It's been a long time since Mega Man has ventured out to thwart the evil of Dr. Wily. A lot has changed since his last outing, the biggest thing being former series director Keiji Inafune leaving Capcom to forge his own path. So while there's some enthusiasm over Mega Man 11, there's understandably some skepticism over whether this newest iteration of the game will live up to its predecessors.
Shacknews had a chance to go hands-on with the latest Mega Man game at E3 2018. While the Blue Bomber may be sporting an updated, modernized look, the pure spirit of Mega Man looks to be firmly in place. On top of that, there are a few new ideas that look to help the series stand apart.
The first thing to note is that even with the modern art style, this is Mega Man as fans remember him. The classic platforming stages, enemies, and mechanics are still present. Players can still jump, charge their Mega Buster, and slide underneath obstacles. There's even a dedicated button for Rush, meaning there's no more going into the pause menu to select the helpful robo-pup.
So what's changed? The biggest change is the Double Gear system, which is tied to a completely new meter. The Speed Gear slows down time, allowing players to safely approach certain obstacles or tricky jumps. There are multiple gaps where falling objects can bonk Mega Man in mid-jump, causing him to fall to his doom in that classic, trolling 8-bit fashion. The Speed Gear should help those without those catlike reflexes. But the Speed Gear also opens up some new ideas, like creating certain enemies with the mechanic in mind. Block Man's stage, for example, has a pesky rolling foe whose outer shell protects him from damage. There's only a small opening to take him out, which means using the Speed Gear to leave his inner squishy weak spot exposed for a longer period.
The Power Gear is used for two charged Mega Buster shots. While there doesn't seem to be as much of a utility function for this as the Speed Gear, Power does have its uses. A portion of Block Man's stage puts multiple breakable blocks on a conveyor belt, only giving Mega Mega a small amount of time to escape. The Power Gear can take out more blocks and give Mega Man more of a chance to make it out of these sequences unharmed. It's also useful against mini-bosses, like the pesky stacker bot in Fuse Man's stage. If his face is lined up at just the right angle, power up and let her rip.
But Mega Man isn't the only one using the Gear system and that leads to another idea for the series that was a long time coming. Both Block Man and Fuse Man had three distinct phases to their boss battle. Gone are the days of a Robot Master repeating his same pattern until death. Damage the boss enough and he'll utilize one of the Gears. Block Man uses the Power Gear to create a behemoth version of himself, while Fuse Man uses the Speed Gear to warp around the chamber at blinding speed. Get through this phase and the Robot Masters will opt for a beefed-up version of their original attack pattern.
Taking Robot Master abilities is just as it has been through the other Mega Man games. However, these abilities can also be stacked with the Power Gear. The Power Gear unleashes a more powerful version of the Robot Master powers. Think of it is as similar to the Mega Man X mechanic, where X could also charge up Maverick abilities to unleash their full potential.
There's just enough that's new here to make Mega Man 11 feel exciting, but there are so many classic elements in place that series veterans will feel right at home. And so far, they're executed well enough that they should help this game fit right in with the rest of the series.
Mega Man 11 is set to release on October 2 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The Switch version will also have an Amiibo Edition that contains an all-new Mega Man amiibo.