It has been over 8 years since we last got a proper Mega Man game. With the Mega Man 30th anniversary currently going on, Capcom has graced us with a plethora of great Mega Man content this year. I’ve played through almost every Mega Man game sans the Battle Network and Star Force games. I recently replayed every core and X game for our reviews of the Legacy Collections as well. I was extremely hyped and excited for the release of the latest game in the core series, having played it at E3 earlier this year. I was excited to see if the most recent game in the this long beloved series lived up to the expectations and I’m happy to say that Mega Man 11 lived up to the hype. Read on to find out why!
Mega Man 11
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Release Date: October 2nd (West), October 4th, Japan
Players: 1 Player
Let’s begin with the shortest aspect of any Mega Man game, the story. As usual, Dr. Wily has come up with yet another so called “brilliant” plan to show up Dr. Light and Mega Man and in the process take over the world.
This time around though, this plan directly revolves around the games newest mechanic, the “Double Gear” system. Dr. Wily has again brain washed 8 Robot Masters and imbued them different aspects of the gear systems.
Some Masters will use the equivalent of the speed gear and others will use the opposite power gear. In true Mega Man form, the story is light (no pun intended, seriously) and we basically only get the story segments at the start of the game, right before entering the Wily Castle segments and then once again when you finally defeat Dr. Wily.
Don’t expect any world class story telling here. Heck, don’t even expect penny dreadful level story telling. The most interesting change to the story line this time around is the fact that for the first time that I can remember, Dr. Light and Dr. Wily directly confront each other at the end of the game.
This gives a bit more insight in to their tumultuous relationship and gives a reason exactly why it is that Dr. Wily decided to become a villain, something we haven’t seen in previous Mega Man games. I will say that it was a very welcome addition to the limited story and exposition we normally get with this series.
Now that the story is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of any Mega Man game. The Mega Man series has always been defined by extremely tight and precise platforming mechanics, requiring players to not only complete precise platform jumping, but do so while also while dealing with enemies.
Each stage is capped off by facing a “Robot Master” boss that generally only has only one or two weaknesses, generally that of another Robot Master.
The final segments of the game are always 4-8 stages leading up to the final confrontation with Dr. Wily himself with a stop over where the player must face off again against the 8 masters from the first half.
Even with all the technical and graphical updates that Mega Man 11 introduces, it refuses to vary itself from this tried and true formula for the series. If you have played even one Mega Man game in the past, you will know exactly what to expect in the basics of Mega Man 11.
There is one major change in Mega Man 11 and it has been the cornerstone of all the major announcements and promotional material seen up till the release, and that is the introduction of the “Double Gear” system.
I mentioned it slightly earlier when I was speaking about the storyline, and while it does play a role there, its major contribution comes with the gameplay mechanics that players must now get used to and utilize in order to complete the game.
Basically, the new system boils down to two new abilities that Mega Man can use during the course of the game. The first is the Power Gear. This ability allows Mega to power up his normal buster shots, shooting twice each time the button is pressed down.
This also extends to the powered up shots, allowing for two fully powered shots to be fired at the same time. Not only does the power gear power up the mega buster, but it also powers up the Robot Master weapons as well.
Each one will receive some sort of boost. Block Man’s weapon, the Block Dropper, goes from 4 blocks dropped to over a dozen, spanning a larger size and dealing more damage.
Acid Mans Acid Shield weapon will now deal damage as well as block enemy projectiles and so on. This new mechanic is a great way to take out troublesome enemies and also quickly defeat Robot Masters and the various bosses found in the Wily Castle stages.
The other new power is the Speed Gear. This ability slows down time, where enemies and projectiles move at about 1/4th their normal and even Mega Man moves at about ½ his normal speed. This is probably the most important of the new abilities presented in Mega Man 11.
Most stages will have at least 1 or 2 segments where the Speed Gear is needed, or is at least extremely convenient, in order to pass through. Not only that, but it also is extremely useful when Robot Masters activate their own gears, either speeding up or powering up their attacks.
Finally, when Mega Man reaches critical health, you will be able to use both gears simultaneously, using both the Power Gear and the Speed Gear together. Not only that, but when Double Gear is in effect, the fully powered up mega buster will become even stronger and have a red look to it.
The Double Gear is not without its drawbacks though. Normally, the player would be able to cancel out the gear usage when it no longer suited their needs, but when Double Gear is activated, it will continue on till Mega Man “overheats”.
At that point, neither gear will be able to be used until the gauge on the left side of the screen is no longer red and Mega Man has cooled down. Beyond that, the mega buster itself is also extremely weakened. Not sure if the damage dealt is lower, but the firing rate is severely limited until Mega Man has cooled down as well.
There are a few other quality of life upgrades beyond the new Gear system, like Rush now being mapped to buttons on the controller instead of having to be chosen as his own weapon.
The gear system is the biggest and best change to the mechanics and gameplay this go around. It’s the biggest change in terms of gameplay we’ve since Mega Man 3 with the introduction of the slide ability and Rush himself.
Graphically speaking, Mega Man 11 is the best in the entire series. Mega Man 9 and 10 went back to the 8 bit style of graphics we saw back in the NES days of the series. Mega Man 8 was the last time we saw a major increase in terms of graphics.
With this new iteration however, we see Mega Man in all his glory. There are so many minor little upgrades that it all blends seamlessly together.
In Block Man’s stage for example, there are little visual clues that the blocks in the stage are about to drop. The various liquids in Acid Mans stage have splash effects as well. In Torch Mans stage we have smoke and fairly realistic flame effects.
Mega Man 11 also features for the first time physical changes in Mega Man when he uses different Robot Master weapons outside of spin off titles. Each Robot Master weapon will slightly change Mega’s appearance, further differentiating the different powers beyond just being a pallete change.
Personally speaking, after having played ever mainline Mega Man game, I have to say, Mega Man 11 is perhaps the best game in the series.
Everything fans have enjoyed in the series is here in spades. The stages are challenging and actually require the use of the Robot Master weapons to successfully navigate them.
The bosses are unique and varied and while the Wily Castle stages are perhaps a bit easier and shorter than in previous games, they still offer up a decent enough challenge to put a nice end to a great game.
Speaking of challenges, Mega Man 11 offers up several challenges for players to complete before or after beating the main game itself. Some of these are extremely challenging and will give even veteran players a run for their money in terms of skills required.
The only real downside to Mega Man 11 is the fact that neither Proto Man nor Bass make an appearance. We can always hope that perhaps Capcom adds them in later as extra characters, but their absence is an overall minor thing compared to the rest of the game and what we were given.
All things considered, Mega Man 11 is an absolutely fantastic game and a wonderful addition to the Mega Man franchise. There was a lot of care and attention to detail put into this game, and it really shows while you are playing through it.
There are several different difficulties to choose from, all of which accommodate just about any level of skill from game journalist to hardcore (not actual difficulty names).
I stand firmly by my assertion that Mega Man 11 is the best of the Mega Man series and is a great game for anyone to pick up if they’re looking for a fun game to pick up and enjoy. So please, by all means, pick up Mega Man 11 and get equipped with greatness!
Mega Man 11 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 10
- Several different challenges and difficulties that will give players of all skill levels a good challenge and test their skills
- Upgraded, modern graphics allow Mega Man to shine
- Extremely balanced platforming and game mechanics
- While it takes a moment to get used to, the gear system is fun and adds a new level of complexity and depth to the series
- The main Robot Masters stages are difficult, but the Wily Castle stages are shorter and less difficult than in previous iterations of the series
- No Proto Man or Bass!