Feb 05

The MAGFest Mega Man Mini-Marathon Debriefing

As I mentioned in my last post, during MAGFest X, I played through 15 different Mega Man games in the span of 21 and a half hours to help raise money for the SDA Marathon and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It’s been about a month, and I feel like I should really write a proper post-mortem about it, including my thoughts about what went well, what didn’t, and so on.

I guess I should start with what went well. During the marathon itself, Silver and I raised about $150 from people who were not me. This is actually not an insignificant figure, although I was hoping to raise quite a bit more. Luckily, Andy Goth (Who had donated to various SDA marathons in the past) stepped in after my final plea at Closing Ceremonies and donated a very generous $100, which combined with the spare change Silver and I had saved throughout the year, plus a few dollars raised from telling people about what I had done when striking up random conversation (“Hey, are the lines for panels always this bad?” “I don’t know, I haven’t been to a panel yet.” “Well why not?!” “Well, I spent 21 and a half hours Friday-into-Saturday playing Mega Man games for charity…”), brought the final total in our lockbox to $300.28. Like I said, I was actually hoping for more, but was reassured by Mike after the SDA marathon that I had actually done really well (As he put it, “We raised a grand total of $7 onsite at MAGFest 8!”).

Speaking of doing really well, the mere fact that I got through all of the games I had planned with 2 and a half hours to spare was amazing and gratifying to me. That included letting most of the endings play, and even taking a bathroom break in the middle of X5. I would’ve like to fill out the rest of the time by either playing some of the games a second time, or play the Mega Man fighting games (Yes, really) included on Mega Man Anniversary Collection, but Silver (Who gamely stayed by my side for pretty much the entire marathon, getting the much-less-fun task of manning the lock box, timing me, and generally keeping me sane when stuff wasn’t going so well) and I were completely wiped out. As I texted MercuryZelda later (Ignore what her site says as of this writing, she’s not currently taking commissions. But check out her awesome plushies anyway, so that when she does open up for commissions again, you will be ready to order!), “I’m making like Samuel L. Jackson and going the (*^$ to sleep.” Which I did.

I managed to set new personal bests in 5 of the 15 games I played. Mega Man 1, 2, and 3 weren’t a huge surprise, since those came right at the beginning of the marathon when I was fresh and enthusiastic. X3 and X5 were a bit more shocking when I got new personal bests on those, especially with the context of losing several minutes to my bladder in X5. I guess the fact that, relative to the SDA times, my times on those two games were the worst by far meant I didn’t have much choice other than to improve, but those games came at the end of the marathon (X4 was after most of the “classic” Mega Man games, and the second playthrough of X4 took place immediately after the first after people donated for it) when I was completely exhausted. I guess I also did pretty well in at least the rest of the NES games, as I had people watching me say that I was “crazy good” at the games. Which I’m really not, although luckily I was the main SDA presence at MAGFest this year, so I managed to fake it well enough.

It was also surprising to see just which games people liked and didn’t like. Being on SDA and “the internet”, you get an idea of the general public opinion on certain games, but even the games generally regarded as “bad” have their followers. The best example is Savannah staying with me for the entirety of Mega Man 8, generally regarded as one of the worst in the series (I enjoy it, but it does feel to me more like a vaguely Mega Man-like product than a proper Mega Man game per se). And my fellow Shizzies came by throughout the night, which was a big help, even if the way the game order fell meant I didn’t have to go through the nighttime “lull” while simultaneously playing games I didn’t like that much.

There was, of course, stuff that didn’t go so well, too. The main one occurred before the marathon even started, when I realized I would have to cut Mega Man X6 from the list of games due to it being a terrible, awful, no good, very bad game. There was a part of me that regarded the whole thing as a failure just due to that fact, as I really had wanted to do all the X games on the X Collection–the idea being people might donate to watch me play some of the less illustrious games in the series earlier rather than later. Instead, though, I did X4 with both characters, which was probably more entertaining to watch (Mike Uyama told me later that X6 was one of the worst-received games at AGDQ2012), as well as a lot more fun for me (I’m about the only person on the planet who actually likes playing X4 as X, if SDA’s opinions are reflective of the general public). There was also the fact that Adam, who ran console gaming this year, had a bunch of additional duties to attend to at MAGFest as well–and apparently didn’t relay what I had planned to any of the rest of console staff. The result of this was a scramble for the projector, then a scramble to locate a power cord for the projector, which ended in me starting a half hour later than I had planned.

If I’m being totally honest, there was a point around 3 or 4 hours in, when I had raised a total of $9 that wasn’t our own money, and the thought running through my mind was “The fact I have already paid significant money to go the end of the marathon/bonus streaming is the only thing stopping me from driving directly home in shame after MAGFest.” This was a thought that was only amplified as I would periodically check on the SDA marathon and see that they were raising mind-blowing amounts of money–the rate through the marathon was roughly $1000 an hour. Even my most optimistic goals would have been a drop in the bucket, but the fact that I had raised almost no money to that point…in the end, it worked out okay, and seeing how happy Silver was even with the money we ended up raising stopped me from complaining too much.

From a gameplay perspective, I generally showed I knew what I was doing throughout the series, but there were two games I wish could have gone different, and both were directly my fault. First, I forgot to buy E-Tanks before starting Wily’s castle in Mega Man 9. This resulted in me having to do basically the entire castle over again once I realized my mistake. The second, ironically, came in what I consider to be my best game, Mega Man X. After getting the early-E-Tank on Flame Mammoth for the first time in an actual run, I couldn’t switch back to the X-Buster for the Hadouken on Vile, and hit Start in my sleep-deprived state.

Anyone who is a top-tier player of Mega Man X just facepalmed on “hit Start”.

If you don’t know, I take advantage of a bug to get through text in a cutscene a lot quicker than you’re meant to. The one thing you absolutely do not want to do when you use this method is hit Start during the cutscene, because this can freeze the game. Sure enough, I crashed the game for the first time. Thinking quickly, I managed to load a previous save which meant all I had to re-do was getting the Hadouken, but that was enough to completely derail my momentum. I actually told Silver that I felt like crying through most of the rest of the run, because I did.

In all, though, it’s an experience that I’m glad I did, once. I don’t really know if I would do it again, because as you can probably tell, I went through a whole roller coaster of emotions during the whole thing, culminating in my being extremely happy and relieved when I finished with two and a half hours to spare. If I were to do it again, I would definitely advertise it this time. Because I was trying to keep the fact that I was going to AGDQ a secret, by default, it meant I couldn’t tell people what I was doing at MAGFest either–including most of MAGFest. Now that I’ve pulled off the secret attendance thing once, I won’t try it again, which will hopefully get more people aware of what I’m doing and thus, more donations. If I do do something like this again, I’ll also make sure to practice more than two months in advance (Which was when I found out I was approved to do this at MAGFest) too.

-EE

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