Mega Man 9 is a happy jump back to my childhood. It was really great to see the old graphics and sounds I love come back in a brand-new 2008 videogame. I’m a massive classic gamer and Mega Man enthusiast, so when people asked me “Did you get Mega Man 9 yet?” I replied “Is the Pope Catholic?” I got the game as soon as I could and played it as much as I could. I was hoping it would feel like a game I’d have played back in the day when the NES was still all the rage.
It really is a whole new game. In some aspects, yes, it has the classic feel of playing a new NES game on the 360. However, Mega Man 9 feels like its difficulty was ramped up from the older titles. That stuck out to me during my first play-through. It reminded me of Mega Man X6, where, when you’re just trying to get a grasp of the game, the game laughs its ass off at you, throwing curveballs at you until you take the time to learn its tricks and hope your counters work every time. Enemies are placed in particular spots that’ll easily get you killed if you don’t know what’s next or if you’re not paying enough attention to what’s coming up. It’s kind of aggravating at first, but that feeling lasts only until you get a feel for what the enemies do.
The shop, which wasn’t actually featured in a Mega Man game until #7, is a godsend in this game, as it sells items that are of great assistance when you need them. You can easily waste them if you’re not careful, however, as they work automatically. Items such as a spike guard and an item that reduces damage by half help to make things much easier during gameplay, especially once you know what you’re doing.
I enjoyed the game’s new music, but the recycling of some tracks from Mega Man 2 seems like a rushed decision. I can understand it, as it’s familiar to fans of the series—a lot of my friends like Mega Man 2 over the others—but I still didn’t like the fact that they re-used them. Maybe it would have been better if they’d created a new rendition of the Mega Man 2 music. The new songs are well-done and remind me of those of the older titles. They’re composed of the simple bleeps and bloops of the NES, and they helped me step back in time mentally even more.
The graphics are also extremely reminiscent of old times, and it was nice seeing them come back in 2008, when everything else is in 3D. Mega Man 9 shows you that a game doesn’t need 3D visuals in order to be great. Some people have complained that the graphics are shit; well, I call those people spoiled by recent-gen consoles. This is supposed to be retro, and the NES didn’t have 3D technology.
Capcom was also able to do some really neat stuff with the graphics. It was kind of funny seeing Auto, who didn’t make an appearance in the NES games, rendered in 8-bit pixels. It was a good kind of funny, though. It was also great to see that all the bosses have their own palettes, instead of being seriously retro and all sharing one or two different palettes, like they did in the very early Mega Man games.
The following ratings are geared toward retro titles, rather than more recent games.
Mega Man 9’s difficulty doesn’t compare to the NES series; but once you get used to it, this game feels just like one of the older titles.
This game tries hard to feel like a retro game, and, in may ways, it succeeds. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I’m a fairly nitpicky fellow. It’s great to see that they chose to make the game that way, especially now, when companies are in the habit of remaking older titles in 3D. I’m glad that Capcom took the time to put something together for the retro gamers, instead of just throwing together a collection of old games, like they’ve been doing lately.
The audio is very faithful to the original games, though it is a bit too reliant on Mega Man 2’s soundtrack. The new music is a great addition to the Mega Man series; it’s quite enjoyable and fits each level well.
The game looks just like an NES title, and that’s a good thing. I couldn’t tell when I was seeing NES graphics and when I was seeing Xbox graphics, which I enjoyed. I like how they were able to use more recent game technology to accentuate things slightly, such as the miniboss in Magma Man’s stage.
The “start” button was the pause button and the “back” button was the weapon select menu, which caused me a lot of irritation and confusion, hitting the start button thinking the menu is going to come up. I don’t know what it’s like for other systems, but, for the Xbox 360 version, I have to dock the game a couple points. If only there was a way to switch the buttons….
Replay Value: 7/10
The achievements, both in-game and for official Xbox points, are good to go after, but once that’s done, it really depends on how much you want to play this game for fun. If you can get through the difficulty of the game, I think you’ll enjoy playing it again. If you just like to do everything as fast as you can and then be done with it, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
I know the game’s been out for a few months, so why did I wait until now to write my review? Well, here’s the reason. A game like this really needs a different review style than just comparing it to the latest games. Comparing this with newer titles is like entering a NASCAR race with a go-kart. Go into this game with an open mind and just try to enjoy it, without expecting it to be like today’s games.
Playing Mega Man 9 is like traveling back in time. To a time when “3D” meant switching screens to move forward or backward. A time when sprites ruled, new legends were made, and new ground was being broken with every release. This is the magic of going retro, and Mega Man 9 brings back the magic almost flawlessly. I commend Capcom, which has been my favorite game company since I was a kid, for taking this step off the beaten path and doing something entirely different. It’s been a very successful step, and I hope to see more like it in the future.