Mega Man 10

For some gamers, the revelation that one of the robot masters in Mega Man 10 is named “Sheep Man” will be enough to secure another sale in Capcom’s long running series of platform blasters. Others will be puzzled that a game practically plucked right out of 1987 is proving so popular more than two decades on.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the premise is simple: the evil genius Dr. Wily wants control of the world, and has created eight elemental robot masters to assist him in this task. It’s up to the robotic Mega Man to fight his way through the domains of each boss, progress to Wily’s base of operations and take care of him for good. There’s some back-story about Dr. Wily changing his ways and trying to find a cure to a virus plaguing robots the world over, but (surprise!) it’s just a foil to slow down our hero.

You’ll jump and shoot your way through eight levels styled after each robot master, avoiding pesky flying robots and climbing many, many ladders. Delicate, almost rhythmic jumping is required throughout, and after facing several diversions unique to each level (including teleporting platforms and vehicles which take you from one side of the screen to the next) you’ll battle the stage boss for possession of his elemental power. Win, and you’ll have a type advantage over another robot master. As you can tackle the stages in any order, smart players can make short work of the bosses with the right strategy.

Protoman – available only through DLC in previous entry Mega Man 9 – is playable right off the bat this time, and he is an enjoyable alternative to the blue bomber. With a more diverse set of moves at the expense of weaker general defence, Protoman offers players a shield to block projectiles, a Mega Man X-style charge beam and (perhaps most vitally) a slide to dodge jump attacks. Playing as Protoman fundamentally changes the way both enemy and boss encounters pan out, adding a fair chunk of replayability to the proceedings.

Much has been said of the difficulty of Mega Man titles of late, and with good reason – this is a rock-hard, old-school grind of trial-and-error and pattern-memorisation that will test even the most patient of gamers. Thankfully, Capcom have sought mercy upon those new to the franchise, with an easy difficulty option available which reduces enemy damage, slows down fast-moving projectiles and reduces the perennial threat of instant-kill spike pits. Regardless, it’s likely that these assists will not be enough to stop 360-controllers the world over from being smashed against coffee-tables, or to dull the strings of expletives roaring from normally mild-mannered gamers.

There’s a reason people keep coming back to these games, though – the formula works. It’s clear that Capcom got the balance of risk/reward right so long ago and it works just as well here. You’ll be tearing your hair out over unfair enemy placement and tricky bosses, yes, but the feeling of taking on Stupid Robot Crab for the 35th time and emerging victorious is something few modern games can touch.

If there’s one real criticism I can make of Mega Man 10, it’s of the slight laziness on the part of developers Inti Creates. The game has a wonderful retro presentation, but much of the assets are recycled verbatim from 2008’s Mega Man 9. The music, while catchy, simply isn’t as memorable as before. This carries through to the stage and boss designs; there’s nothing as outlandish as the Galaxy Man stage in Mega Man 9, although there are neat ideas elsewhere, like a mini-boss which requires you to generate power for it by running on a treadmill. Despite the core game only lasting around two to five hours, it has high replay value through its wealth of challenges and frankly insane achievements (check out the description for “MR. PERFECT”), and the dedicated will be playing for weeks to come.







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