It always warms my heart when I can sit down and play a game that looks like it was made during my childhood in all of its 8-bit glory. Capcom realizes that, inside of us, we all want that simple side-scroller that challenges us without giving us complicated controls. Enter the return of the Blue Bomber himself, Mega Man, in the ninth installment of the original Mega Man series.
For those of you who weren't born before the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System or simply live under a rock, Mega Man is one of the most traditional side-scroll game series that you will find. Mega Man 9 follows the same type of gameplay that the previous eight games in the series used. Simply put, you take control of Mega Man and have to fight your way through eight different stages to take on an evil robot at the end of the stage, gaining his (or, in nine's case, her) power and using them to help you along the way. Of course, like in past installments, each robot is weak against a particular weapon that you gain, so going in the proper order helps you greatly, especially in boss fights. The difference in this installment, however, is that the robots you are fighting do not belong to the evil Dr. Wily. This time around, they are Dr. Light's robots that have malfunctioned, adding in a little twist to the storyline. Of course, the story screens are quite over the top, just as you would expect in the 8-bit realm of gaming, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Controls are very simple and easy. You run, you shoot, and you jump. Occasionally, you will switch to a different weapon via the "back" button where you can check the status of all of your extra weapons, how many lives you have remaining, as well as how many extra items you have, including backup energy tanks and item-giving robots. On top of that, you also collect screws along the way, which is almost like a currency of sorts. Collecting 999 of these will garner you an in-game achievement. As for the stages themselves, they are just like you remember from past Mega Man experiences, except with the glaring difference that they are ungodly difficult. Pulling out all the stops, Capcom wanted to make sure that gamers earned their victories in this installment, deciding that hard bosses wouldn't be enough to torture the fans of Mega Man, but making every single stage very difficult and almost impossible to get through without losing at least one life.
Speaking of ridiculously high degrees of difficulty, you have the achievements, Capcom decided to challenge the gamers of today with possibly the hardest list of achievements both in-game and with your XBL Gamerscore. I could sit here and list them out, explaining why almost every one of them is going to be tough to attain, but you have probably looked over them yourself and realized that you aren't going to get all of them. In fact, consider it an achievement if you manage to get half of them. Going through a Mega Man game without dying? Good luck to you, and make sure you have plenty of aspirin sitting next to you because, eventually, you will feel like your head will want to explode.
While Mega Man has its high points, there are a couple of negatives that have to be noted. If you really take a look at each individual stage, the game itself is short. You could technically knock it out in an hour without having to continue at all, so length is certainly a negative, especially with a downloaded title that will cost you ten bucks. Also, the difficulty level, while giving people a great challenge, might just be a little too difficult to deal with. None of these stages are what you would call a "gimme" stage, and even going in the proper order with special weapons to take out bosses faster still doesn't give you a great advantage. Capcom outdid itself with a very difficult game, but that may be a bit of a turn off to some gamers. On top of that, the Xbox 360 controller doesn't seem to be well fit for this game. Using the analog stick doesn't seem precise enough, causing you to run a little further than you want, which can easily cost you lives. On the flip side, the D-pad seems a little too stiff, although it certainly is more accurate to use than the analog stick.
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Mega Man 9 is going to give you your money's worth in the long run. Even though its quite difficult, fans of the previous games in the series will appreciate the 8-bit feel to the game while younger gamers can experience some of the frustrations that a simple, yet difficult game can give you. It's worth the ten dollars to download this title, although you may go nuts trying to unlock every one of those achievements to have one heck of a notch to add to your bedpost.
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