More Inviting and Complete
A little over a year ago we were introduced to Mega Man 9, the game that took the Mega Man series back to its roots. Coming after a long stretch of somewhat disappointing titles, Mega Man 9 seemed like exactly what the series needed. Its retro 8-bit visuals, classic design, and crushing difficulty were exactly what longtime fans of the series had been waiting for. Because of that title’s success, there was little question as to the shape the next Mega Man entry would take. But, while Mega Man 10 shares many similarities with the game that came before it, there are also quite a few surprises to be had.
Once again taking place in the year 20XX, Mega Man 10’s story kicks off with all of the world’s robots coming down with a mysterious illness called Roboenza. With all of the robots falling ill and no longer being able to perform their tasks, the heavily robot-reliant world begins to fall apart. After a month goes by, the sick robots begin to get violent and attempt to take over the world. Even Dr. Wily himself seems concerned about this turn of events and teams up with Mega Man in order to try to find a cure for the Roboenza outbreak.
As one might expect, this set up results in a game with the same formula as previous entries in the series. This means facing off against eight boss robots, each with their own unique powers and themed levels. Players can choose to take on these bosses in any order they wish, gaining the use of their weapons upon their defeat. However, while you can take on these bosses in whichever order you like, there’s always an optimal order that gives you a definite advantage. For instance, you’ll likely want to take out Sheep Man, whose weapon emits clouds that rain down lightning, before taking on Pump Man. This isn’t necessary by any means, but it sure makes taking down these bosses much easier.
I found the themed levels in Mega Man 10 to be more interesting, both in terms of visuals and design, than those found in the Blue Bomber’s last outing. Many of the backgrounds in the previous Mega Man title were fairly bland, with a lot of blank spaces and very little detail. However, new levels such as Strike Man’s, who is essentially a robotic baseball, have backgrounds full of color and objects. This helps to make multiple runs through the same level feel more interesting, since it no longer feels like running through a vacuum of empty space. One of my personal favorites comes towards the end of the game and involves a steady downpour of 8-bit rain.
While most of the game’s levels can feel a little short, almost every single one feels well designed. The normal jumping and shooting challenges you’d expect abound, but there are also some unique segments that are sure to catch many players off guard the first time through. A couple good examples of this are a highway that sends vehicles barreling your direction that need to either be jumped over or ridden as well as one level that sends timed sand storms at you, either pushing or pulling you towards bottomless pits or deadly spikes. Also, you’ll find many levels in the game that supply multiple possible paths through, giving you both good reason to play through more than once as well as alternative directions to try in case you’re having difficulties with a particular part of the level.
One of the big surprises you’ll find in Mega Man 10 is that you’ll be able to play through the title as either Mega Man or Proto Man from the beginning. Proto Man is included from the outset this time around, instead of saving him as a downloadable offering as in Mega Man 9. This is definitely a nice option to have, although the implementation could have been a little better. You are only able to choose your character at the start of a play-through, having no ability to switch between the two once you’ve begun.
This seems like a pretty big oversight considering how each character has their own strengths and weaknesses that could work better in some levels than others. Mega Man is inherently quicker on the trigger and heartier, but Proto Man has a shield when he jumps, can slide, and can charge up shots. When fighting a boss such as Blade Man, Proto Man’s jumping shield can be an invaluable tool, but the fact that he takes way more damage than Mega Man when hit can make using him a liability against others. Keeping the two characters completely separated does give you a good reason to play through the game more than once, but it still would have been better from a gameplay perspective if you were given the option to switch between the two at least in between levels and after deaths.
The absolute biggest surprise in Mega Man 10 has to be the game’s easy mode; a first for the series. Whereas Mega Man 9 was a title meant to bring longtime fans back to the series by taking it back to its roots, Mega Man 10 and its easy mode appear focused more on bringing in new fans. If you’ve never played any of the previous entries in the series and attempt to jump right into a normal run through of Mega Man 10, you’ll likely find in to be very challenging. If Mega Man was ever known for anything, it was its unforgiving nature and punishing difficulty.
However, with this new easy mode it is completely plausible for people who’ve never experienced a Mega Man before to get through the game and actually have a good time. When playing on easy, you’ll notice a plethora of floating platforms in every level which seem perfectly placed over pits, spikes, and long drops. These are essentially the same as gutter bumpers in bowling, giving players a helpful barrier that allows them to see the danger and potentially improve their skills without allowing them to repeatedly die and become frustrated. In this mode, you’ll also find more helpful pickups than normal as well as face off against bosses who pull a few punches, continuing to make it easier to get the hang of what a run-through in normal mode might be like.
Newcomers attempting to learn the ins and outs of how to play Mega Man are also sure to enjoy 10’s challenge mode. This mode is also available right from the start and provides a ton of small challenges that essentially teach the skills necessary to make it through the campaign. These start off as fairly simple, having you jumping across platforms and shooting targets, but quickly ramp up and throw increasingly more difficult objectives your way. Still, no matter how difficult these get, they are still entertaining and provide a good way to hone your skills without having to worry about how many lives you have left and whether you’ll have enough currency to purchase more.
Of course, longtime fans will likely blow right through the campaign and challenges, moving right into the game’s time trial mode. This mode allows you to attempt to run through any of the game’s levels with all of the possible weapons in order to see how quickly you can make it through. Once you’ve completed a level, you can upload your time as well as a video of how you accomplished it. There are already quite a few impressive videos uploaded and watching them can also help to give you a good idea of how to tackle these levels.
If you’ve not played a Mega Man title before, 10 is a really good starting point. Between its easy mode, challenges that’ll teach you how to play better, and time trial replays to help you learn the levels, there’s never been an easier Mega Man to get into. However, when playing the game on normal or hard mode (unlockable), or simply trying to shave a few tenths of a second off of a timed run, there’s also still plenty of challenge to be had for longtime fans of the series. Mega Man 10 truly is a step up from Mega Man 9, feeling much more complete in terms of features, as well as providing an experience that can be appreciated by both veterans and newcomers alike. If you’ve ever had any interest in the Mega Man series, or just want a good 2D platforming shooter, you can’t go wrong with Mega Man 10.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
Mega Man 10 has the same graphical style as 9 but has more visually interesting backgrounds. 4.2 Control
Still spot on, just wish it was possible to fire at angles. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
While the soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as Mega Man 9’s, it is still rather enjoyable. 4.4
With the addition of Proto Man, a challenge mode, and an easy mode for beginners, Mega Man 10 has more to offer than 9 and can be fun for almost any player, not just the longtime fans.
4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.