Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mega Man I: Ice Man's Stage Analysis

Stage Divisions

Difficulty Chart

    In keeping with the established 'theme' of Ice Man's stage, it seemed appropriate to split, for the first time, my difficulty analysis. The two lines represent, respectively, the stage's difficulty without and with the Magnet Beam (and attendant powerups). This is, so far, the first stage I have played that is made dramatically easier with the use of powerups - not counting the bosses, of course, which I will cover later - and as such, it serves as an important first in the series. Namely, the first 'expert gate' stage, of which practically every single game will have at least one.

    Other than that, the only remarkable thing here is just how hard Section 5 really is. Because of the way Foot Holders work, even if an expert player goes through it without making a mistake, he still might not make it through without the Magnet Beam if their movements don't allow him to progress. It's the defining flaw of the stage, and in a way of the game: a good idea held back by flawed execution stemming, it would seem, more from technological limitations and a lack of experience (since these ideas were unexplored until this point) rather than incompetence.

Hazard Population

    Notable here is Section 6, which has quite literally no hazards, following on the brutal and unprecedented gauntlet of Section 5. Other than that, the only remarkable feature here seems to be how, despite its considerable length in screen-by-screen terms, the stage looks rather small and short when broken down by analysis. There are fewer ideas at work in this stage than in many of the shorter ones in the game, and that is likely why it seems to breeze by in play - over half of the stage's length is taken by Sections 1 to 3, which have virtually no challenge and take very little time to complete.

    Next time, we move on to the last of the six Robot Master stages, Fire Man's Stage. From there, I'll move to some more in-depth discussions of different aspects of the game, starting with the six Robot Masters themselves, then synthesize some of all that information back together into a coherent picture of the game from a design perspective before moving on to the Wily Stages.

Thanks for reading,
The Undesigner

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