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Soldier Down

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I was never a big Megaman fan growing up. The only experience I’d had with the franchise were the Megaman Battle Network games for the Gameboy Advance and Megaman Starforce games for the Nintendo DS. These of course, weren’t traditional Megaman games. Frankly, the first time I tried a real Megaman game, I hated it. The game was Megaman 10 on the Xbox Live arcade, and the difficulty astounded me. I quickly threw the game aside and never touched it again. It was about a year later, while I was browsing my news feed on Youtube I noticed one of my favorite commentators was beginning a play through of a game called “Megaman Powered-Up!” I’d neve

r heard of the game before, but apparently it was for the PSP or the “PlayStation Portable”. Over the next week or two I watched every video he put out of the game and in that time I began to adore the Chibi style of the game, and I became interested in playing it for myself. I phoned my local Gamestop about holding a copy of the game for me until I found the time to come in, but they hadn’t had any in stock for weeks. Before I hung up, the woman on the phone told me that a store a few miles away had a few copies. My Dad always traveled the direction of the store for work so I politely asked him to pick one up for me in return for me helping one of my siblings with a computer related issue. When he returned home, he tossed a white plastic bag with the Gamestop Logo onto the couch and I quickly thanked him. I flew down the stairs and into my bedroom. I tore the box open, removed the disk and popped it into my PSP.

Mega Man Powered Up

"Megaman Powered-Up!" Box art.

The game started up with a bright and catchy intro featuring some footage from the original Megaman for the NES. I pressed start having already seen the entire intro on Youtube. The main menu popped up with the usual options, New Game, Load Game, Challenges, and Options. I selected New Game and was thrust into the opening cut-scene. Dr. Wily shows up and kidnaps the eight robots built by Dr. Light. Mega and Roll hurry to the lab where Mega

begs Dr. Light to convert him into a fighting robot to save his friends. Afterwards, I played through the intro stage that wasn’t very difficult and fought a rather simple boss at the end. Megaman did a victory pose and I was brought to the stage select screen. Ice man, Fire man, Bomb man, Cut man, Guts man, Elec man, Oil man, and Time man were the stages available for selection.

“Where do I start?” I thought.

I flipped the difficulty to Normal, because I felt that even though it was my first time playing, I could probably handle it. That’s where my experience began.

A few weeks later, I had made it through most of the levels with relative ease, and was only caught on the ultimate encounter with Dr. Wily.  I had unlocked the eight robots masters as playable characters and decided that since I was stuck, I’d try playing as a few of them. I looked through my options, and in addition to the eight of them I had the option of playing as three variants of Megaman, a multitude of different versions of Roll, and Proto man who I had downloaded from the online service the game provided. I looked over my options again.
“Fire man…Guts man…Ice man…Maybe…Well I guess he’s a good a place to start as any.”

I started the game with Iceman and the opening cut scene where Dr. Wily kidnaps Dr. Light’s robots played. It was altered just a bit this time to fit me being Ice man instead of Megaman. I was thrust into the level se

lection screen and I remembered that when choosing a Robot Master, the slot he had previously occupied on the select screen would have a Mega man boss fight instead. I set off to defeat the 7 robot masters and Mega man. Since Ice man and the other Robot masters only have one ability throughout the play through, the game was a bit difficult because Ice man’s “Ice Slasher” is weaker then the mega buster. I finally made it to Bomb man, who I had remembered was Ice man’s weakness and I figured I’d try fighting him on Easy mode. Bomb man killed me easily due to the huge disadvantage I had, he deals double damage to me and I did only half damage to him. Eventually I was able to defeat him, and I was brought back to the level select screen with Dr. Wily’s castle accessible. I looked at all the defeated robot masters and noticed Bomb man was the only one I didn’t beat on Normal. I tried Normal mode, and to my surprise, I knew his pattern of movement. I dodged him easily and attacked him over and over again until I was finally able to overcome him.
“YEAH! TAKE THAT!” I exclaimed.

Feeling a bit overconfident, I was thrust back to the menu and decided to select hard mode and to try my luck once again. Making it through the level again was tough, the enemies were harder to attack and I barely made it to check point before Bomb man’s room with one life left. I started into the room and…I just wish I hadn’t attempted it…
The cut-scene started.
Bomb man: “BOMBS! Ah aah! Don’t run off! Let’s have a little fun with my explosives!”
Ice man: “Whoa! Bombs are a little old-fashion for us Soldiers!”

Bomb man: “That’s too bad! You chose this fate!”
Bomb man did his opening animation and his health gauge appeared and filled to the brim with energy. I stared in awe at it, as the usual yellow gold color darkened into a crimson red.
“Whats going on? Why is his health bar Red? And I never heard him say that before…he’s supposed t

o say something along the lines of…”
”You shoulda come yesterday! I had some big boom booms then!”
It was stupid, and I had always wondered about why they would make him say that, but what he had said this time…unnerved me.
He began throwing bombs at me as I took off running, attempting to dodge the explosions. I began attacking him with Ice man’s weapon, and…To my surprise it was…completely ineffective. His new Crimson red health bar didn’t deplete one pixel when I attacked him.

Is this some kind of hard mode thing? I thought to myself.
I continued attacking my explosion obsessed foe and I started growing hopeless. After five minutes I decided there must’ve been something wrong. I went to pause the game and restart the level, but again, I found myself shocked.
Bomb man: “You can’t back out now! You chose this! Rememer?” When I had pressed the pause button Bomb man had ceased throwing bombs, turned to the screen and pointed his finger at me…
“W-what is this?” I stammered as I attempted to pause again.
Bomb man: “You can’t back out now! YOU CHOSE THIS! REMEMBER?”
Bomb man then went back to bombarding me with bombs of all different sizes. I tried everything I could to stop the game. I switched the power off, the screen dimmed and then reappeared. Bomb man: “Don’t try to run! YOU CHOSE THIS! REMEMBER?”
I gulped.
“Why does he keep saying that? What did I choose?” I had no time to think about it, for after he turned back to Ice man, he continued his assault.
Bomb man: “Wow! You’re a slippery one! Lets see you dodge this!”
I watched as Bomb man began flashing yellow and pulled out a huge bomb. He began charging it up and

threw it clear across the stage right on top of Ice man. I saw half of Ice man’s health immediately disappear.
Ice man: “I…I won’t be defeated that easily...” He then turned to face me.

Ice man: “Please! I know you can do it! Help…Me…!”
Iceman turned back to Bomb man and began dodging the bombs by himself. This caught me off guard, perhaps Ice man was giving me time to think of something?
“No…No no no no…That’s impossible. This is just a game! These characters can’t be speaking to me!”
I tried moving the control stick and I regained control of Ice man. While I was trying to make sense of this, I

ce man seemed to have…changed…
As I ran him back and forth dodging our enemy’s onslaught of bombs, his face grew pale. His ice-blue eyes widened into a look of pure terror. He looked absolutely scared out of his mind. And I realized why just in time, Bomb man was charging up his super bomb once again. I figured one more hit would mean the end of the little Ice Eskimo; the first had done one half of his health bar worth of damage after all. Iceman turned to look at the screen once again.
Ice man: “H-Here it comes…You can do it right? Y-y-you can help me…? Please…Please help me!”

He then began whimpering, and I saw azure tears rolling down his pale cheeks.
“What…Is this? This wasn’t in any of the playthroughs I’ve seen…Why is he so afraid? This isn’t re

al! Its just a game!”

Ice man: “Please…You…Have to try…! Without you…I’m doomed! P-P-PLEASE! HELP ME!” he screamed, as bomb man hurled his hefty explosive into the air.
I reacted as quickly as I could, and made Ice man run to the left out of the path of the bomb. It landed a few paces beside him. I realized that even though I had dodged the bomb toss, Ice man was still going to be hit by the shockwave from the explosion.

“Darn it! I almost made it! Now I’m gonna have to retry the entire level and face this weird boss battle again!” I said angrily. Ice man turned to the screen once more.
Ice man: “Its alright…Don’t worry yourself over this, It was foolish for a soldier like me to go up against Bomb man. You tried your best to…help…me” he closed his eyes and tears continued to fall.

Mmpu-ice-man1

Ice man as he appears in "Megaman Powered-Up!"

Ice man: “And I thank you…” He raised his hand to his forehead and saluted me.

No. The screen, he saluted the screen, he doesn’t know I’m really out here. He couldn’t. It’s i

mpossible!
Bomb man: “Well champ! Looks like you let the little guy down! Its all over now!”
I noticed for the first time that bomb man was grinning. This was no ordinary grin either…It was…a disturbingly full grin, one that stretched from cheek to cheek. His eyes were narrowed and they were empty. No pupils…Just…White nothingness…
“What the hell is this?? What’s wrong with Bomb man? Why is Ice man crying?? Why are these two acting so…out of character?”
This sight truly stumped me…I was watching Ice man standing stuck between a little space between a huge bomb and the wall, sobbing. Bomb man, flashing a wicked grin awaiting Ice man’s destruction. Then…All at once…the game changed forever…

Bomb man: “S’been nice knowin ya!” he chuckled.
Ice man: “Goodbye…Thank you for your service…” He said as he slowly turned to look at the screen. We locked eyes, and I could only see fear. Nothing else. Every ounce of hope had been dashed from his face and he closed his eyes again.
After Ice man turned back to face the bomb it exploded filling the screen with smoke. And then came the scream…The one that I’ll remember for the rest of my days…It was Ice man…
Ice man: “SOLDIER…DOWN!”
It was painful to listen to. He sounded as if he was being torn apart piece by piece. He cried out in agony as the smoke cleared. There, where he had once been standing, was his torso. It had jagged edges where his legs had once been. It was missing one arm, and more importantly, his head that had been disconnected and thrown across the floor and was now sitting in front of Bomb man.
Bomb man walked over to Ice man’s disembodied head and faced the screen.

Bomb man: “See…This is what happens to those who tempt fate. YOU…CHOSE…THIS…REMEMBER?”

Bomb man: “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”. He pulled out a bomb and placed it next to Ice man’s head.
Bomb man: “Now WATCH!”
Ice man’s head was torn apart by the blast revealing his inner robotic frame. His jaw hung open and one of his eyes was shattered like a broken light bulb, the other was only illuminated slightly. Bomb man kicked Ice man’s head aside and crossed his arms.
Bomb man: “Thanks for the victim kid. It’s been fun…” He turned to face the screen and flashed me a horrid smile. His blank unwavering eyes bore into mine.

The whites of his eyes slowly darkened until they were black as charcoal, and his robotic coat began to rust. Chunks of his metallic shell began to chip and fall off his body to the floor, and he began to chuckle.
Bomb man: “I guess I’ve out lived my usefulness… That’s how it works around here, when you stop entertaining “HIM”…You get junked…”

He crossed his arms.
Bomb man: “I’m…sorry for what I’ve done…but there’s no use saying it now…” His eyes lost their black glow; he ceased movement, and fell to the floor.
A menu popped up.

“Game Over.” The options available were, Continue, Level select, and Save.
I noticed continue and save, were both a dulled out grey color. The only option available to select was the level select option. I was brought back to the level select, as I suspected and something was off about it. My player had been changed to Mega man, and there were two levels missing. Both Ice man and Bomb man’s stages were missing and yet I still had access to Dr. Wily’s castle. Megaman turned to face the screen.
Mega man: “We didn’t need them anyway! Common! Let’s go get the rest of them!”
I stared at the face of the Blue bomber not leaving his gaze for what felt like hours. What did he mean, “Get the rest of them”? I already beat them all with him! I then remembered what Bomb man had said before he had powered down.
Bomb man: “I guess I’ve out lived my usefulness… That’s how it works around here, when you stop entertaining “HIM”…You get junked…”
His words hung in my mind as I pulled the R trigger to enter the character select screen. All the robot masters I had unlocked were present, and as I scrolled down the list, all their character portraits stared directly at me with a look of sorrow in their eyes. It seemed like they wanted to shout, “Help us! Save us from him!”. But who was this person Bomb man had referred to? Was it…Mega man? Did he pit the robot masters against each other and watch them kill one another for his own amusement? I gulped as I hit the bottom of the list. Ice man and Bomb man were the last two options available. I highlighted Ice man and clicked the X button.
A distorted shriek came through the speakers. I attempted to select Bomb man, an altered version of the screech I had just heard played.

The scream sounded identical as far as I could tell to the character’s Voice actors. Curious, I selected Ice man one final time, and was able to make out two audible words from the pain filled cry.
“Soldier…Down…” 

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