According to One Fan…
Released December 18th, 1997, for the Sony PlayStation (and later ported to the Nintendo 64), Mega Man Legends is the blue bomber’s first foray into the world of 3D adventure gaming.
Although perhaps not as well-known as Ocarina of Time (1998), Capcom’s bold move to reincarnate their flagship 2D hero in a 3D open world created a game that has taken its place among some of the greatest, albeit underrated, adventure RPGs of the past three decades.
What this Legends post is, and what it isn’t
Full disclosure: This is not an exhaustive description of Mega Man Legends, with a history of its development, its sales statistics, critical reception, the decisions that led to its one successful sequel, or the failed attempt to produce the long-prophesized Mega Man Legends 3 in what might have been the sexiest game trilogy of the modern era.
Rather, I intend to share the following:
- My experience of Mega Man Legends (i.e., my altered memories of the truth)…
- The meaning I derived from it as an eleven-year-old…
- The fragmented meaning I derive from it now…
- And the power it had to shape my creative imagination.
If that sounds like the Mega Man Legends you remember, then please read on. On the other hand, if you have no idea who Mega Man is, still read on—you may find a diamond buried in the rough.
Contents (if you want to jump around)
If it helps, I have divided this post into the following chapter headings:
- Chapter 1 – The Quest for a New Legend
- Chapter 2 – A Mega Intro: I Meet the Blue Boy
- Chapter 3 – The Legend Ascends: The World Above
- Chapter 4 – The Legend Descends: The World Below
- Chapter 5 – Mega Man’s Bane: Judgment on the Carbons
- Chapter 6 – The Intercessor Motif
- Conclusion: Mega Man’s Legend
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 1
The Quest for a New Legend
Imagine a time when Metacritic and YouTube don’t yet exist. Imagine a world where making a quality, informed video game purchase demands a trip to your local Blockbuster (or playing at a friend’s house) to attain an unshakable conviction that your next $30 – $50 purchase won’t be the bane of your prepubescent existence.
Or maybe you’re one of the lucky kids whose parents let you subscribe to these monthly mailbox treasures. Of course, you’re too young to know the difference between genuine “user reviews” and marketing placements.
Ignorance is bliss.
Toys “R” Us, Spring 1999
The year is 1999, and the struggle is real, as finding a game worth owning requires a sharp intuition and a unique set of investigatory skills, neither of which I claim to have possessed.
Now imagine that you’re me, that the thrill of picking a new video game is enduring the mystery—until you cut away the shrink wrap, pop open the jewel case, and insert the signature PS1 black-mirror compact disc—of whether it will be any good.
Imagine that you purchased the Sony PlayStation with your birthday money last November, and your life’s most meaningful ambition is to expand the catalog, whatever the cost, come what may.
The Video Game Aisle
Imagine roaming the video game aisle searching for that E-rated gem because M-rated games are out of the question. Sometimes, you can negotiate with Mom to nab a T for Teen, where Mom takes this petition before the high council, a.k.a. Dad, for a final say.
But you also have learned to pick your battles, and you know from experience that forcing yourself into tighter creative bounds can occasionally produce unexpected rewards.
Imagine being just a bit shorter than the average eleven-year-old boy, the displays on either side rising like battlements that stretch half the length of the largest retail store dedicated to toys and toys alone.
Traversing it feels like navigating the streets of a fabled city in the sky. Every familiar turn affords some discovery—some new bright magic or some ancient, shadow-veiled devilry (i.e., all the toys you make sure not to tell your youth pastor about).
Along the most treasured aisle, each video game is represented by a small, flip-out card with a stack of tickets underneath representing the available stock (because they didn’t want you stealing the high-end merchandise).
To see screenshots of the game or read its marketing synopsis, you must step onto a floor-level display rack, flip up the card, and inspect the laminated, graphical insert with periscope focus.
Finding Mega Man Legends
I’ve had my eye on most of these games for a while, and now that I’m a bonified PlayStation owner, choices abound. But one thing is certain—I’ll be walking out with a factory-sealed copy of something, anything, and praying the entire car ride home that I have not committed the irreparable sin of “making an unwise purchase.”
And then I see him, a character I’ve met before, but with a new face, decked in alluring metallic blue armor and portraited against an eye-catching red-to-yellow gradient background.
Even more intriguing, I’ve only ever seen this character with a helmet—but this rendering has him with a wild head of jet-black cartoon hair and stark green eyes.
Then, there’s the game’s title font. How do I describe it? Silver, polished, liquid metal calligraphy confirming my suspicion—this is a Mega Man game, one I’ve never heard of. And it’s on sale for $29.99.
I get close enough to flip the card and examine the “one-pager” before one-pagers existed.
This is what I see:
THE BLUE BOMBER BLASTS INTO A WHOLE NEW DIMENSION
(There darn-well better be in a Mega Man game!)
(I don’t know what dia-bol-whatever means but hell yes!)
(Oh, I am beginning to believe it, Capcom!)
NON-STOP 3-D ACTION!
(Non-stop, you say? 3-D, pray tell?)
If the “Shut up and take my money!” meme existed in 1999, it would have applied here.
According to my altered copy of a memory, I am now the only one in the Toys R Us—for a fleeting instant, the store and everything in it belongs to me. But like the shrewd merchant in the Parable of the Pearl, I’m ready to trade it all for one game, one story, one hero.
The laminated game card slaps the display rack as I snag the voucher.
The next thing I remember is not a specific series of events so much as a furious ignition and an unbroken propulsion toward a tenuous, flickering second star to the right.
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 2
A Mega Intro: I Meet the Blue Boy
The intro to Mega Man Legends expertly places itself within the adventure genre’s preexisting framework. It even pays an endearing nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark in the first quest, where Mega Man locates and burgles a refractor (i.e., a giant diamond) sealed within an ancient, booby-trapped, robotic-themed crypt.
After a cutscene of Mega Man escaping the treasure room within an inch of his life, the game returns you to the driver’s seat. From here, you follow a maze of shadowy corridors into a large, open chamber, where you encounter the game’s first boss: a giant robot guardian called a Reaverbot, left behind to protect the ancient vault.
This first encounter foreshadows all the high-octane action to come, where you will be pitted against enemies of either colossal size, raptor-like speed, or a combination of both.
By now, the game has introduced me to its unique control scheme of R1/L1 for camera panning and R2 for targeting enemies. Even though Mario 64’s C-button camera controls are etched in my brain, it doesn’t take me long to adapt, and I’m swept into the flow of what will be the first among many time-sucking maze-runs, a.k.a. dungeon crawls.
A world covered by endless water…
Exiting the crypt triggers another cutscene, which can be engaging or frustrating depending on the game or the player. In the case of Legends, from my perspective on the bedroom floor, my trusty bag of potato chips at my hip, I’m all in—give me the cutscenes. Give me all the cutscenes.
We have a hero, danger, and a world for them to clash at varied and unexpected turns. I’m ready for this story to unfold.
I wipe off potato chip grease on my shorts. Now, back to the game.
A classic escape
Atop the tower’s landing platform, Mega Man finds himself trapped on the precipice, looking out over an endless ocean and sky just as the Reaverbot reappears behind, looming with impending and inescapable malice.
In what might be another pop culture nod, this time to Back to the Future II, Mega Man hops off the ledge, leaving us to wonder about his fate.
We soon learn as we see his red and yellow skyship, the Flutter, ascends into view, bearing our hero safely away from the ancient tower and the watchful Reaverbot, powerless to pursue.
Meanwhile, I’m spellbound.
This isn’t just a nod to the adventure genre. In all its purist, classical, romantic glory, it is the adventure genre.
It’s a shape-shifting Van Gogh squeezing itself into 480×640 pixels on my twenty-two-inch CRT.
I have no idea what lies ahead for our hero. But in one of my mind’s subterranean vaults, I know I’ve found that game, that story, that one-of-a-kind experience to shape my creative vision for the rest of my life.
I’ve found a refractor, and I’ve awakened a sleeper.
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 3
The Legend Ascends: The World Above
Intro complete, Mega Man and friends learn that the Flutter’s engine is burnt out on facilitating narrow escapes.
Mega Man’s closest friend and adopted sister, Roll, executes an emergency crash-landing on Kattelox Island, which I will discover is haunted by a legendary, recurring disaster of genocidal proportions—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
(Fun fact: her name is Roll because Mega Man’s original name in Japan is “Rock Man,” i.e., Rock and Roll.)
Upon landing, the immediate objective is to find a populated city or town to secure parts and a new refractor for the Flutter’s engine room (the one we just unearthed needs to be bigger, it seems). But there’s no need to venture far, as the island police arrive with sirens on full blast.
After a few sequences of dialog and some mundane early-game exploration, Mega Man gets an ID card to enter the city, which soon enlists him to protect the island’s commercial districts from a band of aerial pirates, also newly arrived.
Funny how that works. It’s almost as if the game wants you to get into fights to keep its non-stop action promise. Very well, Capcom.
The Bonne Family – Pirates from the sky
Lured by the knowledge that Kattelox may be the location of a fabled treasure known as “the Motherlode” (I concede the game creators could have come up with any number of better names), the pirates demand access to the sealed-off ancient ruins beneath the island.
But, for fear of the disaster legend, the mayor of Kattelox refuses their demands, forcing the pirates to take a more violent approach to achieve their goal.
Thus the game calls upon Mega Man to begin the Hero’s Journey and introduces the central, driving conflict for the world above.
As to whether Mega Man is the reluctant hero, having fate thrust upon him, or the ambitious protector, ready to act in the service of others at a moment’s notice, depends on how much time you spend wandering the shopping arcade before initiating the mission.
The way I’m playing it, it’s probably the latter.
Pacing – High notes and dynamics
The game’s varied pirate encounters add the right amount of flavor and pacing to a world that might have been unbalanced without them, offering action-packed gameplay sequences that serve as dynamic shifts from the longer, meandering periods of underground exploration.
Ever true to the adventure genre, the game gives players a mid-game boss battle at sea, complete with missiles and torpedoes, later followed by an aerial sortie while atop the Flutter’s deck, with bombastic cannons lighting up the afternoon sky above Kattelox.
(This skyship battle will become my favorite moment in the game, influencing my future creative pursuits in ways I would never have expected).
Even better is that each of these pirate missions results in live media coverage by KTOX TV. Unlike the quiet, unsung isolation of Link’s triumph in Ocarina of Time, the people of Kattelox must either celebrate or outright blaspheme my repeated acts of heroism, thanks to KTOX TV News.
As an eleven-year-old Tony Stark wanna-be in the making, I wouldn’t have it any other way. “I am [Mega] Man.”
A Quick Interlude About Seeking Fame
At the time of this experience, I have not yet played Ocarina of Time, and I won't play it until I'm thirteen. It makes sense for an eleven-year-old to want to be seen and recognized, even if Mega Man doesn't seem to care either way. (Hell, now that we live in the age of influencers and the war for undivided attention, I should amend my statement: it makes sense for a thirty-one-year-old to need to be seen). Only when I look back through the lens of truth, i.e., Ocarina (undoubtedly the better game with a superior story), will I catch a glimpse of the futility of desiring fame—or, worse still, getting it. The heroes of the real world, like Tolkien's Dúnedain Rangers of the North, walk unseen along the fringes, keeping the shadows at bay while the rest of us sleep, eat, drink, and complain. Or, in the case of Link in Ocarina, they occasionally must turn back time and, in so doing, erase their heroism. The biblical notion that the just shall live by faith and be rewarded according to their deeds may be true. To Mega Man's credit, he dedicates his focus to executing the mission. That people see him doing it seems to carry little to no weight. If anything, it's a peripheral agitation at best. Perhaps there's something to be said about that. Maybe I'm saying it now.
Now, back to Mega Man Legends and the Pirates.
Where were we? Oh yes, the pirates. They are hardly cookie-cutter baddies, to the game’s credit, even if they are a bit childish.
As the story unfolds, we get subtle hints that the Bonne Family (Teisel, Tron, and Bon) are orphans (albeit wealthy enough to have an entire fleet of destructive robots at their disposal). These hints recall a scene from the game’s intro, where we also learn that Roll is on a quest to find her missing parents, and so the story draws us in a little further with a unifying, subtextual thread.
“In a world covered by endless water,” families are separated, scattered across both charted and uncharted isles that rest atop mysterious, ancient ruins of non-human civilizations from long ago. And the bravest of them, the ones who keep the economic engines running for the rest of the world, are the diggers.
On the other hand, pirates don’t care about the wayfaring diggers or the islands they visit for trade. The Bonne Family is no exception; they’re in it for themselves (and, something tells me, for the portrait of Mom and Dad hanging in the lounge aboard their giant, weaponized sky yacht).
I drive home the point again: the Bonnes are in this for themselves.
The Conflicted Antagonist: Tron Bonne
Add to this the layered though trite complication of Tron—a young brunette who appears to be Mega Man’s age and maybe his type, too—who develops a love-at-first-sight connection with the blue boy.
Torn by her loyalty to her family’s quest (which demands that she kill Mega Man the first chance she gets) and her newfound crush, she remains an agonized and conflicted antagonist throughout the game.
I’m not sure if her agony is intended to be funny, but it makes me laugh anyway. My first encounter with something like unrequited love is still far off. Before it comes—and it will come—one can only hope I’ll have learned to laugh at yours truly.
But I’m getting years ahead of myself and eons ahead of the game.
A bonified digger’s license
Upon defending Midtown and Uptown from the pirate onslaught early-game, the mayor grants Mega Man the thing the pirates were trying to take by force—a digger’s license, which will be my key to the ancient ruins and the secrets (and enemies) within.
(Okay, technically, the pirates are after the key to the Main Gate of an ancient ruin, not a digger’s license. But getting the license is Mega Man’s first step toward obtaining the key, so…)
It seems the mayor isn’t so worried about Mega Man waking the legendary disaster. Funny, as that’s exactly what he does in the game’s climax, after using his highly-coveted digger’s license to crawl every dungeon beneath the mysterious but otherwise tranquil island.
But again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us now descend into the ruins, where KTOX TV cannot follow.
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 4
The Legend Descends: The World Below
No longer am I watching a story unfold. I am a participant, a protagonist with wants and ambitions. Whatever I may look like, in my mind, I am Mega Man. His friends are my friends, his enemies equally my own.
Whenever I have a question, I visit Data, my robot monkey, who hints that he knows everything about me, including my amnesia-ridden past.
But like a wizened sage, he withholds, insisting that I discover who I really am by undertaking the quest and, though he won’t say it outright, suffering the non-negotiable ordeal. And that ordeal must begin with finding three ancient keys to a locked door far underground.
Very well. Into the ruins we go.
I’ll admit I do not remember much detail regarding the game’s various treasure hunts. Mostly, I remember feelings and sensations tinted by a thin veil of dread.
Even now, I recall the stifling closeness of every shadow, matched only by the elation of discovering a treasure chest. These chests might contain a much-needed buster part (a component for upgrading weaponry), a piece of armor, or a truckload of cash, a.k.a, “Zenny.” A few of them are traps that try to kill me, but that’s par for the course.
Seeking the three keys
Like ordinary treasures, the three keys are hidden in underground vaults. However, I remember these vaults are unique from the standard dungeons in that they rest, undisturbed until my intrusion, under an open, starry heaven.
How such a thing is possible remains unclear. Perhaps the closer I get to the game’s final act, the more paradoxes abound.
Per usual, these heavenly vaults are also teeming with powerful Reaverbots that I must destroy before entering the treasure rooms containing each key.
Jet Skates to the rescue
By now, I’ve also upgraded my suit to utilize a pair of jet-powered skates, which allow me to zoom from point A to point B, unencumbered by heavy armor. If anything, the skates make dungeon crawls more endurable, though it is impossible to attack with them engaged. But given how overpowered that would make me, I see it as a fair trade-off.
I love these shoes. What else can I say? Anyone who has played either Legends game knows that the jet skates are non-negotiable upgrades. You find them, Roll crafts them, and then you spend the rest of the game racing past cars in midtown while they trudge along at five miles per day. Okay, maybe not the rest of the game, but you get the idea.
I pause the game to retrieve a handful of potato chips.
A Quick Interlude About Speed
Twenty-one years later, I will crash at twenty-five miles per hour on a OneWheel Electric Skateboard (seven miles per hour faster than recommended spec), breaking my right collarbone and requiring surgical robot parts to mend it. To some extent, this will happen because of how easy Mega Man made it look racing around those underground, starlit dungeons on his one-of-a-kind jet skates. Inception is a real thing, whatever anyone might say. And yes, I am aware that any man over thirty who isn't named Tony Hawk has no business being on a skateboard. When Mega Man descends, he kicks butt. When I descend, I go on a blind date with reality and beef it up. This must be the ordeal Data hinted at: the realization that I am not Mega Man and never will be. Thanks for the heads up, Data, you worthless dancing monkey. I could've gained the same wisdom by spraining a wrist. I ought to have remembered my lore: Mega Man is "a genetically and cybernetically altered robot" designed to kill other giant robots. Meanwhile, I am a flawed, breakable human, and the dreaded question of whether I am designed for anything looms larger and casts a broadening shadow the older I get, as it should.
Again, back to Mega Man Legends and the Starry Underworld.
Once more, I wipe off the chip grease on my shorts, unpause the game, and go back to being eleven years old. After locating the three keys, I look up at the starry heavens and feel myself on the edge of remembering… What? I cannot hold onto the feeling of being torn between two worlds, whatever it might mean.
I return to the surface and call Roll to pick me up in the Support Car. The time has nearly come for me to pass the ancient gate.
But first, a spontaneous trip to Uptown to patronize the arts.
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 5
Mega Man’s Bane: Judgment on the Carbons
Taking a much-needed hiatus from the labyrinth, I visit the museum in Uptown.
And I ought to, seeing as how I paid somewhere between thirty and fifty-thousand “Zenny” for its reconstruction after the pirate disaster. Or maybe it was City Hall that I paid for?
Museum, City Hall, one thing is clear: I’ve spent a fortune to rejuvenate this cursed island. For some reason, the city cannot reconstruct its damaged buildings unless Mega Man donates large sums from his treasure hunts. Go figure.
Visiting a museum in a video game is like visiting one in real life—you spend most of your time exhibit-hopping to see as much as possible so that you’re incapable of giving any piece of art or history the contemplation it deserves.
But this time is different.
“I feel what’s to happen… all happened before.”
There, among the quietude of undisturbed relics, I happen upon a painting, and its impact is so pressed and immediate I must let the controller rest and allow Mega Man to idle amid the cadence of relaxing elevator music.
I stare at the screen, awestruck, impressed by ideas that, though I recognize them, I’ve only ever perceived as dancing shapes across a misty lake—until now. When something takes you out of a story like this, it’s usually a sign of poor craftsmanship. But as I said, this is different.
Although I may one day look back on it as a bit cliché, the image I behold forms my first encounter with the idea—sometimes buried expertly at a story’s heart or so “on the nose” it makes you sneeze—that everything that ever was, is, or will be is pre-ordained.
Whether one believes such an idea is unobservant, wishful thinking, or the essential truth of our reality, it remains one of the few transcendent ideas our species has been unable to escape. Every myth holds a prophecy.
A Vision from the past
The relic in question is a painting of a warrior in blue armor wielding a drawn bow against a Sphynx-like giant with purple hair, its colossal hands reaching out to steal, kill, and destroy. Above the warrior’s gleaming helm, fire rains down—there is no escape.
Little do I know about the art of foreshadowing in story-telling. But I know I’ve never experienced anything like this level of depth in a game. And I am unsure what to make of it.
That is until I enter the final dungeon and stand before the three sealed doors, each requiring the named keys:
- The Watcher
- The Sleeper
- The Dreamer
A Quick Interlude About the Three Keys
Contemplating these three keys and their ordering, it dawns on me that these may be three lesser-recognized stages of grief. I say "lesser-recognized" because while the wider publicized stages (such as denial and acceptance) tend to be the most overt to our experience, these three stages may lie beneath the surface of our conscious experience. We face tragedy, and so we dedicate our lives to watchfulness. But we soon grow tired. We sleep. At last, we dream of a purer, untarnished time before the devasting demise of our hopes. We watch, sleep, and at last, we dream.
Now, back to Mega Man Legends and the Final Encounter.
Entering this empty chamber, I approach an upright sarcophagus at the farthest wall. I know something isn’t right, that whatever is within this ancient crypt should remain undisturbed.
A seal breaks and the encasement opens with blasts of pressurized air. Within and presumably still asleep is the Sphynx from the painting. He is an android like me, only taller, seemingly wiser, with long, purple hair.
In shock, I ask, “It’s a man? A person?”
I’ll soon learn the truth. This entity, though humanoid, is far from human.
Calm, collected, and diabolical
Opening his eyes, the awakened stranger smiles. He introduces himself as Mega Man Juno, then reveals my designation: Mega Man Trigger.
Recognizing that I have suffered amnesia, he explains his purpose—to initiate a protocol called “Eden,” which will summon a legion of robots (ten thousand, to be exact) sequestered in a space station, to descend on Kattelox and purge the island of all “carbon units,” thereby restoring a warped caricature of paradise.
In other words, Juno’s purpose (as Watcher, Sleeper, and Dreamer) is to summon his heavenly hosts and kill everyone on the island. And I’ve woken him up early.
The moral of this encounter? Beware of cutting yourself off from the real world and all its suffering, only to sink deeper into an imaginary world of idle dreams. It might just turn you into a soulless psychopath. And if you ever meet anyone like this, try to let them sleep (until you clear some distance).
Otherwise, things could escalate just as they are about to now.
For the love of humanity…
A fresh-off-the-assembly-line Mega Man Trigger would have taken no issue with this protocol. But the dual-citizen Mega Man, who has learned through arduous trial and painful error to hybridize the robotic world of his origins with the world of human relationships (and all its unpredictable dips and lurches), cannot abide it.
One may freely wipe and defragment an artificial system. But to attempt the same with human lives reaches the pinnacle of evil ambition.
As I do not attempt to hide my disapproval, Juno feels he has no choice but to imprison me until he can return to wipe my memory and, you know, set me straight.
Entrapped by a field of electromagnetic energy (because why not?), I watch as Juno, brandishing his signature condescending smile, exits the chamber. Powerless to pursue, I rage against my bonds.
Meanwhile, Juno heads for the control room, where he will initiate Eden.
Conflicted antagonists to the rescue…
Unbeknownst to me, Teisel and Tron have followed me underground. No doubt their original plan was to let me find the Motherlode and then kill me or seal me up forever while they escaped with the goods.
But Juno’s supervillain monologue has affected in them a momentary change of heart.
Sometimes, Redemption is kicking a pole
Tron kicks the machine holding me in stasis (apparently, kicking is sufficient to dismantle ancient security systems), and the electromagnetic field dissipates.
Praise on high! I’m free to blow sh*t up once more.
It says something about the story and its depth of characters: even the vindictive, self-centered pirates, when they overhear Juno’s plan, relinquish their vendetta to aid me—their former enemy—in my final test. Juno’s matter-of-fact genocidal directive doesn’t sit well, even with them.
As far as I can tell, there must be something about being part of the collective human race that’s difficult to shrug off, even for the self-seeking.
After setting me free, Teisel tells me to hurry up and stop the soon-to-be mass murderer, and Tron tells me that she won’t forgive me if I die in the attempt.
And so, thanks to their penitent solidarity, I must become the hero in the painting. I know it now, as do my friends and former enemies. Not far down the last shadowed corridor, the inescapable fire awaits.
Mega Man Legends – Chapter 6
The Intercessor Motif
Now, this is where I stop referring to Mega Man in the first person. It was fun for a while, but I’m not eleven anymore, and the wisdom we gain in living this life, as far as it will take us, is to recognize and accept our limitations.
In the game’s final confrontation, Mega Man battles Juno to the death, hoping he will halt the Eden protocol by defeating Juno in his physical form.
After a harrowing boss fight, Mega Man defeats Juno. (At least he does when I have the controls; I can’t speak for other players).
And yet, in a dark twist of fate, Mega Man is too late to cancel the protocol. As cylindrical space pods (each one stamped with a solitary, red Egyptian eye) descend on Kattelox, Mega Man wrestles with what to do. Everyone he cares about is counting on him to succeed. If he fails, they all die.
We would call this a “high-stakes” climax in typical story-telling parlance.
Mega allies to the rescue
Enter Data, the dancing monkey. Pulling from his memory reserves, Data issues a series of verbal commands to the underground mainframe, hijacking Juno’s control over the system and giving it to Trigger. When Data instructs the computer to indefinitely postpone Eden, the cylindrical space-pods retreat back to the heavens.
Meanwhile, the good people of Kattelox throw parties in the streets.
(Because Data waits for Mega Man to defeat Juno before stepping in to solve the insurmountable problem, I have decided this is not Deus Ex Machina. Prove me wrong.)
At this juncture, Mega Man asks Data, “Do you know who I am?”
(Well, Mega Man, it would seem you have the authority to control and override ancient protocols of devasting power if you only knew what to say. So, there’s that.)
But to this, Data keeps dancing and tells Mega Man, for some unknown reason, that he cannot reveal that secret knowledge… yet.
And perhaps these details should be withheld for the present, leaving our imaginations to fill in the gaps with the transcendent hero myth of which we’re all at some level conscious—whether we know anything about Joseph Campbell and his outlandish ideas about a Hero with a Thousand Faces.
A familiar Story
To some extent, Mega Man Legends is an amalgamation of borrowed themes, which I will not realize until my college English major experiences decades hence. At present, the game is a kind of children’s illustrated and abridged version of a story I’m too young and naïve to digest were it to manifest its purest form.
Now, I’ll take it upon myself to answer Mega Man’s question since Data refuses:
“Mega Man, you are yet another incarnation of the interceding hero archetype dating back at least to the four canonical Gospels. Perhaps the archetype goes back even further than the New Testament—beyond my present expertise. Either way, congratulations and well done.”
But unlike Christ, Mega Man exhibits a more contemporary, perhaps Western literary trait: he has no idea who he is or why he’s here.
In other words, he’s still just a boy. Maybe that’s the better answer to his question. And perhaps it’s the better answer to yours and mine, too.
Conclusion: Mega Man’s Legend
We’ve made it to the end, and I’m still unsure what this post is and why I feel compelled to write it. But I’m glad it’s out of the way, and perhaps you are, too.
Mega Man Legends opened my mind to a wider landscape of creative possibilities. By the time I was seventeen, I had written my first novel. Granted, I was no teenage prodigy, and the novel could’ve been better, but I also know I never would’ve written it had I never played Legends.
And that means something to me whenever I happen to think about it.
Like Legends, my teenage novel was a sweeping ode to the adventure genre—a genre that now seems eclipsed by swaths of grittier material. Don’t get me wrong; I like gritty stories. But sometimes, I want to see a pirate ship and a sword fight.
Sometimes, I want a fable, a tall tale, a legend.
In the eye of the beholder
Still, I cannot help but see myself in Mega Man, even though I’ll never be like him. More so, I cannot help but see myself in the painting within a painting—as though my story is playing out toward an ultimate crossroads, a Rubicon, a dreaded and fateful confrontation without guarantees of success, reward, or of learning, at last, who I am and why I’m here.
Or it’s just a video game, and I need to stop interpreting my life through the lens of hero myths and other peoples’ fringe, pop-culture intellectual properties.
Now, what did I do with that bag of potato chips?
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