Also For: Xbox 360 via XBLA, Playstation 3 via PSN,
Developer: Inti Creates
Date Released: WiiWare: September 22, 2008 (USA); PSN: September 25, 2008 (USA); XBLA: October 1, 2008 (USA)
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Capcom's Mega Man franchise is one of the biggest in gaming history. With way more titles than you can count with with both your fingers and toes, you can be sure some of them are really good. As can you be certain that there are some bad ones too. Capcom has pushed out so many spin-offs and card battling games, Mega Man's name has become somewhat of a joke. Sure there's a good game here and there. Capcom's bent to change that view of the Blue Bomber. With 8-bit graphics, chiptune music, and extreme, retro difficulty, Mega Man 9 is definitely dedicated to the fans. But is it really that great by today's standards?
Mega Man 9 starts out with a colorful cut scene to explain the storyline. It actually features a bit more robust storyline than most of the original Mega Man games. Instead of the basic, "You've got to fight all eight of Dr. Wily's robots and then defeat him." It goes a little something like this: Dr. Wily surrenders, never to do evil again. But then suddenly, robots around the globe freak out and turn bad. Dr. Wily frames this on Dr. Light. So you, as Mega Man, must rid the world of another eight robots to clear Dr. Light's name. Simple, but works. There are several other cut scenes through out the game, making it a bid more story-centric (for a Mega Man titles that is).
How does it play? Exactly like you remember. It's your task to defeat every Robot Master. To do this you must survive through their stage and best them in a fight. You can tackle any Robot Master in any order. But the real strategy is to find a certain boss order to defeat them in, as each of their weapons will take down another boss with ease. After the eight Robot Masters, you go to Dr. Wily's castle to take him down there in four or so different levels.
True to the NES Mega Mans, Mega Man 9 is hard. You will die. A lot. Guaranteed. Each level has two check points, halfway through the stage and before the Robot Master at the end. Around ever turn are spikes, lava, enemies, and projectiles waiting to ambush you and take away that precious life of yours. But also true to the original Mega Mans is the trial and error strategy of progressions. It's very unlikely that you'll make it anywhere in the game without dying. To become a real master of it, you need to know exactly where every enemy spawns and where every hazard lay. To do this you're going to have died quite a bit.
This may seem like a chore to some. And the extreme difficulty may turn off others, the game is some of the best fun I've had in a while. Plus, being so challenging, the game's also very rewarding.
There are three main things Mega Man 9 does different from previous games. The first is the store, allowing you to buy E-Tanks and lives to easy up the game a bit. Plus you can buy other cool items like a book of hairstyles that will take Mega Man's helmet off and allow you to play the game like that. Not necessary but very cool. Another new addition is Time Trials, in which you speed run through various levels, competing for the high score. There are online leaderboards too.
The other major addition is downloadable content. As of writing, two downloads are available. One lets you play as Proto Man instead of Mega Man. He has a shield, can charge shots, and can slide. His games a bit more difficult, as you can't go to the store to purchase E-Tanks and such. The other download was a mode called Endless Stage. This is a really cool mode. It's basically a hundred or so little levels each connected by doors at the beginning and end. It's totally random as to which you'll encounter and it counts how far you make it until dying. This too has leaderboards. Of the DLC available now, both are worth the measly Wii Points they'll charge you.
The levels of Mega Man 9 are top-notch and you can tell a lot of time and effort was put into them. Every one is unique. From Splash Women's underwater lair to Tornado Man's aerial, platform jumping goodness, the stages are pretty well thought of. As usual, there are eight robot bosses and eight new, weapons to obtain. I really had mixed thoughts about the guns. Some of them were really cool and I used a lot. These include the Black Hole Bomb, which created mini black holes to suck in surround enemies, and the Plug Ball which would follow along floors and wall until it hit an enemy. But while those were pretty cool and useful, some of the others, (namely the Magma Bazooka, which would shoot three blasts at once) are unimaginative and not very necessary. Plus, the Jewel Satellite failed to impress me, seeing it's almost exactly like the Leaf Shield in Mega Man 2. Nonetheless, the stages, bosses, and weapons of Mega Man 9 are pretty damn awesome.
There's been somewhat of a controversy over the graphics of Mega Man 9. Their exactly like an 8-bit Mega Man and I thinks that's great. There are even options in the menu to turn on Legacy Mode, which will make it feel even more retro by adding slowdown and sprite flicker. By today's standards, the game's visuals are either extremely good or extremely bad. They're good in a stylistic way. Games like Wind Waker or Wario Land: Shake It succeed in the graphics department with beautiful cel-shaded or hand drawn art. But the game "fails" in power aspects. Nothing about the game is pushing the system and if you're looking for the next Crysis in terms of visuals, don't look here. But I feel the game really succeeds in what it wanted and that was making it look and feel like an 8-bit title. As for the music, I love the chiptune music. The stages include some very memorable tracks. The Mega Man games have been know for their awesome tunes, and Mega Man 9 doesn't break this trend.
As far as how long this game lasts you, it depends. If you fly through each level, the game will probably last an hour or so. But the extreme difficulty almost guarantees at least a five hours, if not more, of gameplay. Plus there are all the extra modes and DLC to play through too.
Gameplay: 9.5/10 A truly challenging game. It's fun and goes back to those golden days of gaming. But expect to throw the controller down more than once.
Graphics: 5/10 You could argue that the graphics are stylistic and succeed in that aspect. But you could also argue that they're plain bad graphics. So I'll settle somewhere in between those two extremes.
Sound: 8.5/10 Some great, 8-bit music.
Lasting Value: 8/10 Not too long of a game, but with all the bells and whistles, it'll last you some time.
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