Mega Man 10 Review
When I played Mega Man 10 at Capcomís CES game showcase back in January, the first thought that crossed my mind was how damned tough it was. It was a sentiment I shared with the Capcom folks, and undoubtedly one theyíd been hearing all day. I knew the game wouldnít be easy, of course. I played Mega Man 9 when it came out, and countless other Mega Manís in the series (To this day, I havenít beat Mega Man Xís 4-6). But, despite all that, itís still a bit embarrassing when youíre getting rocked (repeatedly) by a fiveish-minute long demo in front of some PR reps. Thatís right, kidsóMega Manís back, and, as usual, Capcom isnít pulling any punches. With all the games around these days that revel in hand-holding and making things easy on the player, MM10 continues the series tradition by mercilessly owning you at every turn.
The stage Capcom was demoing was Strike Manís, a stadium level thatís actually one of the easier ones in the game. The most difficult part of Strike Manís domain is probably the mini-boss, a giant robot who likes to throw soccer balls and paralyze you with his hands, which, as you might imagine, is a challenge. There are also many other notable designs from MM10 that will kill you many times. Sandstorms that fly across Commando Manís level obscure platforming sections (as in everything is sand except Mega Man himself) and at times push you backwards or forwards into spikes, with your only recourse being to run in the opposite direction and hope youíre not going to run off the platform. Nitro Man is hard enough to beat, even when using the mega buster heís weak against, but his level also has a number of timing challenges that force you to jump up and over fast moving, on-coming vehicles, while petulant little flying irritants shoot at you, throwing your timing off, and generally being very hard to kill. The gameís mini-bosses can be irritating, as in Strike Manís stage, to downright viciousóalthough thereís nothing quite as bad as, say, the mechanical elephants from Concrete Manís level in MM9. Of course, MM10ís finale outdoes still itself, throwing enough challenge at you to test even the most seasoned gamer.
However, despite the series pedigree, Capcom has thrown the less hardcore types a bone, including an easy mode (for the first time!) for those who want to get a taste of the old-school design, just at a fraction of the would-be costóbe it to your sanity, television or controller. Basically the game on easy is exactly how you would expect it to beóenemies are slower and fewer in numbers (or changed altogether) and bosses arenít nearly as difficult. There are also platforms above almost every deadly surface in the game (although not some where you might expect), making this mode a cakewalk. There are fewer instances of immediate death this time around and the level design does seem slightly less sadistic (whether or not this was so it would be easier to put platforms everywhere or not is unknown), but MM10, on normal at least, is still by no means easy. Memorization and patience are the key here, particularly when it comes to navigating some of the sections I outlined above, some of which youíll need to play for hours before you can master the timing necessary to get through them without much trouble. And if you want to get your hands on the coveted (and might I add, completely insane) trophy (or achievement) awarded only to masochistic gamers who beat the game without getting hit? Good luck with thatóI wonder if that awardís been given out to anyone anywhere.
But, then again, thatís what weíre all here for. You donít play a game like Mega Man 10 for fun in a typical senseóyou play it to challenge yourself, as well as the game. Itís the same reason people love Contra, or flocked to Demonís Souls because they want to triumph over extreme cases of adversity. And in that regard, MM10 works very well. If youíre into old school gamesóand if youíre not, youíre probably not even reading this reviewóyou will find yourself getting into the level design here, slowly making your way through each stage, besting all the little challenges you encounter until that proud moment you can make it all the way through to a boss encounter in one life, if youíve been hit at all.
Rounding out the package, Capcom elected to include Proto Man, Mega Manís brother as a playable character from the get-go (rather than as DLC in the previous installment). Playing as Proto Man is also challenging, since he takes double the damage per hit as the blue bomber does, but he makes up for it by having a shield to deflect projectiles when jumping, the ability to charge his mega buster and slide, which can help with bosses (interestingly, beating the game with Proto Man wonít yield a score on the gameís internet rankings). Still, itís one more way you can get your struggle on. After all, the most hardcore challenges are the ones that are completely thankless.