Powering Up Like Never Before
I feel as though Mega Man 11 has been a somewhat controversial topic amongst gamers. After the… let’s say “less-than-successful” legacy left behind by Mighty No. 9, many people — including myself — have, sadly, assumed that the legendary Blue Bomber was all but dead. Even when Mega Man 11 was announced, I still feel as though many people were being cautious. Frequently scattered the cheers from Mega Man franchise fans were worries and questions; will this game be good? Is this truly a new, improved Mega Man game? Or will this be the final nail in the coffin for Capcom’s iconic super fighting robot? Well, friends, it’s finally time to put those worries to rest, because, after having gotten to demo Mega Man 11 for myself at E3 this year, I finally have an answer; you have nothing to worry about.
Jump ‘n Shoot
My time with the Mega Man 11 demo saw me playing through Block Man’s stage, but it didn’t take the entire level for me to realize how solid this game was. Despite what its updated graphics may convey, Mega Man 11 seamlessly slips into the classic “Mega man groove” without any trouble at all. Block Man’s stage, as many Mega Man stages are are wont to do, comprised itself of roughly 75% classic platforming, and 25% of what I would call “gimmick platforming”. In terms of the stage’s more straightforward platforming segments, I feel as though there isn’t actually that much to say. And that’s a good thing, in this case. If you’ve played a Mega Man game before, then the no-frills, skill-based platforming segments featured within MM11 are going to feel like second nature to you. They offer a decent amount of challenge — although I never ran into anything too difficult — and require that the player skillfully navigate from platform to platform, while simultaneously shooting down bad guys and avoiding obstacles (namely falling blocks, in this case).
The more gimmicky segments of the demo were incredibly on-point as well. In what I can only assume to be “true Block Man fashion”, the Block Man stage’s main gimmick featured a rather dubious combination of blocks and conveyor belts. In some instances, these blocks formed a miniature maze-like segment, in which the player would need to blast away the breakable sections of the maze and make their way out — lest the meet an untimely end at the hands (or maybe gears?) of a giant, rock-grinding death trap. Additionally, the stage also featured a section in which the player needed to use blocks as platforms to climb up the stage. This section, at least for me, ended up being the most challenging. Not only did you have to time your jumps carefully, but you also had to watch out for falling blocks, meaning that, even if your jump was perfect, you could still get knocked all the way back down to the beginning if you weren’t paying attention to what was above you (something which I fell victim to twice).
Surprisingly (or perhaps not, if you’ve seen the trailer), it was big boss Block Man himself which shook things up the most. Although he began the battle in a rather predictable and classic fashion — merely jumping around and summoning blocks to fall down from the sky, it wasn’t before long that the initially unassuming-looking robot master got fed up with his old-school tactics and resorted morphing himself into a giant golem — all thanks to his Double Gear installed by Doctor Wily. Things got a lot more difficult after that, but I won’t deny that I totally ate it up. And, although I’ve only battled one boss so far, I can only assume that Doctor Wily’s other seven henchmen will have equally surprising tricks up their sleeves — and I can’t wait to see what they are.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
The stages aren’t the only solid thing about Mega Man 11. After all, what good would well-crafted levels do if the character didn’t control well? Fortunately, that’s not the case at all in this game. I’ll say this once again for the people in the back; don’t let the graphics scare you. Behind this game’s gorgeous, polished 2.D graphics still lies the heart of an 8-bit game. Mega Man is still just as responsive as ever — that’s a good thing, especially considering all of the precision jumping that you’ll be doing in MM11!
Ah, but I can already hear some of you saying “hey now, what about that Double Gear thing? Doesn’t that make things different?” Well, that’s a bit of a multifaceted answer. Yes, the Double Gear System is new. And yes, it does change things up in certain ways. For those not in the know, the Double Gear System is an all-new ability in Mega Man 11 which players can use in a number of ways. For those looking for firepower, activating the DGS grants temporary buster overcharging — allowing players to unleash multiple charge shots. Additionally, the DGS will also kick in when players only have a sliver of health left — enabling the use of an extremely high-powered blast. And for those who find things going a bit too fast for their liking, the DGS can also be used to temporarily slow down time — this allowing for easier dodging and precise character placement.
While I personally found the Double Gear System to be a lot of fun, there’s no getting around the fact that some people will end up looking at this as a “cheat”. I can’t entirely fault people for doing that, in all honesty. Mega Man’s never been able to do stuff like this before, so adding in all of these handy DGS features does add a considerable amount of skill-based wiggle room. Still, I would caution you not to take too much stock in it. While the DGS is definitely big part of this game, I feel as though it was added in the most unobtrusive way possible. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t seem mandatory. I can’t say that you could get through the whole game without it, but you can at least clear Block Man’s stage DGS-free; and I think that that says something about the mechanic as a whole. It’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s helpful, but Mega Man 11 certainly doesn’t shove it in your face.
Gear Up for a Good Time
I had high hopes for Mega Man 11 coming into it, and I can proudly say that it’s managed to meet every one of them thus far. Sporting all of the classic Mega Man action you can handle, a fresh, and quite appealing, coat of graphical paint, and a new mechanic that’s both fun and unobtrusive, Mega Man 11 has the Blue Bomber looking better than ever.