Mega Man 9 Review
Memory: 89MB (full game), 64KB (save data)
Extra Features: Download Content
The original premiere of Mega Man on the NES is still one of the most classic and memorable 8-bit games even today. The Blue Bomber went on to spawn six sequels on the NES alone. When it came time for him to appear on 16-bit and 32-bit, the games were a welcome enhancement graphic-wise, but the platforming suddenly didn't catch the same feel of his early years. Mega Man 8 on PlayStation was the last time we heard from the boy in blue in a game of his own. Now 10 years later, Capcom, along with the father of Mega Man himself, Keiji Inafune, and some of the original staff from the classic Mega Man games have given us a new Mega Man that takes us back to the basics, back to a feel that is truly for the hardcore Mega Man fanatic.
If you have already seen the game prior to reading this review then you will know that Mega Man 9 has an extreme retro look to it. It uses the same graphics engine found in the original 8-bit Mega Man games. The presentation looks basic on purpose however - to provide the perfect retro feel to a hardcore Mega Man fan that grew up with the series or that enjoyed the look and feel of the classic Mega Man games. Even though the graphics are look plain, Mega Man 9 is not a simple NES game. It has brighter colors and a smoother HD appearance that NES games didn't carry back in the day. The common slowdown that was present in NES Mega Mans never does seem to appear in this installment either.
The game takes place after Mega Man 8. Multiple riots from robots created by Dr. Light suddenly stir up throughout the world and Dr. Wily proclaims the world that he has changed his cruel ways and that Dr. Light is now the one behind the robot onslaught. It's up to Mega Man to stop Dr. Wily and clear Dr. Light's name. The beginning story is presented with still pictures and in-game text, much like the old NES games. Even the title screen looks very familiar to one from the 8-bit era. As the game begins, we are once again introduced to the classic display of Mega Man's picture in between the portraits of 8 boss robots. As usual, all eight boss robots still can be beaten by defeating them in a certain order by gaining each of their weapons and using it on against them. Like any Mega Man game, they all have patterns to which a skilled player could take advantage of and actually beat them with only the mega buster. Concrete Man definitely kept me running and jumping even when I had the paper for his rock though. For the first time ever, equality is served in terms of gender with the boss robots since one of them is actually female - say hello to Splash Woman!
It's absolutely amazing to look at the creativity that goes into a lot of the 8-bit enemy designs and platforming elements in the game. There is one enemy that is presented as a defenseless hot air balloon. If you shoot the enemy in the balloon portion on accident then it will fly off screen then suddenly dash back toward Mega Man as it looses control - all of the animation is limited to an 8-bit look, but the thought that went into this idea is very creative. Tornado Man's stage has some revolving platforms that will position Mega Man upside down then right side up - jumps must be timed in order to keep from jumping downward off of these. Enemy designs and many other portions of the game frequently make reference to other Mega Man games. Magma Man looks similar to Air Man's design (Mega Man 2) in appearance and there are several other tributes. Street Fighter II's Chun-Li even makes a cameo at one point. Stages contain new enemy designs and some are reused 8-bit sprites straight from classic Mega Man titles, such as the ever recurring Hardhat and the robot with the shield and gun from Mega Man 2.
Mega Man has access to a shop where a player can buy various items such as extra energy tanks, lives, half damage power-ups and a few other items with the bolts that have been collected throughout the various stages. As a little extra feature, his helmet can even be removed for a fee - I couldn't help but laugh whole-heartedly at his on-screen stage select portrait having the helmet removed as well when this item was bought. Even though the game is retro in almost every other way, it doesn't require passwords. There is a save option that can be used after defeating each robot or simply to save your bolt amount after a stage.