I’m a huge Mega Man nerd. There, I said it. Now with that out of the way I can tell you what I think of the first “canon” (as I see it anyway) Mega Man title since Mega Man 8 on the Sega Saturn (the PS1 version sucked…). There has been a lot of hype surrounding this game, both good and bad. When it was first announced that the next MM title would not be a .exe/Battle Network/Craptacular Crapfest iteration, but instead would be a brand new 8-bit adventure, many were displeased. In fact, some of our other writers, cough*Jeremy*cough, were even a little perturbed that Capcom decided to take the “easy” way out and not attempt a full remake, ala Bionic Commando: Rearmed.
Let me just say that I was behind Capcom on this decision from the very start. I mean, why would Inafune-san risk his baby in the hands of the remake crew? Well, regardless of what side you fall on, the game has turned out just the way every Mega Man geek has always dreamed. And there are plenty of us to sustain a title like this, trust me. In fact, one of my good friends is also a fan of the original Blue Bomber titles and we took it upon ourselves to tear the game apart as soon as we got the chance. We sat down with the game and were immediately taken aback by how perfectly faithful it was to all the NES versions of the series. Enemies re-spawn immediately when off-screen (thanks RAM, or lack there-of), they move in predictable patterns, and in true 8-bit form, and many enemies can be killed before they even have a chance to attack if you have the correct timing.
The graphics, by today’s standards… are horrible. I mean bad, really really bad. Like, 8-bit bad. What’s that? This is an 8-bit game? Oh. Yes it’s true, Mega Man 9 won’t be winning any awards for graphical technology, but what’s there is there for a reason. And actually, by 8-bit standards, the game is mighty fine looking. Featuring a wide variety of palettes, creative environments, and extremely unique enemies, the game is an 8-bit wet dream if there ever was one.
One issue that I had been worried about early on was something that the later Mega Man NES games were rather hit-or-miss on: level design. I can tell you now after playing all the levels many, many times, there was really no reason for me to have worried after all. The levels remind me of somewhere between the Mega Man 2 “Inafune-played-each-level-and-found-the-most-annoying-spots-for-enemies-then-put-them-there” enjoyable frustration and the Mega Man 3 “these-levels-SCREAM-speed-run” smoothness. Yes, they’re that good.
Now comes perhaps the most talked-about feature of the game: the difficulty. I made a point on our Mega Man debate podcast that I didn’t find the Mega Man titles to be difficult per se, but rather just the nature of the blue beast, as it were. While my feelings on that certainly haven’t changed, I did begin to realize how much the decade and a half or more of practice on each of the original MM levels had assisted me on being able to complete them in a timely manner. This rings true for Mega Man 9 as well, and while it may take you 15, 20….or 50 tries to make it through a level for the first time, once you’ve beaten each one you should be able to breeze through a repeat try of said level with little trouble. As 8-bit games go, the style holds up and it’s all about memorization, just like it’s always been.
In closing, if you’re a Mega Man fan, you’re going to find just what you’re looking for in this wonderful throwback title. Although, I think the game may be of even more benefit to the younger generation of gamers who may want a taste of where their hobby originated and perhaps even gain some respect for us old folks who can remember getting Mega Man 2 for Christmas, and loving it.
- It’s another 8-bit Mega Man game!
- Level design is godly
- Creative enemies and bosses
- No Mega Buster power shot
- No sliding (I mean, come on!)
- 8-bit aesthetic just won’t click with everyone