He’s back! Over 8 years since the release of Mega Man 10, Capcom brings us a new entry to the Mega Man franchise. It has been even longer than that if you are looking for a more modern entry to the main series, with Mega Man 8 having released in all the way back in 1996. As with many sequels, however, the hype that is built up around the game may be impossible to live up to. Mega Man 11 is an attempt to modernize the classic Mega Man gameplay without ruining its roots or feeling like a cheap knock-off. Let’s find out if it was worth the wait in our review of Mega Man 11.
The opening of Mega Man shows a quick glimpse into the past, with Dr. Wily having a nightmare about his university invention, the “double gear”, being rejected by the university board while Dr. Light’s request to create thinking robots is approved. Wily has the idea to steal 8 robot masters from Light, install his double gear, and destroy Mega Man to prove he is the better scientist. Dr. Light happens to have the original prototype laying around and installs it onto Mega Man so that he can take on the robots. While the story is not very deep (just enough to give you a reason to fight more robots, as always), it gives just enough info to introduce the new mechanics to the game that you will rely on during your playthrough.
Let’s get this out of the way now, this game feels like a true Mega Man game through and through. Even with the double gear system, the new art style, and the powerups, the game is immediately familiar to Mega Man veterans. I had spent most of the first level playing like the previous games, completely forgetting about the double gear powers that you could use to make sections way easier.
The developers had previously said they were hoping to maintain the pixel-perfect movements of the original games, and they nailed it here. The tight platforming that requires quick, near-perfect movements still exists here and it’s just as challenging as ever. Enemies are the predictable moving balls of death that they always have been, swarming toward your location if you ignore them for too long to make sure they knock you off the platforms you’re navigating through. The controls never get in the way of the gameplay, and the sprites accurately represent hitboxes throughout the game.
The double gear system gives Mega Man two temporary buffs he can use and switch between: speed or power. At their base level, the speed gear slows everything down in the game slightly, giving you the ability to react and navigate around platforms and enemies easier. While active, the speed gear also slows down the environment, meaning that moving platforms or blowing winds do not affect you as much for the duration. Power, on the other hand, improves all of Mega Man’s weapons. While active, the buster will shoot two bullets at a time, as well as increasing base damage. Boss weapons gain a stronger attack while in power gear, though this comes at a cost of more energy being used to fire the weapons. Personally, I found that the speed gear offered a tremendous advantage while playing through the game and was almost always worth using over the power gear. While perfect evasion would make the power gear a much faster option, the speed gear helped make some tight trick jumps throughout the game and helped make up for having terrible reflexes when the screen was filled with enemy projectiles.
Just like the upgrade systems of Mega Man 7 and 8, 11 has the player once again collecting bolts to purchase upgrades for Mega Man. The store has both equipable upgrade items, as well as the ability to purchase lives, E tanks, weapon tanks, and other single-use items to help survive levels. These are by no means required, and these can still be sparsely found throughout the game, but being able to buy a bunch of E tanks and lives before you head into a level you’re having trouble with can help you practice the level more, though its still possible to burn through all of that and end up at the game over screen regardless.
Alongside the normal game, Mega Man 11 offers a handful of different options to add replayability. On top of the game having 4 different difficulties, there are competitive challenges that the player can run through to try and rack up a high score and compare it to others through the online leaderboards. These include the expected boss rush mode, but also others with more unique restrictions, such as completing the level with the least number of jumps or least shots fired as possible. There are also achievements that you can unlock during the game for completing different challenges, such as killing enemies in a unique way or finishing the entire game without a game over.
Note: Our Nintendo Switch copy of Mega Man 11 was provided by PR