Mega Man X and Lessons From The Past

I saw some exciting news yesterday.  Exciting for me anyway.  Towards the end of next year, Capcom is going to release a compilation of all 8 Mega Man X games.

Megaman X Front Cover
Megaman X Front Cover | Capcom

I’m excited because they’re re-releases of older games I loved when I was younger.  The Mega Man X games were some of the best platforming games of the 16-Bit Era (Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis).  I picked up a similar collection of the original Mega Man games – a set of games even older and had an absolute blast.

The Mega Man series has a storied past.  They’re some of the most beloved games of generations past.  So much so that the template pioneered in that series still echoes in games today.  It’s one of the foundational series that has shaped the gaming industry for decades.

What makes Mega Man X special?

A couple of things.  The art and character design are fantastic – They stand out even with the extraordinary limitations of older technology.  The controls were tight and responsive, which means it just feels good to play.  Most importantly, more than any other game in its genre, it offered the player choice.  For example, the player starts the game with a task to defeat 6-8 villainous robots bosses.  They can choose to take down those robot bosses in any order they wish.  This is made even better by the fact that, once the player defeats an enemy robot, they then get that boss’s powers.  So this means that everytime you progress in the game, you are rewarded with an extraordinary upgrade.  Add to that a layer that some robots are more or less vulnerable to those powers, you can see how the depth starts to add up.

So, why am I excited to play a nearly 30-year-old game?

Mega Man X Title Screen
Mega Man X Title Screen | Capcom

I’m excited to play them with my daughter.  She’s a sandbox gamer – so games like Minecraft or Roblox are her jam.  It’ll be great fun for me to share a bit of my own childhood with her.

It’ll also be great to see her fail.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the most loving of ways.  One of the best things about older games – games that gave rise to the phrase “Nintendo Hard” is that they’re just that — hard.  They’re challenging. They’re sometimes unbalanced. They’re even unfair sometimes.  They don’t hold your hand, and they force you, as the player, to get better.  To elevate your skills.

And, best of all, they teach you how to deal with the inevitable failure that will come.  You have to confront your own inadequacy and come up with strategies to deal with it.  You learn grit and perseverance.  If you want to beat that level, beat that boss, or beat that game there’s no way around it.  You have to put in the work and you have to put in the practice.

Now, I grant you, getting a bunch of Mega Man X skills isn’t going to be the most valuable thing in my daughter’s life… with the exception, maybe, of how they help her going from Mega Man X to Mega Man X2.  What will be valuable though, is the mindset that fosters those skills.  The problem solving, the strategizing, and the dealing with failure.  Those are life lessons that will serve her well.

Any great lessons you’ve seen your own kids pick up from playing games?  Leave a comment below.

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