never fully make amends with each other, and the family of Light will remain fractured. Maybe all will be forgiven, and Proto Man will join the battle against Wily. Whatever'll happen, I'm sure that we won't end up with the Ruby Spears possibility: Proto Man just being Wily's second-hand mook.

Proto Man's too damn awesome to stay in Wily's shadow. It wouldn't do, after all; someone who wears sunglasses can't always stay in the shade.

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.

From Pixels to Plastic: Kotobukiya Mega Man Zero

Well, this is sort of embarrassing. A while back, we told you about several episodes of Retroware TV's "From Pixels to Plastic" episodes which covered a variety of different Mega Man and Rockman figures, but in the process, one was overlooked. The following comes from November 2011, but nonetheless provides an excellent look at Kotobukiya's Mega Man Zero model kit, a curious addition to their lineup following the release of Mega Man, Roll, and Proto Man from the Classic series:

Have you grabbed one of these yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below!

Taking a Look at the 25th Anniversary "Rockcan"

It's finally out; one of the most expensive Mega Man collector's items you'll ever come by: the "Rockcan Sound E Can". This puppy comes with ten discs for each of the ten main series Mega Man games (and then some). And, it costs a whopping ¥14,700 (roughly $188 US - oh my!). I'm guessing a lot of you likely aren't picking this one up, what with its price and the difficulty of grabbing it outside of Japan. But at the very least, I can show it to you. I was a bit to lazy to make one of those fancy, trendy unboxing videos (sorry Protodude), but hopefully some photos will suffice.

Here's the top of the box. Are you excited yet!?

One of the sides has some humorous warnings. FRAGILE (Crash Man), THIS END UP (Gravity Man), DON'T GET WET (Pump Man), CAUTION HOT (Heat Man).

A message from Dr. Light! "Rockman! This box is a transportation device! I can't exchange it for a return, even if its just stained, torn or bent, so be careful!" Of course you can't return it, that ¥14,700 is ours now!

Here's the back. I have nothing interesting to say about this.

Alrighty, let's open 'er up.

Just looking at it makes you feel a little rejuvenated. The can has the same "E" design on the opposite side.

And now we break into the can. All the sweet energy! I mean, music! Although here we have the one major complaint I've found with this OST set: no CD spines. How do you know which CD is which when they're packed away!? The CDs themselves have expressive and colorful designs, but the plain clear jewels that hold them gives a slight "fan made" feel.

Most of the full color booklet features this kind of track listing for each CD, accompanied with the game's title artwork. Nice, if not a bit simplistic.

The credits page of the booklet, featuring Mega Man artwork over time. Interesting that Tatsuya Kitabayashi is credited, he was the producer for various Mega Man games in the mid 2000s (and I think was on Legends 3 too). Curious what Hitoshi Ariga is credited for in the end, since none of his work is in the booklet. And I wonder who that Uchida guy is...

The booklet face is still pretty cool, even if it's just a collage.

 

  

And here they are, all ten CDs. Like I said, colorful!

As for the quality of the music itself, it's as good as one could expect. It's nice and clear, and more or less pure sounding. I should make a particular comment of that when it comes to the earlier 8bit music. The tracks retain a lot of the coarseness and popping like they would coming from the real hardware. Audio purists ought to love that, but those who have come along listening to the cleaning, simulated music of emulators and such might find it annoying.

All in all, do I feel like it was a worthy purchase? Well, being a totally crazy Mega Man fan, yeah certainly. It's definitely a neat collector's item to have. Truth be told, though, ten years ago I'd have absolutely gone gonzo over this. Today, it's really cool, but so much of this music has been available freely for a while now, I think it does deter from the worth. Your near $200 US is primarily going towards a steel can, ten CDs and a trophy amidst the Mega Man fandom. Mega Man's music itself, however, is priceless.

The Blue Ink: Archie's Mega Man #5 - Remedial Temporal Mechanics

by Erico "Oh, what times are these! What morals!" -Cicero

----------------------------------------

"The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace..."

Dr. Wily's bid for world domination has been stopped, as the wiry old roboticist has been put in chains and stowed in a dark jail cell to rot. The Robot Masters he hijacked have been reprogrammed, and once more Elec Man and the Sunshine Five are on the side of good, working with Mega Man to clean up the mess that the First Robot Rebellion caused. It would seem that our hero can finally rest on his laurels and enjoy the spoils of a successful bid at the hero business.

Well, as soon as he's punched his time card and is off the clock, that is. When we rejoin the Blue Bomber, we find that it took him little effort at all to get back on good terms with the others. Why, just look at that manly camaraderie he has with Bomb Man! MANLY! FISTBUMP!

And it's also a way for him to Weapon Copy the Hyper Bomb again. I guess he dumped all his powers after Wily was hauled in, or perhaps his Variable Weapons System (not the phrase the comic uses) can only support alternate weapons temporarily. Regardless of the duration of his borrowed weapons, Mega can set us up the bomb and make big pieces of rubble into tiny, wheelbarrow-friendly chunks.

Above the deconstruction zone, Dr. Light looks on with a sense of pride and hope. Finally, his robots are doing what he built them for: They are helping humanity, they are doing a great public service, and they're doing it with a sense of style and fun that can only be described as innocent. If he dressed in tie-dyed T-Shirts, this would be the moment when he pulled out a jug of dandelion wine and started singing "Kumbaya."

Naturally, some people just can't stand to see the return of flower power.

Ah, fudge it, it's the feds. The man. The pig. Crackers, what the heck is wrong with this sad sack? Well, naturally he has a burr up his butt. It doesn't matter that Light's robots are helping out, they caused this mess in the first place. The fact that they were doing so under the command of an embittered megalomaniac who never got hugged enough as a child never seems to click into place for Federal Agent Stern.

His partner, a more level-headed gal who hasn't chucked all of her compassion out the window just yet, isn't quite as bad, but she's the junior partner. With Stern on the case, Light finds himself on the defensive with a very unsympathetic audience. Sounds like life or something like it, all right.

Of course, Stern can't charge Light with anything; after all, Wily's the one who did the reprogramming, the big speech, and the world domination kick. And he's being transferred from county to the big Federal Pen. I'm sure Wily is looking forward to that greatly. At his age, it's not like he qualifies as fresh meat for the more amorous cons, after all.

Light and Mega Man agree to tag along, which doesn't exactly make Stern happy. Of course, I doubt he'd be happy if they stayed home, either.

Now, this I enjoyed. There was a conversation here between Light and Rock where we start to delve not so much into the robotic side of the equation, but the human side of it. Like Light says, you can't reprogram people, you can't fix stupid, and you can't flip a switch and make a prisoner a good person again.

This disappoints the Blue Bomber; after all, he lives in a world of absolutes, on or off, 1 and 0. Being human, he's discovering, really kinda sucks, especially because there are so many defective humans. This was a very small part of the issue, but worth touching on.

Now for the fun. Naturally, Wily planned his own prison break. Why shouldn't he? We've known since the end of Issue 4 he had Time Man and Oil Man lined up to cause some trouble, and earlier in this issue, Light briefly mentioned to Agent Stern that he has no idea what happened to DLN-00A and 00B, the designations for Time and Oil.

Well, Wily's had them on standby, and now it's time for a jailbreak. Or, as it's more convenient, an attack on the caravan transferring Wily to the big jailhouse. Sniper Joes get to work blasting up the highway and pinning the convoy down, and while Mega Man engages them, that's when Time Man makes his move.

With a somewhat confusing application of Time Slow, Time Man calmly strolls through the war zone, plucks Wily from the prison transport, and walks off with his leader slung over his shoulder like a smelly sack of potatoes. We realize that the Sniper Joe ambush was merely a distraction, not only for Mega Man, but for the Feds as well. Nobody pays any attention to the prison transport until after the fact... and surprise, surprise, Wily is missing.

Now, pop quiz: Who do you think Agent Stern is going to pin the blame on?

The Man's reaction: Blame the Hippie. Terrific thinking, Agent Stern. Boy, you spent a lot of time at Quantico learning how to be a great detective, didn't ya?

All the while, the real culprits are escaping, and there's a little added surprise. Back at home, as Roll drags a sack of groceries along for dinner, she gets ambushed and kidnapped by Oil Man. Why the insult to injury? Who knows. Maybe Wily just feels like twisting the knife in the wound. He's human, after all. When have humans ever done things logically?

End result: Wily's free, The Man blames Light, and things just got even more complicated for Mega Man and his pals, Elec Man and the Sunshine Five.

Just another day in the life of the Blue Bomber.

---------------------------------------

Themes! Ah, I do so love them, and it's time again to figure out what today's lesson is. Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn...

The focus of Issue 5, if you looked reaaaaal hard, was rehabilitation. Why do people do bad things? Why don't they go back to being good? How come, there isn't some kind of reset button you can put on someone to make them better?

Well, since this isn't Star Wars, and we can't just lobotomize people to make them a mostly brainless computerized servant to Lando Calrissian in Cloud City, the solution is a lot tougher. People have to want to change, and that's a tough road; not everyone can bounce back.

Does Wily want to bounce back? No, not especially. He is the irredeemable villain in this scenario, despite what we might wish, despite whatever excuses we might provide. This is something that our seven to ten year olds may as well learn sooner than later.

A separate lesson might also be "don't assume things," which is what the hardnosed hardcase Federal Agent Stern is doing. I think we'll save that one for a later issue in this arc... something tells me it'll rear its ugly head again.

Did I enjoy Issue 5? Well, as the first comic to go off the beaten path and trudge into new territory, yes. I'll admit that I love seeing Rock team up with Elec Man and the Sunshine Five, because they're a hoot. It'll take Mega Man a while to clear Light's name and dig himself and his friends out of this hole Wily's conveniently drop-kicked them into, which gives us even more time for hijinks and pleasant, small surprises.

Really, there was only one thing in this issue that made me blink and go, "Whaaaat?" And that's Time Man.

More specifically, his Time Slow. In Mega Man Powered Up, Time Slow is presented more as a personal time dilation field: Intense space-time fluctuations allow Time Man to operate at a different frame rate than the rest of the world around him. It's not that time slows down for everyone else... it's that Time Man speeds up, and therein lies the difference.

In the comic here, though, when he's strolling through and making Wily's jailbreak happen, I couldn't help but pay attention to the digital clock above the highway that he passes under. Before his arrival, it's 2:28. When he strolls into the action, it's 2:29. When he leaves, it's 2:31. And somehow, everyone else around him, every explosion, every shout, every tiny sonic vibration, is frozen. But that clock kept ticking. RED FLAG!

So how in the Hell do we establish what just happened? It's been years since I've ever felt the need to do an update to that tiny throwaway piece I did called "The Physics of Mega Man," seeing as most of my interpretations deviate from canon (I prefer plasma over solar bullets). This is one occasion I have to scratch my head and go back to the drawing board here. Time to dig out that high school textbook.

The problem is that stupid clock. Let us say that Time Man's Time Slow ability was operating like it seemed to in the games: He simply encloses himself in a personal bubble of spacetime that allows him to advance through the world at a faster pace than everything around him. That would seem to make sense, considering how explosions, expressions, people, robots, and ammunition are all frozen in midair. But if Time Man is moving faster than the rest of the world, how come that clock advances 3 minutes?

Now, the other possibility: Time Man is using his ability to "Slow" everyone else, trapping them in some kind of space-time stasis lock. In this scenario, his field of effect expands outwards beyond himself; he himself is in this bubble of slowed time, but is immune to it (it's a rare Robot Master that actually gets hurt by himself, after all...).

Picture drawn by Cybermoon Studios on deviantART

But if Time Man is influencing more than himself, the power demands for his weapon would be frigging astronomical. Like, let's shove the total power output of our sun for a week into his chassis, and we might be getting close to the level of oomph it'd take to distort reality enough to let that happen. Sure, creating a personal space-time bubble isn't much easier, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief a little bit with Mega Man weaponry. I just can't suspend it entirely. I prefer to have a good explanation for why something works.

But, putting the power demands aside, assuming that Time Man is shoving an entire region into a displaced section of slowed space-time without causing it to rip apart from the rest of the earth by the creation of a hyper-gravitational anomaly, we still have one problem. Explosions stop. People stop. Cars stop. Bullets stop.

But that digital clock keeps on ticking.

So, there's clearly a disconnect here. Perhaps the artists intended for the clock to be a symbol for how long Time Man spent inside the action between moments, a sort of indicator of "missing time" without it being missing at all. If that was the case, it was a poor choice of definition.

To me, that clock is the one confusing, world-breaking anomaly in what is otherwise a perfect and explainable situation. Time Man causes a temporal distortion around himself, walks in between milliseconds, grabs Wily, and walks out with nobody the wiser. The clock should not have moved. Time for everyone else didn't stop... time for everyone else didn't slow... Time Man simply sped up.

But perhaps I should be thankful to the Archie Team. This one gross oversight of theoretical physics did allow me to whip out some rather arcane knowledge I don't often have an excuse to reach for, and I do so love having discussions about these "What the heck" moments, especially with the "Legacy of Metal" co-authors. Ask Magus or Revokov, they'll tell you I'm nuts for stuff like this.

God help the writers and artists at Archie if they ever decide to do a time travel story arc. It could get real messy around here.

For The Blue Ink, until next time.

-----

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.