Mega Man was always known for its challenging gameplay with tricky platforming and difficult boss fights. The original 8-bit Mega Man games remain some of the harshest ones out there, so it constantly remained a challenge on how to continue with the series in the modern age. How could have Capcom retained not only the difficulty of the classic games but also kept it simple enough for newcomers? The result is Mega Man 11 which is a game that is not only the perfect entry point, it equally satisfies the hardcore crowd with some hair ripping difficulty.
First, let’s talk about the visuals because honestly, they are better than good, they are utterly stunning. The 2.5D style used here is almost jaw-dropping. The game looks gorgeous no matter what and the background is given the utmost care with a mix of hand-drawn and a computer generated art style. Each level and enemy design is unique providing the game an excellent presentation. There might be a couple of repetitions, especially with the enemies, but most of the content is kept fresh throughout the main campaign.
Mega Man 11 retains the classic jump and shoot gameplay but with the quality-of-life additions featured in the sequels. They are now present in Mega Man 11, offering a modern twist for the controls. You can now slide dash, use the rush coil among other moves to progress through a level. These can also come handy during boss fights and will be a lifesaver on the superhero difficulty setting.
The Double Gear system is a new addition which feels like a mixed bag. I enjoyed its inclusion here and the opportunities it offered during navigation in levels or for boss fights, by making you slow down time or execute a powerful version of your standard weapon attacks. But the game also feels easier with them if you can exploit their power. The design for most of the boss fights revolves around their use and carefully utilizing this mechanic can make most battles a breeze if you can figure out the attack pattern for the boss.
The story features classic characters like Dr. Wily, the arch nemesis that has terrorized Mega Man for a long time and Dr. Light, the creator of Mega Man. Their rivalries take another turn for the worse once Dr. Wily decides to complete the double gear system, which is a prototype created by Dr. Light many years ago in the past. During an attack on his lab, Dr. Wily manages to corrupt the new Robot Masters developed by Dr. Light and the blue bomber has to embark on another journey to thwart the nefarious plans of Dr. Wily.
Mega Man 11 is not an easy game even on the normal difficulty setting. There are no checkpoints until you defeat a mini-boss in this difficulty, and if you die, you have to restart from the previous checkpoint. I can’t imagine engaging in this on a higher difficulty because it is extremely frustrating to die and repeat a level again. Mega Man possesses a limited number of lives so once all of them run out, the game will start the level from the beginning. On the plus side, you retain any currency that you have collected and use it to trade for items in the Professor’s laboratory, or get an auto or manual upgrades.
The interesting addition to me is the ability to go to the Professor’s laboratory, which acts as a shop. In this place, you can purchase items like a 1-up for Mega Man, other one-use items that offer help with clearing a level or saving yourself from death. You can also equip a host of manual upgrades like the ability to auto charge or refill special weapons meter, both of which are essential to completing the game. The upgrades will gradually unlock as you finish more of the levels. Since the game works on a checkpoint based system, you can try to get more lives for Mega Man to make your way through a difficult level.
The levels are short but offer multiple mini-boss fights leading to the last boss fight with Robot Masters. Their design revolves around testing your skills in the best possible way. The more you play a level, the better you will get and it helps in experiencing them again a second time. Even in that case, some of them have 1-hit and frustrating kill hazards and feel out-of-place on the normal difficulty. The lack of checkpoints in addition to these 1-hit kill segments can make up for a rather frustrating experience and will truly test your patience as a Mega Man fan.
The new double gear system allows to slow down time, which can result in a sudden change in the controls. It also makes the game feel like it gets significant input lag, especially when jumping around platforms. It is best used for some tricky jumps or to keep the boss in one place while you dish out as much damage as possible. The other ability of the gear system powers up your weapons including the special weapons that you unlock by defeating a robot master. You can combine both to use at the same time, but it can lead to a longer recharge time for the next use. Once your health hits a critical state, you unlock a useful move that lets you execute a powerful special attack as a last resort using the double gear system.
In a typical Mega Man fashion, you get new weapon powers after defeating the robot masters. Each offers a unique attack that can prove useful on enemies and in certain boss fights but has limited use and gets tied to a special meter. You can refill this meter by picking up the capsules dropped by the enemies but in the start, there is no way to pick them up automatically for your weapon unless you spend money on a certain gadget. There is no pre-defined way to tackle each boss, but it is best to advance from the top and work your way to the bottom. There is a radical shift in the design of levels where the first couple of them feel more carefully designed but the tone shifts to a more frustrating design in the more preceding stages.
It is a short experience overall since it is possible to complete the game in one sitting, provided you have to patience to actually do it. It can take under 5 hours to complete every level the first time if you have the necessary skills to play most Mega Man games. Other content includes modes like the time trial and a leaderboard if you want to see where you fit in the global ranking. There is a total of eight stages to attempt, and the game encourages replayability by focusing on speed runs, even rewarding a trophy for completing all stages under 60 minutes.
Mega Man 11 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Mega Man 11 is an upcoming action-platform video game developed by Capcom, and is the eleventh main entry in the original Mega Man series. It brings back several features such as voice acting and a 2.5D graphic style from previous games throughout the Mega Man franchise.
Final Score - 8.5/108.5/10
Mega Man delivers his triumphant return with this recent entry providing the perfect blend of difficulty with its tightly designed levels and uniquely crafted powers. It is a Mega Man game for everyone with a multitude of difficulty options.