Casting Deep Meteo
A negative-space cutout of Mega Man superimposed over a red-filtered photograph of a drummer playing a hi-hat, their sticks a blur of motion.

Mega Man X Doesn’t Begin Until Dr. Light Sings “My Blue Suit”

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #173. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Wide but shallow.

———

     Is there any term as
disgusting as “flow state” and the
weight, the gall, the bile

it carries for low wattage
imaginations
     I tilt my head back and
where skull meets spine a crack

like knuckles or soccer knees
     It’s been like this for a year or so,
     tilting my head fully to the stars

This time I jolt, and I
see myself flash with the
price of invulnerability,
     flow interrupted

Gamers have some idea of
flow state but we do not de-
base ourselves with general
     gamerisms here. It’s not

instinct unbridled like silver
fox Goku, an unearned lean
into cellular primacy, as if every

     body carried a godliness instead
of potential for cancer
     or community

Closer to playing music or dancing,
     sports if I ever drilled,
washing cars if karate is to be
     believed, muscle in concert

with mind, Whiplash without
the white men spoiling
     jazz, power decoupled from
the threat of decisions. Mega

Man X was my first stage
for conducting instinct,
a game so completely
     played through the SNES

controller almost a relic’d Les Paul
or a Rock Band SG dumped
at Goodwill, but with more
     respect (where did my
SNES end up one wonders)

Mega Man 2 came after 3 only
     because that’s how libraries
and lending and a nascent global
     supply chain still wired with
warehouses operated and

these were fine games
     carried on the shoulders of
the new wave of British heavy metal
(man) and figuring out
     the twist from

left to right in thumbs of three
on the pellet button while
     developing a sense of momentum
that spurns physics but pleases
the balletic

Blue-suited Mega Man, right foot forward and ready to fight.

Here we’re learning tempo
(that Whiplash again), each level
     a swamp of midi and slow down
and CRT lines blooming with
dust in the corners

     step forward jump run charge
(later) slide (later) A Bflat C /
I V vi IV / tap tap tap taptaptap
et cet era

But too thick for flow, more of
a polo state, a gravity chamber
     waltz (not blue yet), speed
yet undiscovered, not my tempo

Mega Man X, a non-sequel, not
the tenth Mega Man game (see X-Men
and House of X[avier]
     and Powers of X[10])

a future vision of the future where
     the war rages and you, X (not Mega [Rock]
Man but not-not) are ill prepared
     though still four buttons stronger from
the other games we
     are not following exactly

The key changes: charging
     a shot and jumping
off walls, taught from stage zero
     (which ends with Zero)
     (and violet Boba Fett)

which doesn’t smack of much
but it’s one of two steps that
     set a new range of flow and
without the walls it’s the old
     pre-20XX Mega Man

These walls are friction, resistance,
slow down, reflective, the Y
axis, an exponentially tall
     second dimension to what
was possible before and if

you aren’t dancing up and over
the penguin or the kuwanger
     there’s no music in you or
it’s a stringless ukulele for some
thumbs but what pissed away
     potential

Walls are the surface, but the
     dash is the beat
     Mega Man X doesn’t begin
until the ghost of Dr. Light sings
My Blue Suit” to X and
     teaches you to flow

but before that how
much time have
you spent fighting Vile

When you play now
(we still play now right)
     does X interrupt Vile’s
flow state as he dashes in his
tugboat Gundam

We push that rock up the
infinite mountain and we
     must endure we must match
     tempo and dodge shot and
blank out this immortal
subordinate

Surviving against Vile
is a paradiddle, the circle of fifths,
     a fundamental, a piece of performance
I’m sure speedrunners have hacked
to hell and back but
     I refuse to look, I think only

of the flash and
the jump and one of
     three scenes with Zero
which serves to proof a legend
and from there we
     are finally warmed

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Levi Rubeck is a critic and poet currently living in the Boston area. Check his links at levirubeck.com.

 

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