MEGA MAN 9, XBLA - Review

Review by Will Templeton
(also available on WiiWare and PSN)

Mega Man 9 is a game that shouldn't really exist. The current climate of videogames tends to be that games should be challenging, but ultimately beatable. This is a philosophy that works best with the majority of gamers - people who play a few rounds of Call of Duty after work, or pull out Wii Sports with the kids. People who use GameFly and expect to be able to whizz through a game and get the full experience, and then swap it for another. Even Ninja Gaiden, widely acclaimed for its unforgiving nature, takes pity on you if you fail too much and offers you an easier option.

These kinds of people will hate Mega Man 9. This is a game that will chew you up and spit on you if you let it. This is controller-wrenching frustration, an exercise in self-punishment, developed by sadists who I want to get hit by a fireball and fall into a pit and die so they can get a taste of their own goddamn medicine.

But it's glorious. This is what Mega Man is all about. Every time you die, it's your own fault rather than some issue with the game being 'cheap', and every time you hammer the A button to have one more go. It just takes you right back to the first time you played a Mega Man game and that pursuit of perfection - you need to know the level inside and out and learn the exact mechanics of the game. It really is comparable to the original series of Mega Man on 8-bit systems.

If there's one sticking point, it's that there's not enough there to appeal to the new crowd who might pick it up. It's not necessarily trying to, though. This is a game that would only ever appeal to an existing userbase, and if there's something that confuses me about Mega Man 9, it's that someone at Capcom thought it was worth making. I'm grateful to them for doing so, of course, but it is fanservice at its most overt.

It's an oxymoron in itself - a modern retro game. Anyone who only started playing games within the last few years and thinks 'retro is cool' will be frustrated and disappointed. Most who grew up with the medium have graduated to different, more forgiving experiences - in essence, grown out of it. And that tiny subset of gamers who still crave this kind of thing? Well, they already own it.