Review – Mega Man 9

October 14, 2008 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

These days, the trend of creating a new game in a beloved video game franchise typically dictates that you have to make the experience as modern as possible.

This could include bringing a game from 2D into 3D, adding complicated stories, and making the graphics as flashy as possible. In some cases, this has worked extremely well, such as with the “Mario” and “Zelda” franchises. With others, the results have been less than pretty, like the 3D iterations of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” series.

But it’s practically unheard of for a game developer to decide to not move forward, but rather, backward.

This is exactly what Capcom has done with their beloved “Mega Man” franchise.

Over the years, the Blue Bomber has landed on just about every platform under the sun, doing everything from fighting computer viruses to playing soccer. But the “main” series, the games numbered 1-8, were mostly found on the old Nintendo Entertainment System in the 80s and early 90s, and made brief appearances on the Super Nintendo and Sony PlayStation.

Rather than build on the slick, shiny 2D style of the PlayStation’s “Mega Man 8” and try to “reinvent” the series for the newer consoles, Capcom instead decided to make Mega Man 9 a downloadable game for the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

The catch? It’s entirely 8-bit.

The game looks exactly like the old Nintendo games of yore, and the player is capable of doing much more than he was in Mega Man 2. You can run, you can jump, and you can shoot. And that’s pretty much it. Even the ability to charge your weapon – something of a staple of the series for a long time now – has been removed. Mega Man is back to his true roots.

The graphics are pixilated, the sound is a lot of “beeps” and “boops”, the story is cheesy and almost non-existent, and there are deliberate graphical glitches and frame rate slowdown.

And the result is awesome.

The game is an amazing throwback to the days when gaming was just starting to take off. And as was typical of many games back then, the game doesn’t keep you coming back because it’s lengthy – indeed, it can be completed several times in one day. Rather, the game keeps you coming back because you’re simply unable to master it.

The game is hard. To some – especially those who started gaming more recently – the difficulty level may seem impossible and unforgiving. Jumps over gaps and spikes (which mean instant death) demand extreme precision. Boss battles require pattern memorization. Oh, and there are no save points in levels. You usually get only three tries to complete a stage, and then you’re back to square one.

So while the casual gamer may want to stay away for fear of throwing their console in a frustrated rage, there’s a lot for the more “classic” gamer – and definitely fans of the old “Mega Man” games – to enjoy here.

On top of simply being an extremely nostalgic trip, there a ton of challenges built in to the game to really test your skill and give you bragging rights. But completing the game alone should make you feel like you have a badge of gaming honor.

Being a downloadable title, the game is also quite affordable at just $10 for whichever respective console you buy it for.

This isn’t the only classic Capcom franchise getting the nostalgia treatment, as they’ve also recently revisited “1942” with a downloadable sequel, and “Bionic Commando” with a downloadable remake. Hopefully this will start a trend of great, new games in the vein of their old styles. It would be nice to see classic takes on games such as “Sonic” or “Castlevania”.

If you don’t like old school games or aren’t a fan of maddeningly tough game play, then you might want to stay away. However, if you’re a fan of the classics or are just up for a challenge, you should definitely do yourself a favor and give Mega Man 9 a try.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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