Mega Man 10 [WiiWare, PSN, XBLA]
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Developer: Inti Creates
Release Date: March 1st, 2010 (WiiWare)
Mega Man 9 revived the classic Blue Bomber in 8-bit form back in 2008, and MM10 is continuing the madness. Fans are skeptical of this sudden sequel because CAPCOM is known to milk a series, and no one wants 2D Mega Man to be ruined. Luckily, Mega Man 10 is inspired from 9’s spark of creativity and loads of fun, despite 9 being the debatable better game.
The story unfortunately doesn’t bridge to the Mega Man X series. Fans have been begging for that for a while, and it would be great to see the gap filled, but apparently CAPCOM wanted a simpler scenario. I can understand, as classic Mega Man is meant to be simple and colorful. Still, this narrative feels light, even for the series’ standards. The epilogue is pitifully short compared to MM9, which was minimal to begin with. It’s not much to ask for a little exposition, especially with what the previous games have established. The plot revolves around a disease called Roboenza (Robot + Influenza), which is making the world’s robots go crazy. The citizens are helpless without them, and even Dr. Wily is in need of assistance. He approaches Dr. Light for help to make a “medicine machine” to cure the disease. Fans were willing to connect this to the “Maverick Virus” concept from the MMX games, but sadly MM10 doesn’t capitalize on the concept.
MM10’s design is identical to that of 9’s, and most of the originals before it. You control Mega Man or Proto Man, battle eight robots with their own powers, and eventually take down Dr. Wily. It’s still a 2D sidescroller with an emphasis on platforming and action, so it’s pointless to repeat specifics. Mega Man 10’s stage layout is more focused on surviving hazards and toppling mini-bosses, with Commando Man’s sandstorms, the Octobulb in Sheep Man’s stage, or Pump Man’s dangerous water current. MM9’s powers felt powerful, especially the Black Hole Bomb and Concrete Shot (essential for speed runs, with the Concrete “zip” technique). That isn’t the case here, though the abilities are still useful. The Triple Blade exacts awesome damage, and the Chill Spike comes in really handy. Why no female boss though? With 9 setting a new standard with Splash Woman, fans expected more.
“Easy Mode” is a controversial addition. Die-hard fans have accused CAPCOM of watering down the experience just to make it accessible to non-gamers, and others welcome it due to the franchise’s tough-as-nails history. It’s a mere addition however, so it doesn’t infringe on the main game and shouldn’t pose a problem. The usual offering is just as difficult as Mega Man is known for, and Hard is downright brutal. Most of the game is easier than Mega Man 9, albeit a few exceptions, like the second stage of Dr. Wily’s castle or Commando Man’s stage. The boss fights are also entertaining, and their attack patterns even change according to the difficulty. On Hard Mode, bosses move faster and employ new skills to mix with their old. For example, on Easy, Pump Man covers himself in a water barrier and jumps around, like on Normal. The difference is that the barrier has more pieces which are tougher to dodge. On Hard Mode, he also throws his pump handle at you. As a result, it’s more interesting to play the game on every difficulty.
One of the best additions is the Challenge mode. There are two categories: some are basically in-game achievements, while the others are separate stages with specific rules. For instance, you might be required to fight a boss without taking damage. This is a great way to practice for the game’s more intense moments, however, to prevent the player exploiting this, the challenges have to be unlocked by satisfying certain criteria. Time Attack returns, and DLC content exists in the form of Endless Attack, Bass Mode, and three special stages. MM10’s content exceeds 9’s by some margin, but the campaign is short. CAPCOM/Inti Creates appears to be trying to replicate MM2 with these revivals, but the later games in the series had lengthier adventures, particularly with the castle stages.
The visuals are still 8-bit, but more advanced than before…comparatively-speaking. The stages are decorated by more complex backgrounds and effects. Had 10 been an NES game, it would’ve jumped ahead of the presentation pack. As far as present day is concerned, no boundaries are pushed…it’s all about nostalgia. Still, the game is easy on the eyes and appreciable. The sound fares the same, with a great array of 8-bit chiptunes. Nitro Man’s stage is a highlight, and fans should recognize it from the debut trailer. Solar Man’s theme is also excellent for its great bass line, and the first Wily stage employs some excellent music. The final Wily stage is disappointing, though.
The biggest question is: does MM10 succeed MM9? Well, it’s not a clear step up, and personal preference determines which game you like more. MM10 is clever and filled with lots of fun moments, but it doesn’t innovate the series. It’s basically an extension of MM9. But it’s a $10 download and therefore easier to accept. It’s a bite-sized experience as opposed to a full retail release that caters to fans, despite Easy Mode. Critics are accurate that these retro releases don’t push the series, but that’s not the point. They’re meant to be nostalgic, simple, clever, fun and renew interest in Mega Man. With 9 and 10, CAPCOM can potentially take new risks.
MM9 was a gamble, released into a wave of skepticism. 10 built on 9 and played it safer, but the end result is still great. Another ‘risk’ is necessary though, to prevent past mistakes. The revivals are great, and there’s room for them on today’s download services, but it’s vital that CAPCOM doesn’t overdo it. In the meantime, MM10 is a winner; another wonderful 8-bit trip that reminds us how much fun a simple game can be.