Let’s cut to the (Rockman Battle and) chase. Mega Man 10 is not as good as Mega Man 9. Which is okay. Mega Man 9 was the result of 18 years of game design knowledge funneled into a perfect downloadable package. It spoke right to the cereal-munching, Saturday morning cartoon-watching kid in me. It is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the best Mega Man game, which makes it one of the best video games, and a tough act to follow.
Though Mega Man 10′s still pretty good!
From the beginning, Mega Man 10 displays a higher degree of self-aware humor than before. A computer virus called Roboenza (!!) starts infecting every robot in the city and Dr. Wily, the guy most likely behind it, pals around with Mega Man and his family without so much as a restraining collar around his leg. He’s practically sipping lemonade on Dr. Light’s lawn. That’s pretty silly. There’s also a robot boss named Sheep Man, who resembles a cotton ball with eyes, arms and legs, and he lives in cyberspace where arrow pointers with eyes draw out block panels that attack you. And his weapon is called Thunder Wool.
Mega Man 10 gets big points for personality and character design, but level design disappoints. Some of it’s great, like the ice blocks in Chill Man’s stage that break away after you jump on them or shoot them, or the fantastically realized branching sewers of Pump Man’s level. Other than that, it’s fairly run-of-the-mill Mega Man. Capcom avoids getting too repetitive, but c’mon, disappearing-reappearing blocks again?
It seems like the focus is way more on hellish combat than clever platforming. The normal enemies are swarming, determined bastards that will stop at nothing until Mega Man’s reduced to smoldering scrap iron. It’s almost like a bullet hell shoot ‘em up at times, especially in Strike Man’s stage where the walls literally shoot at you, or Solar Man’s overcrowded level where enemies split apart asexually and fly after you, on top of the fireballs and solar beams gunning your way. There’s a tough-as-balls miniboss in almost every stage, too, which is cool at first, but then you’re like “Okay, let’s get on with the rest of the stage now, please.”
And Wily’s Stages? Oh my god. I rarely throw my controller out of rage (Note: May or may not be true), but Mega Man 10 saw my Wiimote crash into a wall more than once. You know those GameFly commercials with all the angry guys trashing stuff? Yeah.
The soundtrack, made by composers from each past Mega Man game, is not as good either. Despite the amount of musical talent involved I can’t whistle or hum a single tune. Meanwhile, Galaxy Man’s theme goes in and out of my head routinely. I don’t think it’s because I haven’t spent as much time with the game either, the compositions just aren’t that memorable.
Not that I’m totally down on Mega Man 10! It offers a few notable gameplay upgrades. By using the Classic Controllers’ shoulder buttons or the Wiimote’s A button it’s possible to scroll through weapons taken from the Robot Master bosses on the fly without pausing the game. Proto Man is playable from the start, though I don’t know why you’d go through that ordeal. He can only shoot two energy pellets at a time, takes more damage and gets knocked back farther when he’s hit. But hey, if you’re up for more ridiculous challenge, go for it.
Or you can go for the lovely Easy Mode. At risk of losing my Hardcore Gamer Card, I gotta say, Easy Mode is my preferable way to enjoy Mega Man 10. I can’t risk breaking anymore Wiimotes or punching anymore walls, and there’s something really nice about breezing through a Mega Man game in no time at all. Otherwise I’m dying over and over at the same areas and that gets discouraging fast. At this point, with so many other distractions and games – this year’s glut of releases has been kind of ridiculous – I’d rather have a brisk, relaxing time with my electronic entertainment.
Mega Man 10 isn’t bad, it’s great, just not as … miraculous. It’s like following up Resident Evil 4 with Resident Evil 5. Except better than Resident Evil 5. Hopefully Capcom takes more time with the inevitable Mega Man 11. We love Mega Man and now that we know Capcom’s willing to give us more of our beloved Blue Bomber we’re willing to wait as long as it takes for the next ultra-polished installment.