With the introduction of the Double Gear system, Mega Man 11 may be the most casual entry in the series. This doesn’t mean the game isn’t challenging, each level features tough jumps, precise timing, and overwhelming odds but with the ability to slow down time, players can make short work of almost every level as long as they’re patient and work to recognize patterns.
The series format remains unchanged, there are eight robot masters to destroy and this ultimately leads to a showdown with Dr. Wily through multiple levels. As in other entries in the series, the challenge is in the level design. Your reflexes will be tested as there are pits, spikes, and other obstacles in your path that can lead to some frustrating deaths. Precision is key, as any lazy attempts will lead to a quick death and if you arent careful, may lead to a full restart when you run out of lives.
Each robot master’s level has obstacles directly related to their character. The worst levels would be Acid Man and Bounce Man, as underwater levels require some incredible touch to navigate and bouncing off balls can be frustrating as you may find yourself launching to the wrong area. There are mini-bosses within each level, but their difficulty depends on whether or not you use the powers gained after defeating bosses. While the levels are challenging, the boss fights can be incredibly easy, especially if you choose to exploit their weakness. It can be somewhat disappointing because these bosses have multiple stages to them and they can be defeated before they hit that second or third stage.
The double-gear system is what ultimately makes this Mega Man the most user-friendly. There is a power gear, which will shoot two pellets at once and if charged will fire two mega shots at once. This also applies to boss weaponry as it enhances their effects and can do critical damage to enemies. The speed gear will slow down time and when upgraded will allow you to move at normal speed while everything else is slowed. If you happen to fall into a critical state, you can activate both gears for a powerful charge shot that will leave you vulnerable and unable to use the gears for some time.
Fortunately for longtime fans, you don’t need to use the gear system to succeed in the game and they do require a cooldown as overuse will prevent the use of the system for a period of time. Players are also able to enhance the gear system and other abilities through the item shop that can be selected before entering stages. This is also optional, but there are items available that can be useful during the most challenging levels.
After completing the game, players are able to compete in boss rush, time trials, and other missions. These are each tracked so that you can see where you rank globally, so there are incentives after completing the game. There are also multiple difficulties to tackle, with the hardest mode reminding fans of how difficult the Mega Man series can be. Some of the most difficult achievements in the game require you to complete no damage runs so this would be one of the toughest games to fully complete.
Mega Man 11 is the first title in the series to grace this generation of consoles and the production values do not disappoint. The 2.5D visual aesthetic is sharp and there is a lot of diversity. Animations are strong, with some of the bosses boasting some impressive moves that may make you stop to appreciate them, damage be damned. There is voice acting and it’s cartoonish and over the top, but fun nonetheless. The banter between Wily and Light is personal and endearing, shedding light on their relationship and adding some depth to each character. It only took 11 entries, but this was never supposed to have a deep narrative in the first place.
Returning to relavancy can be difficult for any franchise, but Mega Man 11 is a return to form. By introducing new player-friendly game mechanics, it’s clear that Capcom was looking to reach a broader audience. They still however, show respect to longstanding fans as these mechanics are optional and not a requirement to success. Eventually, the formula for Mega Man will need to change if it is going to stay relevant. Regardless, this title is a throwback with just enough new wrinkles to make it feel fresh. It’s definently a worthy continuation for the longstanding series.