Mega Man 10 is the latest release in the highly successful Mega Man franchise which has produced over 50 titles and spin-offs since 1987. Having not played any of the games before, and therefore not being familiar with the series, when this arrived at the ButtonMasher offices on Xbox LIVE Arcade I naturally assumed it was a port of a Mega Man game for an earlier console. However I soon learned that this was a brand new game, though the look and feel of the game does not deviate from the 8-bit origins of the series.
Mega Man 10 is unashamedly old school, and definitely takes players back in time to a former era. The basic sprites and backdrops to the game feel a little dated – it’s a fine line between nostalgia and eyesore visuals, especially on the large HD TVs of today. But once the cut-scenes are completed and the game starts, the most important factor of any game – gameplay – rapidly draws players into the Mega Man universe.
The game plot has probably been used 50 times before – the world is overcome by an evil force (this time a mysterious Robot influenza virus), and only Mega Man can save the robots of the world by stopping whoever is responsible for release of the virus. Before Mega Man can pursue the virus manufacturer, he must first find and defeat 8 Robot bosses, each possessing a special power which is conferred to Mega Man upon victory. The 8 bosses are varied and quirky, and each poses a serious challenge until you have figured out their attack pattern. As with previous games in the series, these bosses can be tackled in any order which allows for some open-endedness to the quest, and also encourages replay value via experimentation to work out the most advantage path. Holding certain special powers make it easier to defeat some other bosses, so the player is presented with a more interesting challenge.
Mega Man is a 2D platformer with a punishing degree of difficulty. Even the most simple mistakes can lead to Mega Man falling into a bottomless pit, or impaling himself onto spikes. Don’t be surprised if the game leads you to jump up off the couch and swear madly at your TV. The game requires great discipline, sequence memorisation, and patience. A little luck wouldn’t go amiss although you tend to make your own luck in these types of games. On the flip side, the extreme difficulty means that once you’ve worked out how to complete even short segments of the game you may find yourself pumping your fist in the air and mouthing off at the game.
The game can be played on an “Easy” difficulty mode but even a 5 year old could probably complete the game in this mode where most pits are covered over to prevent falling into them, and the AI is turned down to “token”. There is no satisfaction in playing the game on Easy but unfortunately there is no other in-between mode for those that may find the game’s default mode just a little too frustrating. Collecting the in-game currency allows you to buy “helps” such as items that save you (without restart) when you fall into a pit or onto spikes, as well as energy replenishments, but even with these many may find the game too difficult to complete.
The main game is relatively short, and has the potential to be completed in under an hour (unlocking an achievement). However the difficulty and level restarts enforced by death are the main drivers behind the time you are likely to spend with the game. If you are bored of playing as Mega Man, you can play the game through as his “brother” robot instead, Proto Man. Proto Man has additional capabilities, such as being able to charge the shots from his weapon, and slide along the ground. However to balance things out Proto Man takes double damage and is knocked back twice as far when hit. Proto Man is available from the beginning as a selectable character, unlike Mega Man 9 where he was unlocked as “DLC”.
Aside from the main game mode, there are two other modes of note. A time-trial mode lets you post fastest times for level completion to online leaderboards. And a “challenge” mode presents the player with 88 assignments to complete, which are mostly of the “get to the goal”, or “defeat this miniboss/boss” variety. The challenge mode certainly adds to the length of the game, giving players are worthwhile diversion from the campaign mode.
The sounds and audio in the game are worth a quick mention, not because they are particularly memorable, but simply because they are (in keeping with the rest of the game) rooted right in the 80s. The midi soundtrack and tinny sound effects complete the authentic old-school feel of the game, but fail to leave any lasting impression.
Mega Man 10 is the first Mega Man game I have ever played, and while initially put off by the harsh difficulty of the game, I soon learned to appreciate that satisfaction is directly proportional to difficulty. The game will definitely be too difficult to some to even be bothered with, but if you are a up for a little punishment and torment then this is a great little title to take you for a ride in the gaming time machine.
Released on Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points Also available for WiiWare (1000 Nintendo Points) and PlayStation Network