Wii

North America

Mega Man 9

by Zachary Miller - October 2, 2008, 12:40 pm PDT
Total comments: 7

9

You are not prepared.

Of the entire multi-tiered Mega Man franchise, the original NES games are the most devilishly difficult. The original game is by far the most brutal, but that’s not to say that the next five games are not also hard, because they are. You will die, and you will die often. Sometimes, you will wish you never bought or played the freaking game, but you always come out beaten, bloodied, and exhausted, but happy. Your twitch skills as a gamer have improved, your ability to tackle new situations by prioritizing has changed, and you have made Dr. Wily your bitch (several times). Mega Man 7, the first SNES outing, was difficult but not that difficult, and Mega Man 8, an interesting Sega Saturn/PlayStation game, had some tough bits but was ultimately very easy by comparison to its predecessors. Enter Mega Man 9, the first sequel to the original NES series in fifteen years. Developed by Inti Creates, the same team who’s been churning out the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX games, Mega Man 9 brings back series creator Keiji Inafune with the goal of getting the original series back to its roots to the tune of Mega Man 2 and 3—widely considered the best Mega Man games ever made. They succeeded brilliantly in imparting on this WiiWare title the look, sound, and feel of those old games, even going so far as to include optional flicker and pop-up graphical effects (real gamers play Legacy mode!). They also added the difficulty of the series’ original title, and maybe cranked it up a few notches. Mega Man 9 is, by far, the most difficult game in the series, and gamers who have not experienced Mega Man in the past should heed such a warning.

As MM9 opens, Mega Man’s hometown is under attack by rampaging robots, even though Dr. Wily has been put behind bars. Dr. Light, Mega Man’s good-hearted creator, is blamed for this new threat. Mega Man, Roll, and Axel take it upon themselves to clear their creator’s name and restore peace to the city. Naturally, this involves choosing one of eight new Robot Masters and battling through brilliantly designed, but punishingly difficult, levels with the Blue Bomber.

Not completely abandoning the gameplay changes that accompanied MM7 and MM8, MM9 features "screws" as currency, which some enemies drop. You can save them up and spend them at Axel’s shop, where interesting items like the Energy Equalizer and Damage Shield are found. Some items are kept for the entire game (like those two), while others, like the Shock Absorber (survive falling on spikes) or Beat Rescue (survive falling in a hole) are one-use-only items. Axel’s shop is also where you’ll get most of your E Tanks and extra lives, although certain stages are liberally sprinkled with 1-ups. You can even purchase the option of playing the game without your helmet. Unfortunately, Axel’s shop ties into the game’s overall plotline. Yes, aside from an opening scene and an end scene, MM9 has a formal story. I found the story pesky and unfulfilling. Mega Man games have never been known for their strong writing, and that’s the one place where MM9 doesn’t feel like an old Mega Man game. This could’ve been remedied by some less-than-perfect "translation," but the writing is spot-on and uses big words. Unfortunately, this is uncharacteristic of the old games.

The rest of the game is identical to previous NES Mega Man games: Choose a stage, battle your way through, and end up fighting a boss. More than ever before, figuring out the boss order is tantamount to success—especially for speed runs—because many of the Robot Masters are brutally powerful and mucho challenging to survive with your Mega Buster (pea shooter) alone. Just like the best of the old games, each stage has its own unique properties. Jewel Man’s stage has swinging platforms; Tornado Man forces you to fight wind, rain, ice, and deadly rotating platforms; Magma Man requires you to dodge quick-beam-like lava flows; and perhaps worst of all, Plug Man’s stage features those cursed disappearing blocks. Like the MMX games but unlike the NES Mega Man games, almost every stage in MM9 features a mini-boss. These mini-bosses can be easy (the flower droid), brutally difficult (the rock monster), or just plain awesome (use Tornado Man’s weapon on the fire dragon). Most of the expected Mega Man level trappings are still here, including precarious jumps or lava or spikes, enemies that suddenly pop out of bottomless pits, enemy spawn points in the worst possible places, and sections that require ridiculously precise timing.

New to the series are achievements—lots of ‘em. Doing specific things, like speed runs, beating the game without your helmet, or firing over 500 shots with your Mega Buster, net you achievements, which as far as I can tell don’t unlock anything. They’re more for bragging rights than anything else, although this is one area I wish the Wii version of this game (it’s also available on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network) featured a gamerscore. This is ironic, considering that you might get the most out of a version of the game not originally targeted for it! One wonders if the achievements were thrown in there specifically for the XBL/PSN crowd. They’re still fun challenges to complete, though, even if you can’t really brag about them online.

Inti Creates has certainly succeeded in making MM9 look like the old games. They built the entire game from scratch, without using an NES emulator or mock-up engine. This is a stunning achievement, folks, because MM9 is so well thought-out that it really feels more like a Virtual Console game than a WiiWare game. It’s like Capcom finally got around to releasing a Mega Man game that never made it Stateside. All of the sound effects, musical tracks, and even general pixel mappings are stunningly well done. Considering what Inti Creates was trying to achieve, one cannot help but admire the graphics. And as I said before, they even added screen flicker, graphical pop-up, and a few instances where the framerate skips around. These are not poor design consequences—Inti Creates had to program those bugs into the game itself. We’re talking a sick level of dedication, here, and it pays off. While the music never rises to the brilliant crescendo of MM2/3, it’s certainly among the best in the NES series.

Capcom will be bombarding us with a hoard of DLC specifically for MM9, including the ability to play as Proto Man, extra difficulty settings, and even an extra stage. My gripe here is that it’s all going to cost a little extra. Proto Man, for example, will cost $2 to play as. Some of this is warranted, some of it not. The extra difficulty settings should’ve been in the core game. Even Proto Man could’ve been an unlockable character. But at least we’ve got options, and a way to expand on an already-awesome game. Merely as a technological achievement, MM9 is kickass. Gamers who’ve never played a Mega Man game before might be crushed under the sheer weight of the game’s monumental difficulty, so they might want to grab the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for training. Nostalgic gamers and Mega-fans should pick it up immediately, though, because it’s well worth twice what Capcom is charging.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
10 9 10 8.5 9 9
Graphics
10

Wonderful, nostalgia-inducing graphics that look exactly like what they're supposed to represent. It's a trip down memory lane, and it's beautifully executed.

Sound
9

Even though there are a too many instances of musical cues taken directly from the old games (traditionally, each game has had a different “boss select” tune), the individual level themes are among the best in the series. They are just as infectious as the older games, and you’ll be humming them in the shower before you know it.

Control
10

Just as precise as the original games: jump, shoot, move left and right, and climb ladders. Using Rush Jet is still an activity fraught with peril, just the way it should be.

Gameplay
8.5

The cheap stuff is still there in full force. It’s infuriatingly difficult at times, which detracts, somewhat, from the enjoyment.

Lastability
9

All those achievements will take awhile to accrue, and speed run times are ranked online. And the coming onslaught of DLC will keep you busy, too.

Final
9

Mega Man 9 is a fantastic game that recreates a Mega Man game from the NES era that’s tough as nails. This is both the game’s biggest strength and greatest roadblock. The difficulty level will push many potential newcomers away, but old-school gamers will relish the challenge.

Summary

Pros
  • Achievements extend the life of the game
  • Awesome graphics, sound, and atmosphere
  • DLC is always welcome
  • Incredible level design and novel ideas
Cons
  • Achievements don't mean as much on the Wii
  • Brutal difficulty potentially eclipses that of the original game
  • Oddly enough, the storyline detracts from the experience
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

KDR_11kOctober 02, 2008

You make it sound like the NES Megaman games are harder than the Zero games.

The big green guy's called Auto, BTW.

The lava waterfalls in Magma Man's stage are nothing like quickman beams, they just block the path periodically instead of forcing you to dash through a screen or die.

Overall it's clear the game's not designed to be the first Megaman game you play, the disappearing blocks do some pretty complex things (nothing that would surprise you if you've played I Wanna Be The Guy but still nastier than before), the platforms in Tornado Man's stage would be hard enough without the spinning and Concrete Man's stage is just designed to be fucking annoying (seriously, enemies that pop out of pits only when you're close enough so unless you remember there's an enemy there you'll likely get pushed into the pit?). There's a lot of cheap deaths in the game but other than that the difficulty isn't terribly high, once you get into the groove and trial&errored enough to know the traps you can easily beat a few levels in one sitting.

Oh and the Sound score needs at least a hit of -2 for that menu music that loops every two seconds.

and doesn't using the tornado on the dragon leave you with nothing that's effective vs Magma Man?

Right. Auto. I always forget that bit character's name. I played the first Zero game and didn't find it that bad, but maybe that's because I'd been raised on MM and MMX...?

vuduOctober 02, 2008

Quote:

These mini-bosses can be easy (the flower droid), brutally difficult (the rock monster) ...

Did you get these two mixed up?  I found the Rock Monster (from Concrete Man's stage) pretty easy but the Flower (from Hornet Man's stage) seriously kicked my ass several times.  Then again, I beat Hornet man before I had Magma Bazooka so that had something to do with it.  But even when he showed up in Wily's castle he wasn't a total push-over.

Quote:

... or just plain awesome (use Tornado Man’s weapon on the fire dragon)

Damnit.  Now I'm going to have to go back and try that.  I used Laser Trident both times.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorOctober 02, 2008

Why is this review stickied in the talkback forums.  Odd.

vuduOctober 02, 2008

Quote from: Pale

Why is this review stickied in the talkback forums.  Odd.

Because Mega Man 9 is just that awesome.

Dan_FlyhightOctober 06, 2008

Mega Man 9 gets a 9. Awesome. I did the demo over XBL and I even got frustrated with it. I got to the second gap in concrete man's level and I died and got a game over. lol

SchadenfreudeOctober 06, 2008

To be fair, the 360 D-pad blows.

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Genre Action
Developer Capcom
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Mega Man 9
Release Sep 22, 2008
PublisherCapcom
RatingEveryone
eu: Mega Man 9
Release Sep 26, 2008
PublisherCapcom
Rating7+

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