Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mega Man 10 Review

As a child growing up in the 80's (and early 90's), I have a lot of fond memories of the NES.  At the time, if you played video games, you owned an NES.  There was Nintendo cereal, a cartoon for Super Mario Bros and the Legend of Zelda, plus cartoons like Captain N and Video Power.  We had movies like The Wizard, and accessories like the Zapper, R.O.B, the Power Pad, the Power Glove, the Advantage, and the Game Genie.  Back then, we didn't check GameFAQs when we got stuck, we shared tips and secrets at the lunch table at school.

A lot of games from that era haven't held up that great, but one series that I feel has was one of my all-time favorites: Mega Man.  I played and replayed all of the old NES Mega Man games (except 6, which got lost in the transition to the Super Nintendo) more times than I could count.  I even took a copy of Dragon Warrior IV I'd received for Christmas back to the store, resisting the urge to open a new game, just so that I could get Mega Man 5 instead.

In 2008, Capcom surprised the gaming community by announcing Mega Man 9.  The last official game in the "classic" Mega Man series was released over 10 years before on the original PlayStation, and rather than continue to improve the graphics Capcom and developer Inti Creates decided to make it 8-bit, in the spirit of the old NES games.  Between the nostalgia factor and the fact that I'm a huge fan of Mega Man games in general, I couldn't have been more excited.  And yet, when the game came out, it was kind of a letdown.  At some point, Mega Man games had got a reputation for being hard, and Inti Creates decided to make Mega Man 9 one of the hardest.  Thing was, the game wasn't hard because you had to learn enemy patterns or try to figure out what boss weapon worked on which boss.  It was hard because it was cheap, with more spikes, pits, and blind jumps in a given Robot Master's level than previous games had in their Wily levels.  I've played and beaten all six of the NES Mega Man games plenty of times (1-5 on the NES, 1-6 on emulators, 1-6 on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, etc), and even I thought Mega Man 9 was so frustrating that I never even finished it.  I could only imagine how many gamers who might have been newer to the series were completely turned off by Mega Man 9's insanely cheap difficulty.

In an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, Mega Man 10 was released with a Normal difficulty (still really hard), and an Easy mode.  Despite the fact that players can chose which difficulty they want, many hardcore players cried foul.  Easy mode, they said, was simply too easy.

I can safely say that, yes, Easy mode is too easy.  Aside from being able to take more damage, floating platforms are scattered throughout the levels in places where players are likely to miss a jump.  But the thing is, while Easy mode might be too easy, Normal mode (and Mega Man 9) is still too hard.  It's one thing to enjoy a challenge, but only a sadomasochist could love Mega Man 9's level design.  And when push comes a shove, I'd rather play a game that's too easy than too hard.

Funny thing is, since I wasn't throwing my controller, cursing, and pulling my hair out in frustration, nostalgia did take over.  It was like being back in my childhood, getting excited to be playing a new game in my favorite series, running through levels and figuring out what order was the best to beat the Robot Masters.  It was the feeling that I'd hoped I'd get from Mega Man 9.  And as short as it was, Mega Man 10 became an instant classic, a game I'd played through twice (once as Mega Man, once as Proto Man), and a game who's downloadable content (Mega Man Killers! Playable Bass!) has me more excited than big-name releases like God of War III.

I would like to see Inti Creates come up with a better balance for Mega Man 11 (and I do really want a Mega Man 11 now)... maybe an Easy mode as easy as 10's Easy mode, a Hard mode as hard as Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10's Normal Mode, and a Normal mode that's somewhere in between.  But even if Easy mode was too easy, it made Mega Man 10 fun enough that I'd pay another $10 if Capcom would re-release Mega Man 9 with an Easy mode.

If you've ever had even a passing interest in the Mega Man games of the NES era, you MUST play Mega Man 10.  It's the kind of game that Mega Man 9 should have been: the kind that makes me want to blow the dust out of a gray cartridge and pop it into an NES.

Final Score: A+

1 comment:

Joe said...

Joe's "AT" Segment. (Another Take)

I just downloaded Megaman 10 up for the XBOX 360 and only played through Sheepman's level and I had a blast. I am going to try and tackle this game on the 'normal' level since I was able to get past Megaman 9 with a little luck and patience.

It feels so great to get back into a game like Megaman. Gamers today with all their fancy, cheap thrills of Dragon Age & Modern Warfare forget or even more sadly, do not know what is like to play an actual video game. Games like Megaman are the foundation of what made video games great. Thank you Capcom for being a savior and reminding us what games used to be like. Ok, sure I took a cheap shot at today's games and its unfair since I actually really enjoy the current trend of gaming. What I mean is when you die in Modern Warfare it is so random that you don't even know what happened or really care because you start right at a checkpoint which seems to occur after every enemy you shoot.

With Megaman when you die, it is your fault. Megaman challenges us, but at the same time makes us a better gamer. We learn from our mistakes and learn the patterns of enemies and obstacles and become better. I remember on Megaman 9 Wily stages I wanted to pull my hair out and it took me forever to get through each level. I had to stop the game and when I came back to it I finished it with only dying a few times and completed it in about 25 mins. I was amazed by this, because without even realizing it became better and that is a rare feeling in today's games.

This is the same experience I hope to have while playing Megaman 10 and so far it is looking great.