I have been losing a lot these past few weeks, and I'm getting tired of it. Pardon me for a few paragraphs as I get this tirade out of my system.
After spending hours trying to record the perfect 10-minute boss rush for my YouTube playthrough of Mega Man 7, I finally had a good, useable take...which I had to throw out when I discovered the video was unwatchably choppy: I had overlooked a single setting I always have in place before recording. After hours of retrying, I finally came up with an equally good take...which I had to throw out because being on Skype earlier that day had recalibrated my audio settings, so the clip was recorded without sound. As much as I enjoy MM7, I wasn't spending two days straight replaying the same 10-minute span of the game just for fun. I was playing to win, and I lost. Twice.
Having recently played 8-player Mario Party 7 with some friends, I've been on a Mario Party kick, trying to unlock more of what the games have to offer in advance of the next time we have guests over. My wife and I have both been chipping away at various games in the series, and we've discovered one critical flaw with the solo Story Modes: nearly all the 1 vs. 1 Duel games are a matter of button mashing or sheer luck, and the computer doesn't have to physically press the buttons on the controller, fight off button-mashing fatigue, or guess which rope is arbitrarily the right one to pull. Humans need to overcome their corporeal handicap before they can stand a chance against a computer opponent of supposedly equal skill. There's little joy in playing a game when the challenges are deliberately or—worse—unthinkingly rigged in favor of an opponent who should be able to hold their own.
Not even the mindless grinding of Mega Man X: Command Mission could provide me a break from losing. Now that I've beaten the main game, I'm off to clean up the last of the optional material—Force Metal recipes and Treasure Tokens and rare item drops. As close as I am to marking this game off my Backloggery as Completed, I've been willing to put in the extra hours to have another Mega Man game under my belt that I've played inside and out, especially when it's mostly a matter of following a checklist and waiting for enemies to drop rare items. Well, last night I spent something like an hour and a half going through different paths of the Eternal Forest, which is an enemy gauntlet with no save points in sight. Halfway through the last battle before the exit, my GameCube crashed. That lovely black screen with white text that instructs you to consult your manual to see what the problem is. Sorry, Nintendo; my manual's not going to tell me how to recover nearly two hours of gameplay and that rare item drop I'd been trying forever to get. I lost again.
Then I decided to try fighting the first of nine optional post-game bosses again. The first time I'd tried was a disaster: no matter how much damage my party pumped out, the boss was recovering to maximum health every round. Clearly, I would need to level up, and come back to the battle with my strongest characters using their strongest attacks right out of the gate. That's exactly what I did, and it helped—it took the boss two rounds, instead of one, to get back to max health. I lost again.
Unlike any other boss battle, there was no way to salvage this—a single turn doing anything other than railing on the boss, and you might as well have marched into the battle with half your health and all your Hyper Mode activations exhausted. Like that accursed Neo Shinryu dragon boss in Final Fantasy V Advance, or—actually, all the examples I'm coming up with are from Final Fantasy games—you need to have a very specific party lineup with exactly the right equipment follow a precise strategy with no room for error or improvisation. Otherwise, you won't survive the first round, let alone the entire battle. A difficult fight requiring adaptable strategies is a challenge; a boss like this is a gimmick, and it strains my patience to guess at the exact combination of factors required to reveal that victory is possible in the first place.
All the walkthroughs say this is an easy boss. Just do these seven things that have to be executed perfectly, and he's a cinch. Silly me, I'm only doing six of these things and can't seem to get his health below maximum for more than fifteen seconds at a clip. You'll forgive me if I'm not enjoying blind trial-and-error to see if this strategy will keep me from having to reload the game, spend five minutes reorganizing my party, spend five minutes getting from the save point to the boss, and find out in the first few turns that all my preparations were a waste of time.
But hey, I at least managed to shut off the game without tripping over the power cord, so maybe I'm not a total failure after all.