(1) Playing games such as LEGO Batman and LEGO Indiana Jones with my girlfriend; and
(2) Mega Man 9
I'm a Mega Man fanboy like nobody's business, and having to wait to play the latest game was to me what waiting for both an Obama/Spider-Man crossover comic and a Neil Gaiman Batman comic were for Alex. At least.
So at long last, I have played through Mega Man 9. There's downloadable content, a Time Attack mode, Achievements, and other nonsense that never would have made it into a Mega Man game of my day, but I've hardly begun to scratch the surface of those yet. I'm talking about the real meat of Mega Man 9, which is... uh... Mega Man 9.
You know what? I really enjoyed the game. Maybe even loved it. Sequels of long-dormant franchises are never this good. It feels like a modernized Mega Man 2 influenced most by Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 6, but there are moments, features, and even entire stages that bring back memories of basically every game in the classic series.
What I like about it:
- Extremely challenging but usually not unfairly difficult--the difficulty borders on "not fun" a few times, but the learning curve is excellent, so it's still usually your fault if you die. (Not my fault; your fault--you made me mess up!)
- Music is really well done, and is a worthy addition to the soundtrack of a series defined by great music.
- An honest attempt was made to create an actual, sensical plot, complete with a good number of cutscenes (for a Mega Man game, anyhow).
- Nice variety of special weapons that all have a chance to shine. A+ for requiring the use of Rush Coil and Rush Jet as puzzle-solving tools!
- I actually laughed out loud on several occasions. Some of those laughs were from amusing cutscenes, some were from the little touches that show the game's polish, and some of those laughs were in appreciation of some truly diabolical puzzles and challenges. They tickled my little fiendish amateur game designer's heart.
- The ending was very satisfying. Nothing ruins a game like a lame-o ending.
- A feeling of continuity throughout--that is, the game honestly felt like a Mega Man game, and not some other game with "Mega Man" in the title. Connections with previous games helped this.
- Probably some other stuff that's not coming to mind right now. Gosh, I loved that stuff.
What I'm not so fond of:
- Mega Man can neither slide nor charge up his primary weapon. I can survive without the fully-powered blaster as long as the special weapons make up for it (they do), but the inability to slide drastically reduces the Blue Bomber's maneuverability.
- Most of Hornet Man's stage. It felt too much like Top Man's stage from Mega Man 3, and I really dislike Top Man's stage. And most of Mega Man 3.
- Some of the weapon names. Black Hole Bomb? Plug Ball? Tornado Blow? Please. This blog is probably going to be flagged for adult content just for writing those names.
- Although the weapon assortment is great, almost every weapon is similar or virtually identical to another weapon in the Mega Man franchise (most prominently from the X series), which is to be expected after dozens and dozens of games.
Behold, the 8-bit versions of the weapons of Spark Mandrill, Sting Chameleon, Crystal Snail (sorta), Gravity Beetle, and Blast Hornet! As for the remaining weapons, they're basically amalgams of previous boss weapons: a Wind Man/Tengu Man/Astro Man combo, a Wood Man/Star Man combo, and some sort of Fire Man/Yamato Man combo, minus the fire shield. It's a laser trident that fires straight through enemies, so there's really a lot of combinations you could propose.
- A couple of songs are directly recycled from Mega Man 2. Not remixed, mind you--they're the exact same song. Not a major issue, but it feels more like an obvious attempt to capitalize on MM2's popularity rather than a tip-of-the-hat or an effort to feel more retro.
- A few of the bosses. I won't name names, but there were two or three that were too tedious or flat-out difficult for me to enjoy them.
- While I like what they did with them, the end credits weren't entirely in the same style as other games in the classic series, which wasn't much of a bad thing but just felt a little strange to me.
- Probably some other stuff that's not coming to mind now. Gosh, I hated that stuff.
Bottom line: Mega Man 9 is absolutely worth your 1000 Wii points, or whatever method of payment your console uses (Cabbage, maybe? I don't know what XBox users use).
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to start practicing for some of those Achievements. I'll have absolutely no gamer cred at all if I can't beat the hardest game in the classic series without ever getting hit. At all.
(Oh, a protective barrier is hardly a new weapon, but we love Jewel Satellite anyway.)
Suggested additional reading: A review of Mega Man 9's downloadable content.