Mega Man 10 (MM10) is already one of my GOTY for 2010! At first I wasn't completely thrilled at the idea of another retro style Mega Man game, and I was reluctant to pick it up on day 1 because of my love for Mega Man 9. After all, both games are NES style Mega Man games with a common core design. Take the classic formula of JUMP, SHOOT, powers, bosses, and Wily and throw in some DLC and leader board support, and you got yourself the sequel that everyone saw coming. Many shared my same sentiments before playing the game. Unfortunately, now many have spread false claims about Mega Man 10. Having much love for both games, if you want a detailed explanation of why Mega Man 9 is so good read this. Most of the positive qualities apply to MM10 as well. The rest of this review will focus on MM10's differences from MM9 and address some of the negative feedback.
Remember when I used to do re-reviews back at the beginning of Critical-Gaming? If you do, congrats! You've been following this blog for a long time, and I appreciate the support. So now, after reading through many reviews I feel like the following topics and comments need to be addressed directly.
- MM10 is "completely straight. It's missing the tongue in cheek jokes of Mega Man 9. ... " Happy Video Game Nerd
- MM10 is "not really funny... It comes across not as"it's so bad it's good, but rather 'ummm are you even trying'? " Happy Video Game Nerd
It's so bad it's good? Is that why people think they can "tolerate" Mega Man's story? Though simple and a bit tongue in cheek, I've always approached such stories like manga, comics, or kid's books. Some things are exaggerated, simplified, and glossed over, but over all it's the spirit of the work that I'm looking for. If the gameplay gives me the meat of the story, then the opening and intermitten story elements in a game like Mega Man 10 merely provide the context. I'm the kind of person who studies and writes stories of all kinds. All I need to start an adventure is an altercation as simple as someone stole my Chaos emeralds, there's a princess to save, or Wily and the robots are at it again.
If you want more sarcastic lines how about this one "And don't think Mega Man is going to save you like he usually does." That's funny to me. Mega Man catching Wily's pod was pretty fantastical too. Furthermore, I cracked up at the Robenza epidemic. I think it's funny how robot dependent humans have become in Mega Man's world. And to solve the problem without the robot's help, only Dr. Wily is smart enough to build another machine to develop the cure. And when Wily's machine was stolen by the robots (supposedly), I laughed even more. After all, I'm sitting here writing a blog post about a video game on my netbook on the internet. I wouldn't be doing this without technology or Mega Man's help. And the bit of humanity that Dr. Wily expresses by leaving the hospital with the cure to Robenza makes Wily a slightly more complex character that we're used to.
- The bosses aren't as clever this time around. J. Parish
- Same goes for the boss encounters, and the subsequent weapons you'll gain. Outside of Blade Man's really useful Triple Blade attack, I found myself not needing to make use of enemy weapons outside of boss fights. Even then I thought a surprising number of boss encounters were just as easy with my standard attack, particularly Pump Man, who is supposedly weak to the Thunder Wool weapon, but that weapon is so annoying to effectively use that it was far easier to just attack Pump Man normally. Also, the standard boss fights don't seem to be that complex, it's just a matter of timing when it comes to overall difficulty, and there's not a lot of memorization that's required as far as patterns go. The bosses you'll encounter in the final stage are at least more memorable in style, but I would have loved to see a little more thought put in to the traditional 8 robot masters. Gaming-Age
I can't speak to the criteria others measure cleverness, but I can talk about boss complexity, depth, and the amount of skill it takes to beat them. Actually, I've already talked about it in great detail in this 4 part series. To explain further, all the bosses and mini bosses in MM10 are unique stressing different skills, and encouraging different counter playstyles. My favorite has to be Chill Man. The entire boss encounter is designed so that players have to master low traction ice maneuvering. More specifically, mastering the JUMP and slide away SHOOT is ideal for maximizing your counter attack. With each boss you must platform, move your eyes, time your moves, and strategize differently. And they're all designed in layers that create different challenges based on your method of counter attack. Using the M. Buster versus the weapon the boss is weak to stresses different skills. For example, using the thunder wool on Pump Man requires a set up. You have to launch the thunder wool early so that Pump Man jumps into it. A simple run and gun tactic won't work. So for anyone who says using T. Wool is annoying or useless, they clearly aren't playing on a high enough level to appreciate the design of the weapon or the boss design of Pump Man.
- The weapons aren't as versatile, either. (As a matter of fact, the weapons seem to have been built primarily to be useful against the one boss they were intended to defeat, with little consideration to their use outside of those showdowns.) J.Parish
This statement is far from accurate. Each enemy, mini boss, and boss is designed with at least 1 weakness to a special weapon. Just look at the in game replays or the youtube speed runs. Pick any of the world record holders videos and you'll see how all the powers can be expertly used outside of the boss showdown encounters. Their work is nothing short of amazing and inspiring. In fact, MM10's weapons are very similar to MM9's. The biggest difference is that the MM10 weapons were toned down to make the game more challenging overall. Power for power we have...
- Jewel Satelite vs. Water Shield. The water shield decays with every hit against an enemy or incoming projectile. It also doesn't reflect bullets. Plus it's harder to aim when released. With this design, it's less practical to farm for enemy drops.
- Laser Tritent vs Solar Blaze. Both cut through defenses but the solar blaze is slower, requires more timing skills if you don't hit the initial part, and encourages dexterous high level power canceling. By SHOOTING and switching powers back and forth, you can turn this slow attack into a rapid fire attack.
- Gravity Bomb vs Commando Bomb. The commando bomb is more stage dependent because the missile hit is very weak compared to the shockwave after colliding with a solid surface. Coordinating the timing of the missile while controlling Mega Man is more difficult than the gravity bomb because players have a limited number of direction changes and must use them to avoid obstacles. Commando bomb cannot be used defensively to suck in bullets, blasts, and enemies.
- Concrete Shot vs Chill Spike. Both arc down making aiming harder. Concrete shot kills many enemies instantly and can be used to create platforms. Chill spike only freezes enemies, which must be killed or avoided. Instead of a block, chill spike creates road or wall hazards for enemies to run into. You can freeze many enemies, but you can only have one spike out at a time. If you want to undermine platforming challenges, you'll have to use Rush.
- Plug Ball vs Thunder Wool. There are few attacks that travel straight up and down in a Mega Man game for a good reason. These zones are where Mega Man's functional blind spots are. Keeping enemies out of this zone and maneuvering to SHOOT them is a core part of the gameplay. Plug ball travels straight down and then along walls and floors, which makes it a very unique weapon. Thunder Wool slowly floats a wool cloud upward. After a small bit of time a powerful thunder column is released. With the proper set up, you can take out enemies below you with T.wool. Otherwise, it's a simple way to attack weak enemies coming down on you from above.
- Magma Bazooka vs Triple Blade. Both are very powerful weapons. When charged magma bazooka is extremely powerful especially at close range. Both weapons bounce off of shields. Triple blade's trajectory only angles upward when shot from the ground, which challenges players to embrace a ground based approach when trying to hit enemies entering your functional blind spot.
- Tornado Blow vs Wheel Cutter. Both of these weapons can be used as attacks. The tornado blow is instantaneous, carrying away all small to medium size enemies off the screen forever. The wheel cutters needs more time to rev up, but they can climb up walls like plug ball. More importantly for speed runners, both weapons can aid in platforming. Tornado blow extends the height of Mega Man's JUMP, while wheel cutter can be used to quickly climb up walls.
- Hornet Chaser vs Rebound Striker. The hornets are a bit overpowered. To attack, just let them loose. They'll find the enemy and strike. If the enemy is killed or if there are no enemies on the screen they'll search for and carry precious items back to Mega Man. Even if you don't know how to aim at a boss, the hornets will do all the chasing for you. Rebound striker, on the other hand, is level dependent (like commando bomb, wheel cutter, and chill spike). See the angles in your head, take careful yet preemptive aim, and you have a powerful weapon on your hands. When you master the bounce, the rebound striker can reach heights and depths that Mega Man can't access easily.
- The levels aren't as devious, relying more on tons of instantly fatal pits and spikes rather than the ingenious inversions and devices that made MM9 so brilliant. J.Parish
- As far as level design goes, like I mentioned earlier it relies a heavily on the pitfalls that plagued the later games in the old-school NES Mega Man titles, and a few of the issues that the later Mega Man X games had as well. Their biggest issue here comes from the overuse of the instant death spikes, whether that's through underwater segments, long pits that span multiple screens (requiring either big time reflexes or pattern memorization along with trial and error), or just some general cheap hits that take advantage of that backward jump Mega Man does whenever he gets hurt. The other issue comes from how many bottomless pits you'll encounter, which are liberally spread throughout every single level. These are standards in most Mega Man titles, sure, but there is such a thing as relying too heavily upon either of them. Gaming-Age
Level design of Mega Man 10 is focused on layers of counterpoint and alternate paths in addition to supporting unique level gimmicks. I use gimmick here in a positive sense. There are platforming challenges, enemy challenges, and challenges that layer these types together. Each level features unique enemies and platforms that work with the level theme. Like MM9 the design is polished and well tuned for M.Buster only, special weapons, speed runners, and alternate characters so that each option plays differently.
I haven't taken a count of the amount of pits and spikes there are in MM10 versus MM9, but I thought it was about the same. I don't believe these reviewers have taken an accurate count either. Regardless, just having pits and spikes in a level doesn't accurately describe how the gameplay challenges are constructed. Though these elements seem deadly, they're the most dangerous when combined with tricky enemy placement. And if you call yourself a Mega Man veteran and you still complain about having to use reflex skills when falling through long corridors of spikes, then I have no sympathy for you. You should embrace the pause technique to boost your reflexes. Then you can use your knowledge skills to just memorize what to do. It's not that hard.
One thing that the level designers got rid of are powerup locks that restrict progression. In MM2 and MM9, you have to use specific powers at times to progress. While this seems like a perfectly adequate alternative, the decay design of Mega Man special weapons create a few issues. After dying your special weapon ammo doesn't refill. So unless you find a good farming spot, you might be out of sufficient ammo to progress. All you need to beat MM10 is your trusty M. Buster (and maybe Rush Coil/Jet). It's much cleaner to avoid the lack of ammo progression problem. Locking away items like E tanks and extra lives behind powerup locks are still great ideas.
While playing Strike Man's stage I noticed a pattern in enemy placement. There are many enemies on this stage that are positioned diagonally up or below Mega Man's horizontal line of fire. This makes shooting these enemies with the M. Buster more difficult. However, using the triple blade weapon works perfectly. It's almost as if the levels are designed so that the special weapon the end boss is weak to also helps you progress through their stage. This theory holds true for Commando Man and Sheep Man's stage as well. So perhaps the levels are designed to subtly communicate boss weaknesses and create a dynamic between using the special weapon in the level or on the boss.
- Mega Man 10 is hard. And when I say that, I mean "hard by Mega Man standards" kind of hard. It's as though some insane Capcom mastermind played through all of the old Mega Man games -- among them, some of the most difficult 2D platformers ever made -- and thought to himself, "Man, this isn't hardcore enough" before sitting down and mapping out the sadistic journey that is MM10. Gamespy
Some have expressed that MM10 is hard even for Mega Man standards (a series consider one of the hardest). Those who complain about difficulty probably aren't using all the resources available. After picking a mode (easy, normal, hard) you can collect and purchase helpful items. You can also practice mini boss and boss battles in the challenge mode and/or use powers like Rush Coil, Jet, and other weapons to make challenges easier. With all of these options, certainly most gamers can find their sweet spot of challenge. Personally, I died a few times each level playing through the game on normal. And after beating the game, I moved on to playing through Hard mode with Proto Man. That was a greater difficulty jump than I expected. I died a lot here. After studying the bosses and practicing the levels more, I beat the game on hard as well. The whole time, I never felt like the challenges were ever unfair. A well rounded skill set goes a long way, but, in addition to freestyling, there's a trick to everything. Knowledge is power. Though trial and error is our most common method of self teaching, there are safer ways to gain knowledge than most realize.
The achievements in MM10 are better organized than in MM9. MM10 breaks things down into 2 categories. Most of the achievements or challenges can be accessed and attempted from the menu. These challenges are bit sized and encourage players to focus on specific weapons or on playing a certain way. The other smaller category of challenges must be earned by playing the main game. I wish all Mega Man games had these features so I could go straight to specific levels or boss battles. The reason I know and love so much about MM10 is because this challenge system allowed me to easily and effectively study the game. When I think about the boss design of MM9, I can't tell you if they're as interesting, complex, layered, or solvable as in MM10 because I simply don't have a good way of getting the repeated practice on them.
Just check out these ridiculous MM9 challenges. Many can be compressed into a single challenge. Some seem very simple but are difficult to monitor while achieving them. Others encourage players to play in unique ways, but I feel that they detract from the core experience of playing Mega Man. Who really cares that you can beat the game once per day for 3 days?
- 04 Bust a Move - Don't miss with the Mega Buster and clear the game.
- 06 Bunny Hop - Clear any stage jumping 50 times or less.
- 08 Double Trouble - Visit all stages twice and clear the game.
- 13 Air Shoes - Clear the game without falling into any holes.
- 14 Mega Diet - Clear the game without picking up more than 8 energy pellets.
- 15 Encore - Clear 4 stages using the same special weapon.
- 16 Peacekeeper - Clear the game by defeating the fewest number of enemies possible.
- 17 Conservationist - Clear the game by using the least amount of weapon energy possible.
- 19 Gamer's Day - Clear the game 5 times in 1 day.
- 20 Daily Dose - Clear the game once a day for 3 days.
- 23 Truly Hardcore! - Clear the game for the 30th time.
- 31 Shop a Holic - Purchase 30 items or more.
- 32 Last Man Standing - Defeat all bosses with only one pixel of energy left.
- 33 Survivor - Defeat one boss with only one pixel of energy left.
- 41 Marathon Fight - Fight a boss for 10 minutes.
Like I said, MM10 and MM9 are two great games. MM10 is the kind of polished and challenging experience that's only possible as a sequel to a great game like MM9. If you use nostalgia and novelty as your guide, then you might be disappointed in this game. If gameplay and challenge drive you, then welcome to the club.