Alright, so a game came out on Monday that I've been waiting for ever since the last entry in the series. Megaman 10 was released on WiiWare, and I downloaded it as soon as I possibly could get my grubby little hands on it and managed to finish it that very same day. Clearly this fits in the whole retro revival theme that this blog's supposed to be about...plus it's fucking Megaman, so how could I even possibly resist writing about it! Rather than just cover MM10, however, I'm also going to go into Megaman 9 and compare the two. Although they are both Megaman games right down to their cores, they are clearly inspired by different entries in the series, which makes the dynamics of both games differ radically.
So we'll start with Megaman 9.
Rewind back to 2008 when it was first announced that a new entry in the classic Megaman series was going to be released by Capcom. We didn't have very many details at first, so the first thing that came to my mind was Megaman 8. I don't want to talk about Megaman 8, because I thought it was perhaps the weakest entry in the whole series. Gimmicky levels that were less focused on straightforward action and revolved more around nifty ways of transportation ruined the experience for me. It looked great, and I loved the art style, but it just didn't feel right...I see what they were trying to do, but I didn't and still don't like it. So bugger Megaman 8. The problem was that this rubbed off on me and clearly my thoughts about Megaman 9 was that they were gonna mess it up and it was gonna be somewhat disappointing. Sure, I was gonna play it cause like I said in the first paragraph, it's fucking Megaman...but I wasn't expecting much.
Then they announced that it was gonna be retro styled. Classic 8-bit platforming action that stayed true to the very roots of the series both gameplay-wise and artistically. This changed my whole perspective on Megaman 9, because rather than associate it with the big fucking mistake that Megaman 8 was, it was now being directly compared to the likes of the first 6 games on the NES (mainly 2, 3, and 4, in my case). This was a very, very good thing, as far as I was concerned. Then the screenshots and trailers started coming out, and man was I fuckin' pumped.
So I downloaded that on the day it came out...and I've gotta say that Megaman 9 has to be one of my favourite games of ALL of the Megaman series. Not just the classic arc, but also the X and Zero series...I can't speak for .EXE and Battle Network though, 'cause I haven't played them. For MM9 to make that much of an impact though, it had to be glorious...and it is! It's clearly inspired by Megaman 2, which is widely regarded as THE best classic Megaman game. It's still difficult, and not scaled down for casual gamers, which I suppose could have isolated it from people new to the series...but let's face it, if you were really interested in Megaman 9, it was because you had played the originals to begin with and should probably know what to expect.
So the game follows similar structure to the other games of the series. You are the Blue Bomber, and you have 8 fuckin' robots to blow apart and a mad scientist to punish for his goddamned crimes. Get to it. Every robot you defeat gives you a new weapon to use, which starts the puzzle mechanic of the game. That is, every robot master has a weapon that it's weak against. For example, in Megaman 2, Air Man was weak against Wood Man's Leaf Shield...I assume because it clogged up the fan in his chest or some shit like that. So you try to fight your way through the levels and claim the weapons, which you hopefully use on the correct boss to defeat it easily...claim another weapon, lather, rinse, repeat. Once you know the correct weapons to use on each Robot Master, the game becomes significantly easier, and so you're rewarded for deducing the proper sequence.
Oh, and by the way, this is CLASSIC Megaman. You can run, jump, and shoot. That's it. No sliding, no charging the Mega Buster. Although you had Rush to help you out with the handy Rush Coil and Rush Jet, and really, who doesn't appreciate a robo doggie friend.
The level layout of MM9 is supreme...difficult, but not TOO difficult, in my opinion. The difficulty of MM9 felt perfect, and reminded me exactly of Megaman 2. The weapon set in Megaman 9 was extremely versatile and well thought out, and it seemed that each and every one garnered practical use outside of the boss fights that they were intended to be used for. For example, the Jewel Satellite which functions as the game's shield item happens to be one of the best shields of all Megaman games, and let you traverse areas with small enemies quickly (Concrete Man's stage beginning, for example). The Black Hole Bomb sucked in anything (ANYTHING) that it detonated near, including projectiles that could be heading your way, so it was good for negating almost anything that was about to hit you that wouldn't be deflected by your shield. Or don't forget the Tornado Blow, which let you jump higher while you used it as well as cleared the screen of enemies, or the Concrete Shot, which created platforms for you to use to your advantage! This weapon set was amazing, and it really changes up the flow of the game when you know what to use and when.
Then there's the soundtrack, which I think is one of the best Megaman soundtracks to date...maybe only rivaled by that of Megaman 2. Oh, and also the challenges! These are achievements that you complete upon meeting certain conditions...for example, clear a stage without taking a single hit, or beat a boss in under 10 seconds...or jump less than 50 times in a stage! There were 50 of these to do...the most difficult of which is the coveted Mr. Perfect award, where you have to clear the game without getting damaged even once. I attempted this, and managed to get to Wily's 3rd form after numerous tries...I should really finish that, and I'm actually pretty sure that I could do so. Anyway, that upped the replayability.
There was also an Endless Mode that you could download, which basically threw you into an endless level so you could see how many screens of pain you could get through before you finally croaked! Now THAT was cool. You could download an extra level with a new Robot Master, download Protoman as a playable character (who could charge his buster and slide, as well as deflect projectiles with his shield in mid jump...but who also took extra damage and knockback in comparison to Megaman), and also two extra difficulty settings!
This fucking Megaman game was loaded with features and it was amazingly done. I believe I actually consider 9 to be a better game than 2...which says a lot. They really got this revival of a classic series right, and I loved every moment of it. Nothing was wrong with it, in my opinion. This game was a true sendout to the classic, hardcore gamers of the NES era, and I gobbled it up.
Which brings me to Megaman 10.
I was pumped for this release as well, because after the huge success of Megaman 9, 10 had to be good! I kept an eye on it as well, and I downloaded it on Monday (a little later than I would have liked to, cause I had stuff to do that day and I only got around to starting it at night). The first thing I noticed was that this game was tough. Significantly tougher than MM9, as far as I could tell...which isn't a bad thing really, as I'm always up for a challenge, but I definitely had a bit of trouble getting through Megaman 10.
And it feels different! It feels way different from Megaman 9, as far as I'm concerned! Which is weird, cause it's still a Megaman game through and through, with the same general concept as the previous entry. The difference, I believe, comes from inspiration taken from a different part of the Megaman series...Megaman 3. Again, this isn't a bad thing, as Megaman 3 has a lot of fans who claim that it is indeed the best entry in the series...that's not my personal opinion, but I definitely think it's one of the better ones...but it definitely feels different from, say, Megaman 2.
For example, Megaman 2 and 9 both have music tracks that are simply hard rocking tunes that you could blow the shit out of stuff to and would get stuck in your head. Sure, they kinda suit the levels that they belong in, but the general idea is that you're scrapping robots, so you may as well bang your fuckin' head while you do so. However, Megaman 3 took a different approach in that it's musical tracks were much more atmospheric than Megaman 2's. Not atmospheric as in, here's some fuckin' crickets chirping because you're in a forest, but rather they're less catchy tunes that seem to set a mood for a level moreso than just being a good set of notes to kill things to. For example, Gemini Man and Shadow Man's stages are absolutely howling at me for a shoutout right now...both of their levels' music tracks suit the environment...but certainly aren't the most catchy tracks I've ever heard. This is how Megaman 10's soundtrack comes off as well. Pump Man's sewer-themed stage has a sewery sound to it, but definitely doesn't get stuck in my head...same with Strike Man's stage, which is sports themed and so it has a sporty kind of background music to it...but certainly not on par with any of the tracks from Megaman 9.
Actually, as of writing this right now, I can recall all the music tracks from 9 (which I played last about 2/3 of a year ago), but not a single one from 10 (which I had fired up today, actually). Again, this isn't a bad thing necessarily, it just shows to me that there's a different inspiration for the soundtrack.
But this inspiration from Megaman 3 flows into the gameplay as well. The stages themselves are trickier, much like those of MM3, rather than as straightforward as those found in the 2nd and 9th entries in the series. There are multiple paths, terrain that messes you up quite a bit, and enemies that are quite well designed and placed efficiently. In addition to this, the weapon set that you're given in 10 isn't nearly as practical as that found in 9, which also bears similarity to MM3's weapon set. Megaman 2 and 9's arsenal all tended to have uses and seemed relatively practical...whereas Megaman 3 and 10 both seem to have weapons that are very tricky to use efficiently, even when fighting a boss, as well as some forgettable ones that you don't even remember exist until you reach a boss that requires it. It's very interesting in that respect...maybe I just really haven't figured out 10 yet and the weapons are in fact quite useful, but it doesn't appear that way.
Overall though, Megaman 10 is still a great game. The levels are tricky and fun to play through, and they all have their own cool themes. The Robot Masters'll give you some trouble until you really figure them out...knowing the order really helps in this case. There are some good throwbacks to the other Megaman games as well, but I can't spoil that, obviously. Plus it has all the features that MM9 had that I mentioned earlier, and then some.
There are still challenges, but not just ones that you get while playing the main game. There are also specific challenges where you have to complete small obstacle courses without dying or getting hit, for example, and as you complete these challenge rooms, your rank goes up. Time Attack makes a return from MM9, but it includes replay data, so you can actually record your speed run of each level and upload it for other people to watch! I thought that was a pretty cool feature. Protoman is playable right off the start, with the same advantages and faults as in 9. There's an easy mode, for those who are new to Megaman or aren't particularly good at old-school platformers. Yes, this makes the game more casual...but in this case, that's not a bad thing because it's not forced. The difficulty is completely optional, so having Easy mode is just an advantage as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and there's also a hard mode that you unlock after beating the game on Normal difficulty, and it has different enemy and platform placements, AS WELL AS different boss patterns, so it plays very differently. Robot Masters will use attacks that you hadn't even seen before, which is very cool.
I'm pretty sure Endless Mode is on the way, as well as some downloadable levels, and there is also a third character coming out as downloadable content (who I'm pretty sure is Bass...I don't see who else it could possibly be). So there are a ton of extra features in MM10 to keep you going back for more.
So I'm definitely pleased with the purchase of Megaman 10...although I don't like it as much as Megaman 9, just like how I didn't like Megaman 3 as much as Megaman 2. However, this doesn't mean it's a bad game, as this is just a matter of personal preference and obviously can't condemn it for being of a different style.
Megaman 9 gets a 10/10 as far as I'm concerned. I have never felt like there was anything wrong with 9...maybe some levels are more difficult than others, but every Megaman game is guilty of that charge.
Megaman 10 gets a 9.5/10 . It's a great game, and definitely one that any hardcore gamer should have in their collection...but there's just something different about the feeling of it that would make me put it a bit lower than 9. However, I feel like the extra features such as the new challenge rooms and difficulty levels available off the bat, as well as the future DLC, add a lot to the game and make it a very loaded addition to WiiWare (and XBLA/PSN in the near future).
Seriously, download both of them if you haven't already.