Posted by: Ryan
My Impressions Are Biased
I love Mega Man. Less than a week before Mega Man 10 was released, my sister bought me a Mega Man and Protoman figurine, and to the best of my knowledge, she didn't even know that Mega Man and Protoman would be playable in Mega Man 10, or even that Mega Man 10 was going to be released soon. She just bought them for me because she wanted to do something nice for me, and she knows that I love Mega Man.
If you like challenging run-n'-gun games, but you haven't played a Mega Man game before, go get Mega Man 9. If you've already played Mega Man 9 and you're still craving some more, then you can buy Mega Man 10. MM10 is the worse of the two games, but being slightly worse than totally awesome is still pretty awesome.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to the guys at the Hyper Knee! Podcast
who reviewed Mega Man 10 in the beginning of their latest podcast. If you want more MM10 goodness in audio form, check them out.
So instead of an actual review, I'm going to get into some minutiae and compare this Mega Man against other Mega Man games, particularly Mega Man 9 so I can back up my quick "review."
Mega Man 9 is Awesome
I fell in love with Mega Man 9 when it was released back in 2008, and most of the reason that a lot of us loved it so much is because it seemed like Capcom finally understood that after all these years, Mega Man 2 was still the best Mega Man game ever made. Mega Man 9 was kind of like a Mega Man 2 Remix: it took away the charge shot and the slide, it gave us back our 8-bit retro graphics and our cheesy Dr. Wily storyline, and it updated the things that needed updating.
For instance, there is nothing in Mega Man 9 that is quite as cheap as Quick Man's stage (although MM9's Jewel Man still brings the challenge) and Plug Man's disappearing block puzzles have solid platforms inbetween, unlike Heat Man's stage which requires you to make it through an equivalent length disappearing block puzzle all in a single shot. And even Splash Woman's stage, arguably the most likely candidate for a "filler" stage in MM9, is not nearly as lame as Crash Man's stage in Mega Man 2. Yes, Mega Man 2 is one of the best games ever, but I would argue that Mega Man 9 is even better. But there's no denying that Mega Man 9 riffs off of Mega Man 2 in many, many ways. (For example, the beginning of Concrete Man's theme is trying so hard to be Wood Man's theme.)
Not Quite As Retro
So while Mega Man 9 had a big game to live up to when it hit the scene, Mega Man 10 doesn't seem so concerned with establishing it's 8-bit cred. The first sign of this is the quiet removal of MM9's Legacy Mode, which was supposed to intentionally add sprite flicker (although in practice, it hardly affected anything). This may not seem like a big deal, but it's removal is a more symbolic gesture towards the direction of the entire game.
Where Mega Man 9 feels like a Mega Man 2-era game, Mega Man 10 feels like a later-era Mega Man game, maybe around the Mega Man 5 time period. The character select menu and the getting a new weapon screen now use actual artwork instead of just sprites. (Although they still made sure to give Mega Man his incorrect blue hair in the beginning story. :D)
And the later-era Mega Man comparison extends out even further, as the stages have more detail than Mega Man 9 did and they are definitely larger in size than they were in earlier Mega Man games. In addition, the checkpoints are definitely in the earlier part of the levels, which makes reaching the boss even from the mid-level checkpoint seem like a longer journey than it was in MM9. And there are no less than three midbosses that are structures with black backgrounds, which doesn't happen in Mega Man 2 until the Guts Tank.
And in another comparison to later Mega Man games, the weapons are back to being more situational and more weird. In Mega Man 9, many of the weapons feel slightly overpowered, and that's actually a great feeling. Everyone's favorite Robot Master weapon is the Metal Blades from Mega Man 2, and that weapon is kind of completely broken. We want weapons to be strong. We want to be excited every time we get a weapon.
As for Mega Man 10, Solar Man and Blade Man have excellent projectile weapons. Chill Man's weapon is an even better version of Concrete Man's (MM9) weapon, and I'm especially impressed that they've managed to make the Water Shield an interesting weapon. Almost every Mega Man game has some kind of shield weapon, and it's almost always really lame. Try going back and using Wood Man's (MM2) shield or Star Man's (MM5) shield. They suck. But Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 have both managed to have cool, kick-ass shield weapons, and that's kind of amazing.
But, while I felt like all eight weapons in Mega Man 9 were cool and useful, I would say that only five or six weapons in Mega Man 10 are worthwhile. They could have done better here. My particular problems are with the Commando Bomb, which deals more damage if you nearly hit an enemy than it does if you actually hit an enemy, and the Rebound Striker, which is really weak unless you bounce it off of a few walls, making it difficult to aim. Both weapons still have their uses, but I would take Galaxy Man's weapon and Hornet Man's weapon from Mega Man 9 over these two any day of the week.
My taste in music is a bit questionable. My favorite theme from Mega Man 9 was Plug Man's stage, and my favorite Mega Man 2 theme was Metal Man. So at least to my ears, Mega Man 10 has at least three really good Robot Master themes. Almost everyone is bound to love Solar Man's theme, which compliments the action in his stage perfectly, and it's just a really jamming tune. I also find myself really liking Chill Man's theme and Commando Man's theme, although most fans of older Mega Man music will find themselves loving Nitro Man's music as well.
I can see most people seriously not liking Sheep Man's music and Pump Man's music, and in general, the music has a more hit-and-miss feel to it. It's not quite as cohesive as other Mega Man games. The music throws you for a loop a little bit, and I'm okay with that. While Mega Man 9's soundtrack fit together better and sounded more like a Mega Man game, I already mentioned the similarity between Concrete Man's theme and Wood Man's (MM2) theme, which is not the only callout to Mega Man 2 in the soundtrack. Mega Man 10's soundtrack doesn't feel reminiscent of Mega Man 2 at all, or any other NES Mega Man for that matter. It feels like something distinctly it's own, for better or worse.
Even the little jingles when you start a stage or get a weapon feel like they've been remixed from the last game. Oh, and the first stage of Dr. Wily's Castle has some great music too.
Now onto the ancillary stuff.
The Endless Mode DLC is coming back, which is one of the best damn features to ever exist in a Mega Man game. Endless Mode gives you all of the weapons, then just throws you into a never-ending series of levels to play through, which is great for if you just want to fire up a game and play some Mega Man without starting a new game from scratch. It'll cost you $3 extra just like last time, but I'm certain it'll be worth it.
Protoman, who also was DLC in the first game, is now playable from the beginning. He takes more damage when he gets hit, but if you're good, he's also harder to hit in the first place. He's got a shield which blocks shots when he jumps, and he can slide too. That makes him more of a precision character, and having another, different-feeling character adds some nice replay value to the game. Unfortunately, there's no leaderboard for Protoman, which is definitely disappointing, but not a huge deal.
But don't worry, downloadable character duty has been assigned to Bass
instead. Just because they gave you Protoman for free doesn't mean they can't still find another character to charge you for.
Mega Man also comes with an Easy Mode, which is too easy, and it should be too easy. Difficulty levels should have wide gulfs between them, because that's part of what made Superhero Mode so great in Mega Man 9. When you move up a difficulty level, you should be able to laugh at how much more difficult and devious the game has become. Beginners moving up from Easy to Normal should get a kick out of Normal mode, just like how we find joy in the new platform and enemy placements when we move up from Normal to Hard. Easy Mode is a great addition to the game, even if the kind of person who would read this far into a Mega Man post (you) will most likely never use it.
Challenges are back, but there aren't anywhere near as many as there were in Mega Man 9. I thought it was fun to get a random Achievement-style notification for getting nine lives or for killing a Robot Master in under 10 seconds, and I'm going to miss having a lot of them to shoot for, but it's loss doesn't hurt the game too much.
In their place, we now have these challenge stages, which end up feeling more like tutorial levels than anything else. Even the ones that get kind of brutally difficult still have a tutorial feel about them, and it's a little unexpected. Personally, I don't like these missions all that much, and the music gets annoying, but hey, it's more content. If you don't like it, you're welcome to just ignore it.
They've also implemented a new real-time weapon switching mechanic, which is very similar to the one used in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection. But I play with the Wii remote on it's side, and I can't help but wonder why there isn't an option to it turn off. Now I rarely press the B button on accident, and it's never happened to me during a crucial moment, but that "rarely" should be "never." If I'm playing with just the Wii remote, real-time weapon switching should automatically default to "off." Not only that, but at the end of the game, you have a total of 10 weapons, which makes scrolling through them all one by one kind of weird anyway.
You're Messing With The Order
As for the bosses themselves, the order you fight them in is ridiculously easy to intuit. In Mega Man 9, I had to beat Galaxy Man, Concrete Man, and Splash Woman with just the Mega Buster since I couldn't figure out what the weaknesses were. In Mega Man 10, there's an electric boss, a water boss, a fire boss, and an ice boss. For anyone who's got the gaming skills to play Mega Man in the first place, you'll be able to figure out five of the boss weaknesses right off the bat.
But to compensate, the bosses still take some work to beat even when you already know what their weakness is. I hate to admit it, but I totally died on a boss while fighting it with the weapon I knew it was weak against, so easily knowing the weaknesses evens out nicely.
The biggest draw of Mega Man 10 is being able to play more Mega Man without feeling like you're playing the exact same thing that you've played already. Mega Man 10 accomplishes this goal with flying colors. If you're a Mega Man nerd who reluctantly has some nostalgia for later Mega Man games like Mega Man 5, as well as early games like Mega Man 2, then you'll love the look and feel of Mega Man 10.
I would argue that Mega Man 4 is the worst of the original NES Mega Man games, but it's still better than the majority of other NES games. It's not a horrible game, it's just much worse than Mega Man 2. And while Mega Man 10 is not as good as Mega Man 9, or even Mega Man 2 for that matter, it is absolutely a worthwhile game. Buy it!
But buy Mega Man 9 first.
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