[First Impressions] Reflex Man > Sadistic Man…on a good day

22 Sep

Mega Man 9 is like a homage to the six NES titles’ greatest hits.

The game feels incredibly different but does so by subjecting you to familiar challenges in clever ways. Disappearing blocks, enemies flying out of pitfalls, spikes (loads and loads of spikes) are all back, but they’re used in ways that make the classic Mega Man formula feel new. Most levels have their own little quirks here and there that offer something entirely new, but they’re nothing compared to the insane difficulty of challenges that some people have spent around twenty years facing again and again.

When you actually make it to a boss, you’ll find that there still isn’t a whole lot of intuition involved in figuring out their weaknesses. This is a complaint I have, to varying degrees, with every entry after the original, but MM9 gets a pass because of well the boss fights are executed. They’re tough, but not so tough you that you must exploit their weakness to defeat them. I’ve taken out most with my regular buster cannon so far.

Thankfully, the levels are all themed well and paced nicely. Some feature incredibly difficult mini-bosses, others recurring menaces that sweep in at the most unopportune times. The game is very, very difficult, and it probably wouldn’t get away with being this hard if it weren’t a “retro” Mega Man game. Fortunately, it is a “retro” Mega Man game, so video game sadists can all rejoice. If you didn’t like Mega Man before, you won’t like it now. You’ll probably hate it now, and will probably never understand what the fuss is about.

I suppose it could be considered a niche game in today’s market, but it just feels weird calling a Mega Man game ‘niche’ considering how insanely popular the franchise is.

A few more unorganized thoughts:

-There are a few aesthetic touches that are nice, but there are other areas that are lacking in comparison. I’d be willing to forgive most of those areas because of the “retro” nature of the game, but it just makes the game feel inconsistent.

-The shop is a great idea, but some of the items aren’t executed all that well. I’ll have to try them out some more to get a better feel for them.

-The challenges (achievements) are a really nice touch, especially on the Wii, but some of them sound impossible: Clear the game without getting hit? Without missing a single shot? Who can do these things and still have a life?

-If those challenges weren’t enough, there’s some downloadable content (either here or on the way, I’m not sure) that lets you ramp up the difficulty to hard or super hard. I might try hard, but I doubt it’ll be much fun. Super hard just sounds ridiculous. There is a Proto Man (coolest character, hands down) mode to download, though, so I’ll definitely be grabbing that one.

-Splash Woman has some really strong attacks, but she’s also really weak to the buster cannon (in comparison to other bosses). Some sexism to go with Capcom’s RE5 racism, hmm? 😛

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