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Mega Man Lordspective: Mega Man 11

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  • Producer: Kazuhiro Tsuchiya
  • Director: Koji Oda
  • Release: 2018
  • Console: Switch, PS4, Xbox One

 

After an eight-year hiatus, in which one of the franchise's main founders (Keiji Inafune) left the company and a long-awaited project was canceled, it looked to everyone that the Mega Man series was in dire straits. In comes the surprise release of Mega Man 11 on the franchise's 30th anniversary, as the first true sequel to the classic series after the two retro throwbacks before it.

Mega Man 11 wanted to update the whole series into the new era while retaining its classic charm. As such, it went in with an updated 2.5D look, leaned heavily into introducing voice acting, and expanded the scope of the gameplay to include larger levels and introduce the double gear system.

Not all of those changes worked.

First, while mostly fine, the new 2.5D graphical style lost something in Mega Man's animation that made it feel a little off. Second, the introduced mechanics and larger level sizes both made the game feel a little less snappy than usual. Overall, the reception of the game was positive because it was a long-awaited revival of the series, but was also lukewarm in parts.

Personally, I think that many of the game's criticisms are warranted, but think it's a good enough first step for a soft reboot of the series. Unfortunately, it's been a little more than four years since the game's release, which makes all of us worry once more about the future of this beloved franchise.

In my opinion, one of the game's first, but least consequential missteps, is its ridiculous story which retcons much of what we knew before about the hilariously evil Dr. Wily. Apparently, his fallout with Dr. Light was over a funding competition for their research in their university days. That's fine, if not for the suggested underlining motivations and ramifications of that conflict.

First, there is the ridiculous notion that intelligent robots started thanks to Dr. Light's research funding, but that could be considered a narrative faux pas. What's more ridiculous is the stated objective of Dr. Wily's double gear technology to make all "Robots into Heroes", which flies against all that he did over the franchise's history. Not to mention the fact that Robots like Mega Man only needed to be heroes in the first place because of villains such as him.

Anyways, the apparently not-so-evil Dr. Wily kidnaps a few of Dr. Light's robots to prove the superiority of his double gear system, and Mega Man saves the day using the same technology, proving that it could make robots into heroes like its initially intended purpose.

Despite its ridiculous premise, it's at least worth it to note how good the presentation is. The voice acting is really good, and the stylization of each Robot Master is cool. The game may not have the story or edge of the X series, but it outclasses the rest of the classic games by a mile.

While Mega Man 11 follows the series closely with its gameplay mechanics and structure, it adds one major element to the game that can be a bit divisive. The Double Gears system allows Mega Man to activate one of two modes that are governed by a cool-down meter. First, there is the Speed Gear, which slows down time for Mega Man to dodge projectiles and evade dangerous situations. The second one is the Power Gear, which drastically increases the power of the charge shot as well as introduces a charged attack when using the boss weapons.

Switching between these modes and your normal state is necessary for both navigating the many obstacles of the game as well as fighting all of the bosses. As such, you would hope for a seamless system that combines this mechanic really well with Mega Man's available array of abilities, and that's mostly the case. There are some annoying hiccups, like Mega Man losing his charge when switching to power mode (but for some reason, not when switching to speed mode), and the cool-down meter is only decent after you buy its upgrade chip, but you can get used to it.

However, while the Double Gears mechanic itself is solid, I feel that it changed the design philosophy of the stages in an overall negative way. For starters, many enemies are damage sponges now, with sub-bosses egregiously so. Another significant impact is the many dangerous situations created to be managed with the Speed Gear, which becomes annoying when you tackle them the first time without enough power in your meter.

These instances of poor design, which also include shallow platforms, annoying enemy placement, and a combination of minor annoyances that slow things down, are exacerbated thanks to the exaggerated length of the game's stages. Simply, every level is a third longer than it should be for the positive driving Mega Man experience, and Bounce Man's stage shouldn't have been more than a single screen.

I feel that with better editing, the game's most brilliant levels could have been much more fun. It was nice hectic and challenging running for a forest fire once on Torch Man's stage, but a third time was too much. Similarly, an entire section of Acid Man's stage was redundant after the fun of the first two parts, and Tundra Man's lair was probably too big for him.

It's a shame that the stage design and balance are a bit off, because the game, despite Mega Man's awkward run, is mechanically great. Charging, sliding, running, and switching weapons feel better than ever. Even Rush is more useful now with a dedicated button to summon him more quickly. Hopefully next time Capcom learns from these mistakes.

According to each Robot Master's biography (which is included in the Extras section) they each have a function and personality, and both are apparent in the way they are designed and voice acted (even if they are now made evil by Dr. Wily). I find it hilarious that Block Man and Impact Man are construction crew buddies. The level of thinking in their art design may explain why the weakness circle makes more sense than usual: Block Man>Acid Man>Impact Man>Bounce Man>Fuse Man>Tundra Man>Torch Man>Blast Man.

New to the series is how Mega Man changes his design when using any of the boss weapons, which is a cool touch made even cooler by how useful most of the weapons are, making it a joy to use them even though the standard charge shot is great. Block Man's weapon is ubiquitous in dealing with enemies higher than you, while Fuse Man's charge travels usefully in line with surfaces. Impact Man's weapon adds a useful air dash to Mega Man's arsenal, and Torch Man's has a unique angle to it that is fun to experiment with. Even better, all weapons have a charged attack that you can use with the Power Gear for better utility.

Unfortunately, while using the boss weapons is one of the most fun aspects of the game, they also hugely devalue most of the Robot Master fights if you use the correct weapon against each boss. They make some otherwise brilliant fights completely trivial, so much so that I would discourage using them for your first fight.

Thanks to the Double Gear system, the boss fights are hectic and challenging affairs. Block Man is easy enough at first but then transforms into a large version of himself that you can either easily destroy with the Power Gear or safely avoid with the Speed Gear. Fuse Man is challenging to fight and you will need that Speed Gear to win, while it's a shame to ever betray the magnificence of Tundra Man or the honor of Torch Man with an unfair advantage.

On the other hand, the Dr. Wily bosses can go to hell, where the difficulty spikes with the reintroduction of the Yellow Devil and another annoying Dr. Wily Robot. While I defeated both without using an energy tank, they are just not as fun as the Robot Masters and should be dispatched with extreme prejudice

  • Composer: Marika Suzuki
  • Top 3 Songs: Acid Man's Stage, Blast Man's Stage, Tundra Man's Stage

After the absolute chaos of the Mega Man 10 soundtrack, Capcom reigned in with a single unified vision for this game. Except, they may have gone a bit too far. Simply put, the 8-bit tracks of the classic NES Mega Man games sounded like they had much more varied instrumentation than this game.

With its synth-heavy electronic soundscape, there is little variation between the tracks despite the melodic differences, culminating in a rather disappointing Wily stage track that repeats throughout the four stages. This made it hard to pick between the game's rather similar tracks, with these three being the most distinct, and hence probably the best of the bunch. Essentially, all the game's tracks boil down to a low-energy opening, the sudden explosion of a high-energy middle that takes most of the song, before climbing back down to loop again.

This may not be the franchise's best soundtrack (hell, it might even be its weakest), but that doesn't mean the following tracks are not worth listening to:

Acid Man's stage theme is my favorite simply because it's the most different from the rest, but not by much. It starts with a sinister opening, clearly evoking the lab the stage is set in, with some bubbling chemicals sound effects in the background and some quarter notes as well. This culminates in a section at the 0:18 mark that reminds me of the space sound in the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack, and then the high-energy part of the song kicks in. The synthetic electronic beat sounds like all the other songs, and it has a catchy melody that doesn't really fit the opening, but I guess it works and has some vague references to the opening style. The good thing about the song is that when it climbs down to loop, it does so quite elegantly by using a higher tempo version of the sinister opening.

Set in a theme park and with a name like "Blast Man", even the opening of this song has high energy, eschewing the low-high-low format of the rest of the soundtrack with a high-higher-high style. It opens up with a synth melody that repeats with different keys backed by melodic synth percussion. The opening quickly blasts into high-energy riffs backed by an up-tempo version of the opening percussion. This section ends with a slightly jazzy response to the opening blast before it restarts again.

The techno opening of this track only makes sense when you witness the Speed Gear mode of the glamorous Tundra Man, and even then, it's not a very effective opening to a wintery track. Thankfully, the track immediately changes and introduces the wind effects and bell chimes that fit the mood of the level. Even the desperate wailing of the high-energy section riffs fit the icy nature of the level to a degree, and the way the tracks cool down before it loops back to its inappropriate ending is also really well done.

Listening to all three tracks again, I am struck by the main problem with this soundtrack, which is that other than a few unique touches in each song, the synth-dominated instrumentation of the soundtrack makes every song sound the same, and that's just so damn disappointing.

Any discussion about Mega Man 11 must take into account the fact that it's the return of a by-then clinically dead franchise. As such, it gets automatic kudos for reviving this beloved series even if it makes some missteps in the process. Key among those missteps is a general lackadaisical feeling when playing the game. While it's mechanically brilliant at times, and the Double Gear system has its pros, there is a lot of fat to be trimmed from that game that I felt dragged it down. This "off" feeling is best encapsulated by Mega Man's changed running animation, which lacks the power and dynamism of the original sprite.

The other major misstep is the game's soundtrack, with many tracks struggling to differentiate themselves, and instrumentation that is more uniform than the 8-bit boops and beeps of the NES era. I don't think it's a stretch to say that this is the franchise's weakest soundtrack by far.

Yet, despite these missteps, we cannot ignore some of the game's best parts. The Double Gear system leads to some brilliant platforming and obstacle designs, but it shines best in some of the most amazing Robot Master fights (when not using their weakness) in the series to date. Also, as I mentioned above, Mega Man controls beautifully throughout the game.

Overall, I think there are the bones of a solid game here like there were in the first Mega Man game. If ever a sequel upgrades on it like Mega Man 2 did for the original, then I think we are on for a masterpiece. It's way overdue for another game in the series now, so here is hoping for that masterful sequel.

Rankings: I played this game twice, and liked it much better the first time. Maybe this is the type of game where multiple playthroughs make it better. Still, nothing could save that soundtrack. Overall, I put it in above the first Mega Man game as an intro point to the series, but it doesn't feel as good to play as the other games above it in my opinion.

  1. Mega Man 3.
  2. Mega Man 9.
  3. Mega Man 6.
  4. Mega Man 2.
  5. Mega Man 10.
  6. Mega Man 8.
  7. Mega Man 5.
  8. Mega Man 11.
  9. Mega Man.
  10. Mega Man 7.
  11. Mega Man 4.
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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
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