Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mega Man 9 (Wii, XBox 360, Playstation 3, 2008)

Mega Man classic returns after a 12-year hiatus! It's enough to make one's nipples hard in anticipation.

Playing the Wiiware version of this one. The Wii classic controller feels more like an old-school controller than a PS3 or 360 controller would, and this game is all about feeling old-school.

We begin with The Story So Far, as Wily has surrendered and dedicated his life to good after eight resounding defeats. No word on where Bass ran off to.

The World, of course, is super-gullible and thinks the trouble is over now that Wily has surrendered and dedicated himself to peace. Maybe he'll build a big Peacemaker robot! Let's help him collect parts, Megaman!

But wait! Robots around the world are going wild! I've never seen so many robot boobs!

...and they're Dr. Light's robots! Indeed, for the first time since the original game, the Robot Masters here are Dr. Light creations.

Dr. Wily somehow secures some primetime ad-space to let everyone know that it wasn't him this time. Well, that settles it! Let's help Wily save the day, Megaman!

We get some doctored(?) footage of the evil Dr Light trying to get Dr. Wily to join him. Dr. Wily would never do that!

Well, Dr. Light has been effectively besmirched here.

They turned Flip-Top into a phone? My God!

Time for Mega Man to swing into action and fight Dr. Light's robots. He isn't kidding, this is over a decade after the previous game in real-world time. That was a long wait. Wonder if we'll ever get a Mega Man X9.

 The boss selection in this game is one of the best in the series. They're a lot more appealing than the previous few installments. Best of all, each one of them has a useful weapon; you don't just use each weapon against the boss weak to it like some of the games in this series. Nope, the weapons come in handy for a variety of situations.

This game is notable for being the only Mega Man game EVER to have a female robot master. Well, aside from whatever the hell Boomer Kwanger is.

No charged shots or sliding here. It's just your basic jumping and shooting ala the very first two games in the series.

Splash Woman's stage is the second or third easiest of the eight, but it's still trickier than anything in Mega Man 10. This section requires you to use tiny bubbles as very-temporary footsteps as you ascend up a passageway.

The insane difficulty level of this game is apparent right from the get-go... the only game in the series that might be more difficult is the very first one. Even that I'm unsure of.

The inventory has some later-series innovations, like Bolts that you can use to buy things. The fact that this game has E-Tanks is the one thing making it easier than the first game. There are also various defensive buffs and items that save you from pits and spikes.

Auto's shop is where you spend your bolts. From left to right you've got extra lives, E-Tanks, Mega Tanks (!!!), Flip-Top summon (he shows up and throws stuff at you), Beat (saves you from a pit one time). Lower line is the Energy Balancer (which does what it usually does in these games, and lasts forever, meaning it's something you should buy ASAP), 1/2 (reduces damage taken by half for a whole stage or until you game over, quite nice), Spike Guard (protects you from spikes once). The last two are Roll and a book that makes Mega Man take off his helmet for the stage (meaning he takes more damage). Not sure what Roll does.

Get to the end, and... can't say we've ever seen this before. Dr. Light doors. Of course, these robot masters ARE Dr. Light creations...

Heh, how fitting is it that in order to finally get a female Robot Master, they had to be created by Dr. Light? I guess Wily really is dong-obsessed after all.

Splash Woman's existence almost...ALMOST undoes all the damage to women's advancement that has been done by Ke$ha. The fight itself is pretty simple; I'd go so far as to say she's the easiest robot master to start with in the series. Her stage is much tougher than she is, though. This begins a trend throughout the whole game of the stages being exponentially harder than their bosses. This is the reverse of a lot of games in this series.

But wait! Next thing we know, Dr. Light is kidnapped by Wily's fake police robots. Why didn't Auto stop them? He's a burly dude. Whatta useless loser Auto is. Ya know what, Auto? You make me sick.

Concrete Man's stage has three elephant minibosses that are, to say the least, a pain in the ass. The first one is incredibly easy to defeat, but the second two are quite an impasse. Especially #3, which features pits and air currents pulling you around.

The stage kinda reminds me of Toad Man's stage in a roundabout way. Has similar vision-obscuring waterfalls.

Concrete Man himself bears a striking resemblance to Violen from the X series...weird. He's easy to defeat, at least, and falls quickly to the Laser Trident. That's Splash Woman's shield-penetrating weapon, one of the most useful in a game full of useful weapons.

For comparison, here's Violen. Concrete Man is like Proto-Violen.

This would be a good time to mention the Challenges. The game has a whole list of them. In the 360 and PS3 versions, some of these are achievements or trophies. They're generally fun to try getting (especially the ones for beating particular bosses in under ten seconds). Some of them are nearly impossible, like Invincible (beat the game without dying) or Mr. Perfect (beat the game without dying OR TAKING A HIT).

 Here's another crazy one. Just managing to get to one pixel exactly without dying would be tricky, much less doing that while defeating a boss. ...much less doing this for every boss. I could see someone pulling this off by accident on one boss, but not all of them. If it has to be in one run...geez.

They should just go all-out with these things and have a challenge for beating the game without taking a hit after the first room of any given stage while only using the mega buster and maintaining your health at one pixel from the second room on and also never stopping moving for more than half a second like the movie Speed.

The next boss I take on is the one I probably should have fought first, the prancing dandy lad known as Galaxy Man. See him gaily skip!

I was hoping this would be one of the low-gravity stages that occasionally pop up in the series, but no dice. Still, the space theme is pretty cool, and the stage itself is the easiest in the game.

Galaxy Man is easily beaten with the regular buster, but the Concrete Shot totally dismantles him if you can reliably land your shots. Takes a little practice.

His weapon is basically an area effect attack that draws in enemies in a fairly big radius. No relation to Abyss' BLACK HOLE SLAM.

Next up is Jewel Man's stage, which has to be the stage I struggled with the most in this game. It's BRUTAL.

The miniboss - the aptly-named Boulder Head - is one of the cheapest fights in the game. Boulders rain down and only one of them is damageable...which you only get a few seconds to do. Once I got the hang of it, I was able to nearly get through it flawlessly. Still, sometimes the game just throws multiple boulders at you in such a way that you can't dodge them. In closing, this fight suuuuux.

And then you have rooms like this that are lined with spikes and have platforms placed in the worst ways possible. This stage almost seems like it was designed as a rib on the players.

Jewel Man himself has a shield weapon, but the Black Hole Bomb actually destroys his shield and makes quick work of him. As far as shield weapons go, this is a pretty standard one for the series.

Here's one of the challenges I mentioned before: Defeat a boss in under ten seconds. There's one of these for each Robot Master. They're fun to shoot for; even with special weapons it's sometimes tricky to dispatch these bosses in ten seconds. I managed to do this with every boss except Galaxy Man. He teleports and flies out of reach quite a bit, and I couldn't find any way to beat him in under 20 seconds or so. It's funny because he's one of the easiest.

For a moment, I misread this as "piece of crap". I was gonna call out Auto for being a foul-mouthed jerk.

 ::a high-pitched scream occurs as the disappearing blocks return for Plug Man's stage::

Plug Man's stage has a place early-on where you can activate Jewel Shield and stand under a pipe that infinitely spawns enemies. It's a good way to farm bolts/currency and extra lives, though be prepared to leave the game running for five hours or so to hit 999 bolts. And lest you think this trick will help make the game manageable overall if done early, keep in mind that you need Jewel Man's weapon first which means beating the worst of the eight stages. Get that one out of the way and the farming can begin... though it might not be terribly needed anymore. There are always the upcoming Wily stages, I guess.

The extra lives aren't as great as you'd think either, since you can't exit out of the stage. I don't think there's a way to do that even if you've beaten the stage. Basically you're stuck using those lives on this stage because you have to get through it or game over to get back to the stage select. I managed to only lose a couple lives getting through the rest of the stage, leaving me with 7 or so going into whichever next stage I'd decide to do. Nice.

There's another spot later in the stage where you can farm TWO infinitely-respawning enemies, which might double the rate of bolt-gaining. Should have left it running on this spot instead. I'll leave a note here for future generations.

Plug Man himself is Spark Man 2.0. He's got the same uneven room and the same sparkplug-yness. Even his weapon looks almost identical to Spark Man's weapon, except it travels along the floor/wall rather than firing straight.

 I return to the base, and...what the fook?

Tornado Man is next...he looks like Wood Man if Wood Man lost weight.

His stage is full of these platforms that spin Mega Man vertically. Factor in spikes, and it isn't a fun time. ...until you realize that you can Rush Jet past all of this stuff really easily.

We can't just have icy platforms or spikes... we gotta have both of them. Yeah.

Yeah, Tornado Man sure looks a lot like Wood Man. I feel like they reused quite a few boss designs in this game, with small modifications. I blast him with electricity and move on quickly.

Tornado Blow...heh

Magma Man's stage is next. It's full of fiery death-beams, and it's NO HEAT MAN'S STAGE, SIR.

This miniboss is a big bad dragon, but the Black Hole Bomb dismantles him AND blocks his attacks.

Magma Man himself is like some sort of demonic fusion of Heat Man and Toad Man. The Tornado weapon obliterates him almost before the fight can even start. Some of these boss fights are disappointingly easy, especially with their weaknesses. Compared to their stages, they're simple.

Hornet Man's stage is a weird land of insects and plants. ...Robotic insects and plants. Why? Why do we have robot insects and plants? This is like the ultimate evolution of technology replacing things that we know. First books get replaced by the Kindles, soon it'll be like this! It's a slippery slope!

The miniboss here is a weird little flower that pops out of platforms while a giant branch-thing rotates around the room. This game LOVES minibosses, which I appreciate.

 Hornet Man (which I just misspelled "Horney Man") is a fairly simple boss. He's got the homing weapon du jour, bees that home in on you. Luckily you can shoot them out of the air. Magma Cannon makes short work of him, and can be charged up to make even shorter work of him.

The last robot master gives up a chip with some damning footage of Dr. Wily sowing dissent among the robots. So...he didn't reprogram Light's bots or anything, he just convinced them to turn heel? Huh.

Notice how Hornet Man is missing. Whichever boss you defeat last won't be here, since the footage is from their point of view.

With a face like that, you know you can trust Dr. Wily!

Auto looks like he's about to go postal on these fools.

Time for the Wily Fortress. If this were a true NES-era game, this would be an L and it'd be "Dr. Light's Fortress" as I take on the fake Light before moving onto the Wily Fortress. That said, this game is quite difficult and I'm glad it only has one fortress.

Time to hit the shop. Once the fortress begins, you can't shop anymore without leaving, so it's imperative to bring all the items that you'll need. E-Tanks are a given, while the 1/2 Guard powerup is a HUGE boon when used correctly. You can only have one of those but it's well worth it. Also the Energy Balancer and Mega Tank are fairly crucial to grab. The spike-protection and Beat are good too because they save you from instant-death situations, so buy a few of those. The chip farm in Plug Man's stage really eases the pain of having to buy all this stuff. Beat the first eight stages, leave the game on with the chip farm running while you sleep or go to work, and you'll be ready to take on Wily's Fortress when you get back.

Wily does his usual snickering. It's been over a decade, though, so it's good to see it again.

Four castle stages in this game, and, as I mentioned, no second castle afterwards (which seems to be exclusive to Mega Man 4 through 6).

Nearly all of the special weapons get heavy use in the Wily stages. Here I use Tornado Man's weapon to raise some wind-driven platforms.

A one-up that seems to be WAY out of reach is no problem when you use Hornet Man's weapon. Turns out the homing hornets also retrieve items and bring them back to you if there are no enemies to home in on. This game has a great set of weapons, possibly the best in the series.

HAW! Behold as I circumvent all obstacles!

...well, you're supposed to use Rush Jet here since it's a Fortress stage...not like I'm really circumventing anything.

First Wily stage boss is this room of death. You push the spike balls back towards the things on the right to destroy them, and have to do this a bunch of times while they all fire at you. It's a job for the regular buster.

Second Wily stage has some underwater action. These jumps should be easier with low gravity, but they're actually trickier because you can bump into the ceiling and kill your momentum.

 Second boss is a giant shark-ship that transpires in three sections while the Jaws theme plays. Well, no, but it should have. It's a pretty unique boss, and I approve.

 I like that this giant shark is basically sitting on land. Seems like this fight should have been underwater.

Third Wily stage has some interesting vertical challenges where Mega Man gets pushed upwards by some unseen force. To avoid the spikes, you use Mega Man's arm cannon to push him back and forth. Pretty cool. 

However, all of that spike-dodging is just a warmup for the third Wily stage boss. The Yellow/Green Devil returns, and now there are two of it. This is probably the trickiest fight in the game, but it isn't as bad as the Mega Man 1 and 3 variations on the fight.

The 1/2 damage guard powerup from the shop is quite nice to have, but you can only use it for one stage, and it's a tough call whether to use it here or on the final stage. I'd say save it for the finale and just use E-Tanks here, though that runs the risk of using too many of them if you jump the gun. This fight is winnable with one E-Tank, perhaps two. Black Hole Bomb is the way to go, but it requires precise timing to hit the boss with it the rare times it's vulnerable.

Last stage consists of the iconic capsule room. My favorite part of some Mega Man games because you can re-do the bosses with all their weaknesses and everything you've learned.

This is a primo opportunity to go for those ten-second kill challenges, too.

Beat all the bosses again and a MAN-SIZED capsule appears. Actually, it's the same size as the other capsules, but for some reason it looks bigger at first glance. Some kind of optical illusion going on here.

Wily himself pilots one of the coolest skull tanks in the series. It's the T-Rex of skull tanks, and you defeat it by bouncing the nuts that it launches back at it.

It has not one, not two, but THREE forms, and all of them are a bit tricky. With the 1/2 Guard ability running, however, this stage is fairly simple. If you used it to get past the Twin Devil, this will be a close shave unless you have a bunch of E-Tanks left. Course, this applies to "regular" players; ace players will have a different experience.

In any case, form two loses the skull helmet and now you can directly shoot at the head to damage it. Defeat this form and you get...

...Teleporting Saucer Wily. He has the usual attack patterns, and hornets work well. They don't home in on this fight, but they fire diagonally which is generally the direction he appears in.

Wily begs for mercy, and Mega Man is like "oh okay, you talked me into it!"

Man, I like X so much more than this guy.

We get arguably the coolest shot of the game at this point, as Mega Man calls out Wily for all of his past misdeeds. The first two rows are from Mega Man 1 through 6, while the third row has NES-ized versions of Mega Man 7, 8, and Rockman and Forte. Best part is that each shot has Mega Man actually using the weapon that Wily is weak to in that particular game.

The ending has Dr. Wily reveal that Dr. Light is being held captive in a cage nearby, saying that the Dr. Light back at the base was a fake. Mega Man, of course, believes him.

Protoman actually jumps down to tell Mega Man that it's probably a trap. Mega Man squeaks something about having to save Dr. Light and Protoman is like "okay dude, whatever" and warps off. Mega Man goes over to "Dr. Light" and gets electrocuted by what appears to be a stuffed Dr. Light mannequin or something.

Wily then escapes, of course. The most notable thing about this scene? The police robots on the left and right. That sprite would be perfect for Cop Man. Make it happen, Capcom. Seeing as how all of these robot masters are based on real-world jobs, it's kinda shocking that we haven't ever gotten a Cop Man.

Credits roll, with some pretty cool artwork. We see the various robot masters go back to doing what they normally do. Hornet Man went back to watering plants, Plug Man went back to providing electricity to homes, and Splash Woman went back to being a pleasure droid.

 Wait, what the hell? Is Jewel Man proposing to Roll?

And the next shot has...birds and bees. I don't know what they're getting at here.

Auto: "Oh yeahhh! Work with me!"

So what's the verdict on this game? It's awesome. Given the lapse in time before this game and the way the fans demanded it, Capcom could have easily phoned this one in and still had it sell well. Instead, they gave us a damn good game with a strong retro style. It has one of the best weapon sets in the whole series and some compelling boss fights. Just about the only weakness of this game is the high difficulty, but that just challenges you to be better until it's no longer a factor (which happens surprisingly quickly).


  1. This game really looks spectacular.
    There should be more female robot masters. There's a lot they could do with that. I understand now why the X series went with animal robot masters, too.
    I too greatly enjoyed the scene where you see all the previous times Wily bowed down to Mega Man. "This time..."
    I also like the stages being difficult and especially the weapons being so useful. That shows design skill.
    This is just what we're looking for in a Mega Man: new concepts with classic gameplay. Where would you rank it? When will you do Rockman and Forte?

  2. This game shows tons of design skill. The stages are really difficult but once you're good at it they fly by. So you can see your own progression in being good at the game (if you don't give up early on). The weapons all being useful is another huge deal. It's rare that that's the case and it shows a lot of thinking on the part of the designers.

    I don't know for sure where I'd rank it because I wouldn't rank it higher than some of the earlier games personally, yet I feel like it might be the most well-designed of the classic series. MM2 and 3's music puts them higher for me though I question their better-ness.

    I'll do Rockman and Forte sooner or later. Also want to do some fanmade spinoffs like Mega Man Vs. Street Fighter and Rockman 8 FC. And of course, the X series.

  3. You'd think for 200 chips the Roll one would be something amazing, right? Wrong. She changes to her MM8 outfit, which you can barely see in 8-bit.

    Whoa, I never noticed that POV thing, that's awesome.

    MM9 absolutely has the best set of weapons in the series!

    If I remember right, Cop Man there is the boss of the Endless stage... or Challenge stage? Been a while. I think he's called "Fake Man."

    Tornado Man's job seems to be.... being Mega Man's best friend!

    Mega Man 9 is amazing.