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Xenogears 19: Everybody

This is so goodIf you were enjoying that faux-gospel take on Xenogears, sorry to break kayfabe, but that’s over now. We’re going to take an article to look at Xenogears in a more objective manner: did anything in Xenogears matter?

This Xenogears Let’s Play was recorded predominantly from January to May of 2021. Due to significant executive dysfunctions, it was not posted on this site/”written about” until the fall/winter of 2022 (with a bit bleeding into 2023, as you can see). By complete coincidence, this period also wound up being when I played through Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and revisited my own Xenosaga Let’s Play for general Let’s Play inspiration. So, in a short period of a few months, I crammed a lot of Xeno-nonsense into my noggin.

And you know what I realized? It’s all the same!

Yes, that is a terribly reductive way to look at a few decades’ worth of incredibly distinctive videogame stories… but still! Every single Xeno title dips into the well of well-worn tropes and some not-at-all-disguised references to gnostic beliefs (and you may think outright naming your “monsters” [heavy emphasis on quotes there] “the gnosis” would be the pinnacle, but you’d be wrong!). This creates the unfortunate situation where heroes like Fei, Shulk, Rex, and Noah are all technically distinctive characters with their own motivations, beliefs, and hairstyles… but they’re all the same guy. They’re all going to slay a god because they love an important woman in their lives, and they all discover a heavy predestination/reincarnation history that seems to indicate they maybe never had a choice in the first place. And while Shion of Xenosaga is the odd woman out here, she still winds up being the reincarnated religious figure that loves another reincarnated religious figure that then work together to punch (a) god in the kisser. And, hey, at least there was a little sexual variance there! The Xenoblade Chronicles series has been so militantly heterosexual, Square Enix had to produce Final Fantasy 14 to balance out the universe.

But even though Fei and Elly may as well be Noah and Mio, they do have distinct supporting players. Or, put another way, Bart may be the Proto-Zeke, but it is hard to say if Billy’s whole deal is ever truly seen again within the franchise(s). And, with that in mind (and the admission that Xenogears: Disc 2 was the Fei an’ Elly Show [with special guest that other guy with the hair]), let’s see how the finale of Xenogears worked out for everybody else that grabbed an Omnigear.

Bartholomew Fatima

SUPER REDWho was he? Fei and Elly are the undisputed stars of Xenogears, but Bart is our #3 protagonist. He even appeared in the demo (see, we can tie this article to the actual stream)! He is brash, headstrong, and generally myopic. And he’s got whips! That probably says something…

What did he do? Turns out the pirate king was an actual prince, and he fought to reclaim his country throughout Xenogears. When he finally regained the throne, he called for a democratic nation… but then immediately got voted back in as ruler. Baby steps, Bart.

But did it matter? Nope! Bart’s entire nation and most of its subjects are super duper dead or zombified about 60% of the way through Xenogears. Bart is certainly welcome to become a leader of the last remnants of humanity, but that whole “world wide war” thing that kicks off the plot is a nonfactor at this point.

Was Bart ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Like Fei & Elly, it is easy to identify Bart as another recurring archetype. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s errant Prince Zeke is the obvious (and already mentioned) descendant here, but we also have Junior almost immediately in Xenosaga. The concept of “immature royalty that wants to be seen as a hero” is pervasive, and it doesn’t matter if that “royalty” is a literal prince or a CEO: it’s all about learning to be a better man. You know, because this archetype is universally male…

Billy Lee Black

I can't get enough of thisWho was he? A dedicated man of the cloth who not only eliminated zombies creeping around the continent, but also managed a delightful little orphanage. Billy had a rough time with his immediate family, but he was such a pious man that he was likely to be the next Holy Father… should such a position exist for someone with marksman proficiencies.

What did he do? The good news is that Billy reconciled with his father, and it looks like his little sister is going to be in a better mental place as a result. The bad news is that Billy discovered his entire religion was a lie, and he may have been killing innocent people for the Red Skull.

But did it matter? One could argue that Billy is in the best place to be important in the Post-Gear world of the finale of Xenogears. He is still good and saintly as of the finale, and he is 100% aware of the “true” history of his world and its religion (what with the fact that he was present for and actively shot and murdered god. Twice). Also, as near as anyone can tell, his entire family survived, so their reunion does actually mean something. So, basically, if Elly wanted to retire as Holy Mother after having a rough couple of weeks, Billy is right there and ready to lead Neo Ethos.

Was Billy ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Either every single time or not at all. Billy is unique as an acknowledged man of the cloth who has some family issues that pair nicely with a loss of faith… Or I just described damn near every character in the Xeno franchise that ever had a modicum of faith. Organized religion always turns out to be evil! Every time! And whether this is revisited with the bad guys (Xenosaga’s Margulis) or the good guys (practically the entire cast of Xenoblade Chronicles 3), Billy’s general beats as a person are revisited often in the god-killing franchise. He may have had the most unique gun-fu, though…

Chu-Chu

This is so goodWho was she? Once mistaken for a stuffed animal, Chu-Chu is a bounding ball of pink fluff that earnestly believes she is helping. She can heal Gears, at least, so she certainly has her uses.

What did she do? She mostly tagged along with Margie, but she had her moment to shine when all the Gears were disabled, and she was able to grow to gargantuan size and defend a city of her fellow chu-chupolin. Unfortunately, that was about it for her moment, and she didn’t even get the catharsis of delivering the final blow to that man-monster. But at least she eventually got crucified!

But did it matter? Nothing about Chu-Chu mattered. She may be in a position to lead her remaining chupanions into the new age, but the majority of them may have taken a dirt nap right around the time that Shevat hit the ground. She at least survives all that wizbiz.

Was Chu-Chu ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Infinitely. Chu-Chu is the proto-Nopon, and some of her more idiosyncratic behaviors are echoed in her descendants. Remember how XB2’s Tora was a brilliant scientist but horny all the dang time? Well, please recall that Chu-Chu was introduced with a bizarre crush on Fei, and advocated for him to go get his mack on when Elly was upset (which aggravated BEAT to no end). Every annoying creature with a squeaky voice in this franchise had its origin here.

Maria Balthasar

That has to hurtWho was she? The granddaughter of one of the great sages, Maria narrowly escaped Solaris and became Shevat’s number one defender with her distinctive Gear, Seibzehn. She fought the party initially, but joined the common cause when she was promised an opportunity to become the wings of death. She… may have issues.

What did she do? But she is allowed to have issues, because she was forced into an epic battle where her choices were let her friends and makeshift family die, or kill her father. She ultimately chose fratricide, and… that was that. Aside from her Solaris breaking and entering, Maria is all but ignored for the remainder of Xenogears.

But did it matter? She was the greatest defender of Shevat… before Shevat mostly became a crater. And she really loved her giant robot… before all robots on the planet lost the ability to function. With her father/grandfather’s research, if there is anyone on this dirtball that could get a Gear going again, it’s Maria… but in the meanwhile, she has zero accomplishments or hopes for the future.

Was Maria ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Aside from the time that she pretty much outright transported herself into Xenosaga? Maria is a “girl and her horse” archetype with a dash of daddy issues, so she may or may not also be every Xeno character ever. You want to hear some hard truths? It is a short trip from Maria and Seibzehn to Shion and KOS-MOS, and “Mai Magus” appearing in Episode 3 there may be an acknowledgment that Shion is more of a repeat character than anyone wants to admit. MOMO is Maria with all the parental trauma and responsibilities, but none of the rage. And then we move forward to Melia…

Emeralda Kasim

That cannot feel goodWho was she? The daughter of Fei and Elly from another age, Emeralda is a nanotech colony that has taken the form of a green-haired girl. Her potential as a lifeform is unlimited, and she can turn into an angel or a buzzsaw. There are probably appropriate uses for both forms.

What did she do? At her introduction, she was little more than a macguffin to be pursued by both teams. Once Solaris/Krelian learned all they needed about her biology/technology, she was released to the good guys on a probatory basis. Shortly before the finale, she was allowed to explore the ruins of her old city, and she spontaneously matured into a teenager to better rescue the woman that was mostly her mom.

But did it matter? Emeralda’s tech was integral in the “evolution”/destruction of the human race, so she gets bonus points for inadvertently aiding the apocalypse. Beyond that, she did wind up being on the rescue team for Elly, so she did set a goal and accomplish it without any pyrrhic modifiers. And, assuming there is anyone left that knows what they are doing, Emmy’s nanotech might be the key to reviving this dead ass planet. Gray goo for a better you!

Was Emeralda ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? The precocious child that is a living weapon seems to be a common Xeno theme (say hi again, MOMO), but once you get into “nanotech” and “artificial lifeform that learns how to be human”, you could be describing some of the most important characters across the franchise. Ignoring your usual compliment of KOS-MOS or the entire concept of the Blades of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, let us simply focus on Pyra and Mythra. What was their final form’s hair color?

Ricardo Banderas

Get 'em!Who was he? He… um… oh… This is embarrassing. Was he the weasel guy?

What did he do? Oh yeah! He was the wrestler dude that helped you fight your way out of prison. And he had a whole arc there about being abandoned by his prestigious father, and fighting his way up through the slums, and learning to trust his new/true friends, and… Then he didn’t really do much. Granted, Billy was in much the same situation (have one dedicated arc, never be relevant again), but at least that guy’s whole family stuck around for support. By the time Hammer is betraying everybody, “the champ” is barely even mentioned.

But did it matter? No. Very firm no here. Rico turned to the light to save a town that eventually got obliterated anyway. Hammer exploded. Fei probably could have escaped prison on his own entirely thanks to the help of Citan. And it’s not like Rico’s brilliant mind was ever utilized across the breadth of this team’s journey. If there is some kind of line of succession over in Kislev, Rico might be in line to be the emperor of exactly one (1) battle arena.

Was Rico ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? It is hard to say if any particular character is a reference to Rico in later games, as there really isn’t much to Rico to emulate. We’ve certainly seen the “strong guy” archetype more than a few times, and we had “king of the prison, let’s all escape” appear again as recently as Xenoblade Chronicles 3 with Ghondor. Hell, Ghondor even gets her own “Hammer”, too, so maybe she is a little Rico.

Citan Uzuki

TEA TIME!Who was he? The only member of the party that doesn’t have daddy issues because he is a daddy, Citan seemed to exist as the wise mentor figure for the party (and particularly Fei). He knows every “old man” on the entire planet, is directly responsible for more than a few Gears running around, and has a wife and daughter to come home to (assuming Fei didn’t obliterate his home in the opening act). He also has a rad sword and an even more rad helicopter robot.

What did he do? What didn’t he do? Hyuga Ricdeau was born a slave in Solaris, was blamed for a local plague (accused, never convicted), worked his way up to the elite Elements squad, became a direct subordinate of Solaris’s Emperor Cain, met his wife attempting to sabotage a rival country, got a new(ish) job spying on Fei, kept Fei out of trouble for a solid couple of years/adventures, helps his friends infiltrate his former (current?) home, facilitates some cannibalism, plays psychologist for 66% of Fei’s personalities, performs minor surgery on the entire party, and… Well, he didn’t do much in Disc 2. But he was the only member of the party that wasn’t an immortal reincarnation that narrated things, so that counts for something.

But did it matter? Or maybe it didn’t count for anything. Despite being integral to Fei’s awakening as the XenoChrist, Citan doesn’t get much in the way of development in his own story. Or, put another way, everything interesting happened in Citan’s life before the game started, and now he is just coasting on mentorship clout. It is telling that one of the greatest debates in the Xenogears fandom at release was whether or not Citan’s wife was even alive anymore, and that somehow did not impact the plot/character one iota.

Was Citan ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Aside from the obvious answer of Jin Uzuki (and, arguably, Shion, too), Citan’s position as adult aid for the party has been revisited a number of times, just most recently without the character being a permanent member of the party. And that’s fine! That’s a very well-worn archetype, and whether we are referencing Obi Wan or Dunban, there is always room for the smart old (29-year-old) man in a videogame. And if you want someone of the opposite sex, Special Inquisitor Mòrag Ladair of XB2 sure does feel like the chaperone for the kids of that party.

Vanderkaum

Get in the vanWho was he? He was a military commander at the Aveh-Kislev border. He had a purple cross tattooed onto his face, and loved giant cannons.

What did he do? Vanderkaum was replaced by Ramsus as the Aveh commander, but he still fought Fei and friends when Bart attempted to liberate his home country. After losing his beloved cannons, he pilots a gear, loses, and is then granted -the power- by Grahf. Powered Vanderkaum kills a bunch of people, which pisses off Fei, so Fei-Id sends Vanderkaum to an early grave.

But did it matter? Vanderkaum was an object lesson in why you do not want to see Fei angry, but he otherwise barely impacted the world at large.

Was Vanderkaum ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Yes. He reappeared in one form or another in every other Xeno-world. If anything, the Xeno franchise is a constant retelling of the story of Fei, Elly, and this bald dork. There has never been a reasonable explanation for this, and I am not thinking about Xeno games any more out of protest.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 18 Part 2

Original Stream Night: May 4, 2021
Night of Xenogears

Random Stream Notes

  • We’re doing the demo! The Square 1998 Collector’s CD Volume 1, a pack-in for Parasite Eve, contains a demo for Xenogears, a game that would be released like a month after PE. So fanboymaster, BEAT, Jeanie, and Kishi are ready for the beginning at the end.
  • Enjoy flashy words! Elaborately Planned World!
  • This was recorded on the same night as the ending of Xenogears, so we are discussing that a little bit during the retread of the intro.
  • Ample Vigour stops by for the start of the playable demo.
  • “Ye shall be as butts.”
  • Look at him goOh, this is where fanboymaster talks about the terrible intro to Final Fantasy Zero for the first time. That will come up again for other games.
  • Let’s discuss the incredible racism of the PSP advertising campaigns as we get to actual gameplay.
  • “I’m not okay with leaving Baby Herman around my wife.”
  • Elly and Bart join the party a tweak early. Oh well, it worked for Chrono Cross’s demo.
  • Ample Vigour asks how long we have been playing Xenogears. The answer is, apparently, from January 5 – May 4. There were a few breaks here and there, though, so this wasn’t… how ever many weeks that would be.
  • Keanu Reeves is allowed to be a middle-aged man.
  • What happened to Citan’s wife, Yui, over the course of Xenogears? Who cares.
  • Kishi once believed that Dan’s face would make sense when they were older. Such a sweet summer child…
  • And the demo officially ends at the destruction of Lahan with a lovely “next time on Xenogears”.
  • After the Xenogears sizzle real, we check the Final Fantasy 8 preview video for the hell of it.
  • Thanks for waching Xenogears! If you need Even Worse Streams continuity, we started the Mega Man Legends trilogy after this. Those segments were posted on the site quite a while back.
  • And we close with Kishi’s appeal to the watcher to play Xenogears divorced from all of our nonsense. I am only moderately offended.

Next time on Xenogears: You dig giant robots? I dig giant robots.

I agree!

FGC #650 Haunting Starring Polterguy

Here comes the ghostIt is amazing how “eat the rich” can feel so right.

Today’s game is the marginally forgotten Sega Genesis title, Haunting Starring Polterguy. This was an Electronic Arts jaunt from 1993, and won a bit of acclaim at its release for being a very different kind of game. At a time when the consoles were dominated by furry platformers with attitude, Haunting Starring Polterguy was a distinctly humorous game with peculiar gameplay. You are a ghost, and it is your job to scare four different people by possessing a variety of objects that have been conveniently preprogrammed for potential scares. HsP definitely contains some annoying, contemporary “action game” conventions (there is a “Hell” level that is all dodging and jumping, and a completely unsuitable final boss), but, by and large, it is a unique experience that is still rare to this very day. We had… What? Geist? And that was mostly about being a first-person shooter in different forms? Haunting Starring Polterguy is one of the only titles to utilize such a universal concept in decades of gaming history despite the fact that playing as a spooky ghost trying to scare hapless humans is instantly recognizable. We have an entire holiday based on it! Two, if you include the works of Dickens!

And you know what else is another universal concept? Eat the rich. (Also a popular topic for Dickens.)

You are not a generic ghost in Haunting Starring Polterguy. You are, of course, the titular Polterguy. And Polterguy was not some born-dead apparition (eat it, Slimer), he was once a normal, living punk teenager who died thanks to a defective skateboard. And, since he blames this most bogus of deaths on the manufacturers of the board, he is going to haunt CEO Vito Sardini and his family until they run screaming from their home. And in much the same way that Polterguy is a very defined character (for a 90’s 16-bit title) the Sardinis are not just generic people in a house waiting for a spook ‘em up. The Sardinis are… Well, let’s look at Flo’s in-game biography…

Not an aunt

And if that was a little too subtle, how about we see what there is to say about her dear daughter…

Could one day be an aunt

The Sardinis are portrayed as three key things: vicious, selfish, and rich. And it is worth examining why those first two traits so quickly intersect with the third.

First of all, Haunting Starring Polterguy is a “children’s game” that does something far more brave than Grand Theft Auto: it involves children. Aside from fairly generic ghouls that seem to represent the basic concept of death, the four Sardinis are the only opponents Polterguy will ever face. And two of those Sardinis are kids! And, considering you are literally scaring them into homelessness, HsP does go out of its way to make prepubescent children creatures worthy of being tossed out on the street for their crimes. Tony and Mimi are presented as horrible little monsters in their own right, and, complete with unusual mentions of their love of various poisons, the basic concept here seems to be that the world would be better off without the Sardini family. Polterguy is a polter-guy while these rapscallions still live! That doesn’t seem right!

The garage is scaryBut why are Sardini children terrible? Well, obviously because they are rich. Papa Vito Sardini is just south of straight up being Mr. Monopoly as the very picture of capitalism with his suit and giant cigar, and Flo Sardini is the housewife that is assumed to be lambasting a cleaning staff just off screen. They are loaded, and their gigantic homes filled with wild excesses are monuments to their fortune. Hell, the warp from level 2 to level 3 is hidden in the “jacuzzi room”! There is no question that the Sardinis have grossly profited off suffering, and Polterguy is a not-living reminder that their money has been earned through causing literal death to others.

And it is amazing that I intrinsically understood this as a child.

I was roughly Tony Sardini’s age when Haunting Starring Polterguy was released. While I know I didn’t pick this one up on release day, I am estimating that my childhood memory of renting this game did occur when it was contemporary. And I will formally note that I do not consider myself to have been a smart child. Or teenager. Or young adult. Or… whatever I am right now. Adult? That doesn’t sound right… Regardless! I was not a gamer that ever picked up on subtext until roughly the release of Final Fantasy 13, so, back in the Final Fantasy 4 days, I was hopelessly drowning in a quagmire of the literal. But, luckily, there is nothing remotely subtle about the Sardinis. They are mean. They are rich. They are the enemy, and, should Polterguy fail in his mission to teach them a lesson, they will inevitably hurt more people. They are the bourgeois, and they must be stopped.

It's so hotAnd I got that. I understood that the rich were the enemy of a young, hip, teenager (who may or may not be alive). I was never cool/coordinated enough to be a skateboard champ, but I wanted to be a radical shredder. These “rich kids”? They were just as selfish and mean as the bullies at my school. And were the real bullies wealthy and privileged? Of course they were! One of my greatest enemies in primary school was the grandson of a superintendent. Kid was untouchable! I would have haunted his house in a second. And even as a dumb ten-year-old, I knew the reason he could get away with damn near anything was that his parents/grandparents were high enough on the food chain that none of my beloved teachers would ever so much as shoot an ornery glance in his direction. He was untouchable! And it was because of unearned wealth and power!

And, end of the day, when this is something that could be understood by a foolish child, it really raises the question of why “being rich” is something that is supposed to be aspirational.

We see it over and over again, right? We are told that “rich guy” is the smartest guy around, he has been so successful in everything, and then he’s put in a position where we can actively see the decisions he is making and the thoughts he is having, and it is clear we’re dealing with a charlatan. But then how was he so successful? Well, it is pretty easy to identify when someone has inherited billions of dollars, and how that could maybe purchase a few accolades and an entire public relations firm. And whether these braindead Scary Dancerbillionaires are aspiring to politics or simply owning a social media company, we do not need a Citizen Kane to be reminded that they are little more than monsters themselves. A wise writer once said of being rich, “In terms of cognitive impairment it’s probably like being kicked in the head by a horse every day”. And this fact is proven to us over and over again, generation through generation! It’s in our literature and parables going back centuries! We know it in our genetic code at this point that the rich would eat us all if given the tiniest opportunity!

So bite back.

Haunt that couch, Polterguy. When the revolution comes, you will be on the right side.

FGC #650 Haunting Starring Polterguy

  • System: Sega Genesis was technically the only place you could find Polterguy. However, there was an Electronic Arts collection released for the PSP. So EA Replay contains the most recent release of Polterguy… and that was 2006. Good luck finding this dead man now!
  • Scary SexyNumber of players: This is very much a single player game, but, inexplicably, there is a two-player mode. It is mostly an alternating adventure (player one haunts, dies, and then it is player two’s turn), but both players go head-to-head to race out of Hell and see who gets the next turn first. It is a shame that the simultaneous bits only occur in the dreary dungeon, as tandem haunting of the house might be fun. You could scare Sardinis into each other!
  • Optimum Run: And speaking of going to Hell: I literally cannot figure out if this game is meant to be… what’s the word that fits here… played without failure? Like… are you supposed to die? Or re-die? What I mean to say is that your health bar drains very quickly, and, considering “death” just means playing a different kind of level, it is difficult to determine whether “dying” is something that is supposed to happen routinely, or if there is some optimum way to scare everyone and always keep your health topped off. It certainly seems like the scares do not drop enough ectoplasm to keep Polterguy healthy, but maybe if you run all over the house and scare everyone in succession…
  • Cheat ‘em Up: Possibly as a concession to the above issue, there are level warps hidden in every stage. There is practically no way you would find these shortcuts on your own (less “run on top of some blocks to find the secret pipes” and more “haunt the garbage can in one specific room and press B C B B”), but they are quick and easy if you want to “continue” to a new stage. Or… just skip 75% of the game. That’s good, too.
  • Favorite Haunt: One of the doorways is enchanted to summon a skeleton cowboy with pistol blazing. Why is this doorway undead Western themed? Who knows!
  • Ride 'em cowboyAn End: The finale reveals that the family dog was some kind of malevolent force all along. Whether this entity is the reason the starring family is also malevolent is never explored, but you do have to fight the dog monster in a boss fight for which this gameplay system is woefully underequipped. But if you win, Polterguy is restored to life! And then he immediately dies again! Because that is funny! I guess!
  • Did you know? One of the most risqué haunts involves possessing a bath towel in the bathroom, and materializing a seemingly naked woman behind the towel. But when she removes the towel, it reveals she is a touch on the skinless side, and someone is going to be more than a little frightened by the Hellraiser lady walking around. Now that is something Nintendon’t do over on the Super Nintendo.
  • Would I play again: Maybe? This one is a fun curiosity, and really does have unique gameplay for the era. That said, Polterguy is not great at haunting my memory, and I am unlikely to pick it back up if it does not ever appear on a compilation again. So…. Fingers crossed for a Sega Genesis Mini III.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Goat Simulator 3! Let’s watch a goat do all sorts of things. I guarantee it will be spicy! Please look forward to it!

That's all, ghouls

FGC #638 Mega Man Legends 2

Mega Man Legends 2 is the final game in the official, started-with-Mega Man 1 timeline. So, with that in mind, let’s look at the complete, fictional history of Mega Man.

And I didn’t even call him a rock once!

FGC #638 Mega Man Legends 2

  • System: Playstation 1 in 2000, Playstation Portable in 2005, PSN/PS3 forever.
  • Number of Players: Mega Man has a great family, but is the only one allowed to fly to the moon.
  • Favorite Sub Weapon: Z-Sabre makes me feel like Zero and a quiz master. Best of both worlds!
  • Had to fit a GIF somewhere in hereLand of the Rising Fun: In the original Japanese version of Mega Man Legends 2, the “Quiz House” is more or less an “English test”, and quizzes the player on kanji (logographic language characters). This was changed over here to general trivia, which only breaks the universe a little bit when carbons of the future are asking questions about Richard Nixon and The Beatles. Though I suppose it only makes marginally more sense that a single language surviving thousands of years and apocalypses…
  • Story Time: Once again, the plot is teased at the start, and then loaded almost entirely into the finale. In this situation (as mentioned on the stream), I have to wonder if the directors had some kind of warning that they might not get another game, and had to spell out the whole secret history of ol’ Volnutt. Or maybe someone just had a cool idea for an origin, and it included a trip to the moon? Whatever!
  • Tron Resurrection: There is much made of the mystery of the keys and this hidden island and the secret of what happened to Roll’s parents. And it is all worthless next to air pirate hijinks. The ending seems to imply that Tron is going to firmly be on the side of the angels starting with the next title, so maybe it isn’t the worst thing that we never saw a Mega Man Legends 3…
  • For the sequel: That said, the lack of a Mega Man Legends 3 is proof we live in a blighted world wherein we are surviving through one long, continuous slap to the face.
  • Watch it, Buddy: Oh yeah. Want to see the stream? Here it is.




    The finale is great for hearing Caliscrub’s game of the year for every year that has ever happened.

  • Look at the chart: While we are talking about Mega Man stuff, I made this a while back in response to a meme, and it hasn’t been posted on the site before…

    This is very straightforward

    Let us all be amused.

  • Goggle Bob Fact: I produced this video across two continents and three countries. I didn’t work on it much while I was on vacation, but I’m going to claim it technically counted.
  • Credit Where Credit is Due: Good/Bad Elf art provided by Gogglebob.com contributor Poochtastic1. Also happy to have her contribute something pretty and/or scary.
  • Did you know? According to the designers and confirmed by leftover code, originally Roll, Tron, Bon Bonne, Glyde, and Gatz were all going to be playable in different parts of Mega Man Legends 2. Apparently this was scrapped due to making it difficult to animate skeletons in a way that wasn’t immediately reminiscent of Mega. But think of it! We could have had a playable Tron Bonne once again!
  • Would I play again: Capcom, please give us a Mega Man Legends collection. I want an excuse to play through this again while people aren’t shouting at me to fight robots better. It would be nice to have the entirety of the Mega Man timeline on my Switch, too…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Castlevania: Curse of Darkness for the Playstation 2! Let us once again slay a Dracula or two! Please look forward to it!

BOOM
Seatbelts are not for MegaMan…

FGC #606 Mega Man Legends

Go, Mega!I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so bad at Mega Man Legends, and I’ve settled on a culprit: it’s-a Mario.

As True Gogglebob.com Believers may already be aware, I recently streamed the entirety of Mega Man Legends as part of our now-been-happening-for-a-year-holy-cow Tuesday night streams. Mega Man Legends was chosen because we had been talking about it randomly across other streams, I was kind of anxious to replay the title, and (the most important factor) I just plain remembered liking the game. And I still like it! I just happened to discover that, apparently, I am no longer any good at Mega Man Legends. I died to that dang bulldozer boss like sixty times! It was nebulously embarrassing!

So, in an effort to make sure that every stream is not a gauntlet of Goggle Bob death, I went back to my original save, and loaded up the “final” save I had on my ancient Playstation 1 Memory Card. I beat the game from that file, and, since Wee Goggle Bob had satisfied the necessary conditions, I was able to play a New Game Plus/Easy Mode that all but guaranteed my success on stream. Nothing can stop MegaMan equipped with the Easy Mode Buster! And how do you earn that ultimate weapon? Well, you beat the game on Hard Mode. And wondering how you unlock Hard Mode? Simply beat the game on Normal Mode! So, to be clear, at some point in my not-too-distant past, I not only completed Mega Man Legends, but beat it twice with escalating exertion. I was once super good at Mega Man Legends! Data, can you tell me what happened!?

I hate this guyI will admit that I did not particularly like Mega Man Legends when it was released. I beat it. I played it a lot. But I did not like the trajectory of Mega Man and his fellow “8-bit mascots”. Castlevania had its 64-bit, 3-D adventure. The Legend of Zelda dropped its top-down perspective for 3-D fluting. 2-D fighting games had to make way for 3-D ballerina fights. Contra was doing… something. And, while we certainly had Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4-6 on the Playstation, Mega Man Legends seemed to imply that 3-D was the next big frontier for our Blue Bomber. Did I identify Mega Man Legends as a good game? Of course! It is a good game! But it represented a trend I did not endorse, so I felt my time was better spent banishing Jet Stringray over in the 2-D Mega Man X universe. In fact, while I played nearly every “3-D reimagining” of a beloved franchise that came down the pike, I want to say there was only one 3-D title that I replayed repeatedly during the N64/Playstation 1 era. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to look at Super Mario 64.

And, fun fact, I have no idea if I even like Super Mario 64.

Here are the objective facts: I have collected all 120 stars in Super Mario 64. I accomplished this feat “back in the day”, and without the assistance of a strategy guide or FAQ. I explored every inch of Princess Peach’s Castle, unearthed every last portal-world (it took me forever to discover that Rainbow Ride even existed), and saw Mario nab any and all “secret stars”. Despite 100% completing the game in 1996 or so (I wonder if I finished it in “just” three months…) Over the years, I have returned to Super Mario 64 again and again, playing through its many ports (Wii! WiiU! Switch for a limited time for some reason!) and incarnations A nice sip(Release the DS version again, you cowards!). Whenever I play the game, I always go for all the stars, because it is a Mario game, and tricking yourself into playing less Mario in pursuit of a “speed run” is folly. There is a whole portrait world over there that you can skip, but don’t you want more game out of your game?

Except… I am not certain I like any of those portrait worlds.

Here, I made this chart of courses in Super Mario 64, and my opinion of them:

Bob-omb Battlefield Fun, but a little too “baby’s first world”
Whomp’s Fortress One “fight the boss” course stretched to six remarkably similar challenges
Jolly Roger Bay Swimming world that is absolutely zero fun. Eat my ass, collecting 100 coins
Cool, Cool Mountain Princess’ Secret Slide is a better version of the one fun part of this course
Big Boo’s Haunt What’s the trick to this stage? Random “invisible” panels? Pass
Hazy Maze Cave Should probably be six separate secret areas, and not one big, boring dungeon
Lethal Lava Land If you are not surfing a shell through lava, you are not having a fun time
Shifting Sand Land Absolutely the worst. Every star is just… ugh
Dire Dire Docks Should have just been one secret star, extremely thin on other “challenges”
Snowman’s Land We reskinned the lava stage. Hope you don’t notice
Wet-Dry World One interesting gimmick on a level no one ever wants to play
Tall, Tall Mountain Pretty fun, assuming you do not have to worry about 100 coins
Tiny-Huge Island You like bottomless pits? Sure you do!
Tick Tock Clock No. Just no.
Rainbow Ride Oh we heard you like losing all your progress to bottomless pits from Tiny-Huge Island. Guess what?

And then the game ends!

WeeeeeAnd before Mario 64 defenders flood my inbox (yes, I still operate under the delusion that I am capable of upsetting the internet at large), I realize I am being hyperbolic. I cannot think of a single SM64 stage that does not include a justifiably redeemable star (well, except Shifting Sand Land. Screw that stage). And, yes, my own Mario enjoyment does seem to lend itself to Super Mario Galaxy-esque experiences where stages are over quickly, and you move rapidly from new setting to new setting. It seems only natural that I would swiftly tire of “now do the same thing again in a slightly different way” gameplay (looking at you, Cool, Cool Mountain). But if I am being honest, there are stars that I fear like nothing else in the Mario pantheon. I would chase a thousand Liquid Marios in Super Mario Sunshine before I ever wanted to collect a hundred coins across Tick Tock Clock again. And I would rather jump rope forever than follow around an eel in Jolly Roger Bay. I understand that it is the nature of the completionist itch that I do not have to do any of these things to fully enjoy Mario 64, but what is even the point in being alive if I play Mario 64 and don’t earn 120 stars!?

But I am alive, and I did earn 120 stars in Super Mario 64. Before I moved on from SM64, my cartridge had four different save files with a total of 480 stars. What was the point of that? Perhaps to showcase that I had done it. Or maybe to remind myself that I played SM64 more than practically any Mario title before or since. I may have hated individual levels, but I explored the living hell out of that castle. I spent hours and days of my life on Super Mario 64 to the point that it is now part of my bones. If I “had to” replay the game right now, gun to my head, you have to find Yoshi or you die, I could do it. I do not think I could do that with Mega Man Legends, and the stream of my failures all but confirms this. Why is that?

Because the Nintendo 64 didn’t have any other games, dammit.

BZZZZZZTI scrimped and saved my allowance to afford a Nintendo 64 at launch. I was the happiest boy in the world, and I was going to be damned if I did not use that system to its utmost… Even if the only other game available was Cruis’n USA. I may not have liked the general format of Mario 64, or even a number of its individual challenges, but I was going to play it as much as possible, dagnabbit. I would rescue the princess over and over again. I would toss Bowser into the sun as many times as it took. I did all of this because there were no other options. And, naturally, I got better at it. Naturally, I interpreted this endless playtime as some kind of affection. Naturally, I played the game when it was rereleased, because didn’t I play that game a lot back in the 90s? Yeah, that sounds right. Let’s try it again. I played and continue to play Super Mario 64 out of a sort of eternal attrition, because, for a time, it was my only videogame. Or, at least, it was the only next gen videogame worth playing.

Super Mario 64 kidnapped my attention, and gave me Stockholm syndrome for life.

WeeeeAnd Mega Man Legends? I am willing to say that is a better game than Mario 64. If it is not better, it definitely offers a different, wholly unique experience that is a parallel, but just as good, game as Mario 64. It is more of a “run and shoot” game than Mario’s punch ‘n hop times. It features a huge, interconnected dungeon world, and encourages finding connections between areas that would be eternally separate in Peach’s Castle. The characters and their attendant voice acting/animated acting are marvelous, and a far cry from Mario’s “let them eat cake” morsels of a plot. Mega Man Legends may not have anything as sublime as recklessly gliding over a bob-omb battlefield, but it does have jet boots to spare. Mega Man Legends is an amazing game, and, playing it in 2021 reminds me that this has always been one of the best Playstation games out there.

But it was just one of an amazing crop of Playstation games that were released in 1997. It was not the only decent N64 game release in 1996. As a result, one game got played over and over for years, and the other was left to rot thanks to the likes of Final Fantasy 7, Symphony of the Night, and maybe even Alundra.

And that’s why Mario is responsible for my lack of Mega Man Legends skills. It is all that pesky plumber’s fault…

FGC #606 Mega Man Legends

  • System: Playstation (1) is host to the original and most beloved release. The Nintendo 64 version came along in friggen’ 2001, and was way too late to make an impact on gorram anything. And it was a compromised port on top of it! The PSP version came out four years later (but exclusively in Japan), and a Playstation 3 port scuttled out a decade after that. This is arguably the saddest release schedule gogglebob.com has ever recognized.
  • Number of players: Would have been cool to see another digger get into the act, but we are sticking to one Mega Man here.
  • What's so funny?Favorite Sub Weapon: It is a shame that the signature “variable weapons system” of Mega Man is relegated to refining treasures here, and not gaining, like, the Bonne Blaster after a boss fight. That said, the tactical laser weapon on my original save file is the bee’s knees… and not something I felt like earning on the stream. I guess I am going to say the drill arm this time, because I very much appreciate drill appendages.
  • Story Time: I very much appreciate how 90% of Mega Man Legends is just “have fun running around a neat island”, and then the last 10% is some hoary old tale of apocalypses, fallen civilizations, and allusions to MegaMan Volnutt being the secret chosen one that will change the world. This is an extremely JRPG-esque twist, and I have to wonder if this kind of plot just automatically bubbles to the surface the minute your otherwise carefree games includes treasure chests. See also Hearts, Kingdom.
  • Come to think of it: Complete with the myriad of sidequests and an ending that pretty closely apes the beats of the original Dragon Quest, was this all an early attempt to make the ultimate Mega Man: The RPG? And, if that is accurate, why did it take two Mega Man Battle Network games to get there? And why did they even bother with Mega Man X: Command Mission? So many unanswered questions.
  • Tron Resurrection: Tron and her family are easily the best part of Mega Man Legends, and it is pretty clear this was noticed practically from the beginning. You see a Servbot before you meet about 90% of the cast! Not even counting the title screen! The biggest loss in not seeing the Mega Man Legends franchise flourish was having to only see Tron in random spin-off titles.
  • Watch it, Buddy: Want to see the previously mentioned stream? Well here you go.





    It gets good around Part 3. … Or I just get good…

  • Did you know: Motion capture was distinctly used to create the iconic cinema scenes of Mega Man Legends. This makes Mega Man Legends one of the first games to use motion capture in a videogame for something other than ruthless decapitations.
  • Would I play again: I will play Super Mario 64 again. I will not play Mega Man Legends again. What?! I would rather play Mega Man 3! That’s how it goes!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Metroid! The first one! With the space lady! Please look forward to it!

Roll your eyes
“Why you gotta make this about Mario, Goggle Bob?”