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October 5, 2011 / jwaxo

Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge (Road Trips)

Even superheroes that are androids wear their underwear on the outside.

Virtually any major break in school during my childhood was peppered with piling into the car and pulling away from the house for an extended period of time. Mostly this was for camping, but the second biggest reason was to travel across as many state lines as possible on legendarily lengthy road trips.

Sometimes these two reasons would combine into an ultra-super-Voltron road trip: camping our way across the majority of the western United States, avoiding KOAs like the plague, showering from a solar-heatable bag or not at all. The enjoyability of such long excursions was linearly related to the size of the tent/trailer/fifth-wheel we were traveling with, as well as the awesomeness of the locations visited. There were a few canyons and truly unique camping spots that deserve a mention or two, and a few cool related touristy things: horse trails, river floating, bird watching.

Mostly, though, it was to visit relatives in North Dakota, something we did for most of the summers and a few harrowing winters. Let me tell you: if you’re from the US, you haven’t experienced winter until you’ve stayed in the northern midwest states for an extended period of time. Nothing makes you appreciate a good hat or pair of boots more than the kind of weather they get up there.

“Nose hair freezing weather”, I call it.

Our parents quickly learned that spending 36+ hours in a car with three kids who get along about as much as one can expect three kids to quickly leads to headaches, yelling, and general horribleness. So a number of family traditions arose from these days together.

  • We listened to audio books, which is where I first encountered a number of excellent authors and series.
  • We spotted deer, earning quarters if we found one before our parents.
  • We counted train cars, and somehow my dad was able to constantly win and drive
  • We competed to see who could suck on their candy for the longest, with me normally winning.
  • We napped constantly and effectively.
  • Finally, and most legendarily, our parents would fill a pillow case with cheap presents, all of them wrapped in sets of three. Every hour one of us would get to open the next one. This stopped after a few years, but stucki n our minds for an eternity.

All of these are great ways to pass the time. Beyond talking, of course: we did enough of that with raised voices and shouts. And we played corners. And we all got our own bottles of water after a single incident of backwash that was all from a single misunderstanding of how to drink from bottled water.

I can’t believe that I still get bugged about that single. Incident.

The best escape on an extremely long car ride, though, was some form of electronic entertainment. No, not a Walkman, or a CD player or whatever, and not a talking trivia game. I’m talking about something square, and grey, had more memory than the Apollo spaceships, survived a bombing in the Gulf War, created only the best bips and bops, and had two whole colors on its little screen.

Oh yes.

The GameBoy.

I’m serious about the bombed thing. Look it up. It’s cool.

The game I’ve chosen to represent my mainstay on road trips here is Mega Man. The only Mega Man game that I’ve ever played, in fact, because it was really, really hard. Mega Man games are hard! This is a fact. They require expert timing in jumps, generally a specific order that you should take the bosses on in that is never revealed to you, and then an extremely long haul through the final boss’ lair with no save or continue points.

Well, if you even can have a continue point in a game based entirely on a password system, but that’s besides the point.

The point is that Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge was very hard and required a lot of time for trial-and-error and keeping track of passwords, which is just the perfect kind of game for a really long road trip. I picked and pecked away at that game through days and weeks of car time, learning all of the corridors and stunts pulled by Cut Man and Ice Man and company. My Mega Man manual became filled with the dot-based passwords, keeping track of my number of lives and bosses defeated and abilities gained.

I rarely played the game outside of a long trip: it was something reserved for long hours in the car, and if I played it outside of a long trip than I was wasting perfectly good entertainment fuel.

It’s because of this that I learned, in between sips of my personal bottle of Aquafina, that you sometimes have to save good things for the worst times.

Seriously, though. That water bottle thing haunts me to this day with every family reunion.

So I guess the trick is not to put your lips around the entire mouth of the bottle?


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