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Mega Man 9 - WiiWare review

Excellent
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AT A GLANCE
  • Super tough, yet rewarding
  • Reliably awesome level/boss design
  • Catchy music on par with MM2
  • Whoa - maybe too hard for some
  • Bit short when you get good at it
  • Crucial items are overpriced

If you weren’t around for Mega Man’s heyday (waaaay back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, around 1990), all this commotion about an archaic, unsophisticated platformer may make about as much sense as the robot elephants that populate Concrete Man’s level.

The confusion is understandable - Mega Man 9 is an old-school 8-bit NES game through and through, with pixel-perfect jumps, one hit kills and crushingly difficult boss encounters that’ll shred wrists from here to Japan. It does absolutely nothing to court new players, opting instead to cater directly to fans and longtime gamers who tire of recharging health meters and forgiving checkpoints.

And that’s precisely why we love it to death.

Gameplay is dead simple: choose one of eight bosses, make it through their level, acquire their weapon, then figure out which boss is weak against your copycatted arsenal. Along the way you’ll have to make perfectly timed leaps, avoid spikes that shatter Mega Man when one pixel is out of line and tackle enemies that are dead set on pushing you into one of a hundred different bottomless pits.

If all of that sounds endlessly frustrating, you’re going to want to pass. You’ll stare blankly at the seventh Game Over screen in 20 minutes and wonder how the hell anyone else can get past this goddam jump, let alone beat the entire game. However, gamers who love a challenge, anyone who slaved through Mega Man 4 and 5, all of you are going to eat this up and love every single second.

Mega Man 9 perfectly apes Mega Man 2, which is widely considered to be the best of the bunch. You can’t charge a buster shot as in 4 onward, nor slide as in 3, but honestly we don’t miss those (in our eyes) unnecessary perks. The comparison continues even into the sound effects and music, with a couple of tunes lifted directly from the 1989 classic.

Replacing the lost moves are new treats that make the game a hell of a lot more playable. You’ll deal with the store the most, a piece borrowed from Mega Man 8. It’s loaded with helpful items that make the bastard-hard levels a bit more manageable; boots that protect you from spikes, a Beat call that pulls you out of pits, a half-damage token, stuff like that. There’s also a punishing set of achievements to complete that’ll put even the absolute best players in their place. Example: beat the game without dying. Ooookay.

Before we award the score, we should point out that like every other difficult game, the more you play the easier it gets. We started out cursing Mega Man’s name into Satan’s armpit, but within a couple of days (and about 30 Game Over screens) we beat the entire thing without a lot of fuss. And then proceeded to beat it again two or three times just because it’s that rewarding. We imagine we’ll play it all over again when the first wave of DLC, Proto Man, arrives next week. It’s hard to put into words why we’re playing it over and over, it just has that intangible “something” that so many NES/SNES games of yesteryear seemingly invented and then failed to pass on to the PlayStation/N64 generation.

Buy it, finish it, love it, because if this takes off we’re going to see a renaissance of new-old games. And if that happens, a whole new batch of gamers will grow up learning why rock-solid gameplay, not tera-flipping flop-bib shaders, make games truly exceptional.

Sep 22, 2008

More Info

Release date: Sep 22 2008 - Wii (US)
Sep 22 2008 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Action
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Franchise: Mega Man
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Cartoon Violence
PEGI Rating:
7+: Violence

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15 comments

  • twishart - September 24, 2008 8:17 p.m.

    @raven - that's a really good point actually. I haven't seen any third party 360 controllers - is there a reason for that? I'd think that anyone that tossed a decent D-Pad onto the controller would make a pretty good haul. Street Fighter HD would also need a decent D-Pad (if not an arcade stick altogether...)
  • drprofessor - September 23, 2008 6:14 a.m.

    "Example: beat the game without dying. Ooookay." you got a real lol from me on that one. i cant wait to play this. old school gaming ftw
  • Burn - September 23, 2008 6:01 a.m.

    Toot for joy :]
  • Thequestion 121 - September 22, 2008 8:15 p.m.

    VIVA LA MEGA MAN 9!!!!!!!
  • Ravenbom - September 26, 2008 2:12 a.m.

    That's funny, I was just wondering that same thing earlier today when I went to Game Stop to buy a used copy of Mass Effect. Why aren't there any 3rd party controllers for Xbox? I know there's a new official controller coming out that supposedly fixes the d-pad, hopefully not in the very ugly green shown at Leipzig. A good d-pad is super important in this generation of games consoles, especially since the best part of this generation is downloading all the old school gems. IMO
  • quadmembers - September 23, 2008 10:52 p.m.

    fall gaming madness has arrived. let the games begin.(literally)
  • Ravenbom - September 23, 2008 6:48 p.m.

    @twishart, do you really want this on Xbox? The d-pad is so mushy, it's going to punish you for playing with a sloppy controller, on top of the usual old skool punishment. Much like Bionic Commando Rearmed did on Xbox. Yeah, the achievements are crazy. What I don't like, is unlike most other old school NES and SNES games for the Wii, you have to actually save the game before quitting, instead of just going to the Home Menu anytime you want, even in the middle of a level, and coming back whenever you feel like it.
  • twishart - September 23, 2008 4:07 p.m.

    It's awesome that Elston got to review this one. Was there some sort of grueling deathmatch to determine who was awarded the honor? Also, I vaguely remember this was also supposed to hit XBLA - I'll pick it up on virtual console if I HAVE to, but it'd be the first time I fired up the Wii since June...
  • los_milty - September 23, 2008 3:41 a.m.

    god i love that sweet sweet blue boy.
  • IWUNapenguin - September 23, 2008 3:29 a.m.

    god i'm listening to the protomen right now! fantastic idea!
  • 1NVAD3R - September 23, 2008 12:21 a.m.

    Going through the first three over and over in anticipation really gives you some finger pains.
  • TheRealFrog17 - September 23, 2008 12:11 a.m.

    Hey, you guys heard about the Protomen? They're this awesome band that has re-imagined the world of megaman as a dark and gritty place, much as Batman begins did with the batman series. If you like rock n' roll, and like video games you'll find them very appealing because unlike most VG themed bands out there, their music is actually worth your while.
  • chrisat928 - September 22, 2008 9:28 p.m.

    PSN is going to explode Thursday. Wipeout HD, Megaman 9 and Burnout Paradise.
  • skyguy343 - September 22, 2008 7:49 p.m.

    long live Mega Man!!!
  • EvoAnubis - September 22, 2008 6:39 p.m.

    Sweet! Can't wait until Thursday!!!!!

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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