Everything old is new again, and it don’t get no better than this.
I was just as surprised as you were when Capcom announced that Mega Man 9 would appear on WiiWare, complete with NES-era graphics and sound. ‘Twas an exciting announcement for Mega Man fans like me. The NES games have always held a certain sway, not just for their brutal difficulty, but also their streamlined design, brilliant level layouts, and wonderful characters. Mega Man 9 had all that stuff in spades—you may remember my review—but one could reasonably complain that developer Inti Creates made the game too hard given the vast amount of time that had passed since Mega Man 3, which was the last time a core Mega Man game was so difficult. Nobody expected Capcom to greenlight another entry in the series, but greenlight it they did—Mega Man 10 was recently released for WiiWare. While it tones down the difficulty a great deal, it also pays homage to the gimmicky level design and bosses that populated the later Mega Man games. In doing so, Mega Man 10 becomes a more accessible, but far sillier, kind of Mega Man game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course.
The game begins with the standard thin-as-paper plotline: a dangerous virus, Robotenza, has gripped Mega Man’s hometown. It’s so bad that Wily’s own robots have turned against him, and the evil doctor is forced to come to Dr. Light and Mega Man for help. He claims to have a device that will cure Robotenza, but needs Mega Man to collect the right ingredients for the potion. Ever the idiot, the heroic Blue Bomber agrees to help Wily and must defeat eight new Robot Masters to find the cure. Longtime fans may be flashing back to Mega Man X5 here, where X had to ask eight Robot Masters for bits of cures for the Sigma virus. And by “ask” I mean “kill.” Anyway, things unfold as usual and you’ll find yourself scaling Wily’s massive fortress (boy, where does he find the time to build these?) kicking the tar out of the Robot Masters.
Mega Man 6 had such memorable bosses as Tomahawk Man and Yamato Man, and Mega Man 10 continues in that tradition with such fine examples as Strike Man (as in baseball) and Pump Man (who has an old well pump on his head). Can’t forget Blade Man, who reminds me of Guiron from the old Gamera movies, and Nitro Man—who must be cousins with Turbo Man from Mega Man 7. Their stages are equally gimmicky. In Strike Man’s stage, for example, you shoot and ride on rocket-powered soccer balls and avoid footballs flung from robotic ball bins. When wandering through Nitro Man’s stage, watch out for vehicles on the robot highway. The award for “craziest stage,” perhaps in all of Mega Man history, though, has to go to Sheep Man. This character, inspired by the short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick,is a sheep, see, that transforms into a storm cloud that rains lighting down. Brilliant. Sheep Man’s stage resembles that of Cyber Peacock to some extent (from Mega Man X4) and includes scrolling computer signals and evil mouse cursors.
The game is otherwise similar to Mega Man 9 and every other NES Mega Man game: using the right boss weapons in the right order is paramount to success, and you still can’t save during the Wily stages. However, Mega Man 10 take some significant steps forward in the replay department that Mega-fans will enjoy for their fanservice but will also make the game easier to get into for newcomers. The biggest change is the addition of Easy Mode, which decreases the number of enemies in each stage, increases Mega Man’s damage-dealing power, and—most importantly—puts platforms over many spike floors and bottomless pits. Even somebody who’s never experienced the serenity of Mega Man 2 will be able to beat Mega Man 10, although the move up to Normal mode might be an eye-opening experience!
Also, Proto Man is available as a playable character right away instead of being DLC as he was in MM9. Proto Man has some moves unavailable to Mega Man, like the Mega Buster (charge shot) and a slide move. However, the tradeoff is that Proto Man takes twice the damage as his bluer brother. Mega Man 10 also includes new challenges to complete and plenty of time trials.
As for DLC, the game is no slouch. The most exciting addition is Bass, Mega Man’s rival in Mega Man 7 and 8. Bass gets a rapid-fire, multi-angle attack, at the expense of being able to move and shoot simultaneously. Bass is a great addition to the game and really makes you play differently. Almost as cool are the three new Time Trial stages which, aside from being viciously difficult at times, are lorded over by the famous “Robot Killers” from the old Mega Man Game Boy games. It’s unfortunate that these levels can’t be accessed as part of the main game, but they’re fun distractions nonetheless. Finally, just as in MM9, there is an “Endless Mode” which throws an endless level at you to see how long you can go before you die. It’s definitely the most tacked-on mode.
In all, Mega Man 10 is probably a better game than its predecessor despite its easier difficulty setting (on Normal) and the fact that the developers tossed a grinding stage involving Mole drills in before Wily’s final form. Don’t groan—you’ll probably need it. The DLC is fun and actually game-changing, and I just can’t find fault with the production values. It’s clear that Inti Creates loves their Blue Bomber, and I applaud their prowess with the series. Now, let’s see them make the game where Wily builds Zero and Dr. Light builds Mega Man X!