I’ve said it once and I will say it again. Life isn’t hard, Mega Man is! and for 3 decades now the Mega Man/Rock Man franchise has been the measuring stick for those games that instigate rage quits, controller tosses and temper tantrums across multiple generations. The longevity of the series is proof all by itself of the loyalty people show to one of Nintendo’s beloved and the overabundance of sequels that included 8 main titles in Nintendo’s 8-bit glory days, the subseries and my personal favourite Mega Man X which itself spawned an unruly 7 sequels as well as a brief adventure on the N64 during the infamous teething period of 3D gaming. In 2008 the original blue Power Ranger made a welcome return to its roots with Mega Man 9 and it’s 2010 sequel, Mega Man 10 complete with its traditional look and gameplay style and even awkwardly out of place box art, which brings us to 2018 and after an 8-year hiatus, Capcom is back with Mega Man 11, a game that keeps the classic styles of the original series close to heart while moving forward with a more refined and processed 2.5D aesthetic, a faster-paced feel and that wonderful Mega Man difficulty that we all love to hate.

Mega Man 11’s plot differs slightly by delving into Dr. Light and Dr. Wily’s academic years at ‘Robot Univerisity’ and Wily’s double gear experiment being ignored by his peers in favour of Light’s determination to create artificial intelligence in robots. Fast forward to the year 20XX and we’re back to more traditional means with the ever-persistent Wily uses his old experiment to corrupt 8 of Dr. Light’s robots against him, and as history dictates it’s up to ol’ Mega Man to take these robots down and stop Dr. Wily before he achieves world domination. The 11th installment loyal to the tried and true minimal storytelling of the past 30 years (of the original series that is, X gets a little more in depth, am I right?) but in all honesty it’s a case of ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ it’s a premise that suits the style, a means to an end if you will, it sets the tone without getting overly complicated to help compliment the simplistic play style of Mega Man.

Mega Man 11 is for intense and purposes, a classic Mega Man game, albeit with a look that’s been cranked up to 11 and an extra half a dimension thrown into the mix to help catch the eye of the player. Though not particularly traditional from this branch of Mega Man games, it is a look that seemingly works for the 11th outing, the character models are slick, crisp and pop out from the backgrounds, which themselves, for the most part, look pretty impressive, others how other lack life and bring the level down as a whole with Bounce Man’s stage being the main culprit (I bloody HATE Bounce Man’s stage). On the other hand, you have Block Man’s stage which features impressive visuals in both the foreground and background as well as an awesome layout from beginning to end. And what would a Mega Man title be without some up-tempo techno music? which serves its purpose well throughout, it’s just a shame that it only comes in short loops.

Gameplay, as I mentioned previously, gives us that old school difficulty that we all know and love, to put it bluntly, Mega Man 11 is simply unforgiving at times and requires a lot of trial and error but from my experience all your shortcomings are fair and something you always learn your lesson from and that’s what makes challenging games like this great. Each stage each have their fair share of enemies looking to give you a hard time and treacherous instakill pitfalls, not to mention that each stage has their own quirky trials about them, my only criticism is that some stages drag on in length, leaving me with the thought ‘OK, I’ve dealt with enough of what you’ve thrown at me just give me the boss already!’. Each level faces you with a mid-level boss which look fantastic and also act as a sort of trial before you reach the end of the level and some also give you a vague idea of what awaits you, a welcome addition to an already awesome game. The double gear system is what sets this game apart from the other ten. The ability to slow down time and double your blaster’s power seems like dream come true for fans of the series and is indeed a great supplement to the game, but it is a mechanic that won’t work in every situation you truly have to pick your battles with it and to me, that’s what makes it such an interesting touch to the title. Boss battles are also a great high for Mega Man 11, with some powerful looking robots with powerful abilities you can harvest when you defeat them, and even though some of them feel like a rehash (we’re looking at you, Tundra Man) their transformations mid-battle are great t witness and add a little extra threat to your foe. There are also a few other game modes at your disposal which challenge to finish stage as fast as you can, complete stages with minimal jumping, and overcome levels while keeping ou blaster holstered, these are tempted and overall rewarding to try out and adds a bit more verve to the already present trials this game puts to you.