Growing up in the golden age of Nintendo consoles, I never fully appreciated Mega Man games. I believe that this stemmed from my tentative approach to platform games, where I'd tiptoe up to each pit, take a deep breath, and then jump, with my heart pounding and palms sweating. Mario games have always had the elusive ability to be fun for players of varying skill levels, and I preferred them in my early years for this reason. It wasn't until I was much older that I took on The Lost Levels (Super Mario 2 in Japan). Tiptoeing simply doesn't cut it in The Lost Levels, and in order to make it through levels, one needs to generally maintain a great deal of momentum. A balls-to-the-wall approach was my only option, and using it, I prevailed.
Returning to Mega Man games after this revelatory experience made me realize what I had missed. Sure, I had played a bit of Mega Man 2 and 3 and maybe even a little 4 or 6 as a kid, but it had always been an exercise in frustration, resulting in tears and controllers hurled from my tiny, useless hands. Upon downloading the first game to my Wii from Nintendo's Virtual Console service, I found myself able to progress steadily through it. It wasn't a walk in the park, but it was challenging in an incredibly fun way. I found Mega Man 2 to be even more delightful. Playing through the entire game in one sitting became a regular late night activity for me and my buddies. Sometimes I took it too far, like the time I called in sick to work and played through it three times in a row. Basically, I like this game, and though I've tried many different booze pairings with it, one of the best happened last night.
More than any other in the series, Mega Man 2 is a tightly-constructed game. It is not difficult, but playing through it quickly requires skill and focus. Above all, it is a pleasure to play. It is tricky enough to make players feel rewarded, yet it does not contain the sadistic bosses and ridiculous jumping puzzles that can be found in the rest of the series. It is a clean and comfortable celebration of the essence of its genre, neither too serious nor too frivolous. The 2008 Weingut Baron Knyphausen "Baron K'" Riesling Kabinett that I enjoyed alongside Mega Man 2 shared these properties. Though kabinetts are generally the driest rieslings, the Baron K' possessed a perfumed honey sweetness that was balanced perfectly by flavors of ripe granny smiths, peaches, and citrus. Like Mega Man 2, the wine was not terribly complex, but was well-rounded and delicious. It was crafted with precision, and succeeded at being exactly what it set out to be.
At 9.5% alcohol by volume, the Baron K' was not going to impede my gaming skills. Or so I thought. Having had a couple beers beforehand, and being in a state of exquisite relaxation after a hard day's work, I let my enjoyment of this pairing get the better of me. At my peak, I was able to beat Mega Man 2 in 47 minutes without dying a single time. Last night I died two or three times, once in a manner so embarrassing that I continue to feel the bitter sting of shame from it (and surely won't describe it here). I ended Dr. Wiley's life (or did I?) after 1 hour and 4 minutes. Nothing to be proud of, but then again, I wasn't setting out to best any records. As when I enjoy a tasty steak with a good Bordeaux, I took my time, but still finished faster than most people would.
Other suggestions for Mega Man 2: Chopin on the rocks, Weihenstephaner Original (Munich Helles).
2 weeks ago