Discussion Review: Mega Man 9

MegaMan9FauxBoxArt.jpg Matt: After the masterful Bionic Commando Rearmed, my anticipation for Mega Man 9 shot through the roof. Even though it’s a true retro-style sequel and not a remake like Rearmed, I expected the same level of greatness. As a staunch fan of all things Mega Man — like Bionic Commando, Zelda, Metal Gear and Mario it was one of the classic NES series that got me into gaming in my youth — it pains me to say that this ninth installment in the series has proven to be a tremendous disappointment for me.

So much about the game really is great. I love how Capcom went back to the series’ roots with the retro 8-bit graphics, nostalgic chiptune music and basic 2D platforming action. Let’s face it, the Mega Man franchise hasn’t been close to what it was since its NES glory days, so a return to the basics was a fantastic idea. I mean seriously, except for the brilliant Mega Man and Mega Man X PSP remakes I can’t recall a noteworthy installment since Mega Man 8 came out on the original PlayStation and Sega Saturn like 11 years ago now.

Mega Man 9 appeared poised to fill that void, but sadly one crucial flaw just kills the game for me. Maybe it’s just because the Xbox 360 D-pad is the most abominable piece of trash ever slapped onto a video game controller, but I found the game’s controls to be utter shit. Moving and jumping felt so imprecise to me that even the simplest of jumps were a pain and the trickier platform hopping sequences (of which there are many, as you’d expect in a Mega Man game) became an exercise in the most aggravating form of trial and error gameplay I’ve experienced in a game in a long time.

I know you are playing the PSN version, how does the game control with the PS3 pad? Having any of these same issues?

Zach: For a second I thought that this would be the first time we severely disagreed on a title. That was up until the point where I read that you played it for the 360. Knowing that I wanted controls as close to the Nintendo as possible, I went with the PS3 version as I was going back and forth between that and Uncharted at the time.

Honestly I think this Mega Man is great. I agree that all of the other games since Mega Man 8 have been lacking, however this really brings me back to my roots, as Mega Man 1 and 2 were two of my favorite games on my old NES. I have absolutely no issues with the controls as everything is tight and responsive, just like you need it to be for one of these twitchy platforming titles.

One thing that has bugged me somewhat, though, is the reuse of old characters from throughout the series. While I do like that they went back to the play style of the original Mega Man, I felt that including some of the same old traps and weapons from other titles was a little cheap. For example, the disappearing blocks from Iceman’s stage in MM1, or making Jewel Man’s special weapon another version of Wood Man’s leaf shield from MM2 (with a different graphic). The game is definitely challenging though. Probably the hardest Mega Man out of the series. It’s either that, or I’m just getting slower at my old age and more prone to drop into spikes or pits.

Matt: See, that’s what I was afraid of. It’s rare that a controller detracts from a game, but it clearly makes all the difference with Mega Man 9. That 360 d-pad is just so terrible, and using an analog stick for a game like this isn’t an ideal alternate option. I agree 100% that this is the toughest game in the series. Generally I’d like that, but the control issues combined with the masochistic difficulty made the game virtually unplayable for me.

Another thing that bothers me is Capcom’s DLC plan for the game. Five add-ons have been released adding in things like harder difficulty settings (as if the game wasn’t hard enough to begin with), playable Proto Man, and an Endless Attack mode. They are cheap add-ons, yes, but these types of basic options should’ve been included in the full game to begin with. To charge for extra difficulties is such a nickel-and-dime move on Capcom’s part. The game by itself is $10, but to get the true MM9 experience the total cost comes up to like $18. Bionic Commando Rearmed offered more content than MM9 with all its add-ons does and released in full for only $10. I don’t get it.

I hate to be so negative about Mega Man 9, as I’m a huge fan of the franchise and was all for the retro throwback style. If I had played the WiiWare or PSN versions I’d probably have a completely different viewpoint here — I’m sure they are fantastic, especially on WiiWare with a classic controller — but I have to review the version I played and unfortunately for me the XBLA version was a train wreck.

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Zach: One other thing that I wanted to mention was Mega Man 9‘s built-in challenge system. This is something separate from Xbox 360 achievements or PS3 trophies. Mega Man 9 has its own list of accomplishments such as finishing a level without dying or beating the game in under an hour. While nothing too significant, they do add an extra bit of replay value for serious completionist gamers.

Other than the complaints that I mentioned previously, I really don’t have anything else to be negative about. Sure the downloadable content is a cheap move on Capcom’s part, but honestly I don’t have any interest in playing the game through again on a harder difficulty or with Proto Man, so I guess that’s $8 that they won’t be getting from me.

Fortunately this is a downloadable title, so you readers out there don’t have to take our words for it as there is a demo you can try out prior to purchasing it. However, since you can’t actually rent this title, that leaves us with only two options, and if you’re considering Mega Man 9 for the PS3 or Wii I say make the $10 investment and have some retro NES-style fun. While it has a few flaws, reliving part of your youth while guiding Mega Man on a brand new 8-bit adventure is well worth the cost.

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Pros:
+ Nostalgia factor is overwhelming
+ Mega Man returns to his 8-bit, 2D platforming glory days
+ Most challenging Mega Man title in the series

Cons:
– Xbox 360 d-pad woes wreck the XBLA version
– Too much reuse of old enemies and weapons from previous games
– Add-ons seem more like a way to steal your money than provide lasting content

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on XBLA and PSN, also available on WiiWare
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Inti
Release Date: 9/22/08 (WiiWare), 9/25/08 (PSN), 10/1/08 (XBLA)
Genre: 2D Action/Platformer
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!