Part 12: Simon's ode to Gate Stage 1Gate's Lab 1
Need I say how stupid the spike climb is? Do you seriously want me to elaborate on that insanely retarded stupid-ass worst shit piece of game design (remember, once you reach a certain level of bad, everything is "the worst")?
*sigh* you know what, we all know I'm going to anyway.
The beginning of Gate's Lab is a failing on so many levels I'm surely going to forget a crucial piece of stupid. The most obvious thing has been shown off already: You go in here early, unprepared or wrong-prepared and hit a fucking wall of spikes you can't cross, ever. It requires either Jumper and Hyper Dash and Ice Burst, or a full armor, and Blade still needs Jumper and Ice Burst or very tricky damage manipulation. And/or glitches, dunno, there's been a video in this thread. Or you're Zero with his double jump because fuck X. Still, it's only really easy with the Shadow Armor. The PS Xs' graphic style is mostly functional and can look really slick and nice, but its strange half-2.5D (1.75D?) setup falls completely apart when the spikes are 2D on the side but the floor is that strange slanted setup and everything is gold and blue and red and glowy and overall a complete mess. The background is busy as fuck. There's moving parts all over the screen. It's never really clear where you actually are at a given moment, and that's not. a. good. thing. when there's spikes with hitboxes made of dreams and hope and therefore as tangible as a smoke from a chimney half a city away. What I'm getting at is that this is an absolute nightmare to go through even fully equipped, because a single mistake means starting all over, and I mean all over because for some reason Ice Burst is six shots max. It's also one block onscreen at the same time max, making it the officially worst special weapon ever created. I mean it's obviously "useful" at some spots but good GOD is it bad. Also remember that "certain level of terrible" thing concerning justified superlatives.
So what I'm saying is that this single section will produce like 20 Game Overs just on its own, not because you suck, but because it sucks. And that is pretty much the bottom line of abysmal design, there's not even a chance you'll feel dying here is your own fault. It's always, always, always the fault of the moron who had the brilliant idea to craft this abomination. Making shit hard as balls is okay, if it's fair. This section wouldn't know fair if it was plastered all over the background instead of that whatever the fuck shit it's supposed to be.
Onto the actual level, Christ.
So, the ice slope is cruel as hell, but it would be well within the realm of the tough as hell but fair. Actually a clever use of physics, you're going down no matter what so pick the right time to jump and use those perfect air controls. After all, that's never been a fault of the Mega Man games. Spiked holes and tricky jumps over them, peppered by enemies? Don't sweat it, not even the ice physics, jumping fixes momentum issues, those bats die in one hit, if you die, that's your fault.
Then the lasers come on. It should be obvious from the video that they only hit you at their very tip, but it isn't because that makes no sense whatsoever and at the speed you're moving (maybe also because of forced Jumper/Hyper Dash hmmm), you're lucky if you see more than yellow here, blue there and can properly identify what is X and what is laser and maybe even where the spikes are at. It becomes even more of the problem in the vertical climb following, where there's lasers everywhere and stuff is moving all over the place, and any kind of actually sensible enemy placement (I see a few attempts here and there!) get lost in utter confusion as to what in the world is going on. The amount of garish colours clashingly vomited over the screen at once is staggering, and I don't think it could be a coincidence? This must have been meant to completely overwhelm you with bullets and shit coming at you, congratulations, huge success, but it's overwhelming because your graphics designers had no idea what they were doing, not because you're thinking "oh my God, so much stuff I'm never going to be able to dodge". Because that isn't a problem. You see, there are games of a genre literally called "bullet hell" out there. People like to play them, even though they evoke that feeling all the time. Why? Because they are fair. It's possible to dodge all that and not get overwhelmed. I don't play them, but I've seen videos. 's simple logic, and the simpler the game, the easier to grasp it is: bullets are bright and colourful and moving all the time. You dodge those. It's not rocket science. They move in certain patterns, your ship is the only thing moving erratically because you steer it yourself, so the mission is find the sweet spots. Doable, with practice up the ass.
Gate's first stage? Purple bats dropping black bombs over a grey-blue background which is bright as shit, maybe there are some nonsensical statues somewhere. This is my main gripe with this. An assault of attack from everywhere is something I'm very much okay with, you have all the tools to deal with that. But making it so you can't actually see what's going on? Pure bullshit.
These few rooms are just so incredibly indicative of the game as a whole. With just a little more care and effort and polish, they could have been turned into an incredibly daunting, but sufficiently doable and, the word to end all words when we're talking about this, FUN challenge. Instead going through this is a victory not celebrated in triumph and what we play those games for, but rather more hollow than my most tortured similes. It would be sad, if I could muster more emotions for videogames than bemused irritation and "man this shit would be seriously fun to write a billion words about", I dunno. Rambling. Moving on.
The lava part is just plain bad. It's not offensively shitty like what we just went through, but rather boring as hell, makes you wait around for ages after coming off a segment that was so hectic that you sometimes might have forgotten what character you were playing as, the bat or the laser. It's also poorly coded in that they couldn't even figure out the most basic timing, make the lava rise up for a single room, down again, up again, slowly (too slowly to make any kind of difference) down, then go away completely for five meters just to load in again, turning what was already tedious and unfun into a whirlwind of "who in their right mind thought this was a good idea", you know, standard X6 fare. Shit like this isn't even worth getting overly mad about anymore.
The autoscroller at the end is the final time the stage shows off a design idea that could be good if it weren't in X6. Ice slopes to force you to keep moving constantly upwards are something you'd curse in any game with less awesome controls, but I feel that it works in an X game. Bottom line here: Are you in control of what you're doing? Great, then it is allowed to be as hard as it wants.
Curiously, this section is really fucking easy, so they dropped the ball in the wrong direction for once. The autoscroll is so slow to really just make you curse it because it's boring as shit, not because you'll work up a sweat or something. The lava takes up far too much of the screen, but again it doesn't matter because enemies are put in as an afterthought, placed seemingly at random and without much thought to actually being in the way in challenging manners. It's, again, just bad. Nothing to get worked up about.
Nightmare Mother, on the other hand...
Man, that is like the WORST boss fight. Good thing the first part of the stage already forced you to have Hyper Dash and Jumper, otherwise this would be completely impossible at the ass end of the stage, that would have sucked, right? So perfect game design, folks. Oh wait the simplest way to go about the start of the stage is have the Shadow Armor. You don't need parts. So this fucking boss comes in and you have the best armor and are fucked in every likely and unlikely orifice because there's no dodging just the movement pattern!
Which is in all its randomness one of the worst offenders, seriously. As Eph pointed out, there's no telling which cube will actually move where and in what direction, so you're down to split-second reactions, and that's stretching it. In many cases, it's dumb luck, unless you're really specific about planning out where to stand every time it starts moving. Zero has it, again, far easier because double jump, and the hitbox on those things is flimsy enough to brush by without too much hassle using that.
Oh, but there's the attacks...haha, and it didn't even use the lightning orbs...see Violen's videos (I linked them before) for reference. The amount of asshole contained in some of the combinations is mindboggling. Floor on fire and orbs aimed at X, then trailing up the wall is already pretty assholish, but what about shots fired completely at random from above while the floor is also on fire? It's up to dumb luck whether you get hit, get hit repeatedly, or get violated into oblivion. Oh, and the game expects you to hit the eyes while the happily ruin your day sixteen ways before breakfast.
What I'm getting it is that this would be the worst boss design in this game by a fair margin if High Max wasn't a thing and Gate wasn't a thing. And X6 already is top contender for worst pieces of shit bosses in all of ever. With a selection like this, is it really any wonder? Fighting Nightmare Mother is never, even for a second, remotely approaching fun. It rarely if ever feels fair when she hits you. I mean, Violen showed that it's possible to plan out not getting hit by her moving around, and he's Violen so he's good enough to avoid pretty much anything else getting through at you, so you could argue okay, get fucking good at the game and stop whining, it's still fair then?
He took 30 tries at the boss alone because it's pure luck. So imaginary person who doesn't exist because noone is arguing that X6 isn't uniquely terrible, shut up, you're wrong.