The announcement that the Blue Bomber would be returning was met with a mixed reception. The new art style was debated among fans of the series as if it was the best or worst thing that could have happened to the much-beloved franchise. Instead, fans were missing the important bits – Mega Man 11 is still a traditional Mega Man game at heart that adds just enough to keep things fresh.
Dr. Wily is still at it in his efforts to take over the world and defeat Mega Man. His next brilliant idea comes to him in a dream when he’s reminded how he was duped by his arch-enemy, Dr. Light, and the committee in his youth at university. Dr. Light’s research into robots with independent thought is selected over his double gear system. Having bottled up his anger over the years he decides to make a comeback and steal all Dr. Light’s robots to pit them against Mega Man… and so it starts all over again.
Mega Man 11 will be a very familiar experience for veteran players of the series. As with all the titles Mega Man will have to conquer eight levels, each with their own unique theme and boss battle at the end of the level. The order you decide to beat it in is really up to you, though each specific boss will come with a weakness against one of Mega Man’s newly acquired powers. Once you get that rhythm flowing it’s really just the traditionally tough platforming that’ll pose much of challenge. As with the original NES Mega Man titles the Blue Bomber must make his way into the next ‘slide’, it’s not a scrolling level as you would have experienced in the Mega Man X series. The good news is that once you get to the next part of the level a checkpoint is created, making it a much easier task for newcomers to the game. Don’t worry old school players, there is a difficulty mode that removes all those bits of aid.
Where Mega Man has prided itself over the years is brilliant level design and it’s not about to stop here.
Man’s best friend
Mega Man comes with his basic moves that allow him to shoot, jump and slide. You can also summon Rush who comes in two forms – coil and jet. Coil, as before, allows you to reach high out-of-reach areas and jet lets you hover in mid-air to areas that might have items you could otherwise not reach. Your robotic K9 companion is as useful as he’s ever been, but that’s where his tricks come to an end. As for Mega Man? Well, it’s Dr. Wily’s new double gear system that saves the day. The two gears, speed and power, can be activated mid-game to either speed Mega Man up (more a case of turning into bullet-time on-screen) or powering up his weapons. As soon as it’s activated gauge will fill up – should it fill up and overheat it’ll take some time for Mega Man to use it again. Using it takes a few tries to get the hang of it, especially when in the thick of everything happening when in the middle of a boss battle. Press both R1 and L1 at the same time, power and speed, and this becomes the double gear technique. It powers up Mega Man’s weapons and speeds him up collectively, but can’t be cancelled, which means you’ll overheat no matter what. You’re strong for a short while and can get you out of some real trouble, but it leaves you vulnerable after any attack.
Where Mega Man has prided itself over the years is brilliant level design and it’s not about to stop here. The levels aren’t up there with the Mega Man 2 and 3 games of the series, but each level brings with it a respectable challenge. Bounce Man’s level has Mega Man bouncing all over the show, which takes some time to adapt to as it’s something that’s never been done in any Mega Man game to date and it requires your platforming skills to be top-notch. Torch Man, on the other hand, will have Mega Man taking full advantage of his speed gear to steer clear of sections where a runaway fire scorches the level. Should you have the right power for the right level, you’ll make your life that much easier though. Enter Impact Man’s level, where its all about making your way through a construction site of sorts, while equipping your Acid Barrier power, and you’ll sizzle anything in your path. It’s still all about learning what power is best for a specific challenge. Fail to do that and you’re in for a world of hurt.
Leading up to the final battle I never had the sense of ‘I will kick your ass so hard’, as I did in previous games, due to the music not quite living up to previous outings.
Your foes will often drop power-ups to replenish energy or weapon power, but you’ll also be on the lookout for bolts. These bolts are absolutely priceless as it allows you to buy parts and support items in Dr. Light’s lab that could be the difference between you succeeding or not. Capcom must have felt generous as 50 of these bolts (the cheapest cost for any item) will grant you a 1-Up, and you can have nine in total. Energy and weapon tanks will fill your powers mid-battle (a must for tough boss fights), while buying access to Beat (a rad robot birdie) will save you when falling down a pit of death and the Pierce Protector won’t have Mega Man exploding when he touches spikes. These perks all help a great deal, but it’s the parts that bring in the big bonuses. Mega Man can only equip one part at any one time so it’s up to you to decide what your strengths or weaknesses are. Would you rather move at normal speed while activating speed gear or do you think more grip is going to work better for you? There are many decisions to make, so choose wisely.
Once done with the main game, which should last you just over five hours or so, you’ll gain access to several challenges – time attack, score attack, boss rush and many more. There is, however, a mode that’ll appeal to hardcore Mega Man fans – Dr. Light’s Trial. Mega Man is tested to his very limits through 30 ultra-tough areas. To upload your score to the leaderboard you only need to make it through 10 areas, but if you’re a long-time Mega Man player who is craving a challenge, you are going to find it here. Mega Man 11 is a triumph for the series, but there is one aspect where it really does let itself down – the music. A Mega Man soundtrack is known for being iconic and unfortunately, it’s just not the case here. Torch Man comes with quite a captivating song, but that is as good as it’s going to get, which is a shame. Leading up to the final battle I never had the sense of ‘I will kick your ass so hard’, as I did in previous games, due to the music not quite living up to previous outings.
The beautiful art style lends itself well to the series, one which I hope will return. Other than the soundtrack, Mega Man 11 passes with flying colours. The controls are tight and precise, the levels are challenging and trying to work out what power beats which boss is as intriguing as it’s always been. This is a mega win for Capcom and its fans.