Friday, September 26, 2008

Mega Man 9 review

Remember, this review is using the new rating system outlined here. I don't want to confuse anyone!

Developers: Inti Creates, Capcom Japan
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: September 22nd
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
ESRB Notes: Mild Cartoon Violence

After many years of waiting, Mega Man 8 finally gets its sequel in the form of Mega Man 9 for WiiWare, Playstation Network and XBox Live Arcade. Saying Mega Man 9 goes back to basics would be an understatement, as it features 8-bit graphics, NES-style music, and incredibly linear gameplay. With nostalgia coming out the wazoo and a higher difficulty than most of today's video games, Mega Man 9 is a title for the retro gamer in all of us.

As Mega Man begins, Dr. Wily is once again admitting defeat to Dr. Light's robot warrior. Shortly after, though, Dr. Light's robots all start going insane, blowing things up and attacking the populace. Dr. Wily claims that this is all Dr. Light's doing, even going so far as to present a recording of Light speaking of taking over the world. Of course, we all know this can't possibly be true, and it's up to Mega Man to defeat all the robots and prove Dr. Light's innocence.

In order to do this, Mega Man must defeat eight of Dr. Light's 'Bots gone wild, and then track down both Dr. Wily and the truth. The levels and bosses all have their own themes, from water to fire to bees. Yes, bees. I'm not sure why either. Anyways, with each level comes a theme, and with each theme comes new hazards. Magma Man's stage is full of lava and flamethrower-wielding robots, Hornet Man's level is fraught with heat-seeking flower missiles, and Jewel Man's mine-themed stage is packed full of robot mine carts. To fight back against these bosses and their themed terrors, Mega Man must rely on his trusty Mega Buster. After defeating a boss, however, Mega Man gains the ability to mimic their weapon. Unlike the Mega Buster, though, these special weapons have limited ammunition, and must be used sparingly. Certain weapons are significantly more effective against certain bosses. For example, Splash Woman's Laser Trident is very strong against Magma Man. After all, water puts out fire.

Of course, Mega Man 9 isn't only about defeating the robot masters and their minions. A large amount of getting to the bosses involves skillful timing and jumps, as well as quite a bit of patience. Waiting for the right moment to jump is crucial in many of the levels, and knowing where all the hidden traps are is key to success. This somewhat makes Mega Man 9 largely about trial and error, in that players will often be killed by an obstacle before learning of its existance. For example, Galaxy Man's stage is filled with robots that drop from the sky, grab Mega Man, and drag him into walls of spikes. Learning where all these robots lurk is key, as just touching a spike wall is curtains for the Blue Bomber. A good memory is a great tool to have when playing Mega Man 9.

Those grabby buggers are a real pain in the robotic ass.

If things get really hard, players can also purchase items such as Energy Tanks, ally "calls" and extra lives using the bolts collected throughout play as currency. This helps tone down the difficulty a tiny bit, but it's just so much more satisfying to beat the crap out of a robot master without any help.

One not-quite-classic feature included in Mega Man 9 is an XBox Live-like achievement system. Achievement requirements range from beating 500 enemies to defeating a boss in under ten seconds. While I can never hope to obtain these achievements for myself, they'll certainly keep me coming back, trying in vain, until my Wii remote snaps in half. Considering how sturdy Nintendo products are, I'll probably be at it for a while.

Sometimes a gamer will call a game "retro" because of its simplistic art style and 2D presentation. Well, it's time for those guys to find a new word, because Mega Man 9 is the one true example of a new game being retro. Mega Man 9 looks just like an NES game from the glory days, right down to the three-frame running animation. Some people think that this art style is a cop-out, a way for Capcom to save money and get the game out the door sooner. Well, those people are, quite frankly, nuts. Mega Man 9 is a return to the good ol' days, and the art style followed suit. Only thing is, now we don't have to blow into the console to get it to work.

Keeping in the theme of NES-style presentation, Mega Man 9 also features a beautifully electronic set of sound effects and background music. A short, looped song on the stage select screen just furthers the incredible retro feel of Mega Man 9. Also making a return are the simple blips and bloops of firing the Mega Buster and jumping around. It's simply amazing how far Capcom went to make this game retro in every way. I'm definitely impressed.

I know I'll be playing Mega Man 9 for a while yet. Two robot masters down, six to go! At this rate, I won't be done until it's nearly Halloween!


Mega Man 9 is a throwback to the days of the NES. Back when men were mega, when bros. were super, when there was action in elevators. Mega Man 9 is a true retro game released in the days of high-definition and surround sound. It brings back all the great, challenging gameplay of the NES, and somehow makes it feel like new all over again. Finally, the true sequel to Mega Man 8 has arrived, and it certainly hasn't disappointed. Without a doubt, Mega Man 9 earns a big fat...

Anyone who loves Mega Man, classic gaming, or a good challenge needs to download Mega Man 9 ASAP. Fire up your console of choice, launch this game, and enjoy the nostalgic goodness. Mega Man 9 is a mega good time.

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Richardbro said...

Nice review! I agree the game is amazing, and a nostalgic experience.

P.S. You should consider joining a gaming journalism company like IGN because your writing style is great.

Kyle said...

Nice review. I bought the game on Thursday and am loving the hell out of it! I've beaten four of the Robot Masters, and damn, the game is still kicking my ass!

Anonymous said...

"Back when men were mega, when bros. were super, when there was action in elevators."

I lol'd. Also, Mega Man 9 is AWESOME. It's the first Mega Man game I've ever played, and it's making me want to pick up some older titles and check 'em out!

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