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  1. Before I begin, I encourage those who don't want to read but are big fans of Mega Man to jump straight to the end. Here I rank Mega Man 10 in several categories relative to the other Mega Man games. Also, this is your chance to disagree with me and send me threatening comments!

    Over the last couple of years I've become pretty crotchety when it comes to video games. Though I used to love games, my passions are changing and I simply don't have much time for it anymore. In fact, my most commonly muttered phrase these days seems to be "I can't believe this piece of crap got good reviews."

    On that note, I couldn't have possibly been more excited for Mega Man 10. I am as big a Mega Man fan as there is in the world, at least when it comes to the classic series. I loved Mega Man 9, and I knew I was going to enjoy 10. Hell, the game came out today and I'm already writing a complete review for it, start to finish. There was no way I wasn't completing this game on the day of release.

    So biased as I am, I've decided to review this game not compared to everything else that's out there right now, but compared to other Mega Man games.

    To those who don't know, Mega Man 10 is designed to look, play, and sound exactly like a game from the 8-bit NES era. In simpler terms it looks like it's about 20 years old.

    With those obvious limitations in mind, I was actually impressed with the graphics. While Mega Man 9, designed in the same style, opted for bland backgrounds often composed of a single color, Mega Man 10 does a good job of giving each area a unique and clever visual flavor. For example, Sheep Man's electrically themed level features backgrounds composed of computer coding, wires, and circuit boards. It's a little abstract of course, but Mega Man levels always are. They rarely resemble realistic locations, but that's part of the charm.

    The music in this game is a little difficult to analyze. Music is so highly subjective that I personally find reviews of it to border on silly, but just for the record, I found this music to be a step up from Mega Man 9. The Mega Man 9 soundtrack was okay, but it was forgettable. There are several songs in Mega Man 10 that I actively like. It isn't on the level of Mega Man 2 or 3, but that would be asking a lot.

    That said, the music, for whatever reason, does not always sound like Mega Man music. Even though it's one of my favorite songs, the Chill Man theme for example sounds like it would fit much more appropriately in a Metroid game. And the Solar Man music might work better for Double Dragon or Final Fight. It's just kind of a weird mix.

    One of the trademark elements of any Mega Man game are the Robot Masters. These are the 8 bosses that you have to fight along the way, and you can choose to go after them in any order. After defeat, each one gives you their signature weapon, and that weapon happens to be the weakness of another robot master. It's kind of like a complex game of rock-paper-scissors. MINOR SPOILER ALERT UNTIL THE NEXT PARAGRAPH: I was interested to discover that the boss order in this game is actually extremely predictable if you just use a little logic. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing though. Part of the fun in Mega Man is replaying levels and learning what works against who. In this game, once I figured out who to fight first, I was able to carve a straight path all the way to the end without a single second guess.

    The Robot Masters in this game are probably on par with those from Mega Man 9 and a clear step up from anything previously unless you go all the way back to 2 or 3. Some may consider Sheep Man to be an exception, but I have to believe that his inclusion was a deliberate nod to some of the subpar Robot Masters of the past. (See Dust Man, Centaur Man, and Spring Man.)

    Though I enjoyed Mega Man 10 immensely, it is clearly inferior to Mega Man 9 in one important way. The weapons. The weapons in Mega Man 10 are pretty bad. Most of them are difficult to wield and of extremely limited use. I probably used the game's obligatory shielding weapon more than any other, but obviously there's nothing new or creative about another shielding weapon. (See Wood Man, Skull Man, Star Man, Plant Man, Junk Man, and Jewel Man.)

    Another thing that people like to talk about when it comes to Mega Man games is the difficulty level. This one is pretty hard, even by Mega Man standards. The Robot Master levels ALL have their painful moments, but for whatever reason the Wily stages are actually much easier than usual. The floating anti-gravity room in Mega Man 9 is probably harder than anything in all of Wily's castle this time around. As is that room with all the forcebeams. And the underwater part with all the death-spikes and precision jumps.

    Anyway... the robot master levels are still quite difficult. It's kind of a strange contrast.

    As a whole, Mega Man 10 is a fun game, but probably not up to the level of Mega Man 9, or the early classics such as 2 and 3. It's highly subjective of course, and I think fans of the series will embrace it, but they can't all be the best.

    BEST OVERALL GAME
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 6
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 5
    Mega Man 8

    BEST MUSIC
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 6
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 5
    Mega Man 8

    BEST WEAPONS
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 8
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 5
    Mega Man 6

    BEST ROBOT MASTERS
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 8
    Mega Man 5
    Mega Man 6

    BEST LEVEL DESIGN
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 6
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 5
    Mega Man 8

    HIGHEST DIFFICULTY
    Mega Man
    Mega Man 2
    Mega Man 10
    Mega Man 9
    Mega Man 7
    Mega Man 4
    Mega Man 3
    Mega Man 6
    Mega Man 8
    Mega Man 5

    If you can't tell, I hate Mega Man 5 and 8...
  2. Greetings friends! I almost never share my work with the public. For whatever reason I like to believe that if I hoard all my stuff and polish it secretly in my own little cave, then one day it will be good enough to market for money.

    I feel compelled however to share this piece with all. It's not so much a short story as it is a puzzle. Because of its nature, I'm not even sure how to market it, and I don't know that I'd have the patience to do so. I hope you enjoy it, and if you would like to comment, the only thing I really NEED to know is if you "get it" or not. Because this is highly experimental, I will not consider myself a failure if you don't "get it." It's all just for fun. Thanks for reading!



    Missing

    “How could it just vanish into thin air?” Isaac sat with his arms hanging limply.

    “I don’t know,” Sarah said. “I don’t think anybody saw it coming.”

    Isaac ran his hand down his scalp. Could his brain work out a solution with just a bit of thought? Or would fog block his mind from this point forward? “I can’t think, Sarah. I’m lost without it. I didn’t know how important it was and I just wish I could bring it back.”

    “Try not to worry,” Sarah said. During horribly dark hours Isaac could still always count on Sarah to stay optimistic. “Nothing so small can stop you and I from staying happy. And that’s all that is important.”

    “I don’t know if I can adjust to it though.”

    “What’s up guys?” Izzy ran up with his backpack dangling off his arm. Isaac shot him a dirty look. As always, Izzy was last to know. Idiot probably could go days without figuring it out.

    “A bit of a shock to find you smiling,” Sarah said. “Nobody in town knows what to do about this situation.”

    “Huh?” Izzy put his backpack down. “What’s wrong? I know St.Louis lost to San Francisco, but that isn’t surprising.”

    “This isn’t about sports you moron,” Isaac said.

    “So what’s it about?”

    “Think hard, Izzy. You got up this morning. You probably had toast and bacon.”

    “That’s right. I also did my school work and study for today’s math quiz.”

    “And during all that did you find a glaring omission? A difficulty in talking and studying?”

    “No,” Izzy said.

    “Go through any books in your backpack. Go through and study all words. That’s a big hint.”

    “What’s missing? Is it that obvious?”

    Isaac stood up. “That’s it. I can’t do this. I can’t go on trying to form words and thoughts this way. My vocabulary just isn’t that big.”

    “Calm down,” Sarah said. “With or without it you can maintain a rich and fulfilling…”

    “A rich and fulfilling what? You can’t finish saying it, can you?”

    “No. I can’t.”

    Sarah was always a strong girl. But at that instant all was lost. No spark. No radiant glow of any kind.

    “This can’t go on,” Isaac said. “I’m willing to risk it all for a possibility at having it back.”

    Sarah didn’t look happy. “I’m with you. What’s your plan?”

    “This guy John from my biology class has a ton of books about occult stuff. Many containing magical incantations. I don’t think too highly of him, but it’s worth a shot.”

    “Alright. Which way is his dorm room?”

    “It’s not too far from my own. Right this way.”

    Isaac took Sarah and Izzy across a road to a small brown building. Loud rock music pouring from John’s room shook his door and walls. Following a quick knock, Isaac put his hand on a custom doorknob John had put in. It was disturbingly phallic and Isaac didn’t want to touch it. “I can’t just stand by waiting. I’m going to go in.”

    John’s dorm was dark and dingy. A potpourri of body odor and rotting trash sat stagnantly all around. Isaac could distinguish John’s bulky body laying on a living room futon.

    “John?”

    John sprung up with a book in his hands. “Who is that?”

    “It’s Isaac from biology class. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I though you might know of a fix for that which is missing.”

    “That which is missing? Sad that you must talk in such a round about way. But I know your sorrow. I’m working on a fix, actually.”

    “Look, I still don’t know what’s going on,” Izzy said. Isaac almost had to hit him.

    “Just shut up Izzy,” Isaac said. “So do you know what to do?”

    “I think so,” John said. “But it is risky. Almost too risky.”

    “That’s okay,” Isaac said. “At this point I’ll try anything.”

    “Oh grand spirits of our sun,” John said. “Grant us our wish and at any cost. With your wisdom and pow… e…

    “wisdom and power…”

    “and power…”

    #

    Sarah opened her eyes and looked around. The spell must have caused her to completely black out. The room was okay and best of all, the spell had worked perfectly. She spotted John as he held the book. But he seemed off for some reason.

    “John, are you okay?”

    “Oh, God. They’re gone. What have we done?”

    Sarah looked to her left where her comrades had stood. Nobody was there. “What happened? Where are they?”

    “Just as we should have suspected. We got back one symbol and lost another.”
  3. I am starting this blog to announce my departure from these writing forums. I feel that over the past month or so my experiences here have been far more negative than positive. Even though I can accept that it is I who is at fault for being affected so strongly by the words and opinions of others (none of which have been directed at me) I still submit that I no longer am enjoying these writing forums or benefitting much from them.

    Still, I do not want to just disappear without acknowledging the individuals who have clearly and selflessly helped me and others improve in writing, sometimes directly but often indirectly as well.

    Agreen
    Cogito
    mammamaia
    Torana
    Lynnandlynn
    Terry
    Etan Isar

    My writing is better today because of things that you wrote that I took to heart. Others have contributed too, but these are the names that stand out in my mind.

    I will be back over the coming days to check messages and phase things out as I feel is appropriate, but I have joined a new writing forum that I am hoping fits my personality better than this one did.
  4. I recently came across a thread at these very forums where several members got into a debate about love. Since most of the soft spots in my body are for football, video games, and bad movies, this didn't interest me at first. However, as the debate became more heated and the validity of romantic love as a genuine form came into question I began to think. I realized that debating the existence and validity of love is about as futile and arbitrary a practice as there is, particularly when one disregards emotions and approaches the subject from a strictly philosophical and/or intellectual point of view.

    The issue as I see it is that "true love" is viewed as selfless and pure in its finest form. If we place love on such a high pedestal, it simply ceases to exist. It was said on the forum by a member who I respect dearly that romantic love is simply a glorified form of lust. Fair enough. Romantic love is fueled by sexual desire and would not exist if the yearning for physical stimulation went away. No matter how much affection a person can have for their lover, romantic love is easy to qualify as selfish because it is dependent on emotional and physical satisfaction more than it is the constant desire to give and to nurture.

    The problem however is that all forms of love can be criticised in exactly the same way, even if the process isn't quite as clear cut. Much as the instinctive desire for sexual contact stimulates romantic relationships, the instinctive desire to reproduce for the continuation of the species stimulates paternal relationships. It's really just another step down the same path. While it's true that I will never know the love that a mother has for her child, the biological need for this form of love is easy to see. Parents need to love their children for the sake of the species. They are driven to give everything they have for their offspring. Whatever amazing spiritual experiences a mother feels for their child can all be related to a biological and thus impersonal need for our species to keep on existing.

    I do not deny that paternal love is a beautiful and wonderous thing, perhaps far more powerful than any other form of love that there is. But when other forms of love are criticized as being less pure and thus less "real," this must be recognized for what it is. An emotional response and a personal opinion. There isn't logic behind it at all.

    The point is that either love exists or it doesn't. Qualifying different types of love as "true" or "pure" is an impossible battle that can only end in inventing new words and reimagining old ones when everything is fine just the way it is. After all, "romantic love" may be related to lust, but the definition of lust leaves out any mention of affection, self-sacrifice, communication, or any of the other beautiful things present in a healthy romantic relationship. It's one small piece to a complex puzzle.

    Despite the fact that I have just broken down and trivialized many treasured aspects of love in a most cynical way, my true feelings have not been reflected here. Maybe that's because true feelings can't be expressed in words.

    Feelings and our own personal experiences are what determine the definition of love. If you believe you are in love, then you are in love. There's no reason to question it.

    Sure, a grander experience may alter your perception of love and change your mind, but that's to be expected.. You will learn, grow, and redefine every emotion and thought that you ever experience. That's all part of being human and the personal discovery of ourselves and our emotions is much more amazing than trying to break down the logistics of a simple word.
  5. Over the past few months I've been plugging along on my novel, soaking in every bit of information about writing that I can and learning from the good people who make themselves accessible to relatively new writers like myself. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and I’ve enjoyed reading the opinions of other people, even when I disagree with them.

    I feel like, however, things have gotten a lot more difficult for me lately. When I first began writing, it felt great. I wrote every day and it seemed like I was constantly learning and growing as a writer. I felt genuinely optimistic that I could become published at some point. I still write, and even though I enjoy it, it has lost much of its appeal and I have become emotionally detached from nearly everything I do. My ideas are darker than they once were, and I have a feeling that if I keep up my current pattern, my novel is going to have one of the most excessively and pointlessly depressing endings that I could imagine. That isn’t what I want, but it reflects my mental state at the moment.

    The funny thing is that I can pinpoint exactly when writing went from a pleasure to a chore.

    Earlier this month I had a profoundly negative experience that affected me on a deep, emotional level. In the following days I obsessed over it. No matter how hard I tried to center my mind and have a positive outlook, I could not. For most people this single event that lasted less than fifteen minutes probably would have meant nothing, but I lost sleep over it and could not tear my mind away from it. I still occasionally lose sleep over it.

    What happened had absolutely nothing to do with my writing, but it took me out of my element so much that I am apparently still struggling to regain the passion for what once had been such a promising and enjoyable hobby for me. I have started to write again, and have even written a complete short story and a couple of chapters for my novel. But I don’t feel good about any of it. I’ve lost confidence. I’m scared to show my work to anyone or submit any more than I already have.

    I haven’t lost hope, and the fact that I’m still writing at all grants me a small measure of comfort. I just look forward to the days when I can once again feel happy and accomplished about my work