Mega Man 10
2008’s Mega Man 9 seemed – beyond the immediate gimmick of its 8-bit stylings – to have one sole purpose: it wanted to be very, very difficult, recreating the atmosphere of the earliest titles in the series from the NES days. While it was enjoyable to experience the elaborate sadism Capcom’s designers are still clearly capable of delivering even in the modern age, the experience lacked a certain amount of staying power as frustrating, borderline-unfair deaths and obstructions left mastery of the game a prospect that, for many, became too daunting to shoot for.
Mega Man 10 is a rather different prospect. Though it’s still no cakewalk, running through the main game in Normal mode as plain vanilla Mega Man won’t take a week of dedicated play – it’s more like a full weekend. However, there are plenty of other little ways to fiddle the experience to tailor it to any level of difficulty you like. Mega Man’s ‘brother’ Proto Man, for example, is now available from the off, and while he takes double the damage and is knocked twice as far back as Mega Man when hit, his slide move, chargeable weapon and crucially important shield (which is activated when he jumps), make an arguably more attractive proposition for a first-time run-through.
And then there’s the much-discussed Easy mode, which, as deftly illustrated on the select screen, adds safety platforms to many of the crueller falls, and messes about with enemy placement. We noticed it also seems to alter the strength and behaviour of bosses, and it’s easy mode that really serves to turn Mega Man 10 into an enjoyable, hour-long blast that feels fun to come back to again and again.
The levels themselves are fun places to hang out for all the same reasons you’d expect from Mega Man, but it’s a triumph in itself that they’re still all present and correct for a tenth time. Tricky jumps, ladder-climbing, power-up collecting and learning how to take out the game’s myriad enemies are all the order of the day, and the levels are all themed (often hilariously loosely) around the boss of each. Said robot masters are a cute and funny mix of inspired imagination or, at worst, slightly barrel-scraping kitsch (we’re looking at the inexplicable Sheep Man, who turns into thunder clouds and could simply have been called Lightning Man).
With a save system that effectively only returns you to the beginning of each five-minute-long stage after each Game Over and a well-constructed shop between levels, Mega Man 10 has all the relevant mod cons to make the contemporary gamer feel quite welcome.
Whereas Mega Man 9 offered Proto Man as DLC shortly after release, he’s already there from the off, as you’ll know by now. This time it’s the 8-bit debut of Bass. Created by evil Dr Wily as a foil for our blue buddy, Bass is so obsessed with defeating Mega Man that he’ll often turn on Wily if he feels it’s getting in the way of his ambition. His single-minded powers will include a more rapidly firing weapon that’s full aimable. Oh yeah, and he can fly… sort of.
The Challenges option adds longevity and a more modern twist, comprising a series of 88 tasks to complete in often specially built levels. They’ll range from completing a series of tough jumps to defeating a boss with a preset loadout, and they’re delightfully moreish.