It’s been a few rough years for Mega Man fans. Between the lack of actual new releases from Capcom to the disappointing Mighty No. 9 which was put together by former series’ producer Kenji Inafune, the Blue Bomber has seen better days. Sure, Capcom’s work on making sure that his previous outings are readily available in the current generation of consoles (and PC) has been mostly decent, but it’s more than time for our little friend to make a proper comeback.
And it seems like Mega Man 11’s a return to form and at the same time a shake-up for the franchise. While Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 may have been fantastic throwbacks to the Mega Man games of old (read: 8-bit Nintendo), Mega Man 11 feels like a modern entry in the series built upon the solid foundation of old, adding new elements that make it an entirely new game rather than a mere sequel.
There were two demos that were made available at E3, being that one of them, on the outside of the appointment area at the Capcom booth only offered attendees one boss to fight against out of the two that were already unveiled, Block Man, while the one inside had Fuse Man available to play. I ended up going with Fuse Man for my time with the demo during my appointment, and he did not disappoint.
In terms of gameplay, Mega Man 11 is very much a Mega Man game, that is, the jumping physics and combat are extremely tight and feel fantastic. The main difference this time around is that there are a few new tools at Rock’s disposal in the form of gears, tools that according to the game’s story were some of Professor Light’s early inventions from his youth. Both gears can be used at any time during play, at the cost of a meter that quickly runs down.
One of them can slow down time in order to help Mega dodge attacks, correct mistakes in platforming and make some enemies vulnerable to attack. It came especially handy during the boss fight with Fuse Man that came after a standard, but incredibly fun run through his stage. That boss as the name implies, is lightning quick, with bolt attacks that come from the top of the screen while the boss himself is zapping outside of its range, at pretty quick intervals. By using the gear, you get more time to pop a few buster shots on him, and whittling down his HP. It took me a few of these slowdowns to finally off him, coupled with a some charges from the power gear, the other powerup that, well, powers up Mega Man’s cannon.
The big deal with these new tools is that they can’t be used til their meter runs down, because if you’re caught still using one or both of them as it runs dry, Mega gets powered down and overheated, a state that makes him even more vulnerable and unable to power up his shots. It’s a trade-off that’s necessary to keep things dynamic and that doesn’t allow you to become overly reliant on these gears.
In terms of difficulty, the demo offered quite a few different options, from the normal option that provided quite a punch in terms of a challenge, with a casual and even easier mode available, which according to the Capcom rep on hand, go beyond merely giving Mega Man more HP or just making enemies weaker. Their placement is also changed, as well as numbers, depending on the setting you choose to play in. I spent my limited time with the demo playing in casual mode, which honestly felt like the best option at the time. It didn’t feel exceedingly easy, nor was it particularly hard. I mean, I had to use a health tank during the boss fight… not that I consider myself any sort of savant at this type of game.
Visually, Mega Man 11 is already looking great. It feels like games have finally reached a point where character models can look cartoony and at the same time solid, and that’s precisely the case with this game. Backgrounds seemed like they were hand drawn, which transitioned quite well with all the chaos going on in the foreground. Mega Man himself looks extremely cute, but sounds surprisingly old, something that might throw fans for a loop. We’ll see how he’ll sound in the final game, but as of now, it’s a little jarring.
Along with Resident Evil 2, Mega Man 11 was part of an incredibly strong line-up for Capcom at this year’s E3. October 2nd can’t come soon enough — that’s when Mega Man 11 will be hitting all of the current consoles, including the Switch, so no need to campaign for that. We’ll have more on this as it approaches release. I can’t wait to see the other robot masters in action!