Released: October 2018
Also Available For: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Mega Man (or Rockman if you’re in Japan of one of “those” types of fans) is one of Capcom’s longest-running franchises; first debuting in 1987, the Blue Bomber has been blasting robots and navigating some of videogame’s trickiest platforms for decades now.
In celebration of Mega Man’s 30th anniversary, Mega Man 11 saw the titular robot-blasting hero move away from the 8-bit-style throwbacks that Capcom had been releasing and back into a 2.5D environment for yet another round against the evil Dr. Wily.
This one was a real challenge for me as, growing up as a SEGA kid, I didn’t experience a Mega Man title for quite some time and, while I have played a few of them and given them a fair shot, I’ve never actually played one from start to finish as I struggle with the series’ trademark difficulty spike.
The evil Dr, Wily is back; this time he’s used his Double Gear technology to power up eight Robot Masters in an attempt to usurp his old rival, the kindly Dr. Light. Ever the hero. Mega Man volunteers to use the Double Gear technology against Dr. Wily to defeat his robots and put an end to his plans for world domination.
Just like the classic Mega Man titles, Mega Man 11 is a sidescrolling action/platformer that puts player sin control of the titular Blue Bomber. Mega Man must jump, slide, and blast his way through eight different stages to take on Dr. Wily’s eight Robo Masters, opposed by Wily’s other robots and a series of tricky platforming sections and traps.
Mega Man can blast enemies with his Mega Buster, which can be charged up to unleash a more powerful blast. As you explore each area, and destroy enemies, you’ll pick up a number of items that will help you on your journey. Yellow capsules will refill your health (and you’ll definitely need these), blue ones will refill Mega Man’s power meter, Bolts can be accumulated to purchase upgrades and buffs from Dr. Light’s lab, and Gears will power-up Mega Man’s Gear gauge.
When full, you can press either the R or the L trigger to activate either the Speed Gear or the Power Gear. This is Mega Man 11’s newest gimmick as one will slow down time and enemies to allow you to attack enemies and bosses or navigate difficult areas a bit easier and the other will increase the damage output by Mega Man’s Mega Buster.
In addition to this, as always, once Mega Man defeats a Robot Master, he gains their abilities for use in the remainder of the game. This is, once again, a crucial element to succeeding at Mega Man 11 as, if you take on a Robot Master without the necessary ability, the battle will be that much more difficult. Instead, while you can take on the game’s stages in any order, it’s recommended that you tackle them in a specific way so that you can whittle away at your opponent’s health that much easier. Mega Man can also call upon his robotic canine companion, Rush, to reach higher areas or fly across gaps; while this is useful, it can leave you open to attack and at risk of falling to your death.
And this will mostly likely happen a lot. In keeping with the franchise’s tradition, Mega Man 11 is a tough game; there are different difficulty settings to pick from (that restrict how many lives you have, among other things) but, even on the easiest setting, it’s no cakewalk. Mega Man stutters when taking damage, which can be the difference between making a jump or slipping off a ledge, feels very weighty when he jumps 9which can make precision platforming difficult), and has such an aversion to spikes that he will explode the moment he even brushes past one.
All of this means that you will need to farm those Bolts and make liberal use of the shop in Dr. Light’s lab. Here, you can buy Tanks to fully refill your health or energy (or both, which can be essential to outlasting some Robot Masters), extra lives, and other items to assist in your adventure. These all carry a weighty price, however, meaning that you’ll have to be able to play through at least one stage in order to farm enough Bolts to help your continued journey.
In the end, Mega Man 11 was exactly the same frustrating experience as every other Mega Man I’ve ever played; Mega Man is quite slow, feels like he has bricks in his boots, and will seemingly take any excuse to fall down a bottomless pit or run face-first into enemies and obstacles. Maybe it’s me; I will be the first to admit that I suck at Mega Man games but, despite how difficult and frustrating the game can be (even with some generous autosave points), it’s still a lot of fun to play thanks to the tight gameplay, gorgeous graphics, and catchy tunes.
Graphics and Sound:
Unlike most Mega Man titles, Mega Man 11 is a 2.5D adventure with 3D polygonal characters and 2D environments. The game reminds me of the Mega Man X (Capcom, 1993 to 2001) series in terms of its presentation, but the characters and graphics are more based on the classic, chibi-aesthetic of the 8-bit Mega Man, meaning everything looks very polished and highly detailed but also cutesy and cuddly.
Mega Man 11 also features numerous tunes, music, and sound effects that will be recognisable to any Mega Man fan; containing remixes and updated version of classic Mega Man tunes, the music and the charming graphical style make even the game’s most frustrating platforming sections enjoyable as you can’t help but marvel at how great the game looks and sounds as Mega Man is exploding into a hundred pieces.
Enemies and Bosses:
Mega Man 11 features a number of returning Mega Man enemies, such as the hard-hat-wearing Met and the shield-wielding Sniper Joe. Almost all of these can be dispatched with a few well-placed shots from the Mega Buster, but you may need to charge it up or switch to one of Mega Man’s other abilities to make shorter work of them.
Some enemies can adversely affect their environment; Lamper will light dark areas of Torch Man’s stage but also drops fireballs on you so you’re probably better off dodging its attacks so you can actually see where you’re going. Pipetto will spew chemicals that turn water into acid and the Mash Burner and Fire Server can cause damage to Mega Man after being defeated. Other enemies, like Mawaru C and the Tank Oven, shield themselves from Mega Man’s attacks and will require a precise shot or another ability to break through their defences.
When travelling through the game’s eight stages, Mega Man must contend with a mid-boss that can be just as tricky as Wily’s Robot Masters. You’ll battle against a spinning, spiked totem that will split into pieces, a fire-spewing turkey, and the ridiculous Frog Balloon (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like). As with other enemies, and the Robot Masters, you’ll have to make use of Mega Man’s Gear abilities and the weapons you acquire from defeating the Masters to overcome these mid-bosses but, on your first playthrough, they can be quite the challenge and annoyance.
Then we have the Robot Masters. Mega Man 11 features eight all-new Robot Masters (though their themes and powers are vaguely similar to those of past Mega Man titles) and the key to overcoming them comes from using the right abilities against the right boss. However, when you first start the game, you’ll only have Mega Man’s Mega Buster and Gear abilities, meaning it can be a bit difficult to whittle their health down, especially if you take on Block Man, as I did. Once you defeat one boss though, this pretty much determines which stage you’ll take on next; for example, one I finally defeated Block Man, I then took on Acid Man, who is weak to the Block Dropper, then Impact Man, and so on.
Once you figure out which boss is weak to which weapon, defeating the Robot Masters isn’t that difficult; getting to them, however, is where the game’s real challenge lies. Once you defeat all eight, you’ll storm Wily’s fortress, where you’ll get to face all eight one after another and also take on the classic Mega Man mini boss, the Yellow Devil. This guy splits himself up into sections to bash Mega Man about and attacks with massive lasers and mini versions of himself, but was actually easier for me to defeat than Block Man!
Similarly, Dr. Wily himself was actually much easier to defeat than some of his Robot Masters; Wily’s final machine has two forms, both of which are weak to the Acid Barrier and the Chain Blast. By this point, I knew to carry some Tanks with me to refill Mega Man’s health and energy and utilised the Power Gear to make short work of the mad scientist. Nevertheless, each of the game’s bosses are massive and multi-staged and present a significant challenge and encourages players to learn their weaknesses and the best ways of utilising Mega Man’s various abilities.
Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As mentioned, you can pick up capsules to increase your health, energy, and lives as you play. You can also pick up Tanks in stages to use for later but, generally, you’ll be boosting Mega Man’s abilities by defeating Robot Masters or spending Bolts at Dr. Light’s lab.
These abilities can also help you navigate stages as well as increase your chances at defeating enemies; Tundra Man’s ice whirlwind can freeze an oncoming wall of lava in Torch Man’s stage and the Acid Barrier allows Mega Man to safely move through acid pools.
In Dr. Light’s lab, you can also purchase items that greatly improve your chances at clearing the game’s stages, such as boots that keep you from slipping on ice (pretty much mandatory for Tundra Man’s stage), or items that automatically charge up your weapons. You can also purchase a few one-time use items that will protect you from the instant death of spikes, have Beat recover you when you fall down a hole, or turn onscreen enemies into energy.
In addition to the main game and its various difficulty settings, Mega Man 11 also features time trials, a challenge mode, character galleries, and online leaderboards. In these modes, you’ll take on the game’s stages under a time limit or with the intention of meeting certain conditions; while you will have access to Mega Man’s other abilities, you won’t get any of the buffs or bonuses you can purchase from Dr. Light’s lab and you’ll have to do it all on one life, so this is mainly recommended for players who are actually good at Mega Man games (so…not me, then).
There’s also a boss rush, where you’ll take on the Robot Masters and bosses one after the other, and whole bunch of Achievements to get; most of these are tied to conditions outside of the time trials and challenges. Some can only be get on your first playthrough as well, which is annoying, but you’ll pick up a fair few just on a casual playthrough. Otherwise, there’s no additional characters to play as or unlock here and it seems like we missed out on an additional skin for Mega Man as well, meaning you’ll mainly come back to the game to beat the higher difficulty settings.
Mega Man 11 is a challenging experience…unless you are able to plan ahead and utilise all of the abilities the game affords you. If you blunder into a stage without thinking about it, or without the right weapon or extra Tanks, you’ll probably struggle with some of the tricky platforming, bottomless pits, and enemy placements to say nothing of battling the Robot Masters).
Unfortunately, this was largely how I approached the game: head on and guns blazing. Once I understood how to use the Gear system and the best way to tackle each stage and Robot Master, the game became much easier. I still had to tackle it one stage at a time, rather than continuously playing, but this made it an enjoyable enough experience. Any time you fail or die, it’s because your skills aren’t up to the task so the only way to succeed is to get better and push a little further. There’s plenty of incentive to do that but, honestly, I feel like hardcore Mega Man gamers will get far more out of this one than novices like me.
What were your thoughts on Mega Man 11? Do you find the series to be a challenge or have you managed to master the Blue Bomber? What is your favourite Mega Man game? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.