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Breaking the Narrative Episode 70: Another Series Overview? Mega Man, Addressing Male Disposability and Dehumanization 30 Years and Counting!

Alright, this time around I’m going back to this particular article series’ roots again by jumping on top of something very topical for this past week. I’m going straight back into video game lore. On December 4th on the official Twitch channel for Capcom, CapcomUnity, they did a livestream announcing the future of the Mega Man series with Mega Man 11 – the first new title in the series in 7 years (game collections and cameos don’t count). “Ok Alex, thats nice and all and I can get that you are probably a huge fan of the series. But what the flying fuck does a fighting robot have to do with Men’s Righ….oh… Male disposability, soldier’s trauma and PTSD. Gotcha!” Ah good, you are learning.

Now considering that the metaseries has several iterations and  from 30 years I feel that I need to denote which ones I’ll be covering for this as not all of them approach the same issues. As such this review will cover the main timeline of games. This includes an overview of Mega Man 1-10, Mega Man X 1-8 with Command Mission, Mega Man Zero, and Mega Man ZX.  Mega Man Legends is considered to be the same timeline but millennia after the original games. However, its so far removed from the timeline that it can be contextually seen as a different world overall. Battle Network and Star Force are also their own timeline so they will not be touched upon here.  The reason I’m going to touch upon ZX is it still has some connection to the original games and has shown essentially the fusion of humanity and reploid which we’ll touch upon when we get to it. With that all framed up and an understanding that I’m not going to avoid spoilers because there is no reason to claim you can’t access any of these games as they are on just about everything,  Let’s Hammer this In!

In universe the first games occur within a span of a few years in is 20XX, the placeholder date for the series. This was originally shown as 200X in the NES games. However, the intent was to show that the idea that this takes place sometime within the 21st century, meaning that the tech in the Mega Man universe is supposed to be plausible in a science fiction sense. Considering that Mega Man’s Buster and Weapon Copy technology is supposed to be considered forms of nano-technology this makes sense and with how quickly we have developed tech in the past century of science fiction being prominent in the public eye.

The basis of the initial games is that the team of Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily have worked together to create the Robot Masters archetype. Robots on their own had existed before this point but they have been limited AI constructs that while they could learn still had a lot of trouble making judgements and using their own sense of self to make decisions on site, and as such required a lot of human influence and control since they don’t have proper sentience. Therefore the soon to be warring scientists designed Blues – also known as Proto Man, an advanced artificially intelligent robot with an experimental tool and weapon system that is now known as a ‘buster’. His specifically is called the Proto Buster. Thing is, Blues ends up developing too much of his own sense of self and when there was a defect in his personal power core he was so afraid of not coming back online he refused to be powered down for repairs, running away and performing his own self maintenance.

Rock, the titular Mega Man, and his sister Roll, were made more docile and humble than their much more willful brother. Once the kinks were worked out with them the two roboticists made the first six mass-producible Robot Masters that become the bosses of the first game of the series. Then Dr. Wily realized the military capacities of the more specialized equipment of the mainline masters. He then reprogrammed them and tried to use them to take over the city within which they lived. Rock, not having equipment at the beginning, being a lab assistant, showed his first parallel to being an adult human male: The will to give of one’s self for the sake of others by requesting to be modified into an advanced fighting robot. Using the upgraded armor and arm buster known from that point as the Mega Buster (Rock Buster in Japan) he can copy the equipment of other Robot Masters and use them against his opponents.

After Mega Man takes out  the original 6 Light developed Robot Masters, Wily proceeds with his own for two games. Then for the second three games he uses an alias or proxies to push his agenda of world domination by robotic armies under his command. In the order of Dr. Cossack via kidnapping his daughter, Proto Man by making an imposter of him, and finally using the alias of ‘Mr. X’ to take over Robot Masters sent in for a formal tournament by hacking them in a way similar to how he hacked Dr. Light’s original units. He then spends two games going back to his own designs before taking units in the ninth game and talking them into resisting in order to fight for their lives because they were due to be disposed of. Then in the tenth game the Robot Masters are sent into a frenzy by a computer virus developed by Dr. Wily that resembled influenza. Perhaps it is being used as a premise to the Maverick Virus that is prominent in the following X series we will jump into in a moment.

To finish up on this front what we know so far about 11 is very slim and will concern an upgrade being made to Mega Man as a whole. This is also paired with the Power Battle games along with Mega Man and Bass which go into a mix of side story nonsense along with hinting at the future of the franchise with hints of the designs of both X and Zero, which are being developed at the latter end of the series. With these seminal games we are shown a Pinocchio-like figure in Rock who deep down wants to help everyone. Even after he is converted to a mechanical soldier he considers (at times naively) that fighting should be a last resort. That he will try his best to talk down his opponents first instead of just outright blowing them up.

Also it is highly implied, though not confirmed through the franchise, that most of the robots are programmed with Asimov’s Three Laws. However the sense of danger comes from the thought that Wily’s programming supercedes those laws in his own numbers, and through the viruses he creates. The struggle of the laws is depicted near the end of the seventh installment when Mega Man considers breaking the first law for the sake of the greater good but doesn’t because his will to be the better person – the better man shows itself to be stronger than the desire to give in to base desires. Overall it proves that even something as inhuman as a robot can achieve the merits of a wereman. This as a whole should be considered a credit to the character as conceptualized by the team at Capcom, who ended up making a battle droid made to destroy into the most humane and humanistic character within all of gaming.

Moving on, we jump forward a century to 21XX to the Mega Man X series. The series follows the androids X and Zero, who have become Maverick (Irregular) Hunters who take out malfunctioning and rebellious reploids who owe their minds and bodies to the two protagonists of this series. (Reploid is a portmanteau of replicate and androids.) Both denote how this purely robotic race not only replicate X and Zero, whose physical data was used to  develop them, but how they replicate the human mind and freedom of will. X was the first discovered and provided the original templates involved. Equipped with the equivalent base of what his predecessor had with appropriate version ups (Mega Buster Mk. 17 for example), he was originally meant to only go through 30 years of troubleshooting and testing.

Zero was originally developed by Dr. Wily, designed to replace Bass, a powerful yet ineffective Robot Master designed to be Wily’s version of Mega Man. Zero was developed taking notes on the mistakes he feels he made with Bass then installing the Maverick Virus in its purest form as the Zero Virus and setting him loose. This is suggested to have led to Wily being heavily injured by his creation if not outright killed for his hubris, going upon the differences in philosophy of the two creators. X was developed to be the future of a robotics meant for bringing humanity and the subsequent reploid race together in harmony and peace. Wily’s main intent with Zero was to prove his own perceived superiority. This extreme dichotomy of thought can be seen as an analogue to current standards as the resulting world that comes of the actions of these two minds end up creating ever-increasingly dystopian hellscapes.

When finding Zero, the then-leader of the Maverick Hunters, Sigma, takes on the berserk android and ends up damaging him, releasing the Zero Virus to eventually be changed (with his own ego overwriting it) into the Sigma Maverick Virus, an insane combination of the code from three different scientists in the forms of Light, Wily, and this series’ Dr. Cain – an archaeologist who designed the subsequent reploids based on X’s ahead-of-its-time technology. Sigma is Cain’s personal creation. Once the new virus fully manifests, it shows itself to be the embodiment of Sigma’s existence from that point forward, superseding the need for a physical body due to the virus’ nature as a nanotechnology in its own right. Then the first few games of that series proceed one after another showing Sigma as the prime antagonist. That is, until Sigma’s nature and influence from meeting a mental copy of Wily deep in the internet, similar to the artificial mind clone of Dr. Light in X’s armor capsules, is revealed in 5.

These games evolve the discussion of disposability by making going ‘Maverick’ an offense punishable by ‘elimination,’ meaning if these artificial beings even remotely step out of line they are labeled as such in a very authoritarian manner and subsequently destroyed on sight by an approved ‘hunter.’ Think Judge Dredd but with androids. This is well depicted in the badly voice acted classic of X 4 with the Repliforce, a reploid defensive army meant to act as an aid to the Maverick Hunters and replacement for a human army, something shown to be very dangerous come the following Zero series. After a misunderstanding and a desire by the Repliforce to have a nation of their own – a reploid ethnostate if you will – the entire army was labelled as Mavericks. In Zero’s storyline this is shown in the brilliantly cheesy but emotional scene in which Zero kills the love of his life Iris when she takes onto herself a battle program that corrupts her very core. This shows the pain of loved ones being on different sides of a conflict, because she wanted to avenge her brother who was also killed by Zero in fair combat.

This goes on throughout the remaining games in the X series, even going into what happens when mercenary groups get considered Maverick through no fault of their own or when a new batch of reploids who seem to have surpassed the Maverick virus get considered Maverick because they wanted the same thing as the Repliforce did just 4 games earlier. This is an issue of how do we approach sentience once we find it in something that isn’t human? While Mega Man in his universe is a very advanced artificial intelligence that simulated sentience, he still had set routines and limitations. X and Zero are the first to fully achieve sentience as we understand it. This is why Google’s AIs are very dangerous, because they aren’t sentient and won’t be for the foreseeable future.

Then we push forward to a few centuries later with the Mega Man Zero series. At this point an event called the Elf Wars had occurred based around the aftermath of a conflict around the next form of AI known as Cyber Elves. This time X tried to make a Utopia by curing every Maverick instead of killing them outright. Then a man by the name of Doctor Weil, who intended to use the Cyber Elves as weapons, overtook Neo-Arcadia, which X created with a copy of X that he controlled, showing overall the flaw in X’s logic. X joined together in his disembodied state, having turned himself into a Cyber Elf to aid his old friend Zero, himself in a copy of his original body which was being used to house the mind program of Omega, another being Weil created to be another authority with which to keep control over society.

This eventually ends with Zero sacrificing himself and within a century of that final conflict and a series of items being created called Biometals (Live Metals in Japan). By this point due to Zero’s sacrifice, Humans and Reploids finally live in harmony to the point that for the most part people can’t tell the difference between one or another. Many humans having enhanced cybernetics and reploids are using organic materials in their construction. This is aided by the fact that in the society Weil created even Humans could be considered Maverick. Here, the main characters of the now ZX series use the Biometals of the Four Guardians of the Zero series as well as Zero and X together to transform into a battle format. A biometal gives the wielder the abilities of the mind sealed within after merging with it. The crazy part is it doesn’t matter if the wielder is a human or a reploid. They can use it all the same.

There is still an authoritarian catch here. Humans are made to require usage of cybernetics whether they want them or not, and reploids are forced to have lifespans comparable to humans even if they can live much longer. This, of course, causes its own slew of problems. It’s depicted in the last game of this series of ZX Advent, where the ironically named Master Thomas wishes to reset the world. It is hinted that this desire is likely what would lead to the Mega Man Legends games we are not covering today. The way these last two parts of the metaseries evolve the discussion of the disposability of ‘heroes’ and by proxy adult human males is that at the end of the day utopian constructs always end up failing. With how this relates to the world we live in today, even in our gynocentric society women can be seen as disposable if they are labeled as such. For an example of this look at TERFs in reference to any female or trans woman who disagrees with their worldview. They are all viewed as disposable ‘men.’ Their individuality is considered forfeit.

Likely a lot of these issues being addressed are unintentional in the original writing but as time went on the creators of the series probably acclimated to the fact that this was what they were coming to as an end result, viewing the deep storied lore that their writing created as a bonus. In fact the reason it took them 8 full years to come out with a new entry in the classic series was due to their desire to respect the series lore they saw some mistakes in the quick turnaround between Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10. Then the fact that it took so long to get to number 9 though to be fair they were concentrating more on the X and other parts of the metaseries in that time.

This also ended up proving something else after the release of Mighty No.9 by former series lead Keiji Inafune after he went independent. The reason Mega Man was such a beloved and important series wasn’t due to solely its gameplay. If that were the case then Mighty No. 9 would have been a success. There is something at the core of Mega Man, X, and Zero as characters and the center of that storyline that keeps fans coming back each time. Even with flop games like Mega Man 6, Mega Man X7 and Mega Man 10, the bulk of Mega Man fans are loyal to the franchise, so much so that the Blue Bomber has even outgrown his original creative team – most of them having left Capcom.

We don’t know where Mega Man 11 is going exactly, but we do know this – there is plenty to learn from this franchise when it comes to developing a universe that several people have contributed to.  If you haven’t given these games a chance I’d suggest trying them out and to use the colloquial ‘git gud’ at them because the story is wonderful overall, even with the limitations of the earlier games necessitating a lot of show don’t tell depiction. Oh yeah, for those who are long lived fans of the franchise? I beat Air Man first….every time! Ok, I tease, but I can do it on command. Now if you’ll excuse me I have the legacy collection to run through again. Ok so I only have the first legacy collection for the 3DS – bite me. I’ll get the second when it comes out on the Switch…and the X collection… Even if I have most all of these games on other platforms too… maybe follow that up with some R-Type. Sorry did I digress again? Oh well at least it was at the end. Please remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

  • JW%

    Oi… been too long since I logged on to my Disqus account…

    First of all, I’d like to say that this article sadly would be unreadable by non-fans of the series. At best they would feel your enthusiasm for the subject matter, which I share, and possibly glean the more human rights related issues. However, to get the message out you probably should have toned down a bit on the game terminology and made it a bit more clear.

    Alternately… as a fan of the series… you had some mistakes in your lore.

    “…I feel that I need to denote which ones I’ll be covering for this as not all of them approach the same issues.”

    This is a true statement and a very good choice to make. That said, you might have picked too wide a range to work with, because in simply listing the titles you have a bit of a problem.

    “This includes an overview of Mega Man 1-10..”

    Do you include Megaman & Bass(which was the best we nearly got for a 9 for the longest time), the Gameboy released games(Yes, they have their own story, even if they’re mostly condensed and recycled gameplay), Power Battle & Fighters(You mention them), the inevitable Go-Kart game, and… honestly I could think of several others that would probably be considered “side games”(many not released in the US). Some of them however would present your case reasonably well.

    “..Mega Man X 1-8 with Command Mission…”

    Including this comment simply for continuity, as you’re listing off a good number of games here, while still forgetting the “side games”(Most of them remakes).

    “…Mega Man Zero, and Mega Man ZX.”

    Of which there were multiple in both series. “Only” two or three each for the Zero series and ZX series, but you get my point. You listed off all the numbers for the first two series in this metaseries, but not the second two series.

    Moving on from that nitpick, and I’m sorry I have to start with something so pedantic, but I’m trying to be complete, we have the next point of order I find(also somewhat pedantic).

    “Considering that Mega Man’s Buster and Weapon Copy technology is supposed to be considered forms of nano-technology…” I’m not sure what canon source you’re drawing that from, but I’ve also heard that they’re “Hard Light Simulations”(IE Megaman doesn’t actually fire a pair of scissors, but in fact a narrow force beam that looks like a pair of scissors) and any other levels of “magical” technology. I don’t honestly think anyone considered the actual technology used, just that it was intended to be “science fiction” but “very near future”, IE if we had just a few years study, maybe we could come up with something this crazy. Which I think is the message you were trying to get across.

    I’d like to point out here, since it fits in here with your discussion of Rock’s volunteering to be upgraded to a combat robot, that even after the upgrade, Rock’s main advantage, in fact in many cases his ONLY advantage, over the more specialized, and often less human, Robot Masters, is his Copy Weapon system, which I’ve seen speculated is part of his old Lab Assistant tool kit. He fights by out thinking his opponents, and as the player controlled character, shows initiative and directed creativity that the other characters do not. Personally I would think that this demonstration of problem solving skills qualifies as a masculine trait, but that’s neither here nor there, the point is that he is not, and never was even remotely portrayed as, somebody who is good at combat. He is a thinker and a problem solver(and in the good games forces the player to be one too).

    “After Mega Man takes out the original 6 Light developed Robot Masters, Wily proceeds with his own for two games.”

    This is incorrect. The first 6(8 in a remake), were developed by Light and Wily(debated how much each puts into the effort), the second 8 are all Wily(who claims he’s seen the error of his ways and is believed once he’s stopped), the third 8 are again Light and Wily working together. The fourth is Dr. Cossack who threw the world into chaos because his daughter was kidnapped by Wily. The fifth was… hard to say who built the robot masters, as it’s implied that it’s Protoman, but likely was Dr. Wily since the Protoman that kidnaps Light in the opening sequence was an imposter made by Wily(the real Protoman shows up to help Megaman save Light). The sixth batch is world tournament contestants, implying that just random people around the world are(to quote a fan comic) “Building child sized robots that pack more firepower than a battleship, more armor than one too, and are able to teleport about the world instantly”(slightly overstating it, but suffice to say these are dangerous constructions that have now proliferated to the same level as human athletes), and despite using the alias “Mister X”, Dr Wily is actually caught and imprisoned at the end…

    … which starts the seventh set being robot masters Dr. Wily built while stealing the batch from six, coming on line and rescuing their master from jail(while causing massive property damage, and implied loss of life). Which is why it’s no wonder Megaman is questioning his Laws of Robotics by the end of the Seventh game. Megaman literally states that he can break that law of robotics if he feels it’s necessary(thus these really have no relation to Asimovs Laws, which were hardwired not just coded), but the choice is made for Megaman as the building collapses and Bass saves Wily at the last moment. Given that the X games are meant to be darker and the original Megaman series is more cartoony and brightly colored, seeing our always optimistic, friendly, and naively pacifistic(despite slaughtering roomba level robots by the hundreds and almost fifty robot masters at this point, the side games strongly imply that his “victims” usually get rebuilt, and most of them return to society with their dismantling, usually done surgically by exploiting their weakness, being merely a painful slap on the wrist for their destructive behavior)

    Now we reach the long gap in the storyline, which leads to 9’s strangeness of disposing of robots that don’t want to die(a plot point of the ZX games you mention later) which I honestly think was the writers not realizing that the point of lore wasn’t retroactive that far into the past.

    Then 10, with the robot virus outbreak, and soon to be 11.

    Before I leave the original series behind however, I’d like to state, in the vein of “Disposable Males”, all the robot masters are considered male with the exception of SplashWoman(from 9. Yes it took that long), despite the fact that, in lore, a few of them are female(“Man” ending their name is just to denote that they are a manipulator of lesser robots, or a Robot Master). Also, they’re the ones you shoot at. Generally speaking video games where you shoot women, even super powered robotic women, had issues in the days of the NES. Splashwoman even gets a slightly different battle system where she floats above you, and since for some reason Megaman can’t aim up, you have to you alternate tactics to deal with her.

    And one final note that just occurred to me, in Megaman Adventures(which is more of a cartoon with limited shooting gallery play), Roll is injured, and Megaman has to fight the 8(recycled from other games) robot masters on a time limit to get the parts to repair her. Megaman can die as often as needed, what’s important is that you finish in time to save Roll.Drives home the point a fair bit more as to who is important here when you look at who is worth saving(women and the elderly), and who is allowed to die(men and boys).

    • Anime-Mun

      I left out the side games save for Mega Man and Bass and the Power Battle games with the intent of making it simple and try to encourage potential new fans because why not? The Mega Man World (Game Boy series) as well as the Go-Kart and Soccer games are such offshoots that they don’t have the same effect on the canon. I didn’t include the remakes because well…. they are remakes. They don’t provide enough of a change to the overall story to be delved into so much I thought. The reason I specified nanotechnology is two reasons, one thats kind of obvious in that its the most likely development and secondly because there are mentions of it in official material for the Man of Action show. Granted the Man of Action show is a different universe as well but it does make the most sense with the core universe. Hard Light constructs would be more likely in the Battle Network and Star Force universes. As for the problem solver part? I’ll more than give you that and thank you for the observation I left out. I wish more would give this type of criticism of my work to expand it.

      To specify where you are mistaken, Wily did build all the Robot Masters from Mega Man III as they have DWN numbers to them One of them being a conversion of an alien robot (Shadow Man) Wily merely made copies of Cossack’s numbers for the boss stages. Wily could be said to have built the 5th set so there is that. Then with all the details there while most of the robots are gendered male witth the exceptions of Roll and Splash Woman the idea of having most of them as a uniform ‘gender’ is a simple question. Can an artificial humanoid that isn’t designed to reproduce itself even have a gender? But if so the fact that they choose male representations first and foremost should be very telling since they are meant to be disposed of – complete with an expiration date. Even if that denotation fades over time.

      Finally we have the Megaman Adventures interactive movie, last I checked its canonical status is questionable at best which is why I didn’t include it but that does give some added context doesn’t it? I will address your criticisms of my coverage then.

      • JW%

        I think you’re right to leave out many of the details of the side games, though canon for the games can be considered somewhat loose. The series is made to sell video games after all, not to preach ideas, and should probably be considered in that context As such the the Man of Action show should probably also not be considered canon(particularly since it’s not set to air until 2018 and we’re talking about the original envisioning back in the 1980s). My point was less a debate over what actual technology was being used(though as a fan of a particular mindset, I’m quite game to take up such a debate) to create the wonders of floating platforms for challenging jumping and unique physics for Special Weapons, and more that the goal was to make such “magic” necessary for the story to feel mundane and reachable. It’s a story about super powered robots that harness solar energy to freeze lava to use as stairs… but it’s also supposed to be understandable emotionally, this is the story of an underdog who holds themself responsible for stopping the evils of the world despite being outmatched, and somehow overcomes ever growing odds to gain victory time and time again(we could debate if that’s a universal story, or if it’s a gender specific one I suppose considering the focus is on accountability and agency, but I like to think it’s universal). You were probably trying to get this across, but I’m not sure either of us were properly communicating it. Reading back, I think you actually did better at it than I did.

        I’m pretty sure that the plot of Mega Man 3 was that Wily and Light were working together again creating robot masters “like old times” and Megaman was sent away to investigate 8 of the joint created robot masters going rogue, which allowed Wily to steal the “Giant Peacekeeping Robot Gamma”(final boss of the game, piloted by Wily), thus while they have DWN in their serial number, they are still a joint project and thus not purely made by Dr Wily. A pedantic point really, but it feels wrong to say that 3 is just a rehash of 2 when the game adds much more.

        I also used it somewhat as a point to show that Megaman was suffering repeated betrayals and suffering disillusionment by the time of Megaman 7 where he technically breaks the first law of robotics, even if he’s not able to carry out his threat.

        And it’s probably best not to get into gender assignment of robots, I’d just point out that apparently, in the Manga(and… I think the Rockman and Forte CD, but that was a translation patch not the official release), Centaurman is referred to as female. This just causes unnecessary confusion I think. My point was more that NES games like Contra, Double Dragon, and others others often had to be re-designed to protect digital women from player violence, despite the female character actively attacking the male player character(and usually doing so overpoweringly, as they were sometimes boss fights). It was a continual change in politics that allowed SplashWoman.

        Also the idea of the “expiration date” I still believe came in from ZX(you discussed it in it’s proper place) and was a touch of lore miscommunication by the Megaman 9 “Team”(rumor has it was one guy that made that entire game as a “micro project” he volunteered for) applying the lore where it shouldn’t have been(like StarTrekDiscovery giving Klingons cloaking, when canon up to that point said they didn’t get the technology from the Romulans until later). My opinions aside on it’s origin, it is canon.

    • JW%

      Okay, that got kinda rambling, filling it in late in the evening. And I totally forgot where I was going with the ZX thing, unless I was going to point out that the later X games had playable female characters.

      Anyway, speaking of the X series, if I had to identify a theme for it, I’d say that the driving idea behind it was that the next generation suffers from not only repeating the same mistakes of the past, but also that progress allows those mistakes to cause greater damage, and the unresolved ghosts of the past will continue to cause problems. The series was actually intended as a replacement for the initial series, but the darker tone, more realistic graphics, and generally more “adult” approach was, while happily accepted(and considered the best of the Metaseries by many) also not fully embraced(Megaman 7 and onward had yet to be produced, and wouldn’t have been if there hadn’t been a call for them. Please note that this leads to issues with aligning continuity and causing some “bleed over” between what should be considered two separate series in different points in the metaseries timeline and a fair bit of confusion and possibly some creator burn out).

      I used quotation marks around “adult” less because of any sexual or gory nature(though this series does have blood and dismemberment and at least tragic romance which was lacking in the first series, and more because of it’s philosophical points. It does what I like to consider a staple of Japanese philosophical… well naval gazing I guess describes it. With X vocally wondering about the nature of conflict, about the justification of war on ideological levels rather than rational ones(IE War is a force of nature, not a result of choices, and thus must be fought for it’s own sake), and the suffering of all beings as they discover how painful the world is. You hear this sort of thing in a number of anime(the Gundam metaseries usually dabbles in it at the very least). Also, while I think I mention elsewhere that Megaman gradually grows disillusioned with his lot in life, X, and most of the cast, goes down right into PTSD. Understandable considering how dystopian(or out right apocalyptic) the world becomes under their watch, and how many characters not just die, but die horribly, and even if they somehow come back from that demise their friends still feel the loss just as sharply. Adding dialogue to some of the battles doesn’t help, as sometimes it’s clear the enemy is just insane, sometimes they have some of that philosophical pondering about free will in the face of global events, sometimes out for revenge for past wrongs(which you as the player character may actually have caused) and other times they’re making comments like “I’d rather die than have nothing left to live for.” or “Why can’t you just let us live in peace? We’re only seeking to go our own way.”

      And yes, this is best illustrated by the Repliforce incident in the fourth game(the first three don’t quite dive into the full apocalyptic levels of destruction). They do their best to make it clear that all the want to do is peacefully take their army and bow out of the system. “This is neither insurrection, nor rebellion” to quote the… monotone and at times confusing voice acting. But, one accusation of harming a female(the only victim actually shown is Iris, whom you save before she gets more than knocked down) later and the player characters are out to murder all of Repliforce(who immediately strike back in force). It doesn’t help that Iris is one of Repliforce, leading to the tragic romance she shares with the mysterious and haunted Zero.

      The romance being a bit forced is later retconned by the “Xtreme” miniseries that fills in their relationship a bit more. It’s still awkward though, even ignoring the positions they take ideologically.

      It’s worth pointing out that Repliforce don’t even seem to really even have names outside of elite(boss fight) units. Iris has a name, but her protective big brother is “named” Colonel, his rank. And needless to say, Colonel is not really happy with Zero associating with Iris, while he’s in the midst of slaughtering Repliforce soldiers. This leads to a duel of honor and… well you cover it, but I’m not sure that taking on the combat form(sorry, no hitting girls here, unless she’s in all concealing armor) corrupted her core, or if Zero detonating it’s power supply kills her. Either way, tearful farewell as Iris was too-good-for-this-cruel-world.

      X gets a different story to deal with which is a bit less interesting involving the shape shifting double agent who framed Repliforce. By the time the characters discover it’s a set up(players/viewers are let in on it early on to hammer home “the pointlessness of war”), it’s too late and doomsday weapons are in play.

      And yes, as more of the world is destroyed worse each episode onwards, the more draconian the laws become on what qualifies as Maverick for the player characters to battle. Presumably to protect humanity(who you don’t really see any of in the X series. Dr. Cain is the only actually human figure you ever see in game, and he dies of old age within the first couple installments), but really by the end it seems just to control the population that is growing resentful of the restrictions being put on it and using the unseen protected class as just an excuse for more pointless conflict and more pointless suffering.

      I suppose I should end on that point of nihilism. I hope you’ll forgive another bit of pedantry, but you’ve fallen for sentient/sapient problem. Sentient means that one is able to feel and experience the world. Sapient means that one is able to logically draw conclusions and learn from their experiences, gaining wisdom and growing their responses to the stimuli. Feeling vrs thinking. There is, obviously, some debate as to which is the superior means of judging life, but I think that the original series Robot Masters at least have stimulus-response programming, even if they don’t have the complex judgements to make emotional calls.

  • JW%

    Oh yeah, also, Mighty No. 9 had more problems than just “not living up to the Megaman Legacy”. I really think that Mighty No. 9 WOULD have been just as popular as a Megaman game(and mind you, the only ones of that kind were 9 and 10 and a few side games like Megaman StreetFighter, which weren’t the height of popularity and were only considered successful because they were made on shoe string budgets by a single programmer)… if there hadn’t been the whole kerfluffle with a feminist social justice warrior slipping her way on staff(a girlfriend of one of the team), requesting major changes to the game to make it more feminist, and ultimately getting in a fight with the backers until they started pulling out.

    • Anime-Mun

      Yeah, I was being overall generous about the issues with Mighty No. 9 because I didn’t want to bog down something meant to celebrate and highlight the importance of Mega Man as a video game character with his impotent half-brother. If I were to go into the issues with Beck and Inafune’s inability to run his own company I’d have to write a whole other article with things already deeply explored. Rock will always be a more important influence and observation than Beck can even dream of.

      • JW%

        yob
        Probably a good idea to avoid it, merely for simplicity sake, I just felt that Mighty No. 9 could have been given a better shake, had, from my perspective, Feminism not killed it. Something I strongly think that could have happened to Megaman, had it come out at this time under our current political climate. As such, I don’t think of Beck as impotent, so much as stillborn. It’s all metaphorical though, and the discussion place is open for further discussion on the topic, if anyone believes it’s warranted.