If you had a Nintendo Entertainment System chances are you also owned a Mega Man game. It set a benchmark for all platforming games that would follow. The wide range of enemies, colorful levels, crazy weapons and ridiculously difficult levels all combined to form one of the greatest franchises in video game history, until they ran out of ideas with the bosses and started recycling content but anyway …
When I heard Capcom was bringing Mega Man 9 to the PSN, XBLA and WiiWare as a return to it’s 8-bit roots I was intrigued. Capcom was responsible for some of the best games of the 8-bit era so if anyone could successfully recreate that “retro” experience, they could. Critics dug the game and sales exceeded expectations which naturally led to the creation of … Mega Man 10!
The story behind Mega Man 10 (from Wikipedia) is this: An illness known as “Roboenza” suddenly begins infecting robots all over the world, causing them to malfunction and hamper human life. Mega Man’s sister Roll becomes one of the disease’s victims. A month following the outbreak, many of the infected robots go berserk and attempt to take over the world. The villain Dr. Wily comes to Mega Man and Dr. Light, claiming that he was building a machine making medicine to cure the disease before one of the infected robots stole it.
Designed to resemble the original NES games in terms of graphics and gameplay, it’s a consistent experience that remains faithful to the 8-bit era but with flaws. The levels are too short. On Normal difficulty I was knocking out stages under 5 minutes and had defeated the 8 primary bosses within 35 minutes. The bosses were also a bit lackluster, the typical elemental guys were there, Chill Man, Pump Man and Solar Man but then they also had Sheep Man who had a futuristic, spike heavy level that really had nothing to do with name. Mega Man fighting through a farm-themed level would have probably been more interesting. MM9 at least had Splash Woman who broke the mold as a female boss.
Some of the stages are super generic and feel like a rehash of earlier Mega Man levels, the always annoying ice and water worlds are present but are a bit light on the difficulty. The few standouts include Strike Man’s sports-themed stadium level, Nitro Man’s nighttime highway level with the cityscape backdrop and Pump Man’s raw sewage spewing sewer level.
The music rounds out the throwback experience with a solid selection but no particular standouts, it’s average. In fact the whole game feels a bit average. Additional features like the ability to play as Mega Man, Protoman or Bass (downloadable) adds some variety to repeat playthroughs, additional levels to download and trophies to collect increase the repeat value but I doubt anyone will put Mega Man 10 in a top 5 MM list.
As a long-time gamer I always appreciate retro nods with next gen features. Capcom did an excellent job of making sure MM10 felt like an authentic NES game and it does, it just doesn’t rise above any of the original excellent titles, it’s an homage that doesn’t add anything exceptional to the series. It’s just average. It does just enough to get by and grab a passing grade.