Old-school product placement for De Beers.
There are certain games that really stand out in the childhood of a gamer. The original Mega Man series was a substantial part of mine. Could this be part of why I’m a very patient person? Probably not. The fact I’m a very patient person is probably the reason I can appreciate what Mega Man does. Mega Man is obviously a platformer but it’s actually a bit of a genre-bender. At times it’s almost a puzzle game and at others it’s almost a rhythm game, just like a great platformer should be. Above all, whatever a true Mega Man game is having you do, it’s probably very difficult. Quite simply, the more you play a true Mega Man game the better you get at playing action games.
Mega Man 9 is Mega Man‘s long awaited return to his true form. Inti Creates, the masterminds behind the underrated Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX series are the ones we should thank. (It possibly began at the inclusion of the 8-bit “Mega Man a” in ZX.) Except for the toggle-able sprite limit, the graphics, sound and gameplay are all restricted to how it was on the original NES hardware (ex: limited palette and sound channels). This is controversial, but I don’t believe it’s laziness. Inti Creates has plenty of excellent 2D graphics experience behind them, so they are at least capable.
Sing with us, “Here’s the story, of a doctor named Wiley, who created robots to help mankind”
Whether or not you like the simplicity of it’s surface, this is Mega Man. The crunchy pixels and pulsing melodic chiptunes serve as a beckoning finger saying. “It’s ok. He’s back!” Personally, I love it. Not only is it impressive how well they captured the look of the originals, but it’s a fantastic homage as well. The music is excellent as well, you’ll want to hum along to these tunes just as much as the original games. You just might want to bust out that old tape recorder and put it up to your TV’s speakers, just like the old days.
While Mega Man 9 doesn’t do much to innovate the originals, this was the point in the first place. The story is simple as ever with Dr. Light being framed for what seems to actually be Wily’s robots attacking yet again. Still, the game features a lot of little unique moments, much like the original games, in which you say, “Oh wow, that’s cool!” which is usually followed by something like “Nooo! I diiied!” There’s also quite a few references, of sorts, to the previous games. The falling to your death from high in the sky is present in Tornado Man’s stage, and the infamous disappearing blocks are a staple of Plug Man’s stage. Thankfully, Mega Man 9 was developed by people with hearts and souls. While this game is very difficult it rarely, if ever, feels cheap thanks to top notch level and boss design. In addition, the screws collected throughout the game can be traded for various helpful items back at Dr. Light’s lab.
Now sing that Rihanna song. We’ll do the ‘Ella ella ella eh eh eh‘ part.
Like many long-running series, Mega Man had lost his way. He was left wandering in and out of mediocrity sometimes touching greatness for brief moments. Notice that I’m speaking in past tense? Yes, Mega Man 9 is his redemption. Whatever Capcom decides to do in the future, we finally have yet another truly great Mega Man game. Even if you can’t beat Mega Man 9… you’ve won.
Bonus!: I also purchased both the Proto Man ($2) and Endless Attack ($3) DLC. I found both to be worth the extra cost. Taking damage more quickly and unable to spend screws, Proto Man is for expert players but he can utilize a charge shot, slide, and use his shield while jumping. Not only that but his famous whistle tune plays on entering a level! Endless Attack is surprisingly good, tying together an endless stream of pre-made areas, and from what I’ve seen they’re very well designed. You are given every boss weapon in the game and one life to get through as many “screens” as possible. It’s a great idea done very well.