January 17, 2020 at 9:51 PM #589
Mega Man 11
Rating: 4.0 – Great
A great return for the Blue Bomber.
Normally I’d make some kind of introduction at the start of a review to familiarize the reader with the subject matter, but Mega Man as a series needs no such introduction. It has been with us for a long time, and most gamers will at least recognize him, even if they’ve never played through one before. With this being the eleventh game in the franchise, I’m going to assume that you have some familiarity with the franchise, or else I’m not sure why you’d just jump in on this one. If you’ve never played a Mega Man game before, though, I’d recommend going back and playing one of the older games first. It’s not that you need to have a familiarity with the series to enjoy Mega Man 11, but rather that Mega Man 11 felt like more of a love letter to fans of the series than anything else. Plus, if I’m being honest with you, Mega Man 11 isn’t quite as good as some of the best in the series, like 2 or 3. If you’ve never played a Mega Man game before, then an easy way to play some of the older ones would be on the Mega Man Legacy Collections for PS4, so I recommend trying that out instead of this. I’ve beaten all 10 of the previous games in the main series, and so I’m coming at this as a veteran, not a newcomer. With that being said, for the rest of you I’m going to assume that you’ve played at least one of the classic Mega Man games before and are wondering if this eleventh addition to the franchise is worth it. The short answer is yes, but there are some caveats.
I’m going to breeze through talking about the story of the game, because we all know that it isn’t the main draw to this series. Basically, Dr. Wily has some recollections about devices that he made with Dr. Light in his early days as a scientist, and he decides to use those in his quest for domination. From here, he takes some robot masters to do his bidding as usual, and it’s up to Mega Man to stop him. Yadda yadda, same old same old, we’ve seen this before. It’s fine, but it’s more of a background thing than anything.
Mega Man 11 sticks true to the roots of its predecessors by being designed in the same way. There are eight robot masters whose stages you play through, you fight a mid-boss, play through some more of the level, and then fight the robot master at the end. From there, you get that robot master’s power, which you can use to tackle your next level. Like I said, I’m assuming most of you know how this works, so I’m not going to go more in-depth than that. It works the same way you remember it, and for me personally, that’s all I wanted.
The only real addition to the gameplay in Mega Man 11 is the Double Gear system, which helps the game feel a little unique. These are the devices that I referred to in the story section, and it has a direct impact on the gameplay because it allows Mega Man to use a Speed Gear or a Power Gear. The Speed Gear allows Mega Man to temporarily slow down time, letting him dodge attacks more easily. The Power Gear, if it isn’t obvious, makes Mega Man more powerful for a short period of time, giving his weapons more of a blast. Either of these can be used whenever you want, but after you use one they’ll be unavailable for a short period of time until it recharges. Also, when your health is low, you can use both at one time to make you quick and powerful. The only drawback to this is that it leaves Mega Man weakened afterwards, so it should only be used in desperate situations. Overall, I really liked this system. Some people might find it a bit too simplistic, but honestly I’m just glad that a new addition didn’t drastically change the core gameplay. I’ve always liked the Mega Man games for what they were, and I never really felt like they needed to continue trying to reinvent the wheel after the first few. They found a formula that works, and so really I like to have a new entry in the series to see what new levels and robot masters I’ll be taking on this time around. I’m not looking for some complex crafting system or anything like that, and so I’m glad that this new addition only added to the overall experience, rather than mixing it up significantly.
Speaking of the levels and robot masters, though, I think the big question for a new Mega Man game is always going to be how these are. I remember being a little disappointed with Mega Man 10 when it came to this (I’m looking at you, Sheep Man), so I was a little nervous about 11, but honestly I really liked the robot masters and their levels in this one. Some are better than others, but this is always the case. I think the most memorable one in this game for me is Bounce Man, mainly due to his accompanying stage, but there are some other cool ones here too, like Acid Man and Impact Man. The stages can tend to be a little long at times, which may or may not be a good thing to you, but they are very well-designed. I think my biggest issue is that there isn’t a consistent sense of difficulty/challenge in some of them. There are certain stages that I breezed through, and then others that I just got very frustrated at. An example of this was Bounce Man’s stage, which I absolutely loved in theory, but being bounced around everywhere proved to be extremely frustrating at times. Still, the design itself is really well done, and I think there are some good obstacles that will challenge even the most seasoned of Mega Man fans. The boss fights are also really excellent in this one, adding a bit more spectacle than a lot of the previous games did.
So, that’s how the game plays, but how does it look and feel? I remember being skeptical when I saw early screenshots of Mega Man 11, because I was upset that they strayed away from the classic 8-bit style, which I’ve always loved. I remember not being as much of a fan of the "updated" art styles in Mega Man 7 and 8, so I was a little upset that they decided to go with a 2.5D style, rather than the retro look. However, as I was playing through Mega Man 11, I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the graphics in the game. It’s obviously still not going for a realistic AAA kind of look, but it winds up looking much more refined. I’m not going to say that I prefer it to the 8-bit style or anything, but I thought that what they did go with looked really beautiful here. In particular, I always really liked how good the backgrounds on the stages looked when you would pass by them. This also helped with that spectacle that I mentioned during the boss fights, and so for what it’s worth, Mega Man 11’s art style really works well for it. This has never been a problem for this series, but the game also plays really well too. There was never really any slowdown or bugs to speak of, and so it made for a pleasant experience.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me with Mega Man 11 is its soundtrack. The sound effects sound fine and all, but one of the staples of a lot of the Mega Man games has been really memorable music, and this just doesn’t have it. I can’t even recall any of the music from memory, to be honest. That’s not to say that it’s BAD, as it actually is pretty well-done. It just didn’t stick with me in the same way I wanted it to, and so some fans might be disappointed by this. When talking about sounds, it’s also worth noting that Mega Man 11 has voice acting, which only ever happened in the main series in Mega Man 8. Now, Mega Man 8 had notoriously bad voice acting, so I will say that the voice acting here is nowhere near as embarrassing as it was in that game. It’s definitely a lot improved, but it’s still not like there are groundbreaking performances here. I’m not sure why the developers chose to have voice acting in this again, as I’ve always thought it’s one of those series that really doesn’t need it. Like I said, it doesn’t sound awful, but it’s not like it’s a welcome addition for me either.
One other reason I’ve always personally liked Mega Man games is for their length. While some of the more difficult ones might have taken me hours to beat just because I kept dying all the time, some of the less challenging ones (like 4-6) winded up being pretty quick experiences, usually around 4 hours in length. This is about where Mega Man 11 is at too. Game length tends to be a pretty subjective topic anymore, as some people don’t think a game is "worth it" if there isn’t 100 hours of gameplay to sink into. I’m always more of the mindset that your game length should fit the type of game you’re going for, and so I would never want a 100 hour long Mega Man game. For me, at 4 hours Mega Man 11 was the perfect length, as I wanted a game that I could just play through over a weekend, and that’s what I got from it. If that’s all you’re looking for, then Mega Man 11 shouldn’t disappoint you either. However, I will say that if you are looking for a bit more "bang for your buck," Mega Man 11 does feature some additional modes that will extend the game time for you. There are quite a bit of things like time trials and challenges, much like Mega Man 9 and 10 had. In addition, Mega Man 11 also has a full trophy list, with 50 trophies and a platinum to obtain, so if you’re really looking to extend your game time that’ll probably do it for you. For me, though, I just wanted the core experience, and that didn’t disappoint me.
In conclusion, after a long hiatus I think that the return of the Blue Bomber in Mega Man 11 is a triumphant one. It’s a game that seems to have been made with its fans in mind, as it gave one like me everything that I wanted from a new Mega Man game. It has some really great new stages and bosses, even if some can be a bit more frustrating than others. While its music and voice acting might not be the biggest winners, its new graphic style is surprisingly well-done, making for a beautiful experience that’s short but sweet. People tend to wonder how a game like this compares to its predecessors, and I think that this can vary widely depending on who you ask. For me, I personally found Mega Man 11 to be in about the middle for the series. I didn’t like it quite as much as 2-5 and 9, but I definitely liked it more than 1, 6, 7, 8, and 10. That’s just me, though, you might be different. Regardless, I think that if you’re a Mega Man fan, then Mega Man 11 is worth playing.
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