In our current millennium, Capcom has remade his original adventure in the adorable Mega Man: Powered Up, gone achingly retro with the 8-bit style of Mega Man 9 and 10, and repackaged his first eight games as part of an anniversary collection.
Mega Man series lead Keiji Inafune had left Capcom in 2010, going on to make his own Mega Man clone.Mega Man 11 is a fine game, and a worthy eleventh entry in a series that once set the bar for tricky platformers.But Mega Man 11 won me over with its delightfully amped-up difficulty and cool time-stopping ability that makes its challenges (barely) possible.Those who have been enjoying our blue buddy’s adventures within the last three decades are probably familiar with the gameplay formula here: You go through eight themed levels in the order of your choosing, claiming the weapons of the end-stage Robot Masters you defeat–and which can be used to exploit weaknesses in subsequent boss encounters. The Mega Man formula, first established in 1987, has changed very little over the past 30 years.
Mega Man has picked up a few new abilities over the years. In Mega Man 3 he learned how to slide, and in Mega Man 4 he figured out how to charge up his shots to do more damage. The NES controller had just two buttons, and in Mega Man 1-6 they corresponded to “jump” and “shoot.” Mega Man 11 has more buttons than it knows what to do with, but the Double Gear system employs two of them – the left and right shoulder buttons, specifically – to add a new element to each of Mega Man’s basic functions.Mega Man 11 is the first Mega Man of this generation, and the long-awaited return of a series that was once the king of platformers. The thing is, platformers have gotten really, really good.In practice, the Double Gear system is one of many ways in which Capcom has made the devilishly hard Mega Man series slightly easier — or, for more skilled players, a new mechanic with which to optimize and perfect speedruns.The bosses themselves are largely familiar, and that was disappointing. You may be surprised to learn that there hasn’t been a Torch Man before, because he is a clone of Fire Man, Heat Man, Flame Man etc
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- Mega Man is back in his best entry in over a decade. The controls are tight, the quality of life changes such as button mapping Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and sliding are more than welcome, and the Double Gear system becomes second nature quickly. While the main game may seem short, and a lack of fan-favorite characters is disappointing, Mega Man 11 shines in everything it does include. This truly is the triumphant return of the Blue Bomber
- The stages are beautifully designed, the music stands in serious competition with the best of the series, and the gameplay as a whole is an absolute joy to interact with.
- While Mega Man 11 isn’t a perfect game, it’s certainly a fun one, and it establishes a solid foundation for the Blue Bomber going forward. [Issue #36 – November/December 2018, p. 80]
- To celebrate its late 30th birthday, the Blue Bomber comes back with a strong 11th episode which finally takes some risks. The brand new Double Gear System breezes a fresh wind on the still satisfying classic mechanics of the series. With twisted boss fights and four very well-though difficulty modes, only the very meh soundtracks might deter you from calling back this old pal.
Mega Man 11 sticks so close to the established formula that it wouldn’t have made much of a splash if it had come out in 2008, or 1998.One of the bosses Mega Man fights this time around is called Block Man. As you’re fighting him, he’ll suddenly transform into a hulking monster that takes up most of the screen, swatting and punching at you constantly. It’s an unsuual moment, because Mega Man bosses don’t often transform.Mega Man 11 is a good action game that you can easily identify with, but it’s far too uneven and bumpy to hold up against some of the best installments in the venerable franchise. At its best, it’s a terrific retro romp with exciting boss encounters and unique gimmicks. At its worst, it’s a frustrating experience whose too-long levels toss out infuriating obstacles to progress at the worst times.
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