The original 2-D classic Mega Man returns! This latest Mega Man title brings the series back to its old-school roots with retro action platforming gameplay and classic 8-bit graphics and sound. Relive the Mega Man experience with classically inspired bosses, each with their own unique weapons and weaknesses.
No of Players: 1
Review – October 2008 by Jamie Davies.
If you ever needed an example of why Capcom are so highly revered in the gaming arena, you need look no further than their recent contrasting output on the downloadable services. More specifically, their titles Bionic Commando Rearmed and Mega Man 9. Both show their commitment to the market, and their fans, but in entirely different ways. On one hand is a game which has been given a total spruce up from top to bottom to cater for the High Definition era, while the other is a game that proudly wears every aspect of its retro heritage as a shiny badge of honour.
Having seen the series splinter off in various directions, Mega Man 9 steers it straight back on course to its NES roots. Gone is the expanded colour palette and fancy Mode 7 of the Mega Man X series. Gone is the notion of giving the limelight to supporting characters (no matter how cool) with their own spin-off stories like Mega Man Zero. Gone are the convoluted virtual worlds and stat-laden Battle Chips found in Battle Network. Mega Man 9 strips the series right back to its origins in every way.
With an all new (yet deliberately familiar) story, once again Mega Man is tasked with bringing down several fanciful Robot Masters, saving the world from his evil nemesis Dr Wily. This means classic side scrolling levels need to be traversed until you reach the gruelling boss battle, shooting enemies and jumping obstacles – all the while trying your best not to die.
The visuals retain the trademark imagery of the original NES games, the soundtrack is gloriously 8-bit and the difficulty switch locked firmly to the days when paying fifty pounds for a game meant it had to last you the next twelve months until something else was released. This is a game that laughs at how flabby you’ve gotten from playing your 3D over-the-shoulder shooters with their rich virtual worlds and compelling stories, punching you in the gut repeatedly until you either give up or rise to the challenge. It really is no exaggeration to say that even just getting to the end of a level, let alone defeating its boss, is an achievement in itself.
Mega Man 9 is the very definition of fan-service in every way, down to the finest details. The most straightforward example of this is, despite the fact that it’s being run on hardware that could chew up the original games and spit them out the other side without so much as breaking a virtual sweat, Capcom have even included optional slowdown for that consummate old-school experience.
Twenty-something’s will get a sublime feeling of nostalgia coursing through them from the minute they pick it up – transported back to their youth and a time when this was the pinnacle of gaming. There’s no doubt that it will frustrate with its punishing difficulty, but somehow it still manages to delight at the same time.
Unfortunately this is also the games downside. The steadfast refusal to change in any way means it is firmly locked into its twenty year old styling’s. Anyone who doesn’t hold the originals in high regard or isn’t old enough to remember them the first time around, will be hard pressed to see what all the fuss is about without that pulse of nostalgia to keep them going.
For that reason the appeal of the game and the mileage gained will vary greatly. Depending on which camp you fall in to, the score below could be worthy of adding or reducing at least another point.