It’s the year 20XX and Dr. Wily has created a precursor to the Zero virus... No, wait a minute, back up and erase. To avoid spoiling too much, or being too snarky, let me just quote the game:
“A new robot illness, Roboenza, has begun to spread rapidly throughout the world, causing robots to malfunction. Many humans find it impossible to complete even simple tasks without their robot helpers; and without robot assistance, no one can develop a proper cure. A month following the outbreak, the situation worsens. The infected robots turn violent and attempt to take over the world!”
Dr. Wily claims to have been trying to develop a cure when he is rescued by Mega Man and consequently teams up with Dr. Light. If that doesn’t tell you something right there, you haven’t been playing enough of these games. (And I wrote all of this before playing the game!)
After 23-plus years, we’ve finally made it to the magical number 10 that proves once and for all that Mega Man X was not and was not going to become Mega Man 10. (Good thing though that Capcom long ago dispensed with using roman numerals for main series games...)
Aside from that, this game is downloadable in the same vein as Mega Man 9, which means you won’t find it on a shelf.
Just as a personal aside, years ago for Mega Man & Bass I made a comment about how Bass is a playable character in that game and Proto Man isn’t. Now for Mega Man 10 they’ve reversed that: Proto Man is playable by default and Bass must be purchased separately. Go figure.
As in Mega Man 9 and Mega Man & Bass, the three playable robots have different play styles. Mega Man is missing his Mega Buster and slide (which really aggravates me); these are given to Proto Man instead. Proto Man also has his shield (which protects him only while he’s jumping) but he mysteriously can only have two shots on the screen at once and he takes double damage from everything. Bass is very similar to his control in Mega Man & Bass except that he can’t double-jump; he has a dash instead of a slide and he can shoot at an angle. Because of this, he cannot shoot while moving. Also, his shots are weaker (to compensate for his rapid-fire) and do not go through the background, though he can have four shots on the screen at once.
- Play Control:
Pretty much the same. The characters feel ever so slightly sluggish at times, but otherwise, it’s not bad.
Not a whole lot has changed here. I like the title screen. The one for Mega Man 9 wasn’t bad either.
- Pretty much the same here. They added a few new animations for the story scenes, and of course Bass has entirely new sprites mimicking his animations from other games. It’s funny because even though they were trying to mimic the style of the other sprites, Bass looks kind of hunched over, whereas the other characters don’t, oddly enough.
- Although none of the tunes really jumped out at me, there is less reuse of old songs here, and more to the point, the music is less high-pitched overall than the Mega Man 9 tunes. So that makes it a lot easier on the ears.
- Sound Effects:
- Nothing much has changed, though I wish they wouldn’t use jumping and firing sound effects for the menus. You open the system menu and you think you accidentally fired off a shot or something.
- I don’t think I have to mention this, but robots don’t get sick. There, I said it. Now, Dr. Wily could easily make a computer virus that would cause the robots to misbehave in any manner of different ways but Dr. Light should have realized it was a computer virus from the start and not some influenza. Other than this nitpicky detail, my only real gripe with the plot is related to the fact that you have to choose between Mega Man or Proto Man from the start and can’t change during the game. This results in several plot inconsistencies such as Proto Man saying he’ll help and then doing absolutely nothing (if you choose to play as Mega Man) or Mega Man saying he’ll “go back out there” and get more missing pieces when he hasn’t been out there at all (if you play as Proto Man).
I suppose you could claim that there are more than eight Robot Masters and the other character is handling the ones you don’t see, but this doesn’t come out in the plot. (Not to mention Proto Man’s story scenes are mostly identical to Mega Man’s except shortened...)
- Difficulty: (normal to hard)
- I actually found this one to be slightly less difficult than Mega Man 9, believe it or not. Most of the stages are more reasonable this time around; mostly it’s the sheer amount of damage you’ll take if you’re not careful that will wear you down, not the stage’s obstacles per se. And mostly the difficulty here comes in the fact that Mega Man can’t slide, and there are quite a few enemies (especially those borrowed from games post-Mega Man 3 era) that would be very easy to dodge with a slide that become frustratingly difficult without. Come on, Capcom, give us back the slide! And while you’re at it, give us back a decent Mega Buster too!
- Replay Value:
- Since you can’t switch characters in midstream, you’re going to have to play the game multiple times if you want to see everything. The weapons aren’t quite as much fun here though, and Mega Man is still missing out on his Mega Buster and slide, and Proto Man’s variations of these are just as awful as ever. Bass is entertaining and significantly different from the standard game play, though he’s missing his double-jump.
- The map path leading to the space fortress is hilarious, at least for someone who knows the joke they’re making on earlier games. Not to mention that everything is upside down and you’re walking on the ceiling there, which is another cute touch. (What’s up or down in space anyway?)
The selected stage demo is also clever since you can see your progression in the missing Robot Master silhouettes. They also improved on the Item Replicator interface and a few other things.
- Overall: 82%
- I enjoyed this one more than Mega Man 9, for whatever reason. The weapons aren’t quite as much fun, but it would have been very hard to top Mega Man 9’s weapon set anyway. Overall the stages seem to be more reasonably designed, mostly manageable without being overly evil. (Many of the challenges are evil, but that’s different, they’re challenges!)
- + Plus:
- Saved games remember everything, including progress through the fortress! (At least on Easy Mode.) This one deserves an exclamation point. Now if only they’d extend this to Normal Mode as well...
- - Minus:
- I could name several things here, but I’ll just grab one: The weapon selection against bosses is getting increasingly boring. For virtually every boss in this game there is exactly one weapon that does any amount of damage at all to him, and the rest of the weapons are more or less worthless.
Since there’s a pure loop here you can just jump in wherever you wish and go around the circle. I find Sheep Man to be fairly easy to defeat without any special weapons, but since using T.Wool is such a pain on Pump Man, you might opt to just start with him instead.
When you’re finished with all of the hatches, on Easy Mode you’ll get a bunch of items. Don’t pick up any that you don’t need because if you die to Wily you end up back here, and you can then use whatever you left behind as needed.
- Octobulb: (Sheep Man’s stage)
- Run in either direction on either of the conveyer belts to charge the bulb and create platforms. Dodging the little bulbs and the sparks, jump onto one of the highest platforms and then blast the big bulb rapid-fire while it is lit.
- Suzak & Fenix: (Solar Man’s stage)
- The higher bird will toss little fireballs down at you. Where you want to stand depends on what mode you’re in. Easy Mode, just stand still and they will miss you. On Normal Mode, step toward the higher bird by about 1 block to dodge. Occasionally the birds will jet across the screen; jump the lower bird in this case. When one of the birds is destroyed, the other one will alternate between tossing fireballs and jetting across the screen. Since they have no energy meter it’s hard to say what weapon does the best damage on them, but try T.Blade for its reach. W.Shield can deal a lot of hits if you stand right next to the lower bird with it up.
- The Keeper: (Strike Man’s stage)
- The fists can damage you and also stun you if you’re standing on the floor when they hit down. The balls ricocheting around the room don’t help, either. Avoid the fists as they slam down and then jump on top of one. Ride it to the ceiling and shoot the head at the top of the screen. I find W.Shield works pretty well here both to do damage to the head and also to block the soccer balls for you. In the later version of this boss battle, you’ll have to be careful that the fist you’re standing on doesn’t send you either into the head itself, or into the sparks at the edge of the room.
- Tricastle: (Blade Man’s stage)
- Yes, you are fighting a castle. The cannons on the tops of the two turrets toss explosive balls downward in an arc at you. The castle entrance will occasionally open and release platforms that move horizontally off the screen. They have spikes on the sides so be careful about touching them. Shoot the three sets of eyes to deal damage to the boss. If you destroy the lower center set of eyes, the door will stay open and the platforms just keep coming. Destroying the upper sets of eyes prevents the associated cannon from shooting at you. I find S.Blaze to work well here because with it you can hit both of the upper sets of eyes in one blow.
- Weapons Archive 1: (Fortress Station 1)
- These pods utilize the weapons (but not the fighting patterns) of the displayed Robot Master. In this case, the left pod is Elec Man, the middle is Gemini Man, and the right is Wood Man. Use W.Cutter on Gemini Man (try hitting with it while holding it on your arm cannon), T.Blade on Wood Man, and either W.Cutter or just the T.Blade or your native Buster on Elec Man, whatever you find easiest to hit with. For Wood Man, S.Blaze will go through its shield, though it only does 1 damage. But you should be able to just jump its shield when the pod throws it and rapid-fire the pod to death with T.Blade.
- Weapons Archive 2: (Fortress Station 1)
- The left pod is Ring Man; the middle is Napalm Man; and the right is Flame Man. Use S.Blaze on Ring Man (get close to the pod if you hope to hit it with this), R.Striker on Napalm Man (wait until just as the pod tosses its bombs and then run underneath it when it “jumps”), and W.Shield on Flame Man (one shield should wipe out that pod).
- Weapons Archive 3: (Fortress Station 1)
- Left pod is Frost Man; middle is Slash Man; right is Tornado Man. The lightning produced by T.Wool will do the most damage against Tornado Man, but I find it easier to just use T.Blade. Likewise, C.Spike does the best damage against Slash Man but if you find yourself taking a lot of damage being close to him, try keeping your distance and using T.Blade or your native Buster (as Slash Man’s weapon is close-range only). For Frost Man, use C.Bomb and aim the bomb downward at the floor so that it explodes right next to the pod.
- Crab Puncher: (Fortress Station 2)
- Shoot the eyes to deal damage to the boss; you can also shoot the claws to destroy them separately, though you can’t hurt them while they are folded inward to shield itself. There are two strategies you can employ here. If you shoot the C.Bomb so that it hits the center while the claws aren’t shielding it there (where the bubbles come out), the bomb will explode, knock the crab back, and deal additional damage. (You can also knock it backward with any shot that hits an invulnerable part of the crab, but not quite as effectively.) Alternately, you can just use your native Buster, jump onto the platforms as needed, and rapid-fire the eyes and the bubbles that the crab shoots. (Proto Man’s shield will also block the bubbles while he is jumping.)
- Block Devil: (Fortress Station 3)
- The blocks always move in the same patterns, so try to memorize where it is safe for you to stand. For the first two pairs (the center four blocks when it is disassembling), you’re safe standing directly underneath it. After that you’ll have to move. Once the full-sized block is fully formed in the center of the room, the eye will move up from the bottom and enter the block. Shoot the eye to damage the boss, of course. If you can hit it with the lightning bolt from the T.Wool, do so. It’s not worth shooting it with the cloud itself. This means that in order to use T.Wool you’ll have to wait for the block to move lower on the screen. Don’t shoot it when the block is high. (Just blast away with your native cannon in the meantime.)
After the eye fires a couple of shots at you, it moves off the screen again and the block disassembles in the reverse order that it assembled. After that, the eye appears below the field, and the lavender blocks on the walls and floor shoot outward a short distance in sequence, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Stand on a safe place on the floor on the opposite side of the room from the eye and hop and shoot the eye repeatedly with the T.Blade. Each shot only does 1 damage but you can get a good 5-6 damage overall of free hits before the eye disappears and the whole cycle repeats.
- Wily 1st time:
- Jump onto the first missile and stand there until it is just about to go off the screen (and out from underneath your feet) and then jump onto the second missile. Fire away the entire time with either your native Buster or the S.Blaze. You should end up shooting the first little homing missile out of the air and then you’ll either shoot the second one as well or drop down to the floor in time to avoid being hit by it (depending on your mode). You’ll also be damaging Wily’s craft in the process.
- Wily 2nd time:
- First he’ll go high in the air, moving back and forth while firing four spiral shots. Each shot meanders slowly toward where you were standing when the shot was fired. So position yourself accordingly and then move away from where you were standing so that the shot doesn’t head toward you. While doing this, equip the W.Shield, activate a shield, then fire it off so that the droplets spiral out and hit Wily’s pod.
After firing the four spiral shots, Wily will move to the right side of the screen and drop down. At this point ditch your W.Shield and equip your native weapon (on Xbox you can press and together to do this quickly) and stand just underneath Wily’s pod, right in front of (to the left of) the destroyed missile launcher. This is the only place where you are safe from his T.Wool-like attack. Wait here until Wily rises into the air again, and then equip the W.Shield again and repeat. If you run out of energy for the W.Shield I suggest using a Weapon Tank because it’s just a pain to try to jump and shoot Wily directly. If you get caught in a cage, equip your native Buster and rapid-fire the cage until you break free.
- Wily 3rd time:
- There’s a real Wily and a decoy. Obviously, shoot the real one to do damage to his health meter; shooting the fake just causes its head to bounce on a spring. The pods appear in various locations, but you can reach pretty much all of them at any time because your jumping height is enhanced here. Wily has two main attacks when he appears. He’ll either shoot a small series of little spheres that move toward you (so keep moving so that they go where you were, not where you are), and then these spheres get sucked into one of the two pods the next time they appear. The other attack shoots a larger sphere from one pod to the other, then the receiving pod fires the sphere back horizontally, while raining down other spheres at intervals. Because of your enhanced jumping height you can sometimes just jump over this, or stand between the shots. Sometimes when he appears Wily will simply duck down, flinching away from you, instead of attacking, and almost immediately disappear again. C.Spike is about the only weapon which does anything useful here (jump up and toss it downward onto Wily’s pod), but for Proto Man, charged shots are easier to use and do more damage to boot, so just use your P.Buster.
There are no passwords; you have to rely on saved games. You get 8 slots (at least on the Xbox) regardless of how much actual storage space you have. (Though I guess if you have multiple storage devices you can switch between them, though you’d have to start at the beginning each time.)
On the other hand, if you’re playing on Easy Mode then saved games remember everything, including what station of the fortress you’re on. So ignore the admonitions I’ve made about other games regarding not saving during the fortress; you can even shop during the fortress, though you’ll have to do it before saving because loading the game later puts you immediately at the next station. (In Normal Mode, you can shop if you lose all your lives and continue...)
Note that Proto Man’s variations on Rush are identical in function; they just have different names.
The Item Replicator is pretty preserved here from Mega Man 9 except that it’s Dr. Light and Auto running it now since Roll is sick. Also, the interface has been improved. (Granted, the Mega Man 9 interface was quite similar to Mega Man IV’s interface, but hey, improvements are good.)
- Rush Coil: You start the game with this.
- Rush Jet: Proto Man starts with his version of this. Mega Man gets his after defeating four Robot Masters.
- Treble Boost: Bass starts the game with this.
Mega Man’s Shop
Proto Man’s Shop
Proto Man has fewer things to spend his Screws on, so, naturally, everything costs more.
For Bass, it’s Reggae running the shop, which I believe marks the first English game where Reggae is actually identified.
- Play the challenges. They’re almost tutorials in many ways, and teach you some of the finer points of classic series game play in condensed little snippets of evil. (Look out below!)
- Having trouble beating bosses? The usual adage applies: Enter a stage, any stage; gather Screws; lose all your lives; go to the shop and buy lots of Energy Tanks.
- Here’s something fun you can try in the final station of the fortress. Use the Moles to fill up all of your weapons and your health. Make absolutely certain all weapons are completely full. Then wait until you have a bunch of Moles all around you and use your M-Tank. You’ll get a ton of 1-Ups and then you can replace the M-Tank right before reaching Wily.
- The Easy Mode here is not quite as insanely easy as Mega Man Zero 4’s Easy Mode, but it does have the following effects:
Note: You can still unlock achievements while playing on Easy (*cough*) so give that a try if you need to. As Sean mentions, it doesn’t matter which character you use, either.
- Special propeller platforms are placed to provide additional stepping-stones. Note that you can’t drop Rush Coil onto the Easy Mode platforms, and items won’t land on them either. You can jump upward through them as well. They effectively “aren’t there” except that you can stand on them. I find their placement to be oddly arbitrary; they are found in many places where they really aren’t needed, yet at the same time it seems that for a couple of the most difficult jumps they are mysteriously missing.
- You find lots of Yashichi items scattered throughout the levels on Easy Mode, and usually one before every boss gate.
- Some enemies are missing entirely in Easy Mode.
- Some enemy attack patterns have been altered to make them easier to deal with.
- All damage dealt to you is halved in Easy Mode.
- Unlock Hard Mode by beating the game on Normal difficulty.
Mega Man’s Ending
Dr. Wily is doing his usual beg routine when Mega Man notices he has a fever. He asks if Wily has come down with the Roboenza. Now in all fairness, the game does not actually come right out and say that he has. Wily, after all, comments “But I’m a human” as if this makes a difference. So it could be that Wily merely came down with a bout of the plain ol’ flu with remarkably ironic timing. I will leave it to you the reader to decide for yourself which explanation the game authors intended.
Either way, Mega Man takes Dr. Wily to the hospital, from which the scientist breaks out and escapes, but Wily is considerate enough to leave behind a bunch of Roboenza cures before he takes off.
Proto Man’s Ending
Same as with Mega Man’s ending, except that Proto Man calls it “poetic justice” that Dr. Wily came down with the flu, and then comments that he should just leave him there. But evidently he doesn’t follow through on this threat, because the next thing you see is the scene of Wily breaking out of the hospital. (Either Proto Man brought him there after all, or Mega Man or Bass found him and carted him in, or Wily managed to drag himself there...)