There aren’t many game series’ that can keep up with Mega Man and his 30-year legacy.
Having sold millions of copies, spanning countless spinoff titles and numerous main series entries, it’s fair to say there aren’t many gamers who wouldn’t have heard of the blue suited hero by now. But with so many titles, so many years of quality and so much to live up to, can his latest adventure live up to the high standards of the predecessors? I jumped in to Mega Man 11 to find out.
For fans of the Mega Man series, the latest entry plays a lot like those that have gone before it, with some eye-catching 2.5D visuals and classic hardcore platforming action bringing back the type of gameplay Mega Man is so well known for. If you’re one of the few who haven’t jumped into at least one Mega Man title at some point though, then fear not, it won’t take long to pick up the basics.
There are eight different levels contained within Mega Man 11, each of which are themed around the unique robotic boss you’ll be fighting at the end of it – with each level playable from the start of the game in any order. The idea is simple, beat the various bosses that have been created by the villainous and revenge-fuelled Dr Wily, gain their abilities, and then take on Wily himself in an all-powerful showdown.
Despite being highly reminiscent of past entries, there is more than enough here to ensure Mega Man 11 feels like a noteworthy entry to the series, with stunning visuals pushing that forward from the get go. Unlike Mega Man 10 and its old school look, the latest entry has sought to modernise things with some rather bright and vibrant colours mashing together with a heavy and pulsating soundtrack that really brings things up to speed. On top of that, the art style looks fabulous with 3D characters standing out amongst the well crafted and picturesque 2D backgrounds in each level.
The fresh look isn’t the only thing that brings the blue bomber to life though, as Mega Man 11 also comes boasting some fluid, yet highly simplistic, controls that will have our expectant hero jumping, sliding and shooting his way past anything that dares to stand in his way with ease. This is essential when playing a platform title – especially one with the difficulty of Mega Man 11.
Whilst new abilities will be acquired after defeating each of the game’s bosses, which can then be used at will thereafter, the main weapon of choice is the iconic yet simple Mega Buster; a weapon that fires bullets packed with the sun’s energy, either rapidly or in a charged shot for extra damage. Should you have the Power Gear active you can also overcharge the Mega Buster for several incredibly powerful shots, which can come in handy when taking on boss fights.
A key feature that separates Mega Man 11 from its predecessors though is the Double Gear system, allowing players to slow time with the Speed Gear or drastically power Mega Man’s blaster – or indeed any other attained weapons – for a short period with the Power Gear. Should you find yourself struggling within a level though, that’s when the Double Gear system really kicks in to action with players able to utilise both the Speed and Power Gears when low in health. This often proves to be the key to passing some of the harder sections of MM11.
If you’ve played any previous titles, you’d expect this latest adventure to bring a fairly meaty challenge, and if you’re new to platformers, struggle with finesse or maintaining lightning reactions, then you may want to think again before jumping in with Mega Man 11. This is one game that takes a level of skill and precision to master. Thankfully there are multiple difficulty options to choose from with Casual, Normal and Superhero available along with Newcomer for those new to the series. For me, having played all previous Mega Man titles, Normal felt like the right way to go, especially with Superhero stating only the most hardcore fans should apply!
If you intend to play on anything from Normal or above however, then you should expect deaths – lots and lots of deaths. Many may see this as a negative, as no one likes to repeatedly fail, but failing in Mega Man 11 never feels unjust and a big reason for that is just how smooth and fluid the controls are. With next to no delay in button responses, and a simplistic control scheme that sees all commands assigned to various buttons, learning to play Mega Man is never going to be an issue. Mastering it however… well, that will take time.
What makes things more difficult within this game is the fact that each of the various levels are so well crafted. With unique hazards throughout, there is always something new to watch out for, and even though it’s certainly possible that players could learn the layout of a level well enough to get through it with no issues, it isn’t going to be a simple task.
Should you end up besting everything the main game has to offer and send Dr. Wily running with his tail between his legs, then your next stop will no doubt be the Extra Modes – letting players jump into 9 pre-set challenging special stages; 7 of which are available from the start. As you expect, the Challenges are just that, challenging, however should you have the patience to master Time Attack, conquer traversal by only jumping, gain the biggest score or go on a collection hunt, then there is certainly plenty to play.
Besides this Challenge Mode and the main stages within the game, Mega Man 11 doesn’t exactly have much more to shout about. In all honesty though, it doesn’t need it. It may not be the longest adventure you’ll find yourself taking in, but Mega Man 11 is a vast improvement on previous games in the series, all whilst keeping the core values of the franchise at the forefront. With a stunning visual upgrade brought in, a suitable soundtrack accompanying events and some fluid controls ensuring players are constantly able to keep up with the action, Mega Man 11 is one of the best titles in the series – although the incredible difficulty won’t be something that all will enjoy.