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Mini-Review: Mega Man 10

Mega Man Plenty of publishers have climbed aboard the retro train this gaming generation, but Capcom stands ahead of them all by demonstrating again and again that they "get it" when it comes to simultaneously recreating the best aspects of a classic video game and modernizing it with years of development experience.  Consider the company's latest release in its long-running Mega Man franchise, Mega Man 10 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.  Following on in the classic Nintendo Entertainment System style revived by 2008's Mega Man 9, this new adventure for the blue bomber somehow manages to feel like both a lost game from twenty years ago and a new title made with modern expectations in mind.  It all boils down to Mega Man taking on eight Robot Masters (and then Dr. Wily, of course), and fans like myself wouldn't have it any other way.  What makes Mega Man 10 stand with (and, in some cases, ahead of) its lineage are the many extras that bulk up the game's replay value.  Spoilers ahead!

Mega Man 10 The base game at the heart of all classic Mega Man adventures is alive and well in this sequel.  When robots around the world begin showing signs of a roboenza infection, the villainous Dr. Wily shows up at Dr. Light's lab to beg for help in curing the plague before all robots everywhere turn murderous.  Mega Man takes on the job, of course, and must plow through eight stages to blast key Robot Masters that are holding up production of the cure.  Mega Man games live and die by their Robot Master bosses, and thankfully we have a good crop of villains here.  Most all are charismatic, easily distinguishable, and attack with easy to predict patterns that take some skill to dodge.  Best of all, the trademark rock-paper-scissors weakness system is much easier to crack this time around.  Sheep Man's electric Thunder Wool attack is the ideal weapon to use against the water-inhabiting Pump Man, for example.  His Water Shield can then be used most efficiently on the fiery Solar Man, and his Solar Blaze is just what's needed to melt Chill Man, and so on.  I actually managed to correctly guess six of the Robot Master weaknesses on my first try.

Mega Man 10 Clearing away the Robot Masters reveals that Dr. Wily was behind the roboenza outbreak the entire time, leading to a series of fortress levels that pit Mega Man against larger, more dangerous bosses that recall previous titles in the franchise.  The "Wily Teleport System" from Mega Man 2 shows up, for instance, and while Mega Man 10's take on the recurring Yellow Devil is a memorable mix of the iconic boss and Mega Man 2's block-based Picopico Master security system, what really pegs the nostalgia meter in Wily's castle is the Weapon Archive boss in which nine drones are each programmed with the "spirit" of a Robot Master from previous Mega Man games.  Each drone even attacks with the appropriate weapon and movement sequence and is weak to the original kind of vulnerability.  You'll dodge Elec Man's beams all over again along with Wood Man's shield of leaves, Gemini Man's laser, Ring Man's boomerang, Napalm Man's bombs, Flame Man's fire, Slash Man's claws, Frost Man's ice, and Tornado Man's winds.  It's pure nostalgic goodness, and I failed during my first encounter with the archive because I couldn't stop laughing at seeing history reappear.

Mega Man 10 Previous Mega Man games would basically end at this point, but Mega Man 10 presses on with more content.  Proto Man is a playable character once again, still armed with his chargeable Arm Cannon, projectile-repelling shield, and slide maneuver.  Easy and Hard modes mix up the difficulty for amateur and advanced players.  Time Attack mode allows players to compete with limited leaderboards for the fastest time through each stage (but don't bother competing unless you're a speedrunning master).  A Challenge mode tasks players with completing short mini-levels that are designed to develop one's blue bomber skills.  There's lots to do and plenty of reasons to do it all over again.  The extra downloadable content this time around includes a playable third character, Bass, as well as three special stages that feature past Robot Masters from the Game Boy series of Mega Man titles and an endless stage that just keeps going.

How can I not recommend Mega Man 10?  The original Mega Man titles were always favorites when I was younger, and now that the old style and format is back for another iteration I find myself drawn back into the adventure as if no time had passed at all.  Nostalgia may draw you in, but solid gameplay and engaging level design will keep you glued to the action until you've seen everything that it has to offer.  Fans of 2D action platformers must not miss this one.