- “Mega Man 11” revives an iconic character, mixing classic gameplay with modern graphics and presentation.
- Precise controls and unique special weapons make Mega Man a joy to play, despite unforgiving pitfalls and tough enemy bosses
- With four difficulty settings, the game is welcoming for newcomers but still holds a challenge for veterans of the series.
- The updated presentation and voice acting bring a refreshing dose of personality to a tried and true formula.
“Mega Man 11” is the game fans of the series have been waiting for. It treats the Blue Bomber with the sort of love and respect that a 30-year-old franchise deserves.
Once easily recognised alongside iconic characters like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man has struggled to make the jump to the current generation of consoles. Until now.
Sniper Joe, an age-old Mega Man enemy, guards the path with his shield and blaster.
Developer Capcom’s formula for Mega Man has always been roughly the same: The heroic robot must jump and shoot his way through eight stages and eight enemy bosses in order to find and defeat the evil Dr. Wily.
Each stage is carefully crafted based on the boss’s theme and can be completed in any order. Completing a stage and defeating the boss will grant Mega Man a special ability to help him beat the rest of the stages.
Each of the eight robot masters guards their own unique stage.
In “Mega Man 11,” Capcom has successfully distilled the core of the series and placed it in modern packaging. That includes full voice acting, high-definition graphics, lighting effects, multiple difficulty levels, and online leaderboards for high scores.
Though most of these featureswould be considered standard for a single-player platforming game in 2018, Mega Man has long been trapped in an odd nostalgia loop that has stunted the series’ growth.
In “Mega Man 11,” the bosses start out as Mega Man’s pals before being turned against him.
The Mega Man series has always been influential, but the gameplay began to stagnate as newer technology allowed for more possibilities beyond Mega Man’s 2D world. Capcom’s Mega Man spin-offs continued to layer more complex mechanics on top of the original formula, but as things got more complicated, the series began to lose its charm and simple identity.
“Mega Man 10” was released in 2010 but looks nearly the same as the original game from 1987.
“Mega Man 9” and “Mega Man 10” were both made using the same classic 8-bit sprites and 4:3 aspect ratio as the first six Mega Man games on the original Nintendo.
While hardcore fans celebrated the throwback look and difficulty of those games as a return to form for the series, the scaled back presentation did little to help Mega Man gain traction with a new generation of gamers.
Without a clear audience, Capcom put Mega Man on the shelf for almost a decade as indie titles like “Cuphead” and “20XX” continued the legacy of the run-and-gun platformer.
The “2.5D” graphics make Mega Man feel new for the first time in a long while.
With “Mega Man 11” adopting 2.5D design, the world of Mega Man feels more alive than ever, with vibrant backgrounds, expressive enemies and more visually interesting effects. Thanks to the mixture of 3D and 2D elements, I felt like I was playing a Mega Man game that actually felt new, rather than a rebuild of old sprites, for the first time since “Mega Man 8” in 1996.
Special weapons change Mega Man’s appearance and can be used for more than just fighting.
“Mega Man 11” still feels every bit as challenging as the original Mega Man games, but includes multiple difficulty levels and power-ups to help newcomers succeed.
In addition to the special boss weapons, players can unlock power-ups like larger bullets or rapid-fire to make things a bit easier.
Though the power-ups aren’t new to the series, they do feel more helpful than the ones in past “Mega Man” games, which felt more like an after thought. Similarly, the boss weapons feel useful in more specific situations than in the past, and do more than just kill enemies.
Navigating traps takes patience and precision
Each stage presents unique challenges and even experienced players will need to commit them to memory to avoid repeated deaths. The game employs an old-school difficulty curve that can feel unforgiving at times. Traps like pitfalls and the spikes kill Mega Man in one hit, so even small mistakes can send him back to the start of a level.
Each stage typically has two checkpoints, one in the middle and one before the robot boss. If Mega Man runs out of lives he will lose his checkpoints and need to start at the start of the stage. “Mega Man 11” is certainly difficult, making it all the more satisfying when you finally reach and beat one of the robot bosses.
The bosses of “Mega Man 11” pack more punch than usual, and have their own special abilities.
The controls in “Mega Man 11” are tight and responsive, though you’ll might feel robbed when an enemy hits you once and you’re suddenly knocked into a pit for a quick death. There is a bit of a learning curve with Mega Man’s new double gear abilities, which allow him to slow down time for a short while, or enhance his attacks. Bosses can use their own double-gear abilities too, making for more interesting one-on-one action.
The story tries to explain why Dr. Wily, Mega Man’s arch-nemesis, became evil 10 games ago.
The double-gear system is actually the focus of the game’s story, though players shouldn’t expect too much.”Mega Man 11″ doesn’t seem to connect to the story of any of the previous games. Capcom took the time to provide voice work for the game’s story cutscenes but they mostly just provide an excuse for Mega Man to chase after Dr. Wily again.
“Mega Man 11” ultimately succeeds in modernising the series without compromising its old-school formula. The game may not end up being a standout classic, but with luck it will help new fans learn to embrace classic platformers.
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