MEg a Man 11

The blast from the past steps up a Gear

Games Master - - Contents -

A clas­sic se­ries brought up to date, en­hanced and more ac­ces­si­ble than ever. Turned up to 11, in fact.

While the likes of Link, Solid Snake, and fel­low plat­form­ing pal Mario have com­pletely changed tack to bet­ter fall in line with the ex­pec­ta­tions of gam­ing au­di­ences over the decades, Mega Man has re­mained staunchly close to his ’80s roots. The Blue Bomber’s long-awaited 11th out­ing dishes up an ex­pe­ri­ence that’s much the same as the se­ries has been pro­vid­ing for the last 30 years, but with a re­fined recipe – in­clud­ing a few new in­gre­di­ents – that’s been cooked to plat­form­ing per­fec­tion. The most ap­par­ent of those new ad­di­tions is the game’s over­hauled vis­ual style. Gone are the flat and out­dated 2D graph­ics, re­placed with a mod­ern styling that’s se­ri­ously snazzy. The vis­ual over­haul, a blend of beau­ti­fully hand-drawn en­vi­ron­ments and de­tailed 3D char­ac­ter mod­els, re­freshes the age­ing se­ries’ art style with an eye-pop­ping aes­thetic that gives the game the charm­ing look and feel of a Satur­day morn­ing chil­dren’s car­toon.

Power up

The new ad­di­tions are far more than skin-deep, how­ever. The Dou­ble Gear sys­tem is a par­tic­u­larly in­no­va­tive in­tro­duc­tion, of­fer­ing two ben­e­fits: Speed Gear gives you the abil­ity to slow down time; and Power Gear adds more oomph to your at­tacks. You de­ploy these us­ing the shoul­der but­tons, and can in­stantly ac­ti­vate and de­ac­ti­vate them when­ever you please. While ei­ther is ac­tive, the gear gauge gets filled – if it over­heats you’ll be with­out both un­til the gauge re­sets, mean­ing you have to be clever about when you choose to use the sys­tem and pay close at­ten­tion when it’s ac­tive, which isn’t al­ways easy when you’re fight­ing off a flurry of en­emy at­tacks or try­ing to out­run a deadly wall of spikes.

The Dou­ble Gear sys­tem not only re­ju­ve­nates the se­ries’ long-es­tab­lished for­mula, it changes the very na­ture of en­e­mies and en­vi­ron­ments, in­tro­duc­ing a new level of chal­lenge. The in­creased arse­nal that comes with Power Gear means that en­e­mies come thick and fast, but Speed Gear is the real game changer. The abil­ity to slow down time al­lows for more pun­ish­ing plat­form­ing as you nav­i­gate mov­ing plat­forms sus­pended over spiked chasms or em­ploy it to gain a few pre­cious sec­onds to mow down en­e­mies as you flee from ap­proach­ing fire. The ad­di­tions make for some of the big­gest chal­lenges the se­ries has ever seen, its de­mand­ing na­ture sure to de­light sea­soned play­ers.

For the unini­ti­ated, Mega Man can be some­thing of a bap­tism of fire, with

“Speed gear gives you the abil­ity to slow down time; and power gear adds oomph to at­tacks”

by­gone ideas like lim­ited lives mak­ing mist­imed jumps and care­less com­bat tech­niques a costly af­fair. Un­like mod­ern games, Mega Man has no qualms about con­fronting you with the Game Over screen and forc­ing you to start a level from scratch. Even on Nor­mal dif­fi­culty, the game is bru­tal, giv­ing you only three lives and en­e­mies that don’t go down eas­ily. Ca­sual mode is a tad more for­giv­ing, while the high­est dif­fi­culty, Su­per­hero, is only for those with god­like re­flexes. For­tu­nately, Cap­com has also con­sid­ered new­bies, whose fin­gers might not be nim­ble enough to over­come the game’s gru­elling lev­els, with the in­tro­duc­tion of New­comer mode. Grant­ing you un­lim­ited lives, you’re also mer­ci­fully saved from in­stant death should you mist­ime a jump, and can soak up con­sid­er­ably more dam­age from en­e­mies. It’s a wel­come ad­di­tion that means play­ers of all skill lev­els can see the cred­its, and of­fers a train­ing ground for those want­ing to learn the lay­out of lev­els be­fore tak­ing on the tougher chal­lenge of higher dif­fi­cul­ties with­out the an­noy­ance of rep­e­ti­tion.

Oth­er­wise, Mega Man 11 is pretty stan­dard fare for the se­ries, rigidly stick­ing to the es­tab­lished for­mula. To thwart Dr Wily’s evil plans, Mega Man must don his blue ar­mour and fight his way through eight stages, each of which cul­mi­nates in a show­down with that area’s evil ro­bot over­lord. The lev­els are en­gag­ing and well de­signed, each hav­ing its own dis­tinct ap­pear­ance, en­e­mies, and ob­sta­cles. By far the most en­joy­able is Bounce Man’s world; a nau­se­at­ingly cutesy level filled with bouncy balls that Mega Man can use to fling him­self around bub­blegum-coloured en­vi­ron­ments teem­ing with deadly bal­loons. Tun­dra Man’s level is also a high­light, of­fer­ing a joy-filled jaunt across a snow-laden won­der­land where you’ll have to make your way through deadly bl­iz­zards and keep your cool as you nav­i­gate icy plat­forms.

Ro­bot wars

While they of­fer a con­sid­er­able chal­lenge, the boss bat­tles aren’t overly thrilling, with the ex­cep­tion of Block Man who, mid­way through the fight, sud­denly trans­forms into a huge hulk­ing rock gi­ant with a com­pletely new set of moves. We ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated the same hap­pen­ing with the rest of Wily’s ro­botic posse, but it never hap­pened. Each boss be­stows you a with new type of at­tack when they fall, though these vary greatly in their ef­fec­tive­ness. Best Block Man, for ex­am­ple, and you’ll get the abil­ity to sum­mon blocks that fall from the sky onto the en­e­mies’ heads, use­ful for deal­ing with op­po­nents at range, while Acid Man’s Acid Bar­rier al­lows you to ab­sorb dam­age. Con­versely, moves like Chain Blast see you un­leash a string of sticky bombs that re­quire clever tim­ing to be re­ally ef­fec­tive. Us­ing any of these at­tacks while in Power Gear seesMega Man per­form a much more dev­as­tat­ing ver­sion that can clear the screen in sec­onds. Hav­ing a wealth of at­tack op­tions to choose from and an arse­nal that’s con­stantly bol­stered as the game goes on, as well as a plethora of dif­fer­ent en­emy types, keeps ex­cite­ment high through­out.

Mega Man 11 is a fit­ting in­stal­ment for play­ers who were dis­ap­pointed by 2016’s ‘spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor’ Mighty No. 9 and longed for a cur­rent-gen Mega Man ad­ven­ture that would do the game’s his­tory jus­tice. This lat­est in­stal­ment of­fers a true taste of the tra­di­tional, while the added game­play en­hance­ments, ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and vi­su­als pro­vide enough mod­ern ex­tras to be wel­com­ing to play­ers who’ve missed out on the first ten games. (No, you don’t need to have played all the oth­ers to en­joy this one.) If you’ve al­ways won­dered what all the fuss is about, this should be just the ti­tle to ini­ti­ate you into one of plat­form­ing’s most iconic se­ries.

When life gives you a lot of en­e­mies, you’re go­ing to need a lot of rub­ber balls to throw at them.

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