The Crappy Parody That Is Almost Transcendent

Meegah Mem

Parody games aren’t anything new. For almost as long as there has been a video game market, there have been companies looking to joke on games, genres, or the whole concept of video games. Just look at Konami, who helped to refine the space shooter (Gradius) and action platforming (Castlevania) genres, to only then go and goof on their own games (Parodius, Kid Dracula respectively). People enjoyed those games as much because they were parodies as because they were also really good games in their genres. Parodies can be fun, and sometimes it can be nice to blow off some steam and just relax with some silliness.

Meegah Mem

Despite having existed for over three decades now, and getting pretty silly in places, the Mega ManIn 1987, Capcom released Mega Man on the NES, a game featuring a blue robot that fought other robots and took their powers (so that he could then fight other robots with those powers, and on, and on). The series went on to release over 50 games in 30 years and become one of the most famous gaming franchises in the world. series has never been taken the Konami route by parent company Capcom. There’s never been a “proper” parody game, never a title that said, “we know the whole concept of Mega Man is inherently deeply weird and funny, so let’s just run with it and make an actual joke of everything.” Fans have done their part, making the deeply silly Street Fighter X Mega Man which was almost a parody of two game series from Capcom at once, and there have been fan games that have felt pretty parodic (with bosses like Door Man and Man Man) but there hasn’t been anything that felt like a total and complete rip on the series just for the sake of deflating it. At least nothing quite to the level of Meegah Mem.

Developed by PowerUpT (under the pseudonym “Crapcom”), Meegah Mem is a very crappy, purposefully quite bad parody of the original Mega Man. Functionally it is designed to remind you of that original NES game. Six bosses to fight, six stages to play through, six weapons to collect, all capped by a playthrough of Wily’s Castle. If you were told, “this is how the game plays and this is everything you have to do, running and shooting your way through the game,” you would think someone was talking about the original NES game. That is, at least, until you see the title in action.

Once you boot the game, though, it’s patently obvious what kind of game this is. Meegah Mem is, in essence, a meme of the Mega Man experience. Yes, it’s a playable game, emulating the style and substance (barely on both counts) of Mega Man, but “playable” is a loose term we have to use here to say, “you can boot the game and play through it, technically.” When we say “playable” we don’t mean that you’re going to want to play through the game, simply that, based on what we consider something to be “playable” (it has controls, you can control it to reach a specified end goal), Meegah Mem is playable. You probably just won’t want to do it.

Stylistically Meegah Mem looks like a flash game from the early 2000s. It has crappy graphics, crude (as in, not very good) animations, and everything has this very derpy look that will remind you of the animations of yore done by people specifically to look terrible. The graphics remind me of the all Baman and Piderman shorts from that early era, with everything roughly hand drawn in paint (because that’s what people had at the time). This isn’t a game with visual flair because visual flair would be antithetical to the whole experience.

The sound design of the game is roughly the same. In fact, calling it “design” greatly oversells the experience. There are some rough sound effects for basic moves and shooting (probably all taken from free sound libraries), but the real design of the game comes down to its music. Yes, the game has music and it’s all cruddy wav files. Done by the creator. Into a microphone. With a kazoo. I honestly respect the audacity of this move. It’s a solid power move, a way to make the music as crappy as possible, but in a very laughable way. You’ll get some familiar strains of a song (in between breaths of the guy playing the kazoo), but you also have him doing it all, in essence, with his voice, humming along best as he can. Sometimes it sounds okay, most of the time it sounds awful. And that’s exactly what they wanted, it’s clear.

The game plays about as well as it looks and sounds. It’s very playable, with decent controls. It was clearly play-tested to make sure it was beatable. This isn’t a rough game due to bad controls, it’s just hard to look at and deal with. You never feel like the game is out to get you, or that it was poorly designed in any meaningful way. You can get through each stage (sometimes easily enough because the hero’s sprite had a much smaller hit-box than you’d expect), and it’s really not challenging. It is challenging to look at, but not challenging to play.

Credit to the creator, they did a respectable job translating the broad strokes of each stage into the meme game’s engine. Gutsman has the familiar platforms you expect, Iceman’s stage is covered in ice, and you need to do the climb up Elecman’s stage to reach the boss. All of them are just familiar enough that you know where to go and what to do, so nothing should catch you off guard. Well, nothing except the overall length of the game as, stage to stage, this game is incredibly short.

The original Mega Man can be beaten in half an hour if you know what you’re doing (and in less than twenty minutes if you’re a speedrunner). That’s fast, even for a Mega Man title, but that’s also because the original game only had six Robot Masters and a, relatively, short Wily Castle section. But even by those standards, Meegah Mem is incredulously short. A normal player will beat it in ten minutes or less, and a speedrun can do it in about five. That’s because each stage of the game is boiled down to its very essence and absolutely nothing else is included. Gutsman’s stage is literally just the floating platforms section before the boss. Iceman’s area feature just a long slide of ice with some jumps before you get to the boss. Elecman’s home just has that first vertical climb and then you’re already at the fiend. It’s the cut-to-the-quick, bare minimum, nothing more be said version of the stages.

Whether that’s good or bad is really up to the player. On the one hand it almost feels criminally short. I could see players going, “you made the engine and the stages and then you only gave us, at most, ten minutes of game?” It’s a fair assessment since all the work was done to make the game playable, why not add a bit of length. Of course, at the same time, the longer you’re in this game the longer you have to be tortured by the graphics and sound and general shoddiness of the levels (not the fault of the creator as that’s the intent). If they game were longer you’d have to play more of it, all around.

And, let’s be honest, doing this the way the creator did means they don’t have to worry as much about copyright issues. Short, little bits of stages designed to be funny and “just playable enough” nicely skirts the whole issue of this being a clone of Mega Man instead of just a parody playing off of it. Since Capcom didn’t authorize this title, the creator had to be wary about copying the original game too well, doing too good a job with it. Capcom has been lenient with Mega Man fan games in the past, even celebrating them sometimes (see, again, Street Fighter X Mega Man) but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be that nice. Something like this could have raised issues, so PowerUpT was smart to handle this game the way he did.

Meegah Mem is more joke than game, but it is a playable joke at least. I don’t know that anyone will actually enjoy it as a legitimate game, but as a lark, a riff, a goof on the classic title, it does work. Your enjoyment will come entirely from how much you liked those old, shitty animations of yore. If it strikes the right chord with you (because you’re probably old enough to have also been alive with Mega Man was originally released) then this likely will hit you where it counts. For everyone else, I just don’t know if the jokey nature of the game is good enough to make you want to play. It’s slight, it’s silly, and it’s not very good, but, in defense, that was entirely by design.