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RELEASE DATE (NA): March 2010 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Formerly fighting for everlasting peace, Mega Man now fights for Robitussin.

NOTE: I am reviewing the PlayStation Network version of this game, but all versions are similar.

Mega Man: a legendary figure throughout the video game industry. Though never a supreme powerhouse in the sales department, the beloved Blue Bomber has always managed to capture a firm audience with pixel-perfect platforming action (as well as numerous voyages to other genres). Unfortunately, with big-budget shooters and massive 3D adventures becoming the norm, poor li'l Mega Man's classic jump-'n-shoot tactics faded into the background. However, with the advent of digital distribution upon us these days, creating platformers in the style of olde has been easier than ever. In 2008, Capcom revived its original Mega Man series with the release of Mega Man 9, in the 8-bit style to which old-school fans had been accustomed. Fans around the world rejoiced, and according to Capcom, sales were beyond their expectations. So it came as no surprise when Capcom announced, a year later, that Mega Man 10 was on its way. Aside from squashing the debate between the game titles "Mega Man 10" and "Mega Man X", the game also further solidified the fact that Mega Man is an eternal character and that the same formula can work well, even 23 years into its lifespan.

Mega Man 10 is, like many other games, another 8-bit excursion. And, just like Mega Man 9, the developers opted to retain only the basics of the game mechanics. Gone is his legendary slide. Gone is his ability to charge up his Mega Buster. A player who has become accustomed to these abilities may feel as though they've been left in the woods without any food, tents, or Xboxes. But without these extra amenities, the player is forced to rely on what they should be relying on the whole time: skill. The true Mega Master will be able to survive using his wits and reflexes alone, not powered-up shots and the like. But, for those who miss these abilities with a passion, there is hope for you yet. Mega Man 10 marks the first time that Proto Man is a playable character. Not only can he slide and charge up his shots, but he also boasts a shield that, while jumping, will protect him from most forms of harm. (Unfortunately, he also takes double the damage, so stay sharp!) Furthermore, thanks to the power of bonus downloadable content, for a small fee (about $2, or one fifth the cost of the game itself), you can play as that mysteriously cocky robot Bass, alongside his trusty canine companion, Treble, whose powers include shooting at seven different angles (making enemies above you a breeze to bring down), dashing, and when he hooks up with Treble, he can fly. Fly, Bass, fly! Having played through with all three characters, I was pleased with how different of an experience each one provides, especially Bass (who makes life so much easier). To make life even more easier for unseasoned players, an Easy mode was applied that reduces damage taken, weakens enemies, adds extra platforms (necessary or otherwise), and even plants Yashichis (old Capcom symbols used in early NES games) all over the place to restore life and weapon energy in times of need. If you can't finish the game on Easy mode, that's sad.

Other staples of the series have survived, including the use of tanks to refill energy. E-Tanks will restore life energy, W-Tanks will refill ONE weapon's energy, and M-Tanks fill up everything (though you can only hold one of these at a time, unfortunately). You can also call upon Rush (or Treble... or Proto Man's animal-free P.E.T.A. version) to give you a boost or a ride to whatever far-off platforms you think are necessary to visit. The Item Replicator (a.k.a. "the shop") makes an appearance again, allowing you to trade Screws you collect in your travels for items, such as tanks, extra lives, an Energy Balancer (to automatically fill low weapons), shock absorbers for those accidental times you step on spikes, Beat tokens for a free air-lift if you fall into one of gaming's bottomless pits, and even a Book of Hairstyles for Mega Man if you think he needs a new coif. I think it's cute how each main character goes to a separate store, particularly Bass, who buys his merchandise from a long-lost Mega Man character, Reggae the robot bird.

The Robot Master Lineup: Blade Man, Commando Man, Sheep Man, Chill Man, Solar Man, Nitro Man, Strike Man, Pump Man

The storyline, if you can bear it, is as follows: all is peaceful until one day when robots all over start sneezing unexpectedly -- including Roll -- and end up contracting a bad case of "Roboenza", the most horrifically-named illness to ever grace robot glands. Just as things seem unable to get any worse, they do: the infected robots go on a rampage and terrorize the city. Damn. Is there no hope? Somewhat unusually, Dr. Wily's saucer crash-lands (sort of -- Mega Man ends up catching it) at Dr. Light's laboratory, where he pleads for assistance. He had supposedly been tinkering with a machine capable of producing a cure for Roboenza (in pill form, complete with a nut wrapped around it -- I really hope it's not a suppository), but insane robots stole the parts. Dr. Wily requests Mega Man's humble aid in hunting down the culprits and retrieving those parts. Oh, poor daft Mega Man... why do you keep trusting Dr. Wily? Anyway, I have a few choice words about this plot. Basically, it's ridiculous. How exactly do robots get sick? I could understand if they contracted some sort of computer virus, transferred via a worldwide network, but do robots really "log on" to the Internet? I'm also thinking that Roboenza later served as a prototype for the Zero Virus introduced in Mega Man X5, set centuries later. Merely speculation, I know, but it's an interesting thought. And of course, what kind of a name is "Roboenza"? The first time I heard that, I immediately thought about how horrible that was. But what could possibly be better? "Robotulism", perhaps? Either way, all this sets you up for the battles with the hated Robot Masters! Get ready for the cold shoulder of Chill Man, the ...pumping action of Pump Man... er... the... uh... warm winter sweaters of Sheep Man, and the... umm... sub-pantaloon nudity of Commando Man? Alright, they are clearly running out of good ideas.

Alongside the main quest of Mega Man 10, you can also play a Time Attack through all the game's different stages, as well as a few additional ones (as paid downloadable content) where the end boss is one of the "Mega Man Killers" from the Game Boy Mega Man games (Enker, Punk, and Ballade). Successful completion of these adds each of their weapons to Mega Man's arsenal permanently in the regular quest.

Graphically, Mega Man 10 is... more or less on the same page as Mega Man 9. The game was purposely created using the NES's legendary 8-bit style, so do not expect to download this game expecting a brilliant work of art. Instead, the graphics are more thrifty and functional than eye-catching, though it's not a hideous game to look at, either. This also marks the first time that Bass and Treble have been playable in 8-bit form, so it's a bit jarring to see them rendered this way, as opposed to the SNES, PlayStation, and arcade incarnations of the dark hero. Everything looks as polished as ever, even in animations: Mega Man sneezing is very cute. There are more cutscenes than before, too, although they weren't always altered to reflect who actually did the work (Mega Man seems to get credit for defeating the first four Robot Masters, even if Proto Man or Bass did it instead). Capcom even was kind enough to reduce the total number of solely black backgrounds in stages in favour of neat patterns. The music and sound effects are also on par with past efforts, although I'm afraid, once again, I cannot really remember any of the tunes I heard. I can recall, however, that the music in Strike Man's stage sounded like it was ripped, to some degree, from one of the Flintstones NES games!

There is plenty of genius to be found in this game, perhaps owing to the fun the developers had in creating this marvel. The map screen is hilarious... well, maybe not at first, but near the end as we take a LONG, LONG journey to the final stage, you can tell they were parodying themselves. As well, the first boss of the fortress stages, replicating the attacks of different Robot Masters from Mega Man 1 through 9, was brilliant, or so I felt. (The Block Devil boss? Not so much brilliant as tedious.) And it's the little things that count, like the ability to switch weapons while the screen is scrolling, or just being able to jump through boss doors (can anybody resist doing that?) which make this game so charming. I consider it to be a bit more warming and friendly than Mega Man 9, to be honest, and in fact, to those few who have yet to experience the series, I'd highly recommend Mega Man 10 over Mega Man 9 any day. With its availability on the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, there's not much of an excuse NOT to give the Blue Bomber's latest adventure a try.

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