“Mega Man World” Offers Post-Cold War Concepts: Top Title to Play on Nintendo Switch Online Now!

On June 7th, five titles from the Mega Man World series were added to Game Boy Nintendo Switch Online.

The Mega Man series established the concepts of “being able to choose the order in which you tackle stages” and “gaining an advantage by defeating bosses with new weapons,” which brought about a revolutionary change in the way children thought about things at the time. Instead of simply following the steps told to you by adults, you could use your own strengths to reach the goal in the order you wanted. This concept of freedom proved to be of great significance in Japan after the collapse of the bubble economy and the end of the Cold War.

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In this article, we will play “Mega Man World” and consider how it has influenced our country, Japan.

◆ Rockman taught us the “process of free choice”

The original Famicom version of “Mega Man” was released on December 17, 1987. At the time, there was a huge nation called the Soviet Union, and it was engaged in a cold war with the United States.

However, when the General Secretary of the Soviet Union changed from Konstantin Chernenko to Mikhail Gorbachev, political reforms called perestroika and glasnost were implemented. Freedom of speech and assembly was permitted, and a market economy was introduced, albeit partially. However, this was also the prelude to the collapse of the Soviet socialist system.

While the Kremlin's bigwigs were racking their brains, Japanese children were crazy about the Famicom. The 8-bit game-only computer continued to provide children with new concepts. It was also a world free from the constraints of adults who worked from early in the morning until late at night with the slogan “Can you work 24 hours a day?” in their hearts.

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The new concept that Rockman gave to children was in conflict with the behavioral principle of adults, which places the highest priority on endurance. No matter how strong your stamina is, you are forced into a reckless battle of attrition in front of a boss with a powerful weapon. For example, Elecman fires a very powerful weapon called the “Thunder Beam.” If you only have a weak Rock Buster, you will eventually lose out due to lack of stamina.

However, this Elecman is vulnerable to a weapon called the Rolling Cutter. There is a big difference in difficulty between having the Rolling Cutter and not having it.

Rather than simply pushing through with physical strength, players would think about how they could fight more advantageously. Mega Man contained ideas that were ahead of their time after the end of the Cold War.

◆The gameplay remains the same as the Famicom version!

Mega Man was transferred to the Game Boy and released as “Mega Man World” on July 26, 1991. It featured four bosses from the Famicom version of “1” and four bosses from “2” in the boss rush of the Wily stage.

There are no portable recovery items like E-Cans, and the stage structure is also tricky (there are some scenes that will kill you on your first try), so the difficulty is high. However, it's not unreasonable, and if you take the time to challenge yourself, you will eventually be able to beat it.

The weak weapons set for each boss are still present in “Mega Man World.” The gameplay of the Famicom version is completely intact. “A Mega Man you can take outside” also played a role in conveying the new concept mentioned above to children who were not yet familiar with it.

◆Games that bring out children's personalities

The question of “Which stage to conquer first” was surely an aspect that would bring out the children's personalities.

If you actually play “Mega Man World,” you'll see that every stage is designed to defeat Mega Man right from the start, and as mentioned above, there are no E-Cans. Even if you somehow make it through the stage, you'll be defeated by the boss that's waiting for you… I'm sure there are many people who have had this experience.

However, this is where your skill comes into play. Some kids find the Cut Man stage easier, while others find the Ice Man stage easier. Some kids don't rely on weapons that hit the boss's weak spot, but instead just look at the boss's movement patterns and defeat it with a Rock Buster.

There are no one-size-fits-all answers in this game, and it's a system that relies on individual skill and ingenuity. It was also a learning material for acquiring the mindset necessary to live in the world after the end of the Cold War.

◆To the “door of the 21st century” with Rockman

When “Mega Man World” was released, the bubble had already burst.

On top of that, a military coup took place in the Soviet Union in August 1991. This ended in failure, which ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The end of the superpower that rivalled the United States also meant a change in the industrial structure.

Japan achieved economic growth as a member of the Western bloc under the American nuclear umbrella. However, the days when mass-producing products of a certain standard in accordance with the arrangements of COCOM (Committee on Export Controls for the Communist Bloc) guaranteed sales came to an end, and from the 1990s, “free ideas” were required in product development. The sense of relief at the end of the Cold War created diverse demand, and to meet this demand, innovative products that did not exist in the 1980s appeared one after another. The dramatic evolution of home computers and the widespread use of mobile phones both began in the 1990s.

Instead of being decided by someone else, you should follow the process that you envision. This will generate a wealth of ideas, leading to the creation of products and services with never-before-seen concepts.

Rockman showed Japanese children the location of the “Door to the 21st Century.”

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