Mega Man 11 Review
Mega Man 11 shouldn’t exist. It’s been 8 years since the last game, the major names associated with the franchise are long past their Capcom tenure and most attempts at recapturing the Mega Man magic have fallen flat (Looking at you Mighty Number 9). It’s shocking how enjoyable this game truly is, the fine creators behind this game were able to both move the franchise forward with new mechanics while making the core gameplay feel like the NES Mega Man games without overcomplicating the game. The reason Mega Man works as a game (namely the numbered entries and even more so the NES games) is there are only really a few things under your control in the game. Jump, shoot, slide and charge shot. That's it. And Mega Man and Mega Man 2 only had jump or shoot as actions. Mixing very simple to comprehend controls that most can pick up in minutes if not seconds, with, demanding, expletive-ridden gameplay is what makes Mega Man so satisfying.
Mega Man 11 takes this already proven formula, doesn’t screw up the movement or shooting and is able to add small but interesting new things to flesh out the formula. The gear system, which is the crux of the narrative in the game, gives you the option to switch on a power shot or the ability to slow down time for very brief amounts of time. You can also combine both the power shot and speed gears thus activating the double gear where time slows and you can use the power shot on enemies. The gear works on a timed refill so if you only use the speed gear for a few seconds it will only use 20% or so of your allotment and will start to refill once it is deactivated and you can reactivate instantly if need be. If you are in the speed gear for too long, trying to navigate a tricky platforming sequence though, the gear will overload and becomes unusable until its able to refill completely. This creates a bit of a push-pull on how/when to utilize the gear system which is good. The only real issue I encountered with the gear system is the power shot seemed way less important than the speed gear. I was never really having issues taking out enemies, even stronger ones, so I never really even thought about activating the power shot, but the speed gear helped immensely during certain platforming spots and some bosses/mid-bosses being able to avoid what seemed like unavoidable attacks.
The other addition I liked a whole lot was the store. Despite appearing in other Mega Man games it hasn’t appeared for some time and it doesn’t feel intrusive or overly reliant on buying items to be able to beat levels. The fact this store is actually in the game is astonishingly ludicrous when you think about it. It’s Dr. Light’s Shop, and that asshole has the audacity to charge Mega Man to buy parts and items when trying to take out Dr. Wily, who is partially evil because of Dr. Light in the first place. Once you get over the stupidity of the commerce of the store, it makes sense why it’s in the game. As you go through levels you occasionally find bolts or get them as drops every so often from enemies that allows you to buy things like extra lives or E-Tanks, but also gives you upgrades like you move faster during the speed gear activations or your charge shot charges on its own so you don’t have to hold down the shoot button to charge any more. This gives going through levels a little extra sense of helping your own cause, even if you die or can’t make it through the level at least you’re collecting bolts that can lead to an upgrade that will help you get through the game. The only issue with this system is that it is super easy to farm bolts, just buy the upgrades outright, and breeze through the rest of the game. This became extremely apparent to me when I was doing a Superhero (hardest difficulty) run of the game. The main difference with Superhero difficulty is that health and weapon refills disappear completely. There are none on any level, nor do they drop from enemies at all. However, it appears to me at least, that instead of getting health or weapon refill drops, enemies just drop more bolts. When I first started Block Man’s stage as the first stage in my Superhero run and noticed that health and weapon refills were nowhere to be found I thought to myself this was going to really ratchet up the difficulty, but when I realized enemies were dropping way more bolts than before, I instantly thought if it was possible to just farm bolts and buy a ton of E-Tanks and all the upgrades. Turns out you can do that exact thing, it basically negated any difficulty spike Superhero was going to provide, and with the combination of an upgrade that allows you to get extra bolt drops (but also even without that upgrade) it took no more than 15 minutes to rack up enough bolts to buy all the available upgrades and consistently refill my inventory with 9 E-Tanks at the beginning of each level, basically ensuring I could just barrage my way through each level. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing or strike against the game, it was just a strange choice to make the hardest difficulty of the game relatively easy with a 15 minute farming of currency.
As someone who has a strange admiration for Mega Man lore, the story told in this game provides some fun insights into why Dr. Wily and Dr. Light have a beef with each other, Dr. Wily’s first name and that Dr. Light is maybe actually a bit of an asshat. Also, the voice acting is terrible, which is fantastic. I can only assume the voice acting in this game was done specifically to pay tribute to Mega Man 8. It’s harsh, mostly off-putting, and perfectly on point and amazing.
A new Mega Man existing in 2018 is crazy, but the fact that it’s well made, extremely fun and adheres to the core of what makes Mega Man great in 2018 is crazier.