Full disclosure here: I am horrendous at platforming games. I’ve played and completed a total of two platformers in my life: Celeste (without Assist Mode, and with 2,649 deaths), and Destiny’s King’s Fall raid. You know, the bit where you have to jump on a bunch of ships, and your team literally can’t progress until you make it all the way to the other side. So when I went to the Capcom booth and a rep told me I’d be playing Mega Man 11 first, I was more than a little anxious.
I got to check out two different stages in Mega Man 11. The first was the electricity-themed level for Fuse Man, which was littered with electrical traps. I was more entranced by Block Man’s stage, however, which was full of block obstacles, tight corridors, and very challenging jumps that you had to time carefully. I also managed to actually reach the final boss fight on this stage, so this preview will be centered around Block Man instead.
The primary additions in Mega Man 11 are the Weapon and Speed Gear systems. Hitting the L1 button powers up your shots for an amount of time, while hitting R1 will slow down time. When you hit either of these buttons, a meter will appear above Mega Man’s head, and the Gear effects will dissipate once the meter is completely filled. Thankfully, you can toggle these on and off whenever you want so you don’t overheat the system. Speed Gear ends up being incredibly useful, especially for newer players like myself, as it can give you a serious edge in some of the tighter jumps you have to make. You don’t have to make use of the Gears if you’d rather have a pure Mega Man experience, but it was really nice of Capcom to keep the newbies in consideration.
As I made my way through the level, I would frequently encounter gaps with blocks dropping down from the ceiling. These were easy to get past at first, but the obstacles get progressively trickier as you move on. Before long, you’ll find yourself juggling between shooting enemies, making sure you don’t fall off a moving platform, and trying to time your jump without bumping into a falling block. It was challenging, but in a good way. It was always easy to see where I went wrong, with my deaths being faults of my own rather than a result of the game being inconsistent.
Block Man’s level also featured a particularly tough segment where I had to run from a pillar of spikes while clearing obstacles in front of me. It became a frantic affair of jumping and spamming the shoot button, while also trying to remember to slide under crawl spaces and not getting thrown off by the momentum of the chase sequence. The Speed Gear comes in very handy here, and I can only imagine how precise you’d have to be to clear this segment without aid of the Gears.
Block Man himself was quite the challenging opponent, teasing players with a wimpy first form before enlarging himself to become this absolute beast of a stone golem. The boss battle was fast-paced, and also required timely use of Rush (Mega Man’s robotic dog) so you could jump high enough and shoot at him to deal damage. It’s worth noting that the game starts you off with five lives, and if you use them up, you’ll be sent back to the beginning yet again.
Mega Man 11 comes packed with four different difficulty settings: Newcomer, Casual, Normal, and Superhero. The lower the setting, the more checkpoints you’ll have, the more damage you’ll do, and the less damage you’ll take. On Newcomer difficulty, in particular, I was told that you’d basically have infinite lives when it comes to the platforming bits. Each time you fall off the edge, Beet the bird will come rescue Mega Man, allowing you to try that jump again. The difficulty setting really doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to timed segments like the aforementioned spike pillar bit, but being able to quickly attempt a jump again after a bad try makes it much easier for new players to learn from their mistakes and adapt faster.
It’s very obvious that Mega Man 11 was developed with the hardcore platforming fans in mind. In spite of that, though, it’s also great to see that Capcom is making efforts to bring new players into the fold with optional mechanics and difficulty settings to ease the challenge a little. I ended up spending the better part of my hour at the Capcom booth playing Mega Man 11, and while I probably won’t pick this one up for myself, it’s still a title worth watching out for if you’re in love with the genre.