Part 9: Simon talks about Blaze Heatnix's stageAddendum to last time: MSP's secondary area. I think the "random blocks" Eph complains about at the very start are actually a nice touch...they get you to investigate. I definitely found the area by looking there, wondering what the point of the blocks was. I also found out that you could destroy them in the first place right at that spot, so well done I guess?
The pit of doom that follows, on the other hand, is a shining example of X6's typical stupidity. Without severe fuckery, you can't cross. However, some outstanding example of a level designer decided to put a checkpoint right after the vertical drop. Meaning that if you can't cross whatsoever because you are plain unarmored X for example (or, hell, Falcon X without parts), you experience that joy that is killing yourself until the lives run out. Not having beat MSP means you can't exit, and as the path is pretty easy to find pretty early...I have mentioned already that lives hurt you with nothing gained, did I?
The conveyor crusher autoscroll section behind the jump is pure shit. It's slow and boring and tedious and combines three already problematic gimmicks, it doesn't have a checkpoint to the ass-stupid overly long dash at the end means getting killed often and having to redo far too long a segment where nothing happens, oh, and good luck getting the Reploid at the end before the Nightmare floats over without the armor. The illusion of choice. It's dumb. Let's move on to things even worse.
I don't think I need to say too much about this abomination, but I probably will do so regardless. In case it wasn't outstandingly obvious from watching the video, Blaze Heatnix is one of the worst pieces of shit stages in all of Mega Man, and only because X6 is so bad overall, it's not unanimously the very worst (there's always Ground Scaravich lurking). I would personally put it bottom tier of the eight Robot Master stages, at the very least, though; because one can attempt to squeeze a little fun from the teleporter museum of doom, just by virtue of how insanely difficult it is and by how much thinking outside the box to navigate the Nightmare flood you have to do, but I've tried and there is exactly zero fun to be gained in Blaze Heatnix no matter how hard you struggle.
The problem, quite obviously, are the donuts. X6's enemies are often hilariously overdesigned for how little they get used in actually logical places; in this case, the "Nightmare Snakes" (stupid and I won't use the actual name again) suffer from the rare phenomenon of being over- and underdesigned at the same time. Under because they move from one side to the other in a stunning display of , over, because, as I've recently learned from this thread, they didn't shoot at you originally. So the version that was at least slightly playtested didn't have them litter the screen with bullets. I guess people complained enough about them being horribly boring and tedious that they actually changed something. Of course, being the guys responsible for X6, I don't think they quite understood the problem at hand when they added the shots. The result is something that's almost completely unplayable, especially egregiously in the very first encounter, where ducking in the safe zones at the bottom just means you'll get hit no matter what because they didn't put a single second of thought into this. It's a tempting trap and murderously stupid, such an obvious failing of the already moronic design that it makes my head hurt just thinking about it. You pretty much have to dash-jump off the wall and over the donut constantly, playing tag, micromanaging destroying the shots, and I don't know if I'm crazy, but it seems half the time my own shots bounce off them harmlessly. Maybe because the donut's hitbox makes no sense, maybe because I kinda get the feeling this game wasn't coded all that well, guys. I have no idea on how to consistently approach this shit. I have watched Violen's videos religiously and especially his Blaze Heatnix outing because it's 10 minutes filled with the purest and most beautiful bile I can't even begin to come close to recreating (shitposting contest!!!), but I have no idea on how to do it, I'm stumped. It's probably one of the hardest challenges in all of X6 if only by virtue of being so incredibly tedious that your thumbs will fall off halfway through the first donut anyway.
FUCK this level, in conclusion. Oh wait, I'm just getting started.
People (Violen included) say that what's coming up is actually decent. I think it's anything but. It's a stupidly boring waiting game with fire pillars that fire in a pattern that must have been designed by the highest-ranking official at the Department of Unfun. Three shots, then a little pause? Give me a break, it's five seconds of "you can't pass", what's the fucking point? You'll fall for it once, afterwards it's waiting around while the Nightmares tag your ass! MSP's blocks make it even worse because synching them up with anything would have required thinking about the timing for more than not at all, and that's obviously impossible. So fuck that shit, it's not even remotely good, maybe in comparison to donut hell.
The best part of the level is the way to the secondary path. It's horseshit. Speaks volumes. At least using the Nightmare effect block to get up there is borderline clever, but also such a painfully obvious level design idea that I'm not even going to try to give them credit for it. "Nightmares can also help you!" brilliant. Like the Blaze Heatnix things burning down the wall in Blizzard Wolfang that's also brilliant but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Oh yeah I guess there's more donuts. There's always more donuts. The second one is downright bearable, and I'd have been okay with it and only it appearing in the stage, with half its life bar. The movement pattern makes a little sense, you have to adjust, plan when it's safe to attack and can rack up the damage even with X on almost all weak spots equally.
Having to decide between the next two donuts is cute. One path being useless is not, though the donut on the upper one bounces around hilariously except it's not hilarious, it's sad. Both are gigantic pains in the ass to hit, and having Nightmares to accompany them is an idea unparalleled in stupidity (though surpassed in it by having the donuts there in the first place). Oh, and I don't want to forget mentioning how mind-numbingly boring the level looks. The environment designers really dropped the ball here, it's a fucking cave with no fire in it except lazily grafted-on fire pillars and that atrocious lava segment.
Speaking of which, welcome to worst thing in X6, and there's no contest, because once you reach a certain level of mindbreakingly stupid, there's only superlative badness. Half a screen to work with on a slow autoscroller with Nightmares would be a giant pain in the ass regardless of context. Then you add a giant thing to be in your way periodically with four homing shots to litter the screen with and it reaches unreasonable levels of frustration. After gritting your teeth through that, you realize that you're on a fucking time limit now because not taking out the lower weakspots asap means you're never going to once it reaches to top of the surprisingly too-short climb. Really, watch Violen's videos. He puts it in more and better words. To add insult to injury, getting rid of the donut will make lava AND autoscroll vanish, but the only way to take it out that fast is break the thing over your knee anyway! Get to this point without the proper screen clearer and discover that you're fucked unless you're the gaming God responsible for the X games itself! Joy! I think you all got what I'm getting at by now but just to repeat it, this section is pretty damn bad, guys.
Oh hey a final donut oh hey my will to live is already broken WHAT DO YOU WANT YOU'VE WON TAKE MY SOUL.
So the only saving grace of this stage is that you can break the fuck out of it by abusing screen-clearing attacks, like Zero's giga, charged Metal Anchor or Ray Arrow. Telling the player that your design is so bad that the best way to deal with it is avoiding it entirely is probably not a good sign. Just saying. Don't ever enter this stage without proper equipment unless you're seriously hating yourself and should probably be playing this in a safe environment without sharp objects around. The saving grace being "at least you can break the fuck out of it" is actually true for many things in X6, like the eternal "just use Zero you fucking moron" paradigm that plagues a lot of stages, or having an airdash at the start, yada yada yada. That doesn't make the design in any way better, and that's what I'm ranting about. Special weapons and abilities and optional characters should not be fucking integral to making the gaming experience anything remotely resembling fun, or in Blaze Heatnix' case, playable. The remoteness of the distance is still roughly Mercury - Pluto, of course.
Blaze Heatnix himself is pretty cool, designwise, I guess. His name will always make me chuckle. His sprite looks like ass though, in my opinion. The fight is comparable. His attacks are asininely hard to avoid at times, with again zero thought put into how they interact with each other, having so much lava in the boss arena is a certain recipe for absolute negative fun and ugh. The perfect topping for this turd sandwhich, and before I run out of "this seriously sucks okay" metaphors, I'm just going to stop.