Saturday, 13 October 2018

Mega Man 11 ★★★★★

Mega Man has spent a long time being the gamers game. It is Nintendo Hard, and incredibly well designed. Never quite reaching Sonic or Mario heights of fame or popularity, Mega Man was the alternative comedian, the garage band or the foot fetishist of the platformer world. I was threatened by games that were Nintendo Hard for a long time but recently I've been playing through both Mega Man and Mega Man X, an extensive catalogue that seemed to have ended in 2009 and I have fallen in love.

Mega Man 11 has just been released on PS4, Xbox One, Windows, and Switch and is a perfect blend of old school Mega Man and modern ideas. The last two Mega Man games went back to the NES style 8-bit look, wherein Mega Man has the facial expression of a kid hoping no one notices he just shat himself in Geography class. The SNES era Mega Man, particularly 7 and 8, had a different look. A more developed, serious, confident looking Mega Man, that looks like he's never shat himself in his life. This sequel is, aesthetically at least, based on that guy, with upgrades, weird ass levels and amazing music. Mega Man 11 is the game I would have always wanted if I had been really into Mega Man in the 90s. 

In a flashback anxiety dream that Dr. Wily is having, it is revealed he had invented a pretty awesome bit of tech, two gears that allow for his robots to overclock their power and slow down time.  Rejected as the ramblings of a mad man, Dr. Wily works secretly on this for years, never mentioning it to anyone else, or even to himself in the previous games. The two gears system is known as the Double Gear System, which is reasonable and is one of the best game mechanics I've seen since Cidney in Final Fantasy XV. Dr Wily has, outside of his dreams, perfected the Double Gear system and steals eight giant robots from Dr Light. Wily acts like a willy and upgrades them with the DGS to destroy the world. Fortunately Mega Man gets his hands on the DGS and in the hands of a more competent player than me, saves the planet.

The game plays like it was created by a Mozart of game design, everything seems flawless and it flows like someone telling a very unusual story to my inner child. There are insane levels full of balloons, hands that slap you across the screen and crazy music.  The levels are long, and even the more standard ones aren't even slightly boring, but are incredibly challenging as nothing seems over-thought or miscellaneous. The challenge mode from previous iterations hangs over and is entertaining as always and the Newcomer mode was a blessing for me, as everything is a lot less unpleasant.

I could talk about the music all day, it is cheary, retro and at the same time new modern. I imagine it is what all the cool kids are listening to nowadays.  It is as addictive and beneficial to the game as ever, a digital icing over a joyful fun-cake. Even the stage select screen music, was outstanding, the whole soundtrack is a theme tune to a post-apocalyptic utopia.

You would think I would be overwhelmed with Mega Man recently, with the 20+ games I've been enduring in the name of somebody else's nostalgia, but they are too good to be true. Mainly perfect games that deserve your attention.  I sometimes work with children, I brought Megaman 11 to them and they told me it looked shite. So what do I know. However, if you've never played one, or haven't done in ages, Mega Man 11 is a great place to visit.

David Roberts

Mega Man 11 at CeX

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