So do I hate Mega Man 10?

With my LP series ending on such a sour note, a lot of people have asked me if I ended up hating Mega Man 10. The answer is tricky. On its face, I don’t like the game as it presents itself in Normal Mode, and as played by Mega Man. There are a lot of reasons for this, but they pretty much all boil down to this: without his slide and his charged attack, Mega Man just doesn’t have the tools he needs to blaze through things the way he does in earlier titles.

But Mega Man 9 didn’t have this problem, so what’s changed? If I had to guess, I’d say the biggest change was Capcom’s mission statement. Mega Man 9 was built as a return to form, after all. The dev team went back to the last game in the series that was universally praised, Mega Man 2, and used that as a template for a new adventure. By scraping away all the cruft that the series had accumulated over the years, they went on to create a masterpiece. Indeed, most fans I’m acquainted with hold MM9 as one of their favorites in the series.

They had to go bigger and badder in MM10, though, and that bigness and badness was injected directly into the boss fights. I cannot remember a group of robot masters that gave me as much trouble as the ones in this game. Even in the Skull Fortress refights, even after I’d figured out the proper weapons to use, the bad guys still give me nightmares. Mega Man’s arsenal in MM10 is so gimmicky and so difficult to work with that it’s almost worth just packing E Tanks and brute forcing your way through the fights just so you don’t have to deal with them.

Most of Mega Man’s weapons in this game have two stages. The first stage is the shot itself, which is useless. The second is some manifestation of the shot; an explosion, or a directional change, or a delayed attack. That’s the part you have to try and hit the boss with. You can’t just point your gun and blast away anymore. No, now you have to make sure your timing and positioning are precise or your attack won’t connect. (Or, it will connect, but won’t deal any damage.) Of course while you’re dicking with that the boss is hopping around and using his own attacks. You have to dodge these, not only making sure you avoid damage but also putting yourself in a proper position to fire back.

In every Mega Man game I’d ever played up through 2010, there were two ways to kill a boss: you could learn his pattern well enough to survive, or you could come packing that boss’s weakness. There were slight exceptions and variations on this basic premise throughout the course of twenty-odd games, but that’s the gist of it. But in Mega Man 10 you have to learn the boss fight whether you’ve got the right weapon or not. You can only hit Blade Man during specific parts of his attack pattern. You’ve got to keep a very specific distance from Pump Man, or your weapon will be ineffective. You’ve got to anticipate Nitro Man’s attack and counter it before he initiates it.

All my life, I’ve been able to outline boss strategies as “Top Man is weak to Hard Knuckle.” And while you can do that forMega Man 10 every such description has a little asterisk next to it. Trying to stir the formula after all these years just ruined the experience for me.

I realize a lot of people will read that explanation and not get it. Players who had fun with Mega Man 10 because of (or perhaps in spite of) this change in formula. Really, it’s the equivalent of the dudes who bitched about the physics and momentum changes in Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Many people didn’t mind getting used to the new physics, but a lot of veteran Sonic players didn’t understand why they should bother.

I don’t understand why I should bother learning to evade Nitro Man’s pattern just so I can kill him with the proper weapon. Not when I have so many other Mega Man games on the shelf that don’t make such demands of me. I liked the old formula; why force myself to like this new one?

I did have fun with some of my Mega Man 10 replays. It’s the kind of game that becomes more enjoyable through familiarity, and by “familiarity” I of course mean “memorization”. It’s also got Easy Mode and Bass Mode, both of which make the core experience more fun. It’s just a damn shame, though, that I can’t play the game as the proper hero on the proper difficulty and enjoy it.

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7 comments to So do I hate Mega Man 10?

  • kaisel

    It really seemed like MM10 was supposed to be more about combat challenges over platforming (which is better for me), but they screwed up the balance by forgetting Mega Man can’t slide. I kind of wish they could combine MM9 and MM10 and take the good stuff out of both, and mix ’em together. MM9 had too many annoying platforming challenges for it to be an all-time great for me, and MM10 has too many stupid boss weapons.

  • Metal Man Master

    While I thought Nitro Man’s weakness was pretty clever (when you can actually hit him with it nn;), those bosses really are a big pain when you’ve gotta hit them at a specific time in a specific way. Especially Blade Man, since he’s leaping around like Spider-Man tossing swords at you and you have to hit him with the blast of his weakness.

    I firmly believe Mega Man 10 borrowed quite a bit from the crappier aspects of the Mega Man & Bass school of boss design, particularly Burner Man. The bastard’s weakness is Ice Wall, but in the sense that you have to use it to push him into the spikes…and we’re talking about a foe who’s batshit crazy on the offensive here. I never would’ve beaten him if I hadn’t mixed in regular attacks while waiting for him to put himself in position for Ice Walling.

    Dynamo Man’s annoying too, but in a “I can regenerate my health suck it” way.

  • Destil

    I still haven’t played it (may not even bother), but it looks like they missed the boat by not adding a slide to Mega Man. It would have ‘worked’ as a MM2->MM3 sort of transition.

    Also, master weapons suck more than they should, never-mind two-staged attacks. There’s a few that are cool (Strike Man’s, Commando Man’s) but most are either too fiddly, too expensive or both.

  • Kadj

    Not a MM player here, but after watching the LP, I think that the bosses probably would have been a lot more playable(though also a lot easier) if the weapons weren’t interrupted on collision during the first stage, for those two-stage weapons. Thunder Wool or whatever would still reach the lightning bolt mode, ice spikes would deploy if they froze Nitro or not, Commando Bomb would still explode so you don’t have to be so absurdly precise, and so on. It would also take the sting out of wasting one of those weapons that use a lot of energy by misfiring.

    • Brickroad

      There are only a few multi-stage weapons in the first nine MM games, but they all function just like you describe. You get the full hit on Quick Man whether you hit him with the Crash Bomb or with its explosion. The benefit to the explosion is scoring multiple hits, but catching him with the shot itself is still worthwhile. This way you can aim at the boss, and not at the wall where you think the boss might be three seconds from now.

      I wonder if Bright Man can be damaged with the little green blob that causes Rain Flush. Worth trying maybe! Well not really.

  • I was gonna bitch at you for playing the game all wrong but yea… Kinda hard to argue with that logic. I liked 10 because it was different from the previous ones. But you make a very good point. All the previous Mega Man games where very intuitive. You blast a robot master with a certain weapon and you’ll do big damage if you use the correct weapon. When I played 10 for the first time I didn’t figure out the correct weakness chain until the refights, a good Mega Man game simply doesn’t do that.

    The game becomes a lot more fun once you get the boss patterns down and you know how to use the special weapons, but yea the other games only forced you to learn a bosses pattern. Now you have to deal with aiming the commando bomb, making sure you don’t waste a lot of shots using thunder wool, and making sure Nitroman doesn’t break your spikes etc etc etc. The whole thing would have been significantly improved if that was only the case in say hard mode. (Hard mode, use weapons more precise. Normal mode even the shot itself counts)

    Now with that said, is there any chance we get to see more Mega Man games? 4 would be a good idea even IF you have to deal with the really boring Cossack stages.

  • i agree with your article , MM10 was just too difficult for me , then again i’m really not a mega man fan persay , i’m stuck as to what boss to fight, i killed chill man but every boss after i can’t kill , tryed commando, blade man, and a few others and i’m just puzzled what to do next then again i kinda suck at mega man, i’m definitely not a terrible gamer i recently i beat(platinumd) dragons crown and alice madness

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