Games for Lunch: Mega Man 9
Developer: Inti Creates
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site (Japanese)
0:00 I've been looking forward to this one ever since I heard it was being done in the old NES style of simple gameplay and graphics. I loved Mega Man 2 and 3 decades ago, and Mega Man X and Mega Man Powered Up later. I'm not a total obsessive or anything, though.
0:01 Dr. Wily on his hands and knees, in pixilated black and white: "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me!" The year 20XX, and the world breathes "a collective sigh of relief" now that Mega Man (MM) has defeated Dr. Wily ... yet again. "But then..." The background turns red and explosions rock the city. Robots are running amok! In Dr. Light's house, MM and Light watch the news. Dr. Wily comes on TV: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not my doing." He blames Dr. Light, who designed the robots and, Wily alleges, has had evil designs all the time. He has video of Dr. Light telling Dr. Wily that it's "time to take over the world," with Wily resisting. I don't believe anything unless I see it on YouTube...
0:03 Wily has a Swiss bank account set up to take donations to help stop Dr. Light. Light's phone is ringing off the hook with people complaining. What are we gonna do? "For starters, I'm going to do something about those robots!" says MM. "You haven't done this in a while," says Dr. Light with a sly wink to the player.
0:04 On to the title screen. I'm absolutely LOVING the retro action music. The full-screen, low-color pixel graphics look surprisingly good, even so many years after they were state-of-the-art.
0:05 Seeing messages like "Leaderboards" and "Achievements" and "Return to Xbox Live" in the decidedly 8-bit menu is a bit disconcerting.
0:06 "GAME START." I like how Splash Woman's head decal expands outside her little stage selection box. I decide to start with her, to support her efforts to break the evil robot master glass ceiling. The familiar intro music brings a tear to my eye.
0:07 It's an underwater level, which means high jumping and a lot of spikes. We've got some indestructible floating mines that home in on me when I fire at them. Still loving the music.
0:09 My first death comes when I jump carelessly into some ceiling spikes. It's been a while since I played a platform game with 1) limited lives and 2) instant-death spikes. Some might say too long.
0:10 Luckily, I made it to a checkpoint just before my death. Now I'm riding bubbles up to the next screen. The large bubble that supports my weight leads right into some spikes. I try to jump out of the way, but hit the spikes on the way up. Two down, one to go?
0:12 Out of the water now, I have to climb up some hovering, shifting blocks that float in from the side. One disappears just as I'm about to land on it, and I fall to the spikes below. "GAME OVER" already? Wow. Continue.
0:13 I just noticed how the water in the background has a decidedly old-school, gentle shimmering effect. The effect reminds me of a modern director filming a movie in high-resolution black and white, with all the modern techniques.
0:14 Just got hit with an ink ball from a robotic squid. Mega Man has turned from blue to an inky black. CUTE!
0:15 I forgot how much level knowledge matters in these games. This time around I'm able to guide myself towards power-ups with ease, just because I know where they're going to be.
0:18 This thing seems pixel-perfect when compared to the old games. They even got the little "shimmy" MM makes when you nudge the controller. Speaking of which, the analog stick works great.
0:20 I get to the "Game Over" room from before, except I haven't even lost a life this time. I look before I leap and study the block movement before jumping. It works! BTW, I'm still black.
0:21 On to the boss. The emblem outside the boss room that usually says "Dr. W" says "Dr. L" this time. Could he really be evil? I'll believe it when I see the ending...
0:22 Splash Woman sings to summon some attack fish, then drops Tridents on me from above. She's utterly predictable (unlike most women, amirite guys?), but she's still pretty hard to avoid. I'm holding my own, but my already-low energy can't stand up to the attack. New life, new energy bar, let's try again.
0:23 I'm more prepared/careful this time and she goes down. "Eco Fighter Challenge Complete," whatever that means. I get the "Laser Trident" and a yellow and teal outfit. I save my progress! Man, I would have loved the ability to save back in the NES days. Passwords are annoying.
0:24 There are cut scenes between levels? Wow! My sister Roll tells me the police have taken Dr. Light away. Big green robot Auto thinks it's definitely Wily's doing. "Don't worry, I'll clear Dr. Light's name," says MM. But is he doing the right thing? It's not quite "Law & Order," but it's nice to see a bit of complexity in there.
0:25 OK, what would my new trident weapon be good against? Jewels? Tornados? I go with Concrete Man.
0:26 The background reminds me of MM2's Wood Man level, complete with flying birds dropping stuff on me.
0:27 So I try to jump over the first pit when a green laser thing pops up and knocks me to my death. That's old-school lame right there.
0:28 I can't believe I have to go into the pause menu to change weapons. I know they're going for the retro feel, but there ARE shoulder buttons these days. USE 'EM!
0:29 New giant enemy alert: a giant elephant who pushes a huge pink ball at me, then sucks me in with his trunk (dirty!). The battle is made much easier by a ladder that allows me to fire unscathed. On the next screen, I'm not so lucky, and get sucked into his giant maw and death. I go all the way back to beginning of the stage. Bleh.
0:30 Oh dear lord ... I beat the second elephant this time, only to come upon a third one complete with bottomless pits for me to get sucked in to. This is ... a bit ridiculous.
0:31 I die to the second elephant again for my third and final death. Nuts to this! Tornado Man, whaddya got?
0:33 I pop the balloon atop a floating enemy and he goes flying around the screen like a popped balloon. Cute, but also deadly!
0:34 Weird. These red-and-blue floating platforms rotate me in and out of the screen. It looks odd and bad in the 2-D style. For once, I find myself wishing for modern 3-D graphics.
0:37 Past the rotating platforms, which required some tough timing to pass! On to some snowy, icy platforms, complete with momentum conservation power!
0:39 I'm really liking the Trident weapon. It goes through walls and seems more powerful than the basic Mega Buster. My supply seems to last a while too. Is this the new Metal Blade?
0:40 Bad timing on the rotating bits means my third death and another untimely Game Over. This is tough, but not impossibly tough. Just old-school tough. I like it!
0:44 I've worked my way up to the rainy heights now. A slight wind affects me only when I jump, making each leap a harrowing affair.
0:46 Two quick deaths to the slippery jumps and I'm on my last life already. A-yipe!
0:47 Just got the "Conqueror" Challenge for defeating my 100th enemy. Strange that there are Achievements and then ALSO a subclass of "Challenges."
0:48 Good ol' Rush Coil gives me the bounce I need to get and extra life and breathing room. Then a floating umbrella-bot flies out from behind a cloud and sends me falling. ARGH!
0:50 Greed is my undoing ... I jump for a huge, lucrative bolt on a lonely ledge, but then I can't make the jump off. Sigh. Let's try ... Galaxy Man this time.
0:52 The complete awesomeness of the Trident is leading me to believe you're supposed to get it first. Makes me feel bad that Splash Woman is the weakest, first-to-fall enemy.
0:55 So far on this level, I've run into: yellow helicopters that grab me and try to send me flying into pits, purple rings that simultaneously transport and trampoline me and floating eyes that split into five when I hit them. This game is not lacking imagination, that's for sure.
0:58 The same helicopter grabber has sent me into the same set of spikes twice now. I know it's coming, yet I just can't avoid it. Blarg! @@
1:00 I'm finally careful enough to avoid the grabber. Boss time! I've got full health and one extra life to figure out his pattern.
1:03 The Trident utterly sucks against Galaxy Man. So does the Mega Buster. Luckily, his Black Hole Ray is easy to avoid. Unluckily, he also jumps down and attacks in person, which is much harder to avoid. Next time ... next time...
1:04 My second attempt on Galaxy Man is successful, despite my complete inability to avoid his direct attacks. Quick-firing is my savior. I got my own Black Hole Bomb and a nice purple suit to go with it. Save and I'm out.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? I can't really put it any better than Penny Arcade.
This column is based on a downloadable copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.