I’ve been playing videogames for 25 years and reading about them for 23. I’ve been obsessed with them for most of my life, and I honestly didn’t think I could learn anything new. How wrong I was!
Videogames are a fairly young medium. Because of this, they don’t often receive the same sort of criticism and analysis that other media does. This is probably due a variety of factors, from a lack of demand to the inability of many game writers to put together an accurate article, let alone something that’s actually compelling.
It’s sometimes difficult to sift through all the crap sites that post upskirts from ‘Super Smash Bros.’, rumors parading as news, and misleading headlines that completely fail to convey what’s contained inside. But every once in a while, you’ll find a diamond in the rough.
While perusing Topless Robot, a site that Josh got me totally hooked on, I found one of these diamonds in the form of a YouTube video. It’s part of what will hopefully be a long-running series called ‘Sequilitis’, and it presents the game ‘Mega Man X’ in a way that I had never even thought about before. I know that I mentioned this video in a recent Weekend Roundtable, but I think it’s good enough to deserve its own post.
The video in question is titled ‘Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X,’ but that’s really deceptive. The video is better described as a 20-minute love letter to ‘Mega Man X’. Ten minutes of that are dedicated solely to the first stage. That’s right, the first stage.
Probably the most fascinating thing here is the aforementioned analysis of the first stage of ‘Mega Man X’. We don’t usually think too much about how games teach us how to play them, but there was a time before tutorials when games taught you in subtle ways and by making you teach yourself. I’m pretty in love with this concept. If you’re similarly inclined, check out the Extra Credits episode on tutorials.
There are some stylistic choices in the video, especially at the beginning, that can be a bit of a turnoff. The same could be said of the Red Letter Media reviews of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, and that didn’t stop them from being brilliant. Stick with it. It’s worth the time.
The video is funny and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the message is dead on. It’s an explanation of what actually makes a game great rather than the typical “the graphics are good and the sound is awesome and the gameplay is solid.” It’s a breakdown that gives us more information for having watched it, instead of just an opinion of an experience. We need more of this.