It was in December 2017 when Capcom, to the surprise of anyone vaguely familiar with the Mega Man franchise, announced during the series’ 30th anniversary live stream that they were developing Mega Man 11, the 11th title in the mainline series. All anyone expected, me included, was another port of a classic game compilation for the millionth time; but no, Capcom was set to step into the world of Mega Man for the first time in 8 years, and boy was this announcement met with a supportive outcry from fans who had been starved of their favourite blue bomber for so long.
The mainline Mega Man games (known as Rockman in Japan) are a series of 2D action platformers where the player must successfully traverse several uniquely designed levels and conquer constant platforming challenges and enemy attacks. You play as the blue bomber, an android by the name of Mega Man (you will find the naming conventions in this series is cheesy to say the least, but that is all part of the charm). Mega Man is a lab assistant to the aged roboticist, Dr Light. The story kick starts when Dr. Wily, an old colleague of the professor, attacks while he is performing maintenance on Block Man (seeing a pattern yet?) and turns him, along with 7 other androids against you, which appear as the main bosses in the game. Mega Man is, of course, sent out to defeat Dr. Wily and save the world from robotic Tyranny, using the evil doctor’s own invention – the double gear system.
Mega Man 11 follows a structure that anyone who played the earlier games will be familiar with, there are an initial 8 stages, one for each of the android bosses; this may seem like a small amount of levels for a game, and it is, but the stages are long and can be very tricky at times, which is to be expected of a Mega Man game. As is also typical of this series, the levels can be played in any order you choose, but some power ups obtained in certain stages can make another stage considerably easier, so it’s up to you to find those strengths and weaknesses. The ultimate goal of the game is to defeat all of the bosses, gain their powers, and then progress to the final stages which unlock upon defeating the last of the 8.
One thing I can say about this game is the control scheme is slick and enjoyable, never in my time playing did I feel that the controls were clunky or at all cumbersome. Everything felt smooth, streamlined, and responsive. Like is typical with a 2D side scrolling platformer, you run left. You run right. You jump over obstacles, and you blast your way through a unique and diverse set of enemies while being able to slow down time and power up your blaster… Okay I guess that last part isn’t typical of most platformers so let me backtrack a little. As I mentioned earlier, Mega Man 11 added the so-called “double gear system” which allows you to choose between the speed gear and power gear, the first of which slows time and allows you to react more easily to situations, the latter of which adds a little more oomph to your blaster. But be careful, they can’t be used for long as Mega Man quickly overheats, making him require a cool down time before either can be used again, so don’t go in so ham-fisted.
Alongside the main story, which is fairly short and can be beaten in 1 – 2 days if played a decent amount, there are a plethora of optional challenge modes which are available. Below I will give the in-game description of each of those modes:
- Time Attack – Complete each stage as fast as you can!
- Jump Saver – Get to the boss using as few jumps as possible.
- Buster Breakdown – Get to the boss using as few attacks as possible
- Score Attack – Defeat enemies and collect all the points you can. Get extra points for defeating multiple enemies in a row!
- Balloon Rush – Run through stages and attack the blue balloons. If you hit red balloons or miss blue balloons, you’ll get a time penalty. Any hit will burst a balloon, use your Mega Buster or just run into them!
- Medal Collector – Race to collect all eight medals. Don’t leave any of them behind, otherwise you’ll be sent back!
- Playground – Complete challenge within the time limit. Challenges cleared in Playground mode won’t be uploaded to the leaderboard.
- Boss Rush – A time attack mode featuring the eight stage bosses.
- Dr. Light’s Trial – Fight through 30 ultra-tough areas and reach the top! Complete at least 10 areas to upload your score to the leaderboard.
Graphics Man and Sound Ma… Okay I think you get it.
Many were skeptical of the new 3D rendered look of Mega Man 11 seeing as Mega Man had always been a 2D style game to the core. But I am happy to say that the finished look of this new style is clean and fits the game perfectly; It brings the Mega Man style to the new generation while still remaining faithful to its roots in a way that will allow long time fans to still feel at home.
To me however, the soundtrack is a bit more of a mixed bag. This game favours more heavy electro music which, while does fit the style of the game, is for the most part easily forgettable and on some rare occasions can be a little obnoxious due to some tracks sounding pretty similar to others. The soundtrack does have its merits and there are a few gems hidden amongst the filler, so don’t let this turn you away, it is still a solid soundtrack, just with a few shortcomings.
The sound effects are another story, the attacks overall feel like they have impact, they are satisfying and help the game to feel responsive during play. The voice acting is competent, be warned it is cheesy, but as I stated earlier, that’s all part of the Mega Man package.
Speed gear! …Hello? Is this thing working?
During the day and a half it took me to beat this game I am pleased to report that I did not encounter any game breaking or annoying bugs in the game. One thing I did notice however, is that during some of the more intense battles with a lot going on, there was some occasional minor slowdown and frame drops. Nothing that makes the game unplayable by any means, on most occasions I was able to easily ignore it because it passed fairly quickly, but nevertheless the frame drops were still there.
As I played this on the switch, obviously that means I can take it with me to the bathroom, and thankfully there is very little difference to both handheld and docked modes. Docked, which is always my preferred way to play, does look slightly more jagged around the edges, but not enough to take away any enjoyment from the game. Things looked a little smoother in handheld mode to me, despite the slight resolution drop, so go wild handheld fans.
One last time to round things off. Conclusion Man!
Mega Man 11 is a wonderful and faithful return to the Mega Man franchise, yet the game still manages to feel fresh and like an evolution of the series. Any concerns about the new artstyle can be dispelled as it is fitting and pleasing to the eye, fans of the older games can be at ease. Despite a few minor gripes I had with some of the music, very minor frame drops, and length of the game, I think that this game stands tall as one of the best games in franchise. Good job Capcom, Mega Man is revived and I hope to see more games in the series in the future.
- Nice 3D rendered graphics.
- Unique and interesting level designs.
- Tight, enjoyable controls and mechanics.
- Faithful to the originals, yet a step into the modern era.
- Very minor frame drops on the switch.
- Some of the music can get a little repetitive.
- A little short, but that’s Mega Man.
Mega Man 11 on the Switch is a fantastic return to the Mega Man universe, one in which fans will feel at home and newcomers will feel welcomed.