The blue bomber is finally back.
Mega Man is gaming royalty, as anyone who’s been playing games for more than twenty years would tell you. Capcom’s blue bomber headlines a truly iconic franchise, representing so much of what made this medium tick back in its earlier days, and after an eight year hiatus, Capcom are doing exactly what they’ve been doing for the past few years- they’re listening to the fans. Mega Man is coming back, and it looks like he’s coming back in exactly the manner we all would have hoped he would. As Mega Man 11’s launch draws closer, the hype surrounding the action platformer continues to ramp up, and this feature, we’re going to take a look at fifteen of the game’s biggest talking points. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Mega Man 11 is going to be as traditional a Mega Man experience as you can imagine, so mainstays like Dr. Wily and Dr. Light are all obviously going to be a central part of the game’s setup. In his earlier days, Dr. Wily worked on something called the Double Gear System, a device that can be used to significantly boost the power and speed of robots, but research on it was forced to come to an end due to its potential dangers. This event played a part in the rift between Dr. Wily and Dr. Light, and now, years later, Dr. Wily returns with his Double Gear System, stealing eight of Dr. Light’s robots and using it on them as part of his plan to take over the world. As always, it falls to Mega Man to stop him, who gets outfitted by Dr. Light with a prototype Double Gear of his own.
That Double Gear System is going to be a pretty important part of the game itself as well. The Double Gear System allows Mega Man either great speed, or greater power, with one of its modes allowing him to shoot more powerful shots, and the other allowing him to slow down time to traverse deadly hazards or dodge incoming attacks. Both come with a timer attached, and can become overheated if used too much, and then have to be recharged for a short while before they’re used again. Additionally, if Mega Man’s health is every critically low, he can use both Gears together at the same time to unleash a powerful charged shot- this, however, leaves him in a weakened state for a short while afterwards.
Mega Man 11 will be sticking with a lot of traditions of the Mega Man series, and just like it has been the case with all previous mainline Mega Man titles, it will feature eight stages for players to play through. All of these will be unlocked from the get go, and can be tackled in whichever order you want. Of course, we’re assuming that, as always, in spite of this open ended nature, there will be an order that will be more optimal than always.
And who exactly will Mega Man be going up against? As we mentioned, Dr. Wily steals eight of Dr. Light’s robots, using his Double Gear System on them to turn them into eight of his own Robot Master, who each act as the final bosses of each of Mega Man 11’s stages. These are Bounce Man, Block Man, Torch Man, Tundra Man, Acid Man, Fuse Man, and Impact Man.
Mega Man games, especially the original mainline Mega Man series, are usually associated with a very specific art style and visual look. With the exception of Mega Man 8, they all sport a very retro pixel art style look- but with Mega Man 11, that’s no longer going to be the case. Mega Man 11 features a 2.5D graphics style, with full polygonal visuals and character models, all in the backdrop of hand-drawn 2D side-scrolling environments, making it the first game in the mainline series to do that. And while that may raise a few doubts in a few veteran fans of the series, it seems Capcom has given it a lot of thought…
MODERNIZING MEGA MAN
As we mentioned, Mega Man games and a pixel art style usually go hand in hand. For the first half dozen or so Mega Man games, that wasn’t really a conscious decision, as much as it was a product of its own time, but with Mega Man 9 and 10, Capcom very consciously chose to make them look like retro games, to make them act like throwbacks to classics. Even though the visual style in Mega Man 11 is changing to represent the next step forward for the series though, Capcom have taken care to make sure that the precision action and platforming that one usually associates with Mega Man is still retained. From frame by frame references to his animations to the way the levels have been designed to complement that, it seems like Capcom are successfully striking the right balance.
Voice acting in the Mega Man X games has never won any awards, and it never really will, with its overly corny nature, hilarious delivery, and cartoonish writing. For many, though, the laughably bad quality is almost something that seems to work well in unintentional ways- for those people, there’s good news. Mega Man 11 will feature a fully voiced cast. Thankfully enough though, from everything that we’ve seen and played of the game so far, it isn’t nearly as bad as many might remember from some of the series’ other games. It’s still not going to win any accolades either, but at least it’s tolerable.
NEW AND CLASSIC MOVES
Mega Man 11 will see the return of many classic moves that fans of the series will be familiar with, including the likes of charged Mega Buster shots and slides, but there will be new moves and abilities to consider as well. We’ve already spoken of the Double Gear System, which adds an extra layer to the moment-to-moment gameplay- for instance, using the ability to slow down time to manoeuver around particularly tricky deathtraps will be quite important, while the supercharged shot when Mega Man’s health is critically low will also come in very handy. Additionally, upon beating each Robot Master, Mega Man will also obtain new weapons that he can then use in other stages.
Dr. Light’s Lab will serve as a sort of hub for upgradation in Mega Man 11. Players can use any bolts that they acquire from enemies across all stages to return to Dr. Light’s lab at any time, where they can then buy new upgrades, which will provide various boosts and abilities. Additionally, players will also be able to equip and unequip these upgrades to suit the needs of particular stages or bosses.
Based on the classic Time Attack mode that Mega Man fans will be quite familiar with, Mega Man 11 will feature Challenges for players to take on, which will all come with their own specific sets of rules. The Time Attack mode will, of course, be your regular time trial, tasking players with completing levels as quickly as they can, while the Score Attack challenges will require players to rack up as many points as possible, with you getting more points if you defeat multiple enemies in a row.
Beyond the relatively more vanilla time attack and score attack, there are a couple of other new challenges as well, which sound pretty interesting. The Jump Saver challenge will feature a jump counter, which will dictate the maximum amount of jumps a player can make, so you’ll have to complete the entire level within the given number of jumps. The Balloon Rush mode will see you bombing through stages filled with blue and red balloons, tasking you with attacking the former. Miss any blue balloons, or attack any red ones, and you incur a time penalty.
Challenges will have an added layer of competitiveness too, because your results will be tied to global online leaderboards. Your score and times will be uploaded to these leaderboards after each challenge, which will, obviously, inherently promote replayability. Here’s something else that’s interesting- you can also upload replays of your runs online after each challenge. Not revolutionary by any means, but a nice touch nonetheless.
Mega Man games are known for their hard as nails difficulty, requiring precision platforming and timing from players almost constantly, and in this regard, Mega Man 11 will be no different- wouldn’t be much of a Mega Man game if it were. That said, if you’re a newcomer who’s looking to get into the series, or just want a breezier experience, there’s concessions being made for you too. Mega Man 11 have difficulty options similar to Mega Man 10, but more expanded this time around, with four difficulty settings- Newcomer, Casual, Normal, and Superhero.
Though Capcom initially created the MT Framework engine as a way to power titles such as Lost Planet and Dead Rising, it went on to expand far beyond its scope, to the point where now, with maybe the exception of the new RE Engine, it’s one of their foremost game development engines. Mega Man 11, too, is made using the MT Framework engine, something that Capcom plans to keep on doing even for potential future instalments in the Mega Man franchise.
$60 seems to be pretty much the standard price for most, if not all major releases these days, but Mega Man 11 is bucking the trend here, and going for a significantly slashed price. Capcom will instead retail the game for $30 on all the platforms it is releasing on (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC). We can probably expect that to have a pretty huge impact on the game’s sales.