Megaman 11 brought the classic blue bomber back to new heights, and with that, it took the title of best-selling classic Megaman title. Capcom had pre-emptively purchased the domains of Megaman 12, 13, 14, and 15. With the glaring success that Megaman 11 has, there is still a demand for classic Megaman. That raises a question, though, Does Megaman 11 deserve to be the best-selling game in the franchise?
Short Answer: Yes. But let us dig deeper as we prepare for Capcom's announcement for Megaman 12.
An Evolution of form
Megaman 11 was a return to form for the blue bomber that harkens back to the old school days while modernizing a notorious, mechanically demanding game for audiences of all skill levels. Megaman 11 simultaneously invokes nostalgia while pushing every aspect of its design, audio, gameplay, and art to new heights. It not only separates it from the mega man clones of today but also prevents it from being another hollow Megaman clone.
It is easy to view Megaman 11 through the lens of pure nostalgia, a cash grab, stomping on the cold dead corpse of a long-dead franchise for an easy payday. What is hard is accepting the fact that the team that took Megaman 11 from idea to product outdid themselves.
Megaman 11 takes the classic game out of its 2D roots and into a new 3D space; though at times it may look like it's 2.5D, I have a sneaking suspicion that it is a full 3D space that is 2D in the viewport.
The art direction of this game is stellar. I cannot begin to describe just how gorgeous and warm this art feels. Every character and background is just bursting at the seams with personality and life. From Roll, Auto, and Dr Light to the various enemies you encounter, many of which are callbacks to the original Megaman 1, to the new ones that blend so seamlessly into the world of Megaman that you will question if it had always been there. Megaman is expressive, clear, and concise in his actions and animations.
Dynamic lighting effects breathe life into every nook and cranny of this gorgeous hand-drawn environment. The stunning illustrations that wash the backdrops are often reminiscent of old 90s cartoons, although that might be my nostalgia bleeding through.
Despite that, however, the game continues to be a breath of fresh air. We rarely get such a visually distinct game from a large publisher. It was clear from the get-go that Capcom needed – no, wanted – Megaman 11 to be an evolution, the springboard for the next generation of Megaman.
Lessons from yesterday
Megaman 11 takes a vast array of cues from its predecessors. From its punishing difficulty to its ease of access. The deceptively simplistic level design hides brilliantly crafted sequences that encourage experimentation while also providing a challenge for those willing to take it on.
One of the strengths of Megaman 11 lies in how it carries its legacy while also being distinct and new. The previous two Megaman games, 9 & 10, felt more like the recently uncovered Nintendo Entertainment System games that were lost media than they did a proper sequel for a new generation.
The previous games introduced a shop, which is brought back for the ride in this new entry. The game also comes preloaded with multiple easy-to-hard difficulty challenges.
The game makes excellent use of the various bosses' gimmicks to give Megaman a new way to interact with the stages. Megaman controls much better than I anticipated. The game was responsive and kept the old-school feeling of Megaman in this new perspective.
I mentioned before that the game could be unforgiving at times, and it is very unforgiving. Several passages throughout the game will give even seasoned Megaman players a challenge.
It is hard to describe how Megaman plays and controls, and it is ultimately something you will have to experience to understand Megaman 11 at its core gameplay.
If it's one other thing Megaman is known for, it is the absolute jaw-dropping, iconic soundtracks of the past. Megaman 11 is no slouch in this department. Every single stage gets a theme song that fits the environment, matches the scenes' intensity, and pairs well with the various bosses.
Marika Suzuki shines as Megaman 11's composer, having attained experience in various games across multiple genres. She clearly understands what made the original soundtrack so appealing, and she carries much of the soundtrack to its logical climax.
The soundtrack is more electronic-based, but Marika Suzuki masterfully makes every single instrument sing a dazzling array of notes and phrases that matches everything surrounding it.
Marika Suzuki's soundtrack was so rendered that it beautifully tied all the extremities of the game into an even more closely knit experience that all provided a sense of cohesion that ultimately elevated the experience of Megaman as a whole.
Whatever you think about Capcom's business practices, Megaman 11 is truly one for the history books. A fun-filled experience with a visually unique art style and a lavish soundscape that perfectly blends all parts of Megaman into an experience worthy of the franchise.