When it comes to later sequels, spin offs and remasters, it isn’t uncommon for the original magic to be lost. People take the wrong things or misunderstand the magic behind them and, as a result, the sequel builds on the worst aspects of the original. For some, this happened with Mega Man 9 and 10, making them feel rather disappointed. With new master robots, a story, Wily and so much more, is this a must for fans or does it misunderstand what made Mega Man great?
There isn’t much to Mega Man 11’s story. The game starts with a clash back between Dr. Light and Wily about their different views on robots. While Light wanted to move more towards things like Mega Man, Wily developed the ‘double gear’ system to bring out a robot’s full potential. Years later Wily revisits the idea and implements it in a number of robots, forcing Light to give Mega Man the same ability in hopes he can stop Wily.
For the most part, the story is a bit of an afterthought. After the fairly involved opening, there is a brief cut scene after defeating four robots, another when all eight are defeated and a final one following Dr. Wily’s defeat. Worst yet, the story doesn’t go anywhere unexpected. Before long Light realizes he handled Wily incorrectly and tries to get him to see that his work can be beneficial if done for good and Mega Man eventually becomes both their visions realized. Instead of turning a new leaf he decides to keep the status quo and the saga continues.
Even if the story doesn’t take the game new places, there are a variety of new stages, bosses, mechanics and mini-bosses for Mega Man to overcome. While I’d say Mega Man 11 holds true to what I remember a Mega Man game being, it often times feels cheap and frustrating to play.
First and foremost, almost every level has a section where you’re probably going to lose on your first attempt. Torch Man has flames that force you to quickly navigate, Acid Man has sections where you need to handle them just right or you die and the last couple of levels are filled with enemies designed to hit you mid-jump so you fall to your doom. Needless to say, it isn’t fun getting past a bunch of enemies, making it to a place where you pretty much need to know what to do or you’ll die and then restarting because you briefly hesitated. This becomes less annoying on later runs, especially if you practice on casual, since casual might not help you with platforming but it has more checkpoints and lives, allowing some trial and error before failure.
Thankfully, players are given some tools to mitigate difficulty. Items provide a simple way to come out ahead. Some refill energy, others increase the number of lives, one decreases damage to half and there are even two that prevent death to falls and spikes. The downside to these items is they only go so far. Only one falls can be saved, with spikes giving you three passes before you’re back on square one. It stops levels from losing all their bite, though it won’t be enough to really help newcomers. This is due to things like the forest fire part, since you’ll fail to do that regardless of which items you have.
Another big deciding factor are parts. Instead of having to deal with normal mechanics, players can elect to buy modifiers that decrease the overall difficulty. One decreases how slippery ice is, another recharges the weapon with the least energy, some just make certain items drop more frequently and so forth. They’re a good way to bring some modernization, without changing the game for those who like the classic feel.
Even if there are some downsides in regards to difficulty, the average stage is actually quite fun. Skillful use of powers will go a long way to decrease enemy difficulty and a clear understanding of the mechanics can help you overcome a number of challenges. For instance, I used Block Man’s blocks to destroy far away targets and Torch Man’s flame to deal impressive burst damage. These two tools are enough to make some of the trickier sections much easier. Rush can also be invaluable for getting through hard platforms or annoying jumps.
This is something that will keep veterans interested, since a good understanding of the mechanics is needed to overcome the additional challenge modes. While most challenges rely on clever gameplay (minimal attacks, jumps, etc), Dr. Light’s trial comes down to how well you understand the core mechanics. Knowing when to use rush, opting to use gears for devastating attacks or slow time to make it easier to avoid something are essential for completing it. The only downside is it doesn’t take long before less skilled players hit a wall. It isn’t impossible to overcome, just comes down to how much you want to do to overcome it.
Mega Man 11 might look fantastic and overcome neat mechanics, but it’s far from a perfect experience. The story is fairly bland, quite predictable and offers nothing besides filler between missions. While difficulty can be overwhelming and at times feel cheap, it is an invitation for players to think outside the box. This will appeal to some and just frustrate others. Between that and some underwhelming bosses, some of which are fairly forgettable, Mega Man 11 caters more to the hardcore crowd than anything else. So, if you love difficulty, you might like it but if you don’t want to memorize levels, repeat them multiple times because you made one mistake or practice for hours, you might want to sit it out.
[Editor’s Note: Mega Man 11 was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]