Reviews of Mega Man 9 make the game intimidating. While Mega Man 9 isn’t a walk in the park, during the Wily castle levels the stages can be downright punishing, it’s also surprisingly accessible for newcomers to the classic Mega Man series. The NES Mega Man games required quick reflexes and a good memory to note death traps. Mega Man 9 follows this in spirit, but it’s considerably more forgiving than the older games. Auto’s item shop is the great equalizer.
Borrowing an idea from a Game Boy Mega Man game, Mega Man 9 lets players purchase life saving items like energy tanks, spike protection, and a damage reducing shield by forking over screws. You don’t need to replay levels just to grab energy tanks anymore. Screws are liberally dropped by Wily’s lesser robots too. So while you’re cursing about falling into the same pit for the tenth time Mega Man is passively getting stronger as your screw surplus increases. If the robot masters are too difficult can load up on energy tanks and forget about learning the enemy patterns since you’re loaded with extra life. Scared of spikes? Arm yourself with three shock guard items and you can afford some mistakes. Pits? Beat can save you from plummeting to your death up to three times. Sure you still have to earn the screws, but it’s possible to grind your way through Mega Man 9 with a little perseverance.
Mega Man 9 also removes sliding and charging, providing you don’t get the Proto Man pack, which simplifies the controls. You don’t have to constantly hold down the fire button to charge the Mega Buster and there aren’t many fast moving enemies you need to slide away from. Actually, the Mega Buster feels more effective since charging was taken out of the game. Most enemies turn to scrap metal from a single shot rather than one charged shot or a burst of Mega bullets like in Mega Man 6.
However, the weapon of choice for Mega Man initiates is the Hornet Chaser. This weapon shoots three hornets which lock on to enemies. If you don’t know what you’re doing during a boss fight you can fire Hornet Man’s weapon and focus on dodging. The Hornet Chaser is especially useful for the last fight and great for taking out some of the mini-bosses like Magma Man’s pet dragon. Tornado Man’s weapon is also invaluable since you can use it clear the entire screen and remove Mets ready to shoot you into a pit of lethal spikes.
If you just want to beat the game and see the ending Mega Man 9 really isn’t a frightful challenge like Mega Man 1 without using the Elec man glitch. Don’t be scared of taking the Mega Man 9 challenge beating it is very rewarding. Capcom’s challenges like beating the game without getting hit and other tasks for the hardcore Mega Man fans are a different story.
Images courtesy of Capcom.