Megaman 10. That’s 10 Megamen. Actually, more like 50 or so, but hearing news that last year’s retro revisit of the classic franchise is getting a sequel brought joy and happiness to this anime blogger. There’s a lot of positivity and negativity floating around because of the announcement, and I want to just talk a little about it, go through some of the things that pop up in my head when I read these conversations.
The Megaman series is very special to me. If I had to pick a favorite classic NES series, the Blue Bomber’s exploits would be it. I even wrote an entire post about it where I talked about the way its graphics affected me.
Two of the most frequent criticisms I saw leveled towards Megaman 9 were that its mode of play and concept of difficulty was a relic of older times that should have stayed buried and that it was a cheap cash grab that fell back on a tried-and-true formula with little innovation and a gimmick to tug at older player’s feelings of nostalgia. While there’s no way to play Megaman 10 at this point, it’s a fairly safe bet that the former complaint will resurface, while the latter’s already being tossed about.
Is there any merit to these criticisms? Well sure, Megaman‘s idea of difficulty falls under the banner of “NES-difficult,” an unofficial term which describes the days where games could be brutal and unforgiving and would often require you to play many times over before you started to get the hang of it. Megaman was particularly cruel. Whereas a game like Super Mario Bros. would place an item somewhere in order to give you some respite, Megaman had a somewhat frequent tendency to deceive, placing items as bait to lure you into inescapable death traps. That’s how Dr. Wily rolled, and whether you could handle that or not was key to whether or not you enjoyed those games.
As for the whole cash-grab thing, I can totally believe that, but that doesn’t diminish the amount of effort that was put into 9 and that I assume will be put into 10. It’s also easy to attack the use of 8-bit sprites as a “gimmick,” but when you actually sit down with a Megaman game you realize just how significant the graphics are towards the gameplay. Yes, what I’m saying is that in this case graphics matter, just not the advancement of graphics. And this is coming from someone who played the hell out of Megaman 8 on his Sega Saturn. I loved how bright and lush that game was, I loved how hitting the bosses with their weaknesses would cause unique effects and animations. I even tolerated the JUMP JUMP SLIDE SLIDE rocketboard sections. But when I went back to the NES Megaman games and Megaman 9, I could really feel the difference that those simple (yet still very good-looking) 8-bit graphics made. They were graphics that assisted the gameplay immensely. Same goes for the music. Try as they might, I’ve never heard a remix of an NES Megaman song that I liked more than the original, and that includes live bands like “The Advantage.” They’re songs that work best as video game music.
Megaman 9 was a look back at things that the series did right. While constantly moving forward in the name of progress is great and all, sometimes a look backwards can be just as important, as it can teach you what to keep and what to discard. Many people called it the best Megaman since 2 and I’m inclined to agree.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to Megaman 10. I hope they make Protoman more unique, rather than just him being the “challenge” character, and I’m eager to see who the third playable character will be. Maybe it’ll be Roll, hot off her victory over Gold Lightan. Or maybe it’ll be Bass making his first non-cameo 8-bit appearance. Better yet, let’s get some multiplayer up in here. If New Super Mario Bros. Wii can do it, why not?