-a rom hack of "Megaman II" for the NES-
review by: Dr. Boogie
Though Halloween has just passed us by, I would like to ask you a tough question from that very season: What scares you? Losing your job? Those pictures that were taken by that P.I. your wife hired? Trivial things at best.
You know what scares me the most? Rom hacks. In all the world, you may never encounter something quite as shockingly horrific as something that would destroy that which you hold dear. Oh sure, you and I might differ when it comes to which games we'd least like to see defamed in such a manner, but I'll bet we can agree on one title: Megaman II. We all love that game. It's like Contra; it's universal. It didn't matter at all that the cover featured some goon in a motorcycle helmet firing a laser pistol at two guys who looked like actors pretending to be the characters from the game. That was just part of the charm.
And someone went and changed all that to an unrecognizable mess called Cutman's Bad Scizzors Day.
Ordinarily, a rom hack consists principally of visual fuck-ups, with the odd altered sound or rearranged platforms here and there. Not this time, though. Intrepid rom hacker Jason Godman has gone ahead and changed virtually every aspect of the original game to bring you something altogether different. He's also changed the proper spelling of "scissors" to "scizzors" - look, rom hacking is an art form, people.
For starters, instead of Megaman, you now control Cutman, one of the robot bosses from the original Megaman. Kinda. The original Cutman didn't have the pronounced overbite that this one does, but the rest is pretty accurate: round head, external underwear (overwear, if you will), uses scissors from head as a weapon, etc. Under normal circumstances, that would be it as far as changes go, but in addition to looking different, Cutman also runs, jumps, and climbs faster than good ol' Megaman. Most of the time, that means you'll be breezing through the levels quicker than you normally would, especially Crashman's ladder-filled stage. Unfortunately, all this backfires when you're in a stage like Bubbleman's, where speed becomes a liability as you try to carefully navigate narrow passages lined with spikes. Furthermore, whereas Megaman could shoot up to three projectiles at once, Cutman can only have a single projectile on screen at any given time. Why, this almost sounds like a real game, doesn't it?
Of course, any hacker who intends to do a Megaman hack is entreated to modify the original eight bosses at least a little bit.
Godman has done just that, though he wound up dating himself with more than a few of the changes.
Nobody likes Aquaman. That much is pretty universal. It stands to reason, then, that an effeminate Aquaman should be used to replace Bubbleman.
His stage is largely the same, made more difficult by the fact that super-speedy Cutman is constantly slamming into spikes and dying. Godman did change a couple of the enemies (the giant frog-spewing robot is now a kid with a bagful of frogs) and the water is now a different color. See if you can spot the old color:
If you somehow manage to defeat Aquaman, he'll give Cutman the power of "Walking Fish," which is about as useful as any of Aquaman's powers when out of water.
Crashman has been replaced with the unnaturally buff prop comic, Carrot Top. Though Carrot Top himself is more of a 90s phenomenon, the author further dates himself by referencing Top's old 1-800-CALL-ATT commercials by putting a payphone right next to him. Somehow, he's able to use the phone to shoot bombs at you. I guess it works since they're both technically props, as is the "Doom ina Can" you get from him, I suppose. More importantly, though, look at this:
First, it was the Quake Oats guy in the center of the stage select screen, and now you've got oat-themed enemies popping up. More on this later.
The feeling among the majority of Americans (and the rest of the world, as it turns out) is that this next character is definitely villainous enough to be the new Airman. Many of the other stages in the hack feature only a color swap or two, but W's stage features a flashing red and black background (two colors that go great together) along with some giant likenesses of our Commander in Chief:
But how does Godman really feel about W? Seriously, though, his weapon of choice is "Bush majik". But wait! There's more:
It's Dr. Light, come to give you yet another interesting tool for defeating Bush: a "kitty rocket". That should come in handy?
Remember that movie Kangaroo Jack? No, in all likelihood, you just remember hearing about it and thinking, "boy, that sounds like a really stupid movie." Well Godman remembered that movie enough to devote an entire stage to the title character, and what a stage it is.
Yes, Kangaroo Jack was the #1 movie in terms of sales at one. The self portraits are a nice touch, too. Unfortunately, the level is actually quite tough thanks to Cutman's extra speed; those of you that remember Quickman's original stage will recall the sections where you had to quickly escape the scene to avoid being instantly killed by a huge laser. Those scenes, as it turns out, were carefully planned out to factor in Megaman's normal running and jumping speed so that with a little practice and memorization, a player could drop into the scene, pick the right direction to start running, and be out just in time to avoid certain death. Now, though, Cutman's hyper speed causes him to run right off the edge of carefully-placed platforms and into the path of the oncoming laser.
What's more, the actual boss fight made tougher by throwing in some huge blocks that cause Kangaroo Jack to start running and jumping all over the place, all the while flinging "Kangajoo videotapes" at you.
Not the best likeness of Jackie Chan that I've ever seen. All I can figure is that this is supposed to be the Jackie Chan from his old cartoon show, Jackie Chan Adventures. Remember that? Anyway, apart from that, there's nothing really remarkable about his stage. You do see another oat-themed enemy, though:
Weird, eh? Anyway, Chan gives you "twinklies" and as a bonus, a "hoppy thing".
Those kids were always after his Lucky Charms, but he's through running. Unfortunately for him, his Woodman-esque power of creating a clover shield (which the author calls "Wired Spinee") is so crummy that you'd expect it to be one of Aquaman's powers. Godman shows off his love of flashing backgrounds once again, which doesn't look that bad, apart from making the forest look like it's on fire.
Woodman would be furious, I'm sure.
(or at least Smokey would be)
Though I'd like to think that Pokemon is on the way out, Godman doesn't do me any favors by putting Pikachu in yet another game. The best part of this stage (Heatman's, that is) is that Cutman's superior jumping allows you to quickly bypass most of the annoying platform-jumping sections from the original stage with little difficulty. Makes it that much easier to get to the boss and steal his "Pika pikapoo" and "flying wheee".
I've saved the best for last. Up 'til this point, I've been cleaning up the spelling on the names of some of the boss characters, but I can't say for sure what this boss was supposed to be called. The portrait kind of looked like 8-bit cleavage, but the name appears as either boobie spam or "oopsagan". I think it might even be "Britney Spears", on account of the boobs and "oopsagan" thing. Obviously this hack was made before she went insane. Names aside, though, this stage is probably the best example of Godman's utter contempt for the player, as shown here:
Godman managed to use just about every visually offensive color combination to transform Metalman's stage into an animated Lisa Frank notebook cover. Meanwhile, the boss fights not with metal saws but with some other object.
It kind of looks like a die turned so that the "one" side faces the camera. The game calls them "soft pilloes," though. Huh.
After defeating the eight robot bosses, or whatever you'd call them now, you'll have to hunt down a very familiar figure. No, not Dr. Wily, an even more diabolical old man.
Not only is the main villain none other Wilford "Prepare to Diabetes!" Brimley, but it's the Wilford Brimley from Wilford Brimley Battle, another rom hack we've covered in the past! Rom hackers stealing from other rom hackers? It happens, people.
All that remains is to penetrate the oaty depths of Wilford's evil fortress and confront the man himself. Note how he decorates his home with pro-Quaker propaganda:
Beware, though, for the fortress is guarded by an oat-loving dragon.
And worse yet, flashing neon signage!
But no, there was still a greater threat than robo-dragons and epilepsy. In one of the fortress levels, you'll have to traverse a series of platforms with invisible holes in them. Godman went ahead and changed this scene a little bit so that falling in one of the holes has unusually severe consequences:
Looks like Cutman is just superimposed on the background art, right? Well in truth, he just fell through a hole in the floor in the next scene up, and the only way to get out of such a hole would be with a ladder, and since there is none, he's stuck. Really stuck. At this point, nothing can kill Cutman, and there's no suicide button, so your only recourse is to reset the game and use a password to get back to the start of the level. Real nice work, Godman.
But let's say you learned where that spot was and eventually overcame it. Pass a couple more boring boss fights and you'll fight Wilford in his true form.
The Quaker Oat mascot! Fear his hoary powers of oatmeal and his merely hinted-at connection to actual Quakers!
Oh, but it was all an illusion. And now, Wilford Brimley will have to face justice for his crimes against non-diabetics, and Godman will hopefully have to pay for his own crimes, including stealing from his fellow rom hackers. With any luck, they'll give him the chair.
I'm sure whoever made Wilford Brimley Battle is more than a little upset that their crappy-looking hacked sprite has been co-opted to be in yet another crappy-looking rom hack. I've shown you a lot of things in the seedy world of rom hacks, but none is so low as a rom hacker who can't even come up with his own style of garbage. For shame, Godman. I give you two thumbs down for plagiarism, and another seven or eight thumbs down for everything else.
Have any questions or comments about this piece?
*** You too can play Cutman's Bad Scizzors Day! ***
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