It’s been over 30 years since its NES debut, but Capcom’s classic Mega Man is still one of the greatest platform games of all time. The series has evolved over the years – and not always in the right direction – but the recently released Mega Man 11 is a monumental achievement. It modernises the game while retaining an innate understanding of what made the originals so special – and it looks and plays beautifully across all platforms. For my money, it’s Capcom’s Sonic Mania moment: for series purists it reminds you of everything that made the original games great, while also serving as a good jumping on point for new players.
To fully appreciate Mega Man 11, we need to first consider what it is that makes Mega Man so special and how the team has improved upon each element in building this new game. First, there’s the stage design. To begin with, Capcom has opted to build Mega Man 11 with 16:9 widescreen in mind, opening the playfield in the process. This isn’t the first widescreen Mega Man game, of course, but it’s the first to truly utilise the additional screen space. This wider canvas has enabled the team to push out the level design and introduce new challenges that would not have worked as well in a smaller space.
When it comes to crafting these challenges, however, Mega Man 11 wisely channels the classic games. Mega Man is widely recognised for its approach to teaching through level design – the idea is that challenges are presented to the player in controlled environments – you learn through doing. Basically, the designer introduces a new enemy or hazard early in a stage allowing you to easily recognise and learn how to handle the new threat before combining them to create more difficult challenges.
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