Night Thoughts: Mega Man 3’s Hard Man

Night Thoughts happen, as the title suggests, during the night. The following was thought up and written between the hours of 9:00 and 10:30 p.m.

INT. CAPCOM OF AMERICA OFFICES – EARLY 1990

Pastel colors and the smell of bad cologne are prevalent. HARRY SMIZER enters the office sweating. His partner in business, LARRY WENDEL, sits at his desk next to Harry’s drinking black coffee.

LARRY
Harry, take it easy! You look like you just climbed the Berlin Wall.

HARRY
No topical references right now, Larry. We’re in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble.

LARRY
Why, Har? Wife find out about our secret love affair? You get caught with that kilo of heroin you smuggled in from Guatemala? Did you kill Gorbachev?

HARRY
No, Larry, it’s nothing like that. Have you seen the latest bosses for Mega Man 3?

LARRY
Mega Man 3? The new one that’s coming out later this year? I think the designs look pretty radical, man.

HARRY
It’s not the designs. It’s the names the developers came up with. Look.

Harry produces a list of the names of the bosses from Mega Man 3. Larry scrolls through it a few times.

LARRY
Top Man, Gemini Man, Snake Man. Harry, I don’t see what’s wrong here.

HARRY (pointing to a name)
What about that one?

LARRY (beat)
Hard Man?

HARRY
Yeah, Larry. Hard. Man.

LARRY (longer beat)
I don’t get it. He’s a man and he’s hard.

HARRY
Yeah! Do you — How do you not see the issue here?

LARRY
He’s a man made of metal, Harry! They already had Metal Man in Mega Man 2, they couldn’t just call this one the same thing. So he’s a hard man!

HARRY
Larry, listen to yourself. Say what you just said.

LARRY
…He’s a hard man?

Harry waits for Larry to ruminate on his words, but all Larry does is drink more coffee.

LARRY
I don’t follow, Har.

HARRY
Larry, just play along here. When we’re in my apartment, and we have the curtains drawn because we’re being naughty, and also because this is the early Nineties and out-and-proud gay couples are still looked upon with a troubling amount of scorn due to society’s gross homophobia and panic over the AIDS crisis, what do I make you?

LARRY
A pastrami sandwich?

HARRY
Larry.

LARRY (channeling the disco artist Sylvester)
You make me feel mighty real?

HARRY
Larry!

Harry points to Larry’s crotch.

LARRY (putting two and two together)
Ohhhh. Hard Man. I get it now.

HARRY
Young people are going to play this game, Larry! We can’t have a boss character named Hard Man! We’ll be the laughingstock of the whole video game industry!

LARRY (laughing)
Harry, darling, come on! You think calling a boss character Hard Man will get us run out of town? It’ll barely register on the laundry list of egregious missteps by video game developers. Remember the E.T. fiasco back in ’82? All of those terrible adult games third-party companies crapped out before the crash? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

HARRY
…I suppose you’re right.

LARRY
Not to mention the fact that the American side of the industry continues to market video games more and more to boys and young men, despite the fact that plenty of girls play games and women make up a substantial portion of video game developers.

HARRY
That’s true. Video games are becoming a boy’s club. But you don’t think that will lead to any sort of society-breaking discourse in twenty years or so, do so?

LARRY
Oh, Harry, I don’t think we have to worry about that. Besides, by then our brains will be so pickled by modern hallucinogens that we won’t have the mental capacity to worry about anything!

Harry and Larry laugh about the prospect of becoming dependent on ecstasy and methamphetamines.

HARRY
You know what, Larry? You’re right. I was worried over nothing. It doesn’t matter that the Mega Man 3 developers in Osaka called one of their boss characters Hard Man. It doesn’t matter that kids are going to laugh about that for years and years. In the grand scheme of things, this little slip-up is nothing more than a footnote in video game history.

LARRY
That’s the spirit, Harry!

Harry and Larry lean in for a quick, secret smooch, but they catch a COWORKER about to pass them. Instead, they attempt an awkward handshake as the coworkers walks by.

LARRY
Oh, by the way. I guess they sent over a preview of the design documents for Mega Man 4.

HARRY
Wow, they’re moving fast. We haven’t even released the third game yet.

LARRY
This franchise is getting huge, Harry. Take a look. Lots of changes.

Larry hands Harry a copy of the Mega Man 4 design documents. Harry flips through, but stops in horror on one page.

HARRY
Oh my God. Larry, they changed the name of the main weapon.

LARRY
Yeah, I know. The Mega Buster.

Harry gives him a long, cold stare.

LARRY (beat)
Ohhhh.

FLASH FORWARD – WILL SISSKIND’S BROOKLYN APARTMENT – NOVEMBER 2021

WILL SISSKIND, a real chump, plays a ROM copy of Mega Man 3 on his laptop while his wife BECCA bakes pumpkin bread for the holidays. Will gets to the stage select screen and chooses his favorite boss character.

WILL
Heh. Hard Man.

BECCA
You’re a child.

FADE TO BLACK.

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