Monday, May 3, 2010

A Quick Look: Mega Man 10

Megaman10 Well, Capcom’s done it again. And, of course, by “done it again” I mean “released another Mega Man game that looks and plays an awful lot like a game they did more than two decades ago.”

The new game comes on the heels of 2008’s Mega Man 9, and is built from many of the same parts – the graphics, music and gameplay are ripped directly from old Nintendo games, the product is download-only, and it’s being marketed using intentionally bizarre box art (pictured right). At some point, you’ve got to wonder – what’s new about this, anyway?

Astonishingly little, really – classic Mega Man isn’t so much a game series as it is a recipe. Combine finely-tuned gameplay with 8-bit graphics in large bowl with whisk. Add chiptune music and so-predictable-it’s-hilarious plot twist, spread evenly in lightly greased 9x9-inch pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

You reliably get a Mega Man game every time, and it will look and smell and taste like a Mega Man game every time. The main difference between outings is the quality of ingredients used – for Mega Man 9, Capcom and developer Inti Creates looked to the cake that was Mega Man 2 for inspiration, and by using only the finest ingredients they managed to whip up a damn fine dessert. They must have bought off-brand when they made Mega Man 10, though – the series mainstays are all here, as always, but the music seems less catchy, the levels seem less ingenious, and the whole enterprise leaves one full but ultimately less than satisfied, much like eating a Double Down.

Mega Man 9’s retro stylings were a breath of fresh air after the series’ twelve-year hiatus, not just because 9 was an excellent implementation of the well-worn Mega Man formula but because absence makes the heart grow fonder. Mega Man 10 isn’t a bad game by any means, but it is in every way inferior to its immediate predecessor.

If you’re not a fan, though, don’t expect Mega Man 10 to open your eyes - at this point, anyone who plays games has made up his or her mind about Mega Man. There is a faction of gamers (myself included) who will put down cash money for these games for as long as they keep coming out – if you’re one of those, you own it already. If not, move along. Nothing to see here.