Mega Man is one of only a few classic franchises from the NES days to still be alive today and while its release schedule hasn’t always been as consistent as fans would probably like, Capcom has brought the seminal hero back for a new game releasing soon. Right off the bat, they've been absolutely clear that the core target audience for this continuation will be the fans of the classic platformer and its retro gameplay elements and difficulty level. While easier difficulty options are available for those less familiar with the series, the game is pushing itself into the hearts of classic platforming veterans with tricky enemy encounters and intense platforming setpieces. They’ve also graciously given us a free demo available for all to download from the Nintendo eShop, so let’s take a look at what we can expect from the game based off of this trial.
What to Expect
Despite the modern aesthetic found in the graphics, the level design for this game is all classic Mega Man. Players jump and shoot their way through levels that feel less like the typical design for video game levels and more like a sequence of individual small challenges that focus on only a few obstacles at a time, almost like a series of small endurance courses. Some of these only even last for a single screen, too.
Mega Man is also sporting some new abilities; One lets him slow down time and another makes his bullets stronger. Some have raised concerns that these powers might make the game too easy, but these worries can thankfully be tossed aside. Not only is the level shown in the demo balanced around these new abilities, but certain challenges appear to require them in order to be completed. It doesn't decrease challenge but instead, adds variety to the level design, just like a new ability in a classic Mega Man game should. And that sums up most of the demo as a whole, really; it’s just like a classic Mega Man should be.
Mega Man 11 Pre-order Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Why are you even reading this? It’s a Mega Man game, you know the story. Doctor Wily’s on the loose again and wants to take over the world with 8 new superpowered robots. We’re frankly shocked you even stopped scrolling at this section in the first place.
The demo only had one level, which stars the evil Robot Master Block Man, which is unfortunate, since he’s easily the worst character design of the game’s 8 new foes. His color scheme is appealing but there’s not much to him aside from some eyes and limbs on a stack of bricks. His level also isn’t very visually interesting. There’s nothing wrong with the graphical detail, but not much sticks out about it, it’s just a pretty generic factory setting.
Thankfully, the level’s actual design is much better. It starts off simply enough, with segments marked by relatively easy platforming challenges, ones with relatively easy enemies to fight before introducing segments that combine the previously seen platforming and enemies together. The cycle is then repeated with more challenging platforming and enemies, resulting in a gradual increase in difficulty that, while never holding the player's hand, feels organic and fair.
There were a few somewhat cheap moments we hope get addressed in the final build of the game, though. There's one enemy who rolls across the ground within a large wheel that shields him from attacks except for a small gap in said wheel. It sounds like a fun challenge on paper, but the game demands such precise timing that without the benefit of almost a screen's worth of distance, it's almost impossible to time consistently.
There is also a forced-scrolling section early on that tests jumping precision, but one particular part of it seemed not to let the blue bomber fit through the gap we needed to get him through in order to proceed. His character model was not shown to have been blocked by anything, yet his ascent would always be stopped as though there was some invisible obstacle right above him. Thankfully, this only happened on a few runs, but it was an unpleasant experience nonetheless.
We also got the chance to try out some Robot Master weapons in the demo, which show a lot of promise so far. Sometime around Mega Man 6 or so, the extra weapons players could take from defeated bosses all began to blend together, with only one or two standing out per game, if at all. While we don't know enough about the other 6 weapons in the game, these 2 are sure to impress players. The Scramble Thunder travels across surfaces before exploding into a long-lasting burst of electricity for multiple hits if necessary. We’re honestly not sure why thunder would ever behave this way, but with some smart application, the weapon can turn some of the hardest rooms in the level into cakewalks. There’s also the Pile Driver, a big drill that shoots Mega Man forward for a Gurren Lagann-esque melee attack; its propulsion can even be used in the air to extend jump length. This particular power-up gives some, unfortunately, more mixed results though. While any Mega Man X fan will be glad to talk about how much fun ground and air dashing adds to a Mega Man game, but the harsh knockback our hero receives on impact really kills the flow and that’s without mentioning the fact that it doesn’t protect players from damage should their target survive the attack and since they'll be in direct contact with them in that scenario, the results are unpleasant, to say the least.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Honey’s Gameplay Consensus The Mega Man 11 demo has brought classic Mega Man gameplay to the new age of gaming successfully thanks to a design that manages to bring back all the thrills the series is known for in spite of some questionable design elements. Its solid execution of the older games’ direction alongside its enjoyable new twists bode very well for the full release.
Classic Mega Man action done well
Cool new powers and weapons
Challenging, but rewarding
Little visual flair
Some design issues that should really be tweaked for the full release.
Honey's Final Verdict:
When you get right down to it, the best way to know what you will think of Mega Man 11 based on this demo is to know what you think of Mega Man as a series. It's not afraid to stick to its formula but still brings enough new elements to stave off sameness. While some issues are indeed present, the game knows that what isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed and we wouldn’t have them think any other way.
Author: Will Bertazzo Lambert
I’m a 22 year old writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba who does fiction, media critique and everything in between, currently studying English and rhetoric. I have influences ranging all the way from Henry James, to Stephen Greenblatt to Nintendo Power and after years of fanatical devotion to the coverage of anime and video games, I've finally tossed my hat into the ring and decided to give writing a try for myself. Will this be the dawn of a lifelong career or a small footnote on an otherwise unrelated life? Only time will tell, but I would like nothing more than to have you join me on the journey to discovering the answer.