My friend Justin recently drew my attention to an article by game designer Brice Morrison, “How Megaman 9 Resembles. . .Real Life?” published a little over a year ago at Gamasutra. (It also appears on Morrison’s own blog, which seems to have been superceded by his current project, The Game Prodigy).
Megaman 9 takes the idea of “retro” very seriously: “Capcom has sought now adult players of the old games by painstakingly emulating every graphical restriction, sound channel limit, and level design choice as it would have occurred on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and the result is an entirely new game that appears as though it belongs in the 1980’s.” But what really interests Morrison is the way in which gameplay also seems to hark back to a different time. Morrison describes the game as “unreasonably difficult,” due mainly to a steep learning curve and punishingly restrictive save-game system. The resultant gameplay experience is one that Morrison suggests is “almost extinct.”