After going hand’s on with Mega Man 11 a few months ago I knew it would be a game that fans of the classic Mega Man games would enjoy. It takes the same formula that made the older Mega Man games so fun to play but implements a graphical update that helps give the game a more modern look and a few new systems that change the way we’ve played Mega Man over the last 30 years. Fans have been waiting almost a decade for the next numbered entry in the franchise, and while Mega Man 11 isn’t a perfect game, they won’t be disappointed.
The main structure of Mega Man 11 will be very familiar to anyone that’s played any of the previous 10 classic titles in the series. You’ll have the option to jump into one of the 8 themed stages and play them in any order you like. If you’re skillful enough to make it to the end of the stage and defeat the Robot Master of that area you’ll be granted a weapon power-up themed around the defeated boss’ power to take forward into the following stages to help you on your journey to defeat all 8 Robot Masters and take down Dr Wily again.
The stages and enemy encounters in Mega Man are often challenging enough. But possibly the biggest challenge is finding the right order to take down each of the Robot Masters. Having gained a power from a previously defeated boss can make certain stages, or defeating other Robot Masters easier. For instance navigating the fast paced, swaying enemies of Fuse man’s stage becomes much easier if you have already beaten Block Man and gained his ability to make blocks rain down from the sky.
Mega Man 11 has ditched the classic pixel art style in favor of a 2.5D design. While the design change received a lot of criticism from long time fans I actually quite like the updated look of the characters and environments and think that it helps bring this classic game and it’s formula into the modern era of gaming.
The visuals aren’t the only new addition in Mega Man 11 though. Unlike the other games in the classic series, Mega Man 11 actually has a story to tell along side it’s level driven gameplay. Dr Wily has stolen 8 of Dr Light’s robots, increased their power and obviously plans to take over the world. It’s a fairly simple good vs evil story but adds some extra context around why you’re defeating the Robot Masters.
The biggest gameplay change up in Mega Man 11 comes in the form of the Double Gear system. Using the Speed Gear will temporarily slow down time, allowing you to slow down the action on screen if it’s getting too chaotic or get through some of the fast paced platforming sections that result in instant death if not completed fast enough. And there’s also the Power Gear which provides a temporary power boost to Mega Man allowing you to deal higher damage.
These systems provide a fresh mechanic to the series and brand new methods to assist getting through the stages but I rarely found myself remembering to use it, relying more on the standard attacks and the powerups granted from defeating Robot Masters. I only remembered to give the gear system a go when I had died numerous times in a section and remembered I may have a better chance if I slowed things down.
Just be aware before jumping in blind or buying this game for younger children that Mega Man 11 is difficult. Sometimes frustratingly difficult. Although it’s meant to be by design. And it is fair. Any time you die it is generally your fault. You may have not analysed an enemy attack properly, jumped from the right spot or failed to get through one of the platforming puzzles without colliding with an enemy. Mega Man 11 features 4 difficulty options and even playing on the 2nd of the 4, ‘casual’ I still had a hard time getting through the stages on the first try. Lowering or raising the difficulty doesn’t change the level layout or number of enemies but does change how much damage they deal out. Meaning you get less chances to make mistakes when completing your run.
You really need to analyse the enemies, environment and their patterns to survive the stages. Rushing in all guns blazing will often result on a pretty quick death. But being patient really pays off. You’ll get a massive sense of relief and accomplishment when you manage to get past an area that had been causing you issues or any time a mid-boss or Robot Master is defeated for the first time.
Thankfully even though it is difficult, it feels amazing to play. The controls feel great, they are tight and Mega Man seems to react to your inputs in a fast and snappy manner which is exactly what you need in a game with such intense platforming sections.
Mega Man 11 stages run on a lives system and once you exhaust all of them you’ll get a game over screen and have to restart the stage over again. You can however visit the lab in the hub area to exchange credits to buy more lives, tank top ups or death saves to assist in getting through the stages. If it weren’t for the ability to buy extra lives I think I may still be trying to beat some of the stages in the game because by default you only have 5.
One thing I was a little let down with in Mega Man 11 was it’s soundtrack. There isn’t anything specifically ‘bad’ about it but I found it lacking in comparison to the iconic soundtracks of the previous games. The music is fine and the score pieces suit the areas they’re used in but I felt a little let down with the pieces not being as catchy and passionate as they have been in the past.
If you love the classic mega man games there’s a lot for you to love here in Mega Man 11. It retains much of what made the earlier Mega Man games so great while also providing something fresh to move the series forward with it’s visual upgrade and introduction of the Double Gear system. If you’re a fan of challenging platformers I’d highly recommend giving it a try.
A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by the publisher for this review.