perjantai 20. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Mega Man 9 (2008)

Genre(s): Action / Platform
Released: 2008
Available on: PS3, X360, Wii
Developer(s): Inti Creates, Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Players: 1

The Mega Man X series pushed the original franchise off the edge years ago. When Capcom announced the production of Mega Man 9, everyone was certain that the game would follow the path laid out by Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8, and of course the Blue Bomber’s ill-fated and dismissed 3D adventure Mega Man 64. Instead, Capcom did the first truly unpredictable move in the series’ history and released an 8-bit game, the first of its kind in 15 years on the three currently dominant consoles as a downloadable title. Mega Man 9 was hailed by critics as a nostalgic and daring retro surprise, which lived up to all of the big expectations and made the generations that prospered after the release of Mega Man 6 a little less relevant for a while. Well, as a game Mega Man 9 does have its ups... but downs, as well.

An unforgiving history lesson

Dr. Light is accused of bringing forth a robot revolution. While he’s under the watchful eye of the authorities, Dr. Wily emerges as the people’s saviour and declares his need for monetary donations to build and complete a set of robots he has designed to put an end to the rampage. Mega Man – the smart Blue Bomber he is – doesn’t believe for a second that Wily would have the best of mankind in mind, and sets out to expose the true nature of Wily’s cause, and maybe kick some ass along the way.

Dumbo's drunken hallucinations recreated.
OMGWTF it’s RETRO! How sweet it looks after all these years! However, the music doesn’t live up to the series’ standards, even though the collective bunch of writers worked on some of the previous titles. It’s good, but not on par with, say, Mega Man 2 and 3. First of all, you know damn well I’m into retro and throwback, assuming you’ve read other reviews on the site, or just read through the list of games. When I first heard of Mega Man 9 and its concept, was I buffed or what? At that point, I hadn’t touched one Mega Man game in, like, five years. The simple thought of the usually extremely formulatic Capcom doing something this testing and daring, was mind-boggling. For the measly price of €10, we could download a whole new, yet vintage Mega Man title and feel like we old farts were kids again. If you’re familiar with the series, you know the basic rules of the game so at this point it would be completely pointless to go over them for the umpteenth time. I assume you know what you’re playing and going for, so I’ll just skip it and go over some great things about the game.

Great thing number one: the achievements. The X360 version has the system-specific Achievements to go with these, while this PS3 version lacks Trophies which became mandatory in all releases a while later, but just the in-game achievements are good to have. The achievements, known as challenges, comprise of a lot of different stuff. Just some examples include beating the game in under an hour (which is damn near impossible if you ask me), without dying (even moreso), five times within 24 hours (geez), and destroying every Robot Master using nothing but the classic arm cannon (now that’s just plain wicked). Whatever the achievements might be, they always add to the motivation and excitement in any game. That’s my opinion and it’s awesome to have them here, with or without actual Trophies.

Great thing number two: the very concept of the game. You can’t make a 3D Mega Man game without consequences and I think that’s a lesson Capcom learned a long time ago. Capcom’s move with Mega Man 9 was daring, and one of the coolest we’ve seen in the industry in years. Young players who have begun their “career” in video gaming during the decade might not understand it, but we old school video game fans appreciate the concept quite a lot. Even if some players who come from the same generation as me have forgotten about how cool and unique video games used to be back in the day, before 3D and fancy cinematics turned them into small movies, I think Mega Man 9 does a quite good job in practically forcing us to go to the attic and dig out the old NES, or Master System, or whatever you’ve got stored there. What’s also very cool and true to the concept is that there’s a Legacy Mode, a video option to increase flickering and slow down the framerate, to make it feel like a genuine NES game.

On to the downsides, then. The challenge this game provides is unparalleled. It’s intentionally DIFFICULT. I read in a designer’s interview that one of the game’s main purposes is to remind players how difficult games were way back when, especially Mega Man games. I concur when it comes to Mega Man 3, but I don’t remember any other Mega Man game being nearly this hard. Once again, I own the PS3 version, and I can tell you the Sixaxis controller does NOT like being thrown around – in this game’s case, you can’t help it. I already mentioned Mega Man 3, but this one’s worse. The Robot Masters I can handle, and their stages, even if there are some obstacles and platforms you simply can’t avoid or get by without using items from the store – which is a more welcome feature than ever. Some spiked floors are ridiculously placed and stretched to eternity and back, and I absolutely loathe the 360° platforms, the evil blocks of steel the game introduces for the first time. The worst stuff is saved for the final stages, such as massive lava shots across the screen which remind me of Quick Man’s lasers in Mega Man 2, only these are much worse as you have to travel up instead of simply navigating your way down. By that point, any casual but persistent player has ripped off every bit of hair in his/her head. Quit the game before going for your eyeballs! Seriously, doctor’s orders. I simply don’t know and don’t want to know what Capcom was thinking when they made it possible to play without a helmet – this doubles Mega Man’s vulnerability to damage. First of all, it costs you to take off the helmet, and it’s back after you die – which will happen very soon.

The gameplay’s downgraded a bit too much. Sure – the store’s in, Rush’s in, Eddie’s in, Beat’s in – but still the game is designed to pay most homage to the first two games in the whole series. Therefore, you aren’t able to slide or charge up your cannon. Those who don’t know what makes this inconsistent, try to keep up with me. The slide was first introduced in Mega Man 3, but so was Rush, and the chargeable cannon dubbed the Mega Buster debuted in Mega Man 4, but so did Eddie. The store was missing from the main series up until Mega Man 7. This canonical speculation is pretty irrelevant, but the lack of physics that have been there at some point really affects the enjoyment of gameplay.

The Robot Masters... well. You know they’ve come up with these dudes for over 20 years, and each time, counting out some exceptions, they’ve gotten worse. Some of them might have cool names, but you’ll crack your ass in four parts once you get a look at them. There are a couple of cool bosses in this game, such as Magma Man – who looks like a combination of Air Man and Fire Man from Mega Man 2 – and Splash Woman. That’s right, the first female Robot Master in a Mega Man game. Probably Wily’s sex toy. Props to the fine art of sexual objectivity. Yet again, there are a couple of weirdos much worse than Ice Man in the first game... uhhh, wait. I’m so going to take that back, but still, Galaxy Man... whew.

The downloadable content available is simply whacked out crap. It would be OK, I guess, if it was free, but the simple fact that you have to pay for it discards any thoughts of getting any of it. There’s the chance to play as Proto Man – which adds in the slide and the charged shot, but doubles the damage taken and removes the ability to go shopping... ugh. There are modes that are extra hard, as if the game isn’t already hard enough, and a new hellish stage that features an extra boss. Excuse me: FANS ONLY! Even the desktop themes cost money! What’s up with that? I’m not paying for static themes, and these ones are not even pretty to look at.

A quite standard Mega Man 9 environment.
Mega Man 9 is one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. A personal note to Capcom: this is difficult to the extent it’s simply not fun to play anymore, at a certain point of it. It’s an overall nightmare, with the final stages being some of the worst ever, in any game. The bosses aren’t very difficult, but the main stages in general are. The store helps, a little.

Well, as they say, the Blue Bomber’s back. This fact alone is not enough to carry this admittedly great concept to the top. If you were a Mega Man fan back in the day, or are a young player simply interested in and fascinated about how games looked back in the late 80’s, and arguably what they looked at their very best back then, then please do download the game. It only costs you a ten, but don’t expect unlimited fun. Expect an infernally difficult game, which lacks in physics and teaches you bad words you never thought to exist.

Graphics : 8.5
Sound : 7.7
Playability : 7.3
Challenge : 9.7
Overall : 7.5


a.k.a. Rockman 9: The Revival of Ambition!! (JAP)

GameRankings: 79.35% (PS3), 82.59% (X360), 84.24% (Wii)

Capcom states the game’s concept was inspired by the immense popularity of network services dedicated to retro gaming, especially the Wii Virtual Console.

The Wii version of the game has been praised by many high-profile video game publications as the best downloadable WiiWare game ever made.

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