Mega Man 10, like its predecessor, takes us straight back to the mid-80s for a game philosophy that focuses almost solely on design. And most importantly, it does it well. The game's streamlined, back-to-basics approach is so entertaining, in fact, that I've already played through it three times and am currently in the middle of trying out its Hard Mode.
If you've played Mega Man 9, you know what to expect here--cleverly-designed levels, challenging gameplay, simple mechanics, great music. It's all here, it all works well. But one of the areas that I feel has been improved is in the replay value of the game. This is definitely attributed to the there-from-the-start Easy Mode and playable Proto Man, and the unlockable Hard Mode.
The first time I played through MM10 (and I recommend everyone do this), I used Mega Man on Normal Mode. As expected, learning the stages and boss patterns takes time, and when I'd restored everlasting peace by the game's end, I had already had about a dozen game overs. To illustrate just how much easier Easy Mode is, consider this: the second time I played through the game, I used Proto Man on Easy Mode. Now, Proto Man takes double damage, although this is somewhat balanced out by the fact that he can use the slide and buster charge from the later Mega Man games. I ended up dying twice throughout the whole game on Easy.
Finally, on my third run-through, I decided to challenge myself by using Mega Man on Normal, but no weapons and no E-tanks. This is always a good test for the design in a Mega Man game. If it's impossible to play through without getting upgrades (I'm looking at you, Mega Man X6!), then there's something seriously wrong there. But lo and behold, I managed to complete it in just a couple hours without all that extra fluff. So I can attest to the fact that, like MM9, once you get good at the game, you won't have trouble. It's fun, creative, and extremely well-designed.
Then again, I just started Hard Mode and have used numerous continues after just two stages already. The enemy placement is suddenly devious. Baddies now show up everywhere, outside of their themed levels, firing faster bullets, more bullets, and in the case of those goo-spewing Slime Mets, longer-lasting debilitation. Bosses are faster and some even have new moves (I certainly don't remember Pump Man throwing his spigot like a boomerang!). Frankly, it's pretty amazing how much effort went into Easy and Hard Mode. You WILL NOT find easy-fix alterations like double-damage or half-damage. It's all in the placement of enemies, stage hazards, speed, bullets, and shot frequency. Like everything else in MM10, it comes back to design.
The replay is extended even further when you jump into the in-game Challenges. Not only do we have a dozen of the ones that unlock as you play ("beat the game without dying" and such), but there are 88 full separate Challenges that'll require every ounce of your gaming skill to complete. These range from platform-based trials that strip you of your weapons, to demanding you beat bosses without getting hit. Time Attack mode returns, but sadly has already seemed to have been hit by hackers. One other disappointment in the mode, in my opinion, is the fact that the timer runs while you're on the weapon select screen. I liked the ease of picking the right weapon for the job in MM9, and having it timed means you have to rely on the somewhat cumbersome A/B toggle.
The music has definitely grown on me, and I think most players will feel the same way. After all is said and done, I still prefer a few other MM soundtracks to it (2, 3, and 9 in particular), but it ranks on the higher end of things with its rather impressive mix of music styles. It helps that the game doesn't reuse several of MM2's "intermission" themes, which got old fast in MM9. In fact, MM9 often felt like it was obsessed with MM2 to a somewhat creepy degree, while MM10 feels more like its own game to me.
However, there're still a few issues with the game. For starters, this isn't my favorite Robot Master selection by a long shot. I think Sheep Man and Strike Man are particularly inspired in terms of looks and stage themes. But then you have guys like Nitro Man, Chill Man, Solar Man, and Commando Man, who feel a little too similar to past Robot Masters (Turbo Man, any ice-themed RM, any fire-themed RM, Napalm Man, respectively). I feel like I've seen Blade Man's castle in Mega Man 6 (Knight Man), while Pump Man is just interesting enough to get a pass. But I have to wonder, why is half the cast derivative of earlier RMs? Heck, we just got a fire-themed boss last game! Why can't we get more stuff that we haven't seen in a Mega Man game, like--to just throw out a few I thought up in a couple minutes--Phantom Man, Suplex Man, Art Man, Angel Woman? Of course, the levels themselves are still memorable and fun, which is the important thing, but did we really need a sixth ice-themed RM?
And that takes me to the arsenal of the bosses. All things considered, it's above-average, but not the intricately balanced selection that MM9's was. In a way, this is sort of refreshing--you now can't Tornado Blow or Black Hole Bomb yourself out of a sticky situation like before. At the same time, I feel that only about half of the RM weapons are useful outside of specialized situations (which is still a higher average than several of the MM games).
So overall, I'd put MM9 ahead of 10 for a few reasons: it's a daring, fresh, and brilliant design choice, the music is a bit better, the weapon selection is more useful and balanced, and the Robot Masters are a little more unique. But even so, MM10 is a great game and certainly one of the finest WiiWare games you can pick up. Bottom line, if you liked MM9 and want more, you can't go wrong with ten.
Gameplay: 9 The word of the day is "design," and MM10 ranks up there with the best. Spot-on controls as always, plenty of challenge, and a decent weapon set.
Art: 7A tough category to rate nowadays. The character designs are all clever, enjoyable, and about what you expect from the series. However, it's not as daring a choice by this point, unlike MM9. And it doesn't seem like it's trying to "push" the NES, like the original MM games did.
Sound: 8.5Notable themes include Solar Man, Sheep Man, Strike Man, Nitro Man, Pump Man, Boss Theme, and Castle 1. Among the better soundtracks of the series.
Character: 8.5Possibly the "cutest" Mega Man story, particularly with Roll's role, and the ending. MM's world is as endearing as always, and the new baddies are cleverly done. Loses some points for reusing RM design themes.
Replay: 8.5A slightly longer quest would've been nice, but there's still plenty of fun to be had with the 3 difficulty options, 2 playable characters, the Challenge Mode, and some DLC next month.
I agree with you on a lot of your points, especially your note about Blade Man's level. I had that same feeling of deja vu going through his stage. Really, really reminded me of Knight Man's level, lol! Commando Man does have a certain resemblance to Napalm Man, but for some reason I keep being reminded of Grenade Man from Mega Man 8. Not sure why. I also agree with you on the graphics. It seems silly to even mention them in this game, but it seems like Capcom's not even trying to "push" the graphics past anything done on the NES back in the day. Which I guess is the point, but I miss some of the unexpected graphical "whizz-bang" effects the older games had. Even if it was something simple like a multi-colored sky background (Magnet Man's stage, for example) or parallax scrolling for the background (Tomahawk Man's stage's sunset). I guess Capcom really wanted to drive home the fact that they were making an old, 8-bit game on purpose.
But anyway, thanks for your review, and congrats on beating the game! I haven't been able to take down even a single RM yet. I... I feel so hopeless!
I took the liberty of switching the tag to "Words" so that the review is on the main page, for the whole world to see. If you want me to change it back, just tell me, and sorry if I overstepped my bounds.
I'm having fun with the game, about what I expected, though I am a bit disappointed in the music so far. I've played all of the 8 robot stages and none of them have songs that really match the best of Mega Man 9 music. Maybe in the Wily Castle?
I'm on Normal mode and have only beaten 2 bosses.... I have not played MM9 but I do not remember MM2 or 3 being this tough.. I must have spent an hour on Solar man's stage just trying to grind it out and power up my weapons.. of course I'm still experimenting with the order but I figured out pretty quickly that pump man's shield, would be of great help..lucky for me I beat him first so I kept at Solar Man's stage until the end..sure enough the shield eats Solar Man up for breakfast
I think the shop is an awesome idea! It's great to see added things (I'm not sure if they were in 9) like Weapon Tanks and 1/2 damage etc.. and the save feature is a wonderful addition from the old 8bit password blue and red dots.. These items will help me get through this game in one piece with some practice..
MM2 was way easier.. anybody who says otherwise should replay it. However, if you wanted energy tanks, you would have to really save them for the later stages because once they are gone..they're gone. Also, even though MM2 is one of the best, it does paint itself in a corner at the end because you need bubble shot to beat Wily and if you run out in the last stage you have to start the castle stages over.
Well, that last point isn't necessarily true--you could always just get Game Over and continue in the final stage with your weapon energy filled up.
Hmm I don't know TB... we are going to have to prove each other wrong/right here.... I think that once you got a game over in MM2, you had to continue all the way back to the start of Wily's castle (1st stage with Dragon).. Everything including energy tanks you had with that Wily password would be back to full etc but you still had to replay the stages over again..
@Zero.... you're right...that's why you are screwed because I think your weapon does run out... I have to boot it up to double check but I'm sure Jargon and I are right on that point..
However.. your password is also not stage specific.. you don't get a new password each time you complete a Wily Castle stage so if your bubble lead runs out..you have to reset the game...enter your password and start again. I'm sure of it...
I'm going to have to try it out..but the reason why you can get screwed is because in the last stage you can't destroy anything for powerups. In every other stage I think the weapons replenish..but the castle is different. Even after you passed the 1st stage etc, your weapon levels are the same as before..you have to fill them up throughout the castle and a noob may not have known that.. it's just those damn drip things in the cave... then you face wily..who is easy.. Most people don't use too much bubble throughout the castle and I was lucky not to get caught but I was very low at one point and had to make every hit count...
Right now I'm trying to beat a 3rd robot in MM 10.... it's frustrating..I hate those damn busses!!
You can only hold four E-Tanks in Mega Man 2. If you die, your weapon energy is restored. I think there are four in the robot master stages and one or two more in Wily's Castle (I haven't played 2 in forever).
I finished 10 today. It was a lot easier than 9 (especially Wily's fifth stage) and I enjoyed it a lot more.