June 16, 2021

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Mega Man 11 review – pitch-perfect revival for an 80s classic

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Want to feel old? Maybe cast a glance over what Mega Man looks like today – or feel how all that muscle memory that held together those older games has atrophied to nothing as you struggle through the almighty challenge posed by this, Capcom’s internally-developed revival of its legendary series that arrives a fashionable 12 months late to Mega Man’s 30th anniversary. There might be an all-new look to Mega Man, the harsh pixel edges of old buffed out and a dash of cartoon colour injected into its world, but that doesn’t mean the challenge has been smoothed off. This is a game that will make your fingers bleed, if you let it, and it takes great pride in doing so.

And if you want to feel old maybe you should just count the years since Mega Man’s last proper outing. It’s been the best part of a decade since Mega Man 10 – itself the first game in the series for 10 years, and part of a pair of 8-bit styled outings courtesy of period specialists Inti Creates that went down wonderfully well. A lot’s happened since that particular reinvention – not least of which is Keiji Inafune’s own doomed attempt at a Mega Man (a game which, in a curious twist of fate, was also developed by Inti Creates – though that’s a story for another time). If Mighty No. 9 proved anything, it’s that crafting enjoyable and challenging 2D adventures isn’t as straightforward a task as you might imagine. There’s so many pitfalls to face – Mighty No. 9, more often than not it fell foul of them.

Mega Man 11, for the most part, shows you how to do it right, and sometimes pointedly so. There’s a similarity in the art-style between this and Mighty No. 9, both going for 2D games told with 3D graphics delivered with a toon boldness, but whereas one came off flat and drab the other simply pops – playing Mega Man 11 is like seeing the illustrations which Inafune himself would have once penned for the originals come to vivid life. It feels right, too, from the timing of Mega Man’s blaster – and that satisfying loop of charge and release – to the hit pause from each stricken enemy.

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