E3 2018: Mega-Man 11 Brings Back Old-school action
Video games are filled with legendary mascots and icons, and MegaMan has certainly earned his place at being one of them. Nicknamed ” The Blue Bomber” amongst the gaming masses, Megaman has written himself into the halls of gaming history through a long lineage of incredible games. Each game was known for its incredible shooting action, brutally challenging platforming, and engaging design mechanic in which players could face each boss in any order they wanted. The franchise became a hallmark of every gamer’s library in the 80’s and 90’s with numerous entries on the NES, SNES, and even the PSOne. Megaman games would continue to grow and expand throughout video game generations, until one day, they stopped. The last MegaMan game. MegaMan 10, was released in 2010, with seemingly no plans for a sequel. In the following years, one of its producers, Keiji Inafune, broke off from Capcom to create a spiritual successor to Megaman, Mighty No. 9. When Mighty No. 9 released in 2016, it would become one of the most condemned video games in recent gaming history, with painfully average gameplay and an abhorrent marketing campaign. It seemed like a successor to MegaMan would never come, with its name dragged into the mud, and CAPCOM shifting its focus to Street Fighter. However, CAPCOM surprised us all with the announcement of MegaMan 11, coming to gaming systems this Fall. I had the fortunate opportunity to see the game for myself, and I am pleased the to say that Megaman 11 is poised to deliver on all fronts.
My demo was played at the huge CAPCOM booth in the South Hall of The Los Angeles Convention Center. Three versions of the game were available: The Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 versions of the game. From what I could tell, they were all identical, save for the different controller. The first one available was an Xbox One version. I took to that and began my time as The Blue Bomber. Having played Megaman X back in the day, it was an interesting initial impression. I was revisiting old stomping grounds, but also, embracing something entirely new. Upon starting up the demo, my target was indicated as BlockMan. Accepting the mission to defeat him, I dug right into the action.
First thing I noticed was the silky smooth animation, as the game ran at 60FPS. I didn’t notice any kind of slowdown or jitters, even as the action became incredibly intense. This was met by a gleaming control scheme that matched the action on-screen. As I leaped from platform to platform, the same tried-an true shooting gameplay was there. The mega buster looked and sounded the best it has ever been, with the familiar sound effects and tearing blast ripping across the entire screen. As I entered a mammoth factory, it was clear that my mission to eliminate Block Man would not be easy. Tricky platforms and conveyor belts lay before me. Dangerous robots and enemies were in my path. Even though this was stage 1, MegaMan 11 was certainly set not to be a pushover.
One section, in particular, had me navigate through a maze inside a giant boulder, while that boulder was moving on a conveyor belt to a pulverizer behind me. It was difficult, and I did die a few times. Moments like these are surprising for players and will require sheer skill. This is further underscored by the reputable platforming. In one section, I had to ascend a level, filled with falling boxes. Doing this felt absolutely impossible until I discovered two new powers. MegaMan now has the ability to slow down time, making it easier for him to navigate the falling boxes. While I did die during this section and restarted the demo for having lost too many lives, I got better at using this particular technique.
Progressing through to the end, I encountered several “mini-boss” moments. A coiling robot would leap across the stage, separating its body into damaging weapons platforms. To best describe it, it was like fighting a weaponized slinky. Here, I discovered another power that Megaman possesses. By hitting the left trigger, Megaman goes into a “fury” mode. His blaster and weapons are buffed to yield extreme damage to whatever robot is unlucky enough to be on the other side. I made short work of the giant robot, and proceed tot he rest of the game. Finally, the final target, block man, was before me.
Block Man wasn’t easy, using his out plating to form a variety of defensive abilities. Additionally, he was nimble, jumping and dashing across the board. MegaMan boss fights have a tendency to look easy, and feel easy, until one moment, they aren’t easy. Fighting Blockman, that is the sensation that I felt. The attacks were clever and unexpected. All I could hope for is that I could repeatedly tap the fire button to eliminate the target. Down on my last few slivers of health, I kept fighting and using the fury mode. Eventually, Block Man was taken down. With his defeat, MegaMan absorbed his special power of using blocks as weapons. With the battle over, my demo was complete.
MegaMan 11 is looking to be a return to form for the dormant franchise, as well as a great game for both casual players and MegaMan experts. The MegaMan 11 demo an eye-popping presentation, gleaming animation, and the same tight gameplay that the series is known for, without sacrificing any mechanics. Adding the time slow-down and fury abilities helps changes the strategy for players, and the wildly-imagined robot bosses will keep players coming back for more.
Megaman 11 launches October 2nd for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.