Tag Archives: Mega Man

20XX review

One of the most frustrating elements of the Mega Man games is the frequent dying; losing all your lives and being forced to start again. But this difficulty and limitation of lives is a big part of the classic experience, taking it beyond just a necessity of design from the 8bit and 16bit era of games and turning it into a part of Mega Man’s identity as a series.

Modern interpretations of this system of limited lives and harsh difficult rarely sit well with players, partly due to how game design has evolved to incorporate checkpoints and longer experiences, and partly because balancing a harsh difficulty curve with tight level design is a monumental task for developers that isn’t always realised. 20XX have implemented an intriguing solution to this problem, introducing Rogue-like elements in its design to keep the difficulty harsh and the life losing experience of the classics intact, while balancing risk verses reward for gathering currency to purchase permanent upgrades that persist even after death, gradually improving your chance to beat the odds and complete it. It’s a brilliant concept that allows us to experience a classic side-scrolling platformer shoot ‘em up but in a modern package.

20XX is very much infused with classic design, from the title screen, character design, movement mechanics, boss encounters and level design, 20XX is a homage to classic Mega Man titles, specifically the Mega Man X titles. As such, it’s hard to find anything original about the core experience. Challenging platforming and enemy encounters is the order of the day, asking a high mastery of the movement and combat mechanics to get through the eight levels relatively unscathed. It’s a fun and engaging experience but nothing new.

At the end of each level is a boss encounter, which, once defeated, drops its unique weapons so you can pick it up and use it going forwards, again very much like Mega Man. However, this is where developers Fire Hose Games and Batterystaple Games introduce some interesting player choice that then feeds back into the Rogue-like system. You can choose to pick up the boss’ weapon, collect a boost to your stats, or collect currency to be spent later on. This allows you to shape the experience to your liking, grabbing and using the weapons you find effective and leaving others in lieu of different rewards. Moreover, with death taking you back to a hub area where you must start your run through of the eight levels from the beginning, making the right choice for dispatching the upcoming bosses and conquering the levels leading up to them, is critically important.

Indeed, this is where 20XX begins to carve out its own identity, and it’s a compelling one at that. The currency you collect comes in two forms, a more readily available type for spending on vending stations within levels to boost your stats or replenish energy and health, and currency for spending in the hub area to purchase permanent upgrades to aid you with new attempts, as well as a selection of upgrades for activating from an inventory or using on your very next attempt. It’s a typical Rouge-like experience made novel by how well it replaces the lives and continues system of a Mega Man-esque platformer.

Moreover, the eight levels are procedurally generating, with random chunks of levels being sewn together each time you a play a level. It helps keep things fresh and challenging despite your gradual increase in skill and ability through experience and permanent upgrades, maintaining a stiff challenge with a pleasing level of unpredictability throughout.

20XX is a clever melding of classic concepts and modern technology and expectations, shaping an experience that’s challenging and nostalgic while still being accessible and unpredictable. With the inclusion of local and online cooperative multiplayer as well, there’s no denying the enjoyment you can have with this title. The clear homage to Mega Man hurts its originality somewhat, but that same homage is also mighty impressive in how well it captures the Mega Man’s experience. Indeed, if a modern Mega Man with the frustration of lives and continues replaced with a Rogue-like system intrigues you, 20XX could well be for you.

Thanks to Xbox and  Fire Hose Games and Batterystaple Games for supporting TiX

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 review

I have a confession to make, and while there are probably a few I could admit to the one I’m confessing to today is that I have never played a Mega Man game. What can I say? I was faithful to SEGA and Sonic; I didn’t look at other platforms, let alone other characters. Now that I’m older – and a little wiser – I have made up for my misguided ways and with all these HD collections; there has been no better time to get acquainted with some of the finest series the industry has created over the years.

Mega Man, I’m told, is one of those games you simply must play. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 picks up the series at Mega Man 7 through to Mega Man 10. The recreation of the pixel artwork into something high definition screens can render is glorious – have you tried plugging in an old console to a new TV? It’s a blurry mess.

A charming musical score floods your ears but the cutesy presentation hides a really tough set of games. Using the D-pad as opposed to the Left Stick helped greatly but I’ve come to the disturbing conclusion that I’ve gotten worse at games as I’ve aged. A more acceptable conclusion was that games are just far easier these days than when I was younger. Thankfully, tucked away in the top menu of the collection is an extra armour mode, which essentially makes enemies deal half damage.

There are also several checkpoints, which neatly nod to modern gaming, allowing you to reset with all your lives and energy intact. You can also choose to manually save, but this will save you at the previously passed checkpoint so you can’t incrementally crawl through the levels. Each checkpoint is spread out through each level, providing enough of a challenge without spoiling the game. It makes Mega Man immediately accessible to newcomers and to those who have softened from playing too many modern games.

The premise of Mega Man is simple. Select a level and attempt to get to the end before fighting the boss and absorbing their power, which allows you to then switch weapons. The order you tackle the bosses is key for an easy route through the game. If you gain the right weapon before a particular boss, then the battles become considerably easier. After the initial, “damn, this is really tough”, it wasn’t until my first powerup before I began to really fall for Mega Man’s charms.

Starting with Mega Man 7, I was instantly hooked to the sights and sounds and it was the wonderful charm that kept me going when the difficulty of the levels had me close to sulking at not being able to beat them. While tough, it never felt cheap, although jumping onto ladders and missing because you didn’t press up in time is just bullshit.

Despite its difficulty, I adore 7 and moving on to Mega Man 8 felt like an odd progression with a very different look and sound to the game, with cutscenes that have an 80s weekend morning cartoon vibe, it’s pretty cool even if some of the voice acting is dubious. While a huge departure from the style and gameplay of 7, I found 8 to be instantly accessible, playing more like the Sonic games I had grown up on with flying sections that are reminiscent of Tales’ biplane levels. Mega Man 8 still has dastardly gameplay mechanics that will have you sweating at the palms as you navigate the various platforms while avoiding (and destroying) the numerous bad guys thrown at you.

Mega Man 9 makes a drastic jump in style as it returns to a more ‘retro’ feel, harking back to the earlier titles in the series. Its charm is one of nostalgia. Navigating the vertical maze as it scrolled across the screen towards the inevitable boss battle reminded me of New Zealand Story. I enjoyed the updated pixel art but regressing earlier titles in the series felt like a backward step from the progression that 7 and 8 had taken.

Similarly, Mega Man 10 also takes cues from earlier Mega Man titles, introducing multiple characters and a selectable difficulty making it far more accessible by shackling the punishing difficulty of enemy patterns and tricky jumps. Regardless of the extra help, 10 is a lot easier than 9. Similarly, I felt 8 was easier than 7.

The collection is a great slice of Mega Man’s history, showing off how the little 2D fella made the jump from simple pixel art during his years on the SNES and PlayStation before making a retro return to his roots for sequels on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. At £11.99, it’s perfectly priced.

Achievement hunters will feel slightly shortchanged with achievements rewarded for game completion and beating various challenges, which will particularly appeal to fans of Mega Man – if you thought the main game was tough, then the challenges will push you to the edge.

For me, I could sit and listen to the soundtrack for hours. It’s wonderful. I’ll keep chipping away at the levels, allowing the blisters on my fingers to heal before trying again. Discipline, timing, patience and listening to the game’s music cues are key to beating the games. Give up and you won’t uncover a gaming gem.

Mega Man may be hard but it’s a piece of gaming history. One that shows how we old folk used to play games, games that took longer than four hours to beat the first time round…

Thanks to Capcom and Xbox for supporting TiX

 

Another Mega Man Legacy Collection on its way soon

Could we be seeing a second collection of Mega Man games on Xbox One soon? It looks like it!

The Korean Ratings Board has outed Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 for Xbox One, with the description telling us that it’ll include Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10 – according to gematsu.com‘s translation. Nothing official from Capcom as of yet.

We’re excited at the prospect, considering how much we enjoyed the first Mega Man Legacy Collection, reviewed back in August 2015.

Mighty No. 9 review

With Mighty No. 9 originally being pitched as a spiritual successor to Mega Man, and with one of the lead developers behind the blue bomber, Keiji Inafune , spearheading Mighty No. 9, it’s no wonder it’s a gruellingly challenge platformer which allows you to tackle its main stages in whichever order you fancy, and with each pitting you against a robot boss whose elemental powers become yours once you’ve defeated them. However, whilst the spirit of Mega Man is clear to see, the execution is woefully lacking.

Mighty No. 9’s difficulty could be forgiven if it was the result of strong level design like it’s 8 bit inspiration, but unfortunately each of the 11 stages are mediocre collections of enemy encounters and frustrating, unfair deaths. There’s a severe disconnect between the mechanics and the level design that works against the pace you want to platform at. Jumps and ladders are spaced apart far enough to make every leap a nuisance, and the dash the protagonist Beck possesses becomes hazardous to use as it frequently leaves you dangling above deadly falls or face to face with ill placed enemies and their projectiles.

Moreover, as you complete each stage you face a boss which, once defeated, grants you their abilities, but with stage selection left down to you, the level design is never given the chance to create a set-piece around these abilities. As such many of them are reduced to one-off uses against very particular enemies or bosses, with the wider uses for the ability completely underused.

Mighty No 9 1

Additionally boss fights are utterly unfair. Often a boss will throw random attacks at you rather than a pattern you can eventually learn, and on the few occasions a pattern is present, once you knock the boss down to 50% health, they shake it up and add an instant kill to their repertoire. Fortunately you can increase the amount of lives you have – deep in the options screen ala classic 8 and 16 bit games – to nine, but even still you’ll be very lucky to get through a level on your first attempt.

Of course the Mega Man influence in Mighty No. 9 is blatant, with Beck the friendly robot called to action by Dr. White to fight his fellow ‘Mighty’ robots who have been mysteriously corrupted. Eight main stages, with several more late-game stages unlocked afterwards, challenge you to defeat each robot, which possess powerful elemental abilities that put your default peashooter to shame. It very much feels like Mega Man initially and looks a great deal like how you’d imagine a modern Mega Man to look, but under the surface is a poor imitation. The meticulously crafted levels of Mega Man are nowhere to be seen here, meanwhile, the music is uninspired in both its modern form and its chiptune alternative. Furthermore, the difficulty is entirely a product of frustrating instant kills from bosses you can’t reliably predict the pattern of, or poor layout in the levels.

Mighty No 9 2

Unfortunately the multiplayer component doesn’t fare much better, offering challenge stages for two players to complete together or race through competitively. But the netcode made finding another player nightmarish and maintaining a stable connection rare. Additional challenge levels are also available for singleplayer, and offers a set of objectives-based stages for you to test your skills, but it feels entirely tacked on.

However, it’s not a complete write-off. The dash mechanic – which falls apart as a platforming aid – is part of an interesting approach to defeating enemies. After a few hits an enemy will become dazed, and dashing through them collects their essence which grants you points and boosts your stats temporarily. Additionally, in boss fights when one of the Mighty becomes dazed, dashing through them banks the damage you’ve inflicted on them. It’s a neat way to encourage you to be thoughtful about how you deal with your foes.

Mighty No 9 3

Furthermore, as poor as Mighty No. 9 seems when compared to Mega Man, it still achieves a level of polish that can be described as mediocre overall; not great but certainly not terrible either. The controls are pleasantly responsive, the visuals bright and welcoming, and there’s an undeniable nostalgic charm to its ridiculously over-the-top voice acting, terrible script, and challenging platforming action.

Indeed, Mighty No. 9 is not what its Kickstarter backers were hoping for. An obvious disconnect between the platforming mechanics and the level design, poor level design in general and all the frustrating deaths that come with it, as well as equally frustrating boss fights, all make Mighty Number 9 a game that’s impossible to recommend but also impossible to fully condemn.

Thanks to Xbox and ComCept INTI Creates for supporting TiX

TiX Podcast: We Play Replay

Welcome to the This is Xbox Podcast.

Join Greg Giddens and Neale Jarrett in the latest TiX Podcast – episode 12 We Play Replay – where the duo discuss Rare Replay, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Clash and a little more on Far Cry 4. The pair also discuss recent changes at TiX Towers regarding expanded content, including a film review of Dead Rising Watchtower, in-between the usual banter and jokes.

https://soundcloud.com/thisisxboxpodcast/tix-podcast-we-play-replay

If you want to send us a question or topic for the topic discussion section, or simply contact us, then shoot over an email to: podcast@thisisxbox.com

You can also follow the hosts on Twitter: @GregGiddens and @BaronVonPleb

You can also find us on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

If you like the show and want to support it, please check out our Patreon page.

The awesome music in this episode was provided by Bangmaid and produced by James Gill. (https://www.mixcloud.com/bangmaid/)

Mega Man Legacy Collection review

Capcom have a habit of pulling on your nostalgia heart strings, earlier in the year an HD re-release of Resident Evil took us back to Nintendo’s Gamecube days and now an enhanced collection of Mega Man games takes us back to Nintendo’s very first home console, the NES. However, does the Mega Man Legacy Collection trade on nostalgia alone or do these classics still hold up today?

Marvellously Mega Man can fairly comfortably sit amongst todays platforming elite. With the Mega Man series being such a huge influence over the genre, much of it’s legacy survives in modern titles anyway, allowing the Blue Bomber to feel right at home in a new era. Moreover, the recent explosion of indie developed, retro stylised titles also aid in the battle against incongruity.

However, the Mega Man titles deserve the lion’s share of the credit for holding up against contemporaries, these are platformers that have been expertly crafted with outstanding level design and enemy placement, built around challenging the player consistently and fairly throughout their adventures. There’s a reason these titles are considered timeless and beloved. For the uninitiated, the Mega Man formula follows the Blue Bomber on a side-scrolling platforming and combat adventure culminating in boss fights against fellow robots. Each stage can be attempted in any order, and once you defeat that stage’s particular robot master you gain their weapon.

Mega Man Legacy 1

The Mega Man Legacy Collection includes the first six Mega Man titles, all of which are greatly admired and remembered. Here they return in all their original glory, despite a subtle crispness added to the sprites these are precisely the same games that shipped all those years ago. This includes bugs, instances of slow-down, screen transitions and general oddities. The collection is running on a new engine that houses the original code completely intact and unaltered, a move that for lesser games would prove risky, potentially alienating new comers and disappointing returning veterans blinded by nostalgia, but with Mega Man’s timelessness this simply reinforces their quality.

However, the new engines does add some new tricks better suited to modern players. With the press of a button a menu screen appears allowing you to remap the controller, switch between widescreen and the original aspect ratio, as well as add CRT filters to really emulate the games’ original forms. However, the key addition is the ability to save anywhere and reload from that point. Each title offers up a stiff challenge that takes practise and patients to master, the ability to save and reload rather than lose precious lives and continues is a wonderful addition as well as a relief.

Mega Man Legacy 2

Additionally each title has a collection of concept art you can peruse, as well as a juke box of all the iconic chip-tunes from the series; it’s a real celebration of the Mega Man brand. Leaderboards and replays are also present, allowing you to compete against friends and foes for best completion times, as well as witness the playthrough themselves via the replay feature. Finally, a comprehensive set of challenges are also available that pit you against a timer and/or a finite set of lives as you work your way through different levels from each of the games strung together under a theme. It’s overflowing with content.

Indeed this collection is a testament to Mega Man. The quality of the level design, the platforming and combat, the catchy chip-tunes and the charming 8bit visuals, alongside the title’s bugs, glitches and oddities all perfectly preserved, make this a collection any fan must own. New comers are in for a stiff challenge but also a fascinating look at a bygone era of gaming that set the scene for many of today’s greats. Certainly they’ll be some put off by the difficulty, and some may question the reasoning behind keeping elements such as the slow-down when things get hectic, but it’s precisely these things that make Mega Man the experience that it is, Capcom clearly respect the original games and their fan base, resulting a wonderful collection of superb platformers.

Thanks to Xbox and Capcom for their support 

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Mega Man Legacy Collection announced

Capcom have announced the release of the Mega Man Legacy Collection, coming as a digital download on August 25.

Retailing at £11.99/$14.99/€14.99, the collection will bring with it all six of the 8-bit classics, and will include a Challenge Mode, which will remix segments from all six games with scaling difficulties, for players to experience.

The Mega Man Legacy Collection is a celebration of the classic series, and was possible by collection hundreds of high-resolution scans of vintage concepts sketches, production art, unused Robot Master designs. Along with access to the original soundtracks, with over 100 songs, to listen to on an in-game music player.

All six games will have a HD makeover, but will retain its 8-bit charms.

Mega Man Legacy Collection will release on Xbox One, Playstation, and PC.