It has been eight long years since we’ve received a brand-new game in the classic Mega Man series. Fans would have to look back to 2010 for Mega Man 10 to get their last fix from the classic Blue Bomber. That silence has FINALLY been broken and Capcom has delivered the next installment in the franchise: Mega Man 11!
Title: Mega Man 11
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam)
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Price: $29.99, $59.99 (Switch Amiibo Version)
Mega Man 11’s story focuses on the roots of the Mega Man series. Dr. Light and Dr. Wily are in Robot University working on their respective projects. Dr. Wily wants to continue researching the Double Gear system but Dr. Light feels that the technology is too unstable and dangerous. The board agrees and favors Dr. Lights research on robotics, shunning Dr. Wily. In the present, Dr. Wily is scheming on his next plot when he suddenly remembers the Double Gear system. He steals Dr. Light’s robots and installs the now completed Double Gear system into them and it’s up to everyone’s favorite Blue Bomber to put an end to Dr. Wily’s plans once and for all!
Meet the Robot Masters
With the opening story out of the way, you’re dropped right into familiar territory. You’re presented with the robot master select screen where we are introduced to our eight robot masters for the series: Block Man, Acid Man, Blast Man, Bounce Man, Tundra Man, Impact Man, Torch Man, and Fuse Man. Just like in regular Mega Man fashion, you play a game of rock-paper-scissors by going to each stage, beating the robot master, taking their powers, and testing them out on other robots to find out which one is weak to that weapon.
One of the nice things about Mega Man 11 is that unlike some of the past Mega Man games, robot masters have multiple weaknesses! Some will deal 4 damage to robot master, some deal 2 damage, and some will eat a healthy chunk off of the boss’ life. This creates possibilities of multiple paths through the eight initial stages, meaning you don’t have to take on the robot masters in the same order each and every time. In fact, if you choose to buster down Tundra Man first, his weapon can be used on an unprecedented SIX other robot masters! It makes you wonder if this is a nod towards Metal Blade from Mega Man 2?
Demonstration of all weapons in Mega Man 11
Before people scream “easy mode” overusing Tundra Man’s weapon on everything, Tundra Storm consumes a ton of weapon energy so you will never have enough to flat out kill a robot master with it… unless you use it against the one robot master that is super weak to it. That means you will have to buster down the remaining health of the boss.
As for the stages themselves, some people have complained about the length of Block Man’s stage during the demo. Sorry to tell you this but all of the stages are about equal in length of Block Man’s. So if you were dissatisfied with it before, it’s not going to sway your opinion now. Be that as it may, the stages themselves are not traditional, straight-forward stages like Block Man’s. Each stage has a unique property to it that makes each stage fun and challenging!
For instance, in Bounce Man’s stage, there are rubber balls you can bounce on that act just like the springs from Plant Man’s stage in Mega Man 6. In addition, there are balls on the walls as well where you can bounce vertically by holding in the jump button. This makes some areas of the stage a little tricky. Also, there are hands attached to blocks you have to shoot. Stand on the block and after a few seconds, the hand will snap back into position and propel Mega Man forward. This adds a really fun and unique experience to the level and out of the eight initial stages, Bounce Man’s was my favorite!
Other examples would be Tundra Man’s stage with slippery ice and howling winds that propel Mega Man through the level and Acid Man’s stage with underwater currents, instant death spikes, and pools of water that turn into damaging acid if you leave certain enemies alone long enough to poison them. I don’t want to spoil the other stages but each one has its own method of challenging the player all while adding fun to the experience.
The boss fights themselves are incredibly fun! Each boss fight consists of a first phase to get you warmed up, a phase where they make use of their gear (some bosses like Block Man have the Power Gear while others like Fuse Man and Acid Man have the Speed Gear), and then a final phase which turns things up just a little bit. Using the right weapons will make quick work of any robot master but unlike past games, it’s not as simple as hitting them with a weakness and watching them become completely helpless against you. Bosses will continue to attack you as if nothing happened so don’t expect to walk in, spam a weakness, and be done with it. You’ll still have to pay attention to mechanics… just for a much shorter amount of time.
The Wily Stages were pretty fun although I was disappointed with how little there was of them. It was four stages with the first two containing a Wily Boss. The third gave you the much-expected robot master refights and the last was saved for Dr. Wily himself. No hidden fifth level, no second castle… nothing. Twelve total stages and you’re done busting for the day. I will say, though, that when I reached the first Wily Stage boss, I didn’t expect to see what I did. I was terrified and excited at the same time! I didn’t think Capcom would go there but Capcom went there. Good job, Capcom. I love you and hate you at the same time.
One thing that Mega Man is known for is its awesome soundtrack. Mega Man 11 did and did not disappoint at the same time. First off, the soundtrack in and of itself is killer. The stage select screen knocked it out of the park! Normally, we’re given a 12-15 second loop because nobody expects you to spend a lot of time on that screen. Capcom gave people a nice surprise as we were treated to a theme that lasts over one full minute before it loops! It could have actually passed as a robot master or wily stage theme and is, hands down, THE BEST stage select screen I’ve heard in the ENTIRE SERIES. Yes, I’m tossing in the X games and any other Mega Man game with a stage select. As epic as some of the stage select themes was in the past (I’m looking at you Mega Man 3, 4, and 8 in particular), 11 blows them away in my opinion.
Easily the best track in the entire game.
Jam out to Mega Man 11’s Stage Select Theme and check out the boss silhouettes for each stage!
Stage themes such as Torch Man’s, Tundra Man’s, and Acid Man’s felt great! Also… I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I noticed part of Acid Man’s stage theme mimicking the main theme of Mega Man Battle Network 6. If that was intentional, I tip my hat to you Capcom for the reference. Speaking of references, the boss battle theme seemed like it had two references in it. After our dark and menacing boss intro portion, the main part of the theme sounds eerily familiar to the boss battle theme from Mega Man X, just slowed down and slightly arranged differently. Then back half of the theme sounds like a remix of the Mega Man 3 stage select screen. Coincidence or tribute? You be the judge.
The part that disappointed me was the Wily stage theme. Before people gasp and sigh in disappointment…. I don’t mean that in the way you think I do. Hands down, this was one of the best Wily Stage themes I’ve heard in a while. It’s not THE BEST, but it belongs up there among the best. The problem is that all four Wily stages use the same exact theme song! I get that the song is good but not good enough to warrant it being the only theme you hear as you trudge through the Wily stages. Come on, Capcom. It’s been eight years since you’ve released a Mega Man game in the classic series. Surely your sound department could have come up with three more stage themes. Re-using the same theme across all four stages is inexcusable and lazy on your part.
One thing the Mega Man franchise is known for is its difficulty. The question on everyone’s mind is… “How hard is Mega Man 11?”
The answer is… about the same as any other Mega Man game. It’s going to feel pretty hard at first when you’re going in blind but once muscle memory kicks in, you’ll find yourself plowing through the stages like they’re nothing. Boss fights become easier once you learn the pattern and once you discover the weaknesses, you’ll be putting an end to Wily’s schemes in no time. That’s how Mega Man has operated since day one and I am beyond thrilled that Capcom stayed true to that formula. The stages themselves teach you about the dangers of that level and then increase the difficulty the further you get in. It’s the classic Mega Man formula and 30 years later, the formula still works!
However, Capcom understands that 30 years have passed and a brand-new generation of gamers are among us. The sad and harsh truth is that some of these newer gamers haven’t even heard of Mega Man nor know about his rich history. You think I’m lying; however, I used to have a girl who I worked with who was a gamer. When I brought up Mega Man, she had no clue what I was even talking about despite being into console games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and H1Z1. That means there exists a generation of gamers who did not grow up with this franchise and are not used to the difficulty it is known for.
That’s why there is a Newcomer and Casual mode for those people. For the rest of us, there’s Normal mode, and for the insane, there’s Superhero Mode. I’ll start with Casual Mode and use it for comparison. For the record, I completed the game on Normal but took all of my screenshots on Newcomer because that allowed me to line up some nice screens without the fear of dying… making my journalistic duties so much more painless.
Casual Mode starts you off with 5 lives versus Normal Mode’s 2 lives. In Normal Mode, small energy pellets are sprinkled throughout the stages but in Casual Mode, they become large energy pellets. Enemies in Casual Mode deal slightly less damage but seem like they take the same amount of hits to kill as in Normal Mode. This gives you the freedom to make a few extra mistakes and enjoy the game.
Newcomer Mode is REALLY easy. Even though I used it for screenshot purposes, I felt a bit guilty playing that mode. First off, there’s a checkpoint nearly on every other screen. Falling into pits will cause you to be rescued by Beat (something that can happen in all other modes if you purchase the item from the shop but there, it’s a one-time use meaning you’ll have to buy more). Running into spikes merely damages you and enemies have far less health… including bosses which take extra damage from your Mega Buster and insane amounts of damage from their weaknesses.
Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum… Superhero Mode. Here, smaller enemies have more health and enemies deal far more damage! For example, the white hammer enemies that spawn a platform on their backs in Block Man’s stage will deal 50% of your health in damage from a single hit! Tread carefully!
In addition to increased damage and health, bosses are faster and their attacks are powered up. For example, Block Man drops 15 blocks in a checkboard pattern that fills 75% of the screen. You have to damage him to 25% life before he goes into his giant stone form and the attacks in that form are insanely fast with very little reaction time. His scoop attack in that form hurls 5 blocks at you instead of the normal three.
If that wasn’t hard enough… any and all power-ups that were placed throughout the stage are gone and despite my many attempts, I didn’t notice a single power-up drop from an enemy outside of bolts. This truly is going to be fun to watch when people attempt buster-only no damage runs on this mode. You know there’s going to be some people out there who are going to do that! I’m not one of them, though.
So, you’ve beaten the newest batch of robot master, thwarted Dr. Wily, seen the end credits, and saved your progress. Time to pack it in, right? Wrong. Mega Man 11’s content doesn’t stop there. There is a ton of extra content in the Challenge Mode! There are nine challenge categories with each category filled with challenges for you to beat!
There’s a Boss Rush mode which gives you 10 minutes to go through all eight robot masters, a Playground Mode where you have to overcome different challenges (such as keeping a bounce ball enemy in the air as much as possible), time attack mode, a mode where it asks you to complete a stage using the fewest jumps possible, completing a stage using the fewest buster shots possible, Light’s Lab where you overcome 30 tough challenges in the shortest time possible, and more! There is PLENTY of content to do here, each awarding you with bronze, silver, or gold medals. You can even upload your scores to a leaderboard to compare yourself to other Mega Man players from around the world. If you prefer not to upload your pitiful scores, you can toggle an auto-upload feature on and off.
There’s also a gallery which gives you 3D models and biographies of every enemy in the game, including robot masters. You can even use the right thumbstick to take them for a literal spin and see every detail of their models!
With four difficulty modes, the possibility of different paths throughout the game, and over 100 challenges to complete, there is plenty of content to play through here with Mega Man 11. With my early access to the game, I did not have the chance to try any DLC nor do I even know if DLC is even a thing. I hope it is because one of the downfalls for Mega Man 11 is that there was no sighting whatsoever of Proto Man or Bass. Hopefully, they will be added via DLC in the future.
Another thing I disliked about the game was that Rush Coil and Rush Jet share the same weapon energy meter. I do love the fact that they were mapped to two separate buttons (on PlayStation 4, Rush Coil is Triangle and Rush Jet is Circle) so that you could call them at any time instantly but that shared energy is a bad idea. I understand it is to prevent trivializing the stages as much as possible but it wasn’t a problem for the past eight Mega Man games so I don’t understand why they would switch up the formula this time around. (Before someone calls me out on my math, Rush wasn’t introduced until Mega Man 3, kids).
Despite the flaws of Mega Man 11, it is still a rock(man) solid game. The controls are very responsive and everything feels like it should. Even with the lush 3D, HD graphics on a 2D plane, it still acts and feels like classic Mega Man. I know this was something a lot of people were worried about but those fears can be put to bed. Capcom did Mega Man some serious justice with Mega Man 11!
Now… just fix that horrible run animation and I think we’ll be good, Capcom!
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11 brings back that classic feel while giving it a fresh new look. The boss fights are memorable and challenging while the stages are thematic and very fun to play. While the game has a couple of flaws, Capcom still did an incredible job trying to recapture the nostalgia while bringing Mega Man into the HD generation.
- Excellent level design
- Challenging and memorable boss fights
- Amazing soundtrack
- Crisp, fluid high-definition graphics
- Rush on demand
- Over 100 challenges to provide extra content
- No sign of Proto Man or Bass
- Run animation looks terrible
- Wily stage theme used for all four Wily stages
- Rush Coil and Rush Jet share an energy meter
- Game felt a little short