Mega Man 11
Developed By: Capcom
Published By: Capcom
Category: Action, Platformer
Release Date: 10.2.18
After a too-long wait and one Mighty No. 9-sized disappointment, Capcom has finally brought back our beloved Blue Bomber. Mega Man 11 for the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic update of one of the pillars of gaming’s past. I’ve seen many reviews bemoaning the fact that Mega Man 11 is basically just the old games with a new coat of paint, but that’s exactly what I was asking for, so no worries here.
I Suppose There’s No Success Without Failure, But Dr. Wily Is Taking It A Little Far
For, like, the millionth time, Dr. Wily has an idea to finally destroy Mega Man and force the world to acknowledge his superiority to Dr. Light. One night, he remembers his first invention – the one that caused his rift with Light in the first place – called the Double Gear. So he kidnaps 8 of Light’s robots, builds a skull-themed techno-castle, and sets about laying elaborate traps for Mega Man to go through and defeat his robot masters one by one. Fearing what will happen if Mega Man tries to fight robots with Double Gear installed, Dr. Light reluctantly agrees to upgrade his greatest creation to stop Dr. Wily once more. With the new power of the Double Gear, Mega Man sets off to Mega Buster a cap in some Wily Nos for at least the 11th time.
Like any Mega Man game, the story is a fairly light one. Mega Man is good, Dr. Light wants to save his friend, and Dr. Wily can’t overcome his outsize ego to see how much he could accomplish if he just swallowed his pride and went back to work with Dr. Light. It’s the same thing you’ve seen before from this series, but it’s just there to be a backdrop for the premiere action platformer hero’s adventures to play out. Some things just don’t need to be questioned; just like Bowser will always kidnap princesses, Dr. Wily will always come back with 8 new robot masters. I, for one, look forward to it.
Super Fighting Robot
As far as I’m concerned, Mega Man is the king of action platformers. The formula has remained basically unchanged for 11 games now. You control Mega Man; he can run, jump, and slide for movement, and he can fire his Mega Buster for a basic attack. You can hold the attack button to charge the Mega Buster to launch a bigger, stronger attack. You navigate through each of the robot masters’ lairs by a combination of platforming challenges and combat with mob enemies and some mini-bosses. After defeating a robot master, you get their special attack, and every master is weak against another master’s weapon. Figuring out the order in which to complete levels is part of the game, too; but anyone who’s played a Mega Man game already knows that.
Mega Man also has access to his usual allies, like his trusty, transformable dog Rush, helpful bird Beat, and Eddie the item dispenser. Like most of the more recent entries in the series, Auto runs a shop where you can buy items and upgrades. Staples like M-Tanks and E-Tanks are purchasable using bolts found in levels, as are extra lives. Upgrades to make combat and platforming easier are available as well. This is all pretty standard stuff, and if you’re a fan of the series you already know how it all works. I think the familiarity of these systems is a welcome feature; every time I boot the game up, it feels like I’m coming home.
The game has different difficulty levels for different levels of player. The two lowest settings are way too easy; you don’t even need to figure out which weapon each boss is weak to in either of them. The Mega Buster us good enough. The lowest setting makes it almost impossible to die; Beat comes and pulls you out of any pits you fall into and enemy hits do so little damage it’s almost funny. Normal is a decent challenge and hard… well, it has a very accurate name. “Hard” may actually be underselling it a bit. Still, there’s a level for every gamer out there.
Double Gear System
Mega Man 11 does have one new feature for the series, however; the Double Gear system. It’s a pretty cool idea that adds a new dimension of strategy to the game. The double in Double Gear comes from the two abilities it confers. One is the ability to slow time, the other is the ability to greatly boost damage for a short period. You can activate and deactivate both abilities at will, unless you fill the Double Gear meter. Once that fills, you have to wait for a cooldown period to pass before you can activate Double Gear again. The meter depletes on its own when DG isn’t in use, but it’s best to use it sparingly so you know you have it when you need it.
For the most desperate situations, you can activate both abilities at once. It lasts a little longer than either ability on their own, but once you activate this ability, you can’t deactivate it. In addition, the cooldown is way longer than the regular cooldown, so this is an ability that is best saved for when your back is against the wall. In all, Double Gear is a great new ability that adds a welcome new option for getting out of tight scrapes during tough boss fights.
Mega Man 11’s graphics are a natural progression of where the game was heading after Mega Man 8… y’know, if they hadn’t basically abandoned the series for a decade after that. Character models are sharply rendered and smoothly animated. The robot master designs are cool as heck; Blast Man is a personal fave, but he kind of reminds me of Axl from the X series, so I’m not sure I can give him full points for originality. Still, the game looks sharp and everything moves smoothly. What else do you need?
The music… by God, the music. I still think Mega Man 2 has the best soundtrack in the series, but it’s always a tough call. Fast-paced, intense, and exciting, Mega Man 11’s music continues the series’ legacy of awesome tunes. It’s hard to pick a favorite because it changes about every time I play a different level, but right now Fuse Man’s stage is really speaking to me. The game also features some decent voice acting, but… I don’t know, a Mega Man game with voices just feels wrong. I may have too much nostalgia for the NES era of the series, but hearing Mega Man talk is just off-putting.
Mega Man 11 has neither touch nor motion controls, so it doesn’t really matter whether you prefer playing it docked or undocked. I generally play my Switch undocked more than docked, but the music sounds a lot better on my TV’s sound system. I guess what I’m saying is I have no recommendation; just make sure you play it.
TL;DR: Keeps up the storied tradition of action platforming excellence I expect from the Mega Man series.