This week’s challenge for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is all about first impressions…
You never get a second chance at a first impression–what moment in pop culture had you saying “Now, that’s how you make an introduction!”
Now, I could easily draw from so many debut moments in movies, cartoons, comics and pro wrasslin (The Undertaker debuting on The Brother Love Show, anyone?), but I’m gonna draw from a video game moment for this one. The moment was from the Capcom title for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Mega Man 3… the first time we are introduced to Proto Man. An in-game mini-boss that showed up at random somewhere in every stage, Proto Man’s appearance was preceded by a pause in the action, a familiar whistle and then immediate ambush by a barrage of arm cannon fire out of nowhere.
I was familiar with Mega Man on the NES, and its sequel Mega Man 2, by way of my cousin KC and my friends at school who had the games. KC would bring them by when he’d visit (during one of our many Nintendo-heavy gatherings as kids, all cartridges, all the time) and we would burn hours with this little blue robot fighting off the many minions of Dr. Wily. Mega Man was a cool game concept because rather than play in linear stages, you could navigate Mega Man through the game by choosing which stage to fight in sequence. Each stage had its own mini-boss who, when defeated, gave you a specific power-up to add on to Mega’s arsenal. For instance, if you defeated Elec Man, you received a power-up that allowed you to shoot electric bolts, whereas if you faced Ice Man or Fire Man, you received different power-ups. This lent to having to use strategy to succeed, as certain power-ups defeated others more easily (Fire over Ice, etc.).
Having played a ton of the first two games, by the time the third was released in 1990, I was determined to own my own copy and saved up enough lunch money to do just that. Mega Man 3 was all mine and I couldn’t wait to get home and rip that bad boy open. This new edition featured Mega Man’s robot dog Rush who came with his own set of helpful powers, along with the all-new ability for Mega Man to slide, similar to another Capcom game Strider (in the first two games, all he could do was run, jump and fire). But I was totally unprepared for that one moment while playing Shadow Man’s stage when I heard that whistle… (jump to 0:35 in the video)
…out of nowhere, some dude in a red and grey outfit and a shield pops in and starts firing at me with a barrage, jumping all over the screen catching me unaware and unprepared!! Who was this mystery man? What the hell was he doing and why did he look so much like the reverse Mega Man? And how come he gets a shield?
I had a lot of questions, but no answers from the game’s instruction manual, which I do not believe had any description of this mysterious mini-boss. Stage after stage I went defeating villains, but each time this figure shows up at random to give me grief. At no point is he ever destroyed, just defeated temporarily and he disappeared just as quickly as he arrived. After finally defeating all mini-bosses and then Dr. Wily, we find out during the game’s ending that this mystery robot is called Proto Man and that he is Mega Man’s brother. Dr. Light, Mega Man’s creator, explains that Mega Man was rescued while unconscious and delivered to his lab by Proto Man, all while the full-length Proto Man whistle theme plays…
Proto Man, who is also known as Blues and Break Man , went on to appear in several other Mega Man games, both as a mini-boss determined to train his brother to fight and as a playable character in later editions of Mega Man games. He also appears as a primary henchman of evil Dr. Wily alongside Cut Man and Guts Man in the Mega Man cartoon series and is featured as a regular character in the Mega Man comic books published by Archie Comics.
Many debuts left a great first impression with me, but few were as unexpected as Proto Man. Now if I ever hear that whistle.. well it might be a good time to take cover!
Classick Material still plays Mega Man on occasion, however he insists that Proto Man’s whistle no longer scares him. He is the editor-in-chief of this site and is also the co-host of the Cold Slither Podcast and the host of the Classick Team-Up podcast. He is also a member in good standing of the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, a highly-trained special mission for… listen, we like to blog! Tweet him @classickmateria
This post is part of the League of Extraordinary Bloggers. For more info on The League, or to find out how to join, visit them here.
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