|Release Date:||September 2008|
Words like excited, ecstatic, and absolutely enthralled describe how I felt when Mega Man 9 was finally announced! After more than an eleven-year hiatus since the release of MM8, a new entry in Capcom's classic Mega Man series was really coming our way! And it was worth every second of waiting because Mega Man 9 is an outstanding game! Featuring 8-bit graphics and sound along with gritty, old-school gameplay, the ninth Mega Man game was an absolute dream for gamers who had grown up playing the Blue Bomber's NES exploits back in the late-80s and early-90s. And not only was MM9 beyond even my wildest expectations; it was the game that truly kicked off the Retro Revolution!
Overview: Even if you have only taken a glance at my NES Nostalgia section, you have a pretty good idea of just how fond I am of that wonderful system along with the countless memories that are attached to any discussion of that particular era. So you can only imagine my incredible surprise and delight when I first discovered that, not only was Capcom finally creating a new Mega Man game for the original series but they had decided to make it in the old NES style! I simply could not believe my eyes when I saw the first few screenshots of MM9...with NES graphics! In an era with incredibly realistic 3D graphics, movie-quality sound, and involved, complicated controls, Capcom was busy creating what was essentially a brand new NES game?! It was just too impossible, too surreal, and possibly crazy enough that it just might work.
What actually gave Capcom the opportunity to undergo a project of this nature was the advent of downloadable games. Modern consoles like the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, and XBox 360 all have downloadable services which allow you to essentially download video games for a nominal fee. By reducing costs greatly for video game companies (e.g. not having to create boxes/cartridges/CDs and pay distribution costs among other things), you suddenly had a very unique situation brewing. Various licensees could easily take on more risk and really think outside the box when creating new video games. Since the risk was so miniscule, you were suddenly seeing a lot of very innovative/intuitive games appear on services like the Wiiware.
And one of the first games to really make a splash in this environment was none other than Mega Man 9. It was the perfect storm really. Capcom had actually been thinking about making a new Mega Man game in the classic mold for quite some time. But how could this work from a financial standpoint? Who would pay $40-50 for what was essentially a new 8-bit game? Well, thanks to the current situation, Capcom could now proceed to make Mega Man 9 and with the greatly reduced costs, only charged us gamers a simple $15 fee. How cool is that? You simply couldn't beat a scenario like this. And Mega Man fans along with classic retro gaming fans absolutely gobbled this offer up like hotcakes!
Regarding the gameplay itself, Mega Man 9 feels a lot like Mega Man 2 for the NES. From the simple graphics to the dated yet awesome music, MM9 absolutely screams nostalgia. Even the control scheme is virtually a carbon copy of the second Mega Man game. The slide is eliminated in this game as is the Mega Buster. It is almost as if you are playing a long-lost Mega Man game that fits somewhere between the second and third Mega Man classics instead of a direct sequel to Mega Man 8.
While the gameplay has been antiquated, Mega Man 9 does retain all of the characters from MM8 (save for Bass who seems to be lost in translation somewhere) along with the neato shop and bolt system (which resembles the one in MM7 in which you receive bolts from defeated enemies versus collecting hidden bolts like in MM8). Dr. Light, Roll, Rush, Beat, and Eddie/Fliptop are all in MM9 along with a really cool 8-bit sprite of Auto. And the shop is a blast to use as you can purchase valuable energy tanks, mystery tanks (similar to the M-tanks from MM5 with a twist), and Beat and Eddie calls along with other goodies. So while the ninth Mega Man installment is as classic as they come, it does maintain a nice sense of continuity. Make no mistake about it; this game is indeed a direct sequel to Mega Man 8.
Graphics: Anyone who grew up in the mid-to-late 80s will shed a few sentimental tears when playing this game for sure. Seriously, the simplistic yet wonderful 8-bit graphics look like something ripped directly out of the NES era. It is truly a sight for sore (and nostalgic) eyes! From the simple color scheme to the simple animation to the simple backgrounds; everything just reeks of simplicity in this game. And that's certainly not a bad thing...quite the contrary really. It was really special to have the opportunity to play a new NES game! Although we all love the incredible visuals found in today's newest games, there's something to be said for revisiting the past and remembering how things used to be. And being reminded that simplicity in itself is a pretty good thing...and that it's truly the gameplay that drives a game.
From a critical standpoint, I thought that Capcom did a very nice job overall. Everything just feels really crisp and tidy in regards to the old-school graphics and the attention to detail is impressive as always. The color scheme is different for every level and the variety/diversity, which was so important even back in 1989, was very good in MM9. Some of the new gimmicks like the moving ledges in Jewel Man's stage and the spinning platforms in Tornado Man's domain were executed very well and the attention to detail was, as always, fantastic. I thought that the sun beams shining through the water in Splash Woman's level along with the ability to walk behind small patches of grass in Concrete Man's facility were a nice touch. Granted, I wish that the background graphics could have been a little more detailed but that's just me.
I do love how Keiji Inafune (the creator of the Mega Man series and producer of MM9) really encouraged the MM9 team to limit themselves in this game and to act as if they were dealing with the same 8-bit limitations that existed back in the late 80s. As a result, a lot of ideas got thrown out because; well, they couldn't be executed in the NES era! Pretty wild, huh?
Music: One of the most impressive aspects of Mega Man 9, without a doubt, has to be the incredible music! I was very intrigued when I learned that the music and sound effects in MM9 would be done in the old 8-bit style and I couldn't help but wonder if this game could live up to the lofty standards set by the previous eight games. Well, you can rest easy my friend because the music throughout MM9 is awesome!
And when I say awesome, I mean the jaw-dropping, "Are you kidding me?" variety! Virtually every single track that plays in this game is phenomenal! Rich melodies and rockin' beats are commonplace throughout MM9 and rival the best Mega Man games out there. And that, my friend, is saying something. Seriously, if the nostalgia factor was a non-factor for me, I might be tempted to place this soundtrack in the same category as MM2 and 3. It's that good!
So good in fact that I'm not even sure where to start in my critique to be honest! Hmm...for starters, the intro track that plays during the game's opening story gives you a good idea of what to expect. From the explosions ravaging the city to the MM2-esque beat that plays in Dr. Light's laboratory, you instantly feel as if you took a turn somewhere and winded up back in 1989. The brief title theme is very fitting as well.
Regarding the main game, you can pretty much take your pick. Like the great Mega Man games of old, you could choose almost any track in the game as your personal favorite and it would make perfect sense to me. Tornado Man's upbeat, friendly tune (love that whistle!) is a good choice as is Jewel Man's underground theme. The latter track reminded me a lot of the African Mines theme from the Ducktales NES Classic! I thought that this was a nice touch and perhaps a respective nod to another fantastic classic.
Other personal favorites of mine include the Hornet Man, Splash Woman, and Plug Man themes. All three tunes feature very catchy melodies and are superb in every way! I absolutely adore the Hornet Man theme and feel that it is one of the very best tracks in the game. And Splash Woman's calm, relaxing ditty fit her underwater stage beautifully. Heck, even the Galaxy Man, Magma Man, and Concrete Man tunes were impressive. Galaxy Man's track was very fast-paced and had a very unique feel for a Mega Man tune (in a great way!) and the first part of Concrete Man's theme will instantly remind longtime fans of Wood Man's theme from MM2. The Magma Man track is just as good and was just very pleasant on the ears. Seriously, all eight robot master stages feature fantastic music! There are no average tunes in this game folks!
Which brings us to the Wily stages. I was very curious what these particular stages would sound like since the last NES game (Mega Man 6) kind of let me down in this regard. Well, no need to worry because Capcom truly delivered the goods in MM9. The first Wily stage is heroic, adrenaline-pumping, and absolutely perfect for setting the tone for the latest Skull Castle! I was so happy when I heard this music for the first time; you could even make a pretty good argument that this was the best Wily Stage 1 theme since; you guessed it: Mega Man 2. The lightning/thunder effects about halfway through the stage gave me goosebumps to be honest. It was too perfect and brutally awesome (if that makes any sense)! The following tracks didn't disappoint either. Wily Stage 2 is upbeat and somewhat Ninja Gaiden-esque and certainly keeps the juices flowing (a lot of MM9 fans swear that this tune is the best one in the game) while the Wily Stage 3 theme shows a little more urgency and gives you the feeling that you are possibly getting close to the end. Even Wily Stage 4, possibly the weakest original track in the game, is very fitting for that particular level.
Even the final battle music along with the ending themes are fantastic! I really enjoyed the credits track in particular and the music was a big reason for this. The Special Stage and Endless Challenge tunes that played in some of the DLC (Downloadable Content) were impressive and appropriate as well...particularly the Special Stage tune! It was basically a medley of several stage themes blended into one track. I love it! All I can say is that Capcom could simply do no wrong as far as the original music goes in MM9.
I should mention that several very short tunes that were used in Mega Man 2 were re-used in MM9. The main selection menu, robot master selection music, and Skull Castle themes were ripped directly from MM2. This was a mixed bag actually. While some of those tunes like the robot master selection were great choices, a few others were actually a little annoying! This is a very minor issue though.
Lastly, the sound effects in this game were your standard NES fare but were impressive nonetheless. From the clanking sound you hear when you land on the ground to the wonderful sound of blasting away enemies, all of the sounds you hear will certainly bring back some memories. Some of the special weapons in particular sounded really good like when you charged up the Magma Shooter or shot hornets at enemies (loved the bee sound!) I was very pleased anyway.
Play Control: If you have played any of the classic NES Mega Man games, particularly Mega Man 1 and 2, you know exactly what to expect in the controls department. Just remember that you can no longer slide or charge up your Mega Buster (unless you play the game as Protoman) and you'll be fine. While the basic controls might frustrate some fans of the series, you'll get the hang of things MM2-style in no time! Rush is still there to help (you have Rush Coil at the beginning of the game and eventually snag the Rush Jet) and the special weapons in this game are simply amazing! I love how you can control the Black Hole Bomb by holding up or down on the d-pad and then pressing the fire button to unleash it! The Hornet Chasers, Jewel Satellite (easily the best shield weapon in the series), and Tornado Blow (blows enemies off the screen and allows you to jump higher as you fire it) are all a blast to use as well. Heck, even Mega Man's "grip" on the edges of platforms is better than in the first two Mega Man games (where slippage was a slight problem). This especially comes in handy considering how many death-defying jumps you have to make in this game. The controls are as simple as they come but are darn near perfect in the process.
Challenge: What did you expect? An easy game? Not to be outdone by the retro graphics and sound, the challenge level of Mega Man 9 is old-school as well. This game can be very challenging at times and has brought grown gamers to their knees! Many video game fans have even claimed that Mega Man 9 is the most challenging game that they have ever played! Now that's quite the profound statement if I do say so myself.
So...are you intimidated yet? Well, if you do happen to be scared silly and out of your mind right now, you can rest easy because I honestly feel that the ninth Mega Man game has a great balance in this regard. While it is one of the more challenging games in the series, I really don't think it is as brutal as the first Mega Man game and there certainly isn't a boss battle as evil as the Wily fight in Mega Man 7. So I would say that not only is MM9 not the toughest game ever made; it's probably the third hardest game in its own series! Apparently, some gamers have not played the rest of the Mega Man series or many games from the NES/SNES era that tended to really test a gamer's mettle. While MM9 is a tough cookie, I can think of a lot of games that are more challenging than this.
With that being said, however, you do need to be prepared to really work for everything in Mega Man 9. There are a lot of endless chasms and dreaded spikes that you'll have to navigate in this game...along with countless enemies, often placed in just the right spots to wreck havoc (some of the mets are truly evil in MM9). Even the elements can be a factor like in Tornado Man's stage where you have to meticulously jump from tiny platform to tiny platform...with the rain/wind affecting your jumping abilities and spinning umbrellas trying to ambush you from behind the clouds. You get the idea.
Some of the new gimmicks like the hanging platforms in Jewel Man's stage that you can only move by running left or right on them (oftentimes with spikes and near-impossible jumps lurking near them) along with the spinning red and blue "capsules" in Tornado Man's domain can be a bit tricky at first, but you get a feel for them in time. The boss battles can be very tough as well; especially if you try to fight them straight up (i.e. with your regular blaster). Shots from your default gun cause only one section of life to disappear from your enemies' life bar which means you have to be a true ace to beat them.
The saving grace is that there is a shop in MM9 where you can purchase valuable commodities like energy tanks which can prove to be the difference in the game's more difficult stages. Basically, if you are patient enough and meticulous enough, you stand a very good chance at doing well in this game. If you're stuck and need help, take the time to fight enemies for bolts so that you can purchase items as you need them. And if you can't make a super-hard jump or beat a mini-boss, remember that practice makes perfect! Keep trying until you get it (or until your controller finds a permanent home in your living room wall; whichever happens first).
One really cool aspect of Mega Man 9's challenge level is that it never really ends...even after beating the game! The game has fifty built-in challenges (e.g. defeating a certain number of enemies or beating the game without continuing) and you have to accomplish some pretty crazy stuff to even sniff the lofty 100% ranking! One challenge in particular is so over-the-top (beating the game without getting hit) that I seriously doubt I will ever complete all of the challenges. Still, it's a lot of fun to really challenge yourself to completely master this game inside and out.
In addition, there's the DLC to consider. Aside from the main game itself, Mega Man 9 offers a Special Stage, the Endless Challenge, Protoman mode, and even higher difficulty options such as the Hero and Superhero modes! The Special Stage is basically a timed challenge where you try to make it past a really cool stage set in the city which contains enemies and mini-bosses from throughout the main game. And if you're able to make it past all of that in one piece, you get to take on a fairly tough special boss!
And the Endless Challenge. Wow...the Endless Challenge. I have spent many hours playing what is essentially exactly what its name suggests. With all of your special weapons in tow, you simply play through a random assortment of areas (fighting bosses along the way) until you lose a life. The game keeps track of your progress by using screens as a measuring stick and as you make it through more and more screens, the challenge level slowly increases. You'll start to take more and more damage from enemy attacks until one or two hits is enough to wipe you out! It is actually a lot of fun and surprisingly addictive! I actually had the game of a lifetime shortly after the Endless Challenge became available in late 2008. Not that I want to put a shameless plug in my review of Mega Man 9, but if you would like to actually see my journey into the Top 10 Leaderboard, click here! This is the first of a whole slew of short videos I posted on YouTube! I was just having such an incredible run that I wanted to chronicle it somehow. So there you go. :)
Shameless plugs aside, having the opportunity to play the game as Protoman was another really cool option! Unlike Mega Man, Protoman has the ability to slide and charge up his shot which was pretty cool. He can even use his shield to deflect bullets! Unfortunately, he isn't able to take many hits at all due to his lousy defense (You would think someone with a shield could take more hits but what do I know?) which definitely balances things out. If you consider yourself a true Mega Man pro, try to beat the game with Protoman. It's a lot harder than it looks!
Storyline: It isn't epic, revolutionary, or totally gripping but at least Mega Man 9's story gave us a brand new Mega Man game. What more can be said than that? Like with most Mega Man games, Capcom didn't really put much of an emphasis on this game's story. However, there are actually more cut scenes in MM9 than most of the classic NES games which was pretty cool. Granted, it isn't exactly Xenosaga material but remember, this is basically an NES game that we are talking about. For what it was, I thought that Capcom did an okay job.
Basically, all you need to know is that sometime after the events that transpired in Mega Man 8, eight of Dr. Light's newest robotic creations suddenly go crazy and start attacking the city! This is surprising considered the fact that these are indeed Dr. Light's robots and not your typical Dr. Wily creations. And while Mega Man and Dr. Light are trying to make some sense out of this, Dr. Wily suddenly makes a worldwide broadcast and claims that he had nothing to do with this situation (yeah...sure). Wily even goes so far as to show a secret video he took in which Dr. Light reveals his plans to take over the world with Wily of all people saying he wants no part of that! How crazy is that?!
What follows is even more insane. Dr. Wily actually has the gall to ask for donations so that he can build robots to fight Dr. Light's creations. Personally, I think that Wily was just trying to get out of debt with all of his multi-million dollar Skull Castles crumbling to the ground from MM2-MM8 but that's just me. In any case, the world quickly turns on Dr. Light (absolutely ridiculous considering that Light's greatest creation has saved the world eight times...you would think that they might suspect Wily but no...stupid world) forcing Mega Man to clear the good doctor's name.
So there you go. All I can say is that this story allows us to play a ninth Mega Man game. And for that, I am truly grateful. Just don't expect anything epic or different than the norm and you'll be okay. I will say this though. The ending to MM9 is absolutely fantastic which kind of makes up for a pretty average story. Not to give anything away for those of you who might not have played this game yet, but I got such a kick out of the part where Mega Man says "And this time! ...and this time!" ;)
Funfactor: Mega Man 9 just isn't a very fun game. I was actually very disappointed that the gameplay was so uninspired and unoriginal and just came away from this experience with an utterly flat taste in my mouth. You would have expected more...especially coming from Capcom.
...JUST KIDDING!!! I am so sorry but I simply could not resist! After gushing about the classic Mega Man series over the previous eight reviews, I had to mix things up at least for a paragraph, eh? ;) In all seriousness and with all joking aside, Mega Man 9 is everything that I could have possibly hoped for and so much more! The gameplay really cooks in this game and, like the other top-tier games in the series, MM9 is a game that I find myself playing over and over again while still enjoying it as much as ever! And speaking of top-tier, I truly believe that the ninth Mega Man game is one of the very best games in the series. It has everything you could possibly want! Wonderful 8-bit graphics, an outstanding soundtrack, virtually perfect controls, and a challenge that will never, ever quit. The replay value is absolutely through the roof as well thanks to the plethora of game options, challenges lists, and Wi-Fi options such as the Time Attack and Endless Challenge modes where you can test your mettle against the rest of the world! Mega Man 9 honestly has no significant flaws. It is, without a doubt, the perfect example of a vintage Golden Classic!
Negatives: Like with most Mega Man games, the story has to be the weak link in Mega Man 9 as well. I wouldn't call it a bad story by any stretch but it just never really draws you in or gets all that intriguing or exciting. Perhaps the somewhat epic story in MM8 (along with those beautiful anime-style FMVs...less the voice acting of course) kind of spoiled me in this regard. At least Capcom placed a greater emphasis on the story in MM9 versus most previous games (they did include a nice amount of cut-scenes between stages after all).
Also, while the graphics in Mega Man 9 are very impressive for what they are, I thought that the background graphics in particular were pretty drab at times. Some of them are actually very good (the Tornado Man and Galaxy Man stages in particular) but you'll be seeing a lot of background colors like black and blue without much else (or anything else) accompanying them in many cases. And perhaps this was done on purpose by Capcom. Inafune really wanted to create a genuine, NES-style experience with MM9, so that could be the reason for this. However, do keep in mind that even the oldest Mega Man games featured some fantastic background graphics (the Metal Man stage from MM2 is a perfect example).
Ratings: Graphics: 4.2 Music: 4.9 Play Control: 4.9 Challenge: 4.8 Storyline: 3.8 Funfactor: 4.9 Overall Score: 27.5 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!
Back to Wii WondersLast Updated: February 19, 2011