I can't lie. Even as a devoted Mega Man fan, I was worried about the announcement of Mega Man 10. "Too soon," I thought. And Sheep Man1? I figured it was going to be the same old story that we've experienced in the past with the series growing stale due to a lack of good ideas.
After playing a brief demo of the game this weekend at CES, I'm no more certain than I was before. The bits I was shown were very limited and Capcom is clearly keeping secret as much information about the upcoming release as they can.
I do have some impressions of it, though, and I'd be happy to share them with you.
What we where shown of Mega Man 10 -- a portion of the "Strike Man" stage -- was not considerable. It did not even include the inevitable showdown with the robot master, so I can't speak to the nature of the bosses this time around. I haven't even seen one yet. The bits I did get to play are classic Mega Man, however. I was impressed with the level design, which had a number of little surprises both in unexpected enemies and some tricky jumps.
The aesthetic is a little strange, however. While I haven't seen Strike Man yet, I got the impression from the two mini-boss fights I played in the level that he's somehow related to sports. Now, this is totally speculation and it wouldn't be the first time that a mini-boss wound up being totally unrelated to the level that they were in, but that's the vibe I received as I avoided soccer balls and thought about the robot master's name. The level itself didn't feel particularly sports-focused, however, and I'm just a bit confused as to what I'm supposed to think.
Difficulty is a tricky thing for Mega Man nowadays. With many concerned that the ninth installment was too difficult, the addition of an easy mode made sense. What the mode does is add platforms to make jumps easier and reduces the enemy count. As a seasoned Mega Man veteran, I had only a little difficulty finishing the demo. It is by no means a cinch, but we've certainly seen more challenging levels than this one. The representative from Capcom who initially demonstrated the game to me had been unable by that point to finish the demo on normal difficulty.
I'm pretty hopeful for the game, but that's based entirely on a desire to play good Mega Man games and not actual experience. Yes, what I played of Mega Man 10 was fun, but every bad game in the franchise had at least one decent level and I didn't even get to play the whole thing. So, while I'm cautiously optimistic, I have yet to be given a really good reason to be excited.
1I later learned that Sheep Man's attacks are electricity-based. This makes him an electric sheep. Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Even if this game winds up sucking, he's my second favorite Robot Master of all time now, right under Heat Man.