For veterans of the series and lovers of pain alike, classic Mega Man is back with Mega Man 11.
With 8 years since Mega Man 10 was released, as well a resurgence of retro style games in recent years, a new entry into this influential franchise was well overdue.
Mega Man 11 doesn’t throw off the shackles of its original 1980’s era gameplay design, rather it embraces it. While this won’t appeal to everyone, those who don’t mind the nostalgic hit of a good old fashioned 2D side scrolling action-platforming game may find something to enjoy.
First thing to know about the game though is it is difficult. Like really, really difficult. It is one of those games where you throw yourself at the same Level so many times that you start to memorise it and know how you are going to approach each section. It is easy to die, you can lose a lot of progress when you do die and you only have a finite amount of lives. I hope you like pain.
That is all assuming you want to play the game on the normal setting. For me though, I could only take so much before deciding to tone the difficulty right down for my first playthrough. This is one aspect of the game that deserves complimenting. The difficult options are great and cater to a wider range of skill levels. If you do take a liking to the game, it also improves the replayability.
The most gameplay defining aspect of the game is the ability to transform. At the start of the game, you are given a selection of 8 different Levels to take on, each with its own Robot Master boss battle at the end. Each time you beat one of these Robot Masters, you gain a new skin to transform into, which incorporates new abilities as well. These attacks greatly differ in style and opens up different approaches you can use in combat.
You will find some attacks to be much better to use in different circumstances and against different bosses than others. As the order in which you unlock them is up to you, it means that your experience with each Level will also change.
I really enjoyed all the different transformation attack options. It also made playing through each of the initial 8 Levels feel different as each time you finish a Level, you have a new ability to help your out for the next.
A unique element to Mega Man 11 is the Double Gear system, which not only takes centre stage in the story but also the gameplay as well. Mega Man has two gears he can use: the Power Gear and the Speed Gear. The Power Gear, as the name indicates, greatly increases your power allows you to use a really powerful attack. The Speed Gear, which I found myself using much more often, slows down time.
You can only use these abilities so much before the Double Gear system overheats. Using them is, however essential as some sections would be nigh on impossible without them.
Trying to manage your Double Gear system and transforming on the fly is a very difficult skill to master. It is however fundamental to the difficulty in Mega Man 11. If you can master that skill, you are well on your way to being able to master, or at least finishing, the game.
The game has received a big visual design overhaul since the last entry in the series. The old retro style is gone, which in my opinion is for the best. It does an excellent job of keeping the old feel of the franchise yet bringing it into modern times.
I haven’t really mentioned the story too much yet because it isn’t really worth talking about. It does a decent job of tying the game together, but it doesn’t do much more than that. You will be playing this game for the gameplay not the barebones story.
Mega Man 11 is certainly not a game everyone will enjoy. It is a niche game, catering largely to certain type of retro gamer. For the type of game it is, it is a great game and does an excellent job of bringing this 30 year old franchise back to life.
Released: October 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, (also on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch