Friday, December 19, 2008

look at us we are finally writing about megaman

I know I normally try to tie my game reviews into some larger theme, but I can’t do that with Mega Man 9. Mega Man 9 isn’t going to create controversy, and it isn’t going to make the case for games as art. This is a game that just wants to be a game, dammit, and that’s quite fine with me.

The original Mega Man series is one that got less fun as it moved further away from its roots. The second and third games of the series are generally considered its best, and the seventh and eighth its nadir. There are a lot of factors here – beginning with the introduction of the slide in the third game and the charge shot (!!!) in the fourth, more and more upgrades were heaped upon Our Hero until beating the games presented only a shadow of the challenge it once did. Even the latter-day NES games are not as poorly regarded as the SNES and PlayStation entries in the series, though, and this was mostly because the engines used for later games just didn’t play as well as their predecessor. Part of Mega Man’s appeal is its pixel-perfect shooting and platforming, something that was hard to replicate with the rounded, “kiddy” graphics of the later entries. Some franchises couldn’t get the move from 2D to 3D right – Mega Man couldn’t even jump from 8 bits to 16. Intrepid fans took the trouble to remake the seventh game in the style of the first six - see here for more, as well as side-by-side examples of what I'm talking about.

Mega Man 9 brings back that original, tried-and-tested game engine and adds to it music, level and enemy design on par with the best the classic series had to offer – this is the sort of thing that you either like or don't. If you like it, good news! It’s a blast to play, and you have no excuse not to. If you hate it, that’s too bad, because it has made Capcom a ton of money and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next nine games in the series take the same course. Because if there’s one thing Capcom is good at, it’s milking franchises that make money with endless uninspired clones!