Review by Sour DieseL
"Mega Man's still got it!"
After more than 10 years without a follow up in the classic Mega Man franchise outside of the release of Mega Man Anniversary Collection, fans of the classic series began to lose faith that they'd ever see a new Mega Man game again. Eventually, the time finally came for Mega Man 9. Rather than trying to improve the graphics to current gen standards, they decided to wonderfully craft the game in 8-bit style. Technically it's not true 8-bit, as denoted by the well-drawn cut-scenes. However, the in-game graphics look totally identical to that of the height of the NES' capabilities. The result was an instant success and would soon spawn a new Mega Man in the game style just two years later, Mega Man 10.
Story: 10/10: Dr. Wily has seemingly finally turned over a new leaf and the world is at peace. Then, Wily delivers a message to the public. Dr. Light has apparently approached Dr. Wily and asked him to help dominate the world with his new robots. Wily provides video footage as proof, and Dr. Light is hauled off to jail. Mega Man, Roll, and Auto however, are not buying Dr. Wily's story, even the the so-called "video evidence". Mega Man and Rush set out to clear Dr. Light's name and in the process, must defeat Dr. Light's newest series of Robot Masters. One of the Robot Masters drops a memory chip and the good guys view the information on it. A video is shown of the memory that the Robot Master had, and Dr. Wily has approached Dr. Light's robots, warning them that by human law, their lives will come to an end, as robots have to be deactivated after a certain length of time after their activation. In the robots' desperation, they ask Wily to keep them alive and want to still be useful to humans. Dr. Wily happily obliges them. Once again, Dr. Wily is revealed to be the true enemy and Mega Man must track him down and clear Dr. Light's name once and for all.
Gameplay: 10/10: Just like in the original games, upon starting up the main game, the player has eight different to levels to select from, each indicated by a mugshot of the corresponding Robot Master's face. The game plays like Mega Man 1 and 2, meaning that the charge and slide abilities have been totally nixed (for Mega Man, anyway, but I'll get into that later). Rush is still back however, and the shop makes a return and is much improved than it's Mega Man 8 incarnation. Enemies now drop bolts and you can also revisit stages to pick up large bolts that are scattered around. At the end of each stage awaits a boss, one of the Robot Masters. Each Robot Master has their own unique weapon and when beaten, Mega Man will obtain that weapon for future use. The Robot Masters are all weak to another Robot Masters' weapon, so it's essentially a game of rock (no pun intended), paper, scissors. Upon defeating all of the Robot Masters, you'll gain access to Wily's fortress. Wily's fortress, like in every previous Mega Man game, is a series of set stages and you have no opportunity so save in between. The great thing about the controls of this game is that you have to hold the Wii Remote sideways, so it greatly resembles a NES controller, a welcome feeling for most classic Mega Man fans. Along the way, you can pick up energy tanks, though you'll be buying most of them in the shop, as well as free lives, a Beat call (which summons Beat when you're about to fall into a pit, and he'll save you), an M tank (which refills your health and every weapon energy), a spike protector, and an armor upgrade. You also start off with the Rush Coil and later on, earn the Rush Jet.
Mega Man 9 comes with some great downloadable content. You can download Proto Man, who has the charge and slide abilities, as well as the ability to deflect certain attacks with his shield. To make him a little less underpowered, he takes double the damage that Mega Man does. You can also purchase the special stage, and the Endless Attack stage. Endless Attack is exactly what it says. You have to go through a never-ending series of small stages. You have no extra lives and can not gain anymore. Dying once means that it's over. Every 30 screens in Endless Attack, you'll have to fight a Robot Master. After so many more screens, you'll take more and more damage from enemy attacks, to the point that eventually one hit will kill you. You can also do time attack on stages and if you get a good enough, you can make it onto the leaderboards (assuming the hackers haven't filled it all up yet). The game also features a large number of achievements, such as beating the game in under a certain time, beating the game without Mega Man's helmet (which causes him to take more damage), beating the game without dying, and the lamented Mr. Perfect challenge, where one has to complete the entire game without getting hit once. This helps add a ton of replay value, so you won't likely be putting this addictive game down anytime soon.
Audio: 10/10: Thankfully, gone is the heavily uninspired Mega Man 8 soundtrack, as well as the abysmal voice acting. The game is chock full of catchy tunes, so much so that it rivals the popularity of Mega Man 2. You may often find yourselves humming the tunes just as you did back then. It all fairly fast and it's the sort of music that gets you pumped up, and the sound bytes greatly mimic those found on the Nintendo Entertainment System games. The music in this game is everything you'd expect in a Mega Man game. Upbeat, catchy, and totally rockin'. One of the songs is even a remix of Wood Man's theme from Mega Man 2. They knew what the fans wanted here and made sure to deliver. They even went so far as to release an official soundtrack, as well as an official Arrange soundtrack, so the ones on that album sound much more modernized instead of chip tunes.
Graphics: 10/10: Thank you Capcom! You've realized that classic Mega Man should stay 8-bit. The sprites are akin to those on the NES, while at the same time, having a very nice polish to them, especially the levels and environments. They went for short, drawn cut scenes instead of flashy anime stuff like they did in Mega Man 8. They tried their absolute hardest to make it look like this game was a game on the NES, even adding a sprite flicker option. The fans begged for, and Capcom delivered it. It was a major success and still is, and here's hoping that the rest of the classic franchise will be in 8-bit style as well!
Overall: 10/10: Mega Man 9 is a return to Mega Man's roots, providing the same fun, yet challenging gameplay. Mega Man 9 proved that sometimes, the old way is the best way. The graphics don't have to be realistic to make a game fun. While some would prefer a Mega Man game with current gen graphics, most of us who've been paying video games as a whole since the NES era would prefer that games focus more on gameplay and less on graphics. Ironically, the scaled-back graphics helped the gameplay in this game and was met with a major success overall, big enough to warrant a sequel in the same vein as this one. This game is currently available for Wii-ware on the Wii Shop channel for a measly $10, if you don't want the DLC, which is also pretty cheap. It's an investment you will definitely want to make if you're a fan of the classic franchise, so go ahead and buy it!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/10
Game Release: Mega Man 9 (US, 09/22/08)
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