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Friday, September 7, 2018

Mega Man 11 Nintendo Switch Demo With Block Man

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Just don't try to do real-time weapon change and the game is much better.

Remember when I was complimenting Mega Man 11 and CAPCOM a lot based on how Mega Man 11 looked back at E3 2018? Well, they brought a modified version of the demo — Block Man's stage — over to the Nintendo eShop for a pre-release demo! (The game releases in a month, after all.)

Of course I'm going to play the demo for myself. And I'll tell you what I think about it.

Mega Man 11 Demo Version title screen Nintendo Switch eShop CAPCOM
Let's start Mega Man 11 demo version.
First of all, there are four difficulty modes, three of which are available: Newcomer, Casual, Normal, and the unavailable Superhero mode. Your difficulty level affects many different things, including damage given/taken, the availability of helpful pick-ups, the regeneration speed of your Double Gears (as well as how much time you get to use them), how much weapon energy is used up per shot when you use a special weapon, the availability of checkpoints after losing your life... lots of things. Also, at least for this demo, the difficulty modes affected your life count and additional support items. (Newcomer gives you infinite lives, health support, and doesn't let you die from pits or spikes.)

Of course, if you know what you're doing, you can win no matter what. I don't know what I'm doing, though, so I tried Normal mode and got a game over. Then I tried Casual. Game over. So I played Newcomer and won... and then I discovered my problem.

First, let me say some good things from a quality-of-life perspective. Mega Man 11 allows you to practice controlling Mega Man, and practice using his weapons, before actually going into any levels. That way, you have a risk-free way to figure out what you're doing, and it tells you the controls as well. That's great, since using things like the Power Gear alters the properties of not only the Mega Buster, but the special weapons obtained from the Robot Master bosses, too.

Speaking of controls, they're all fully customisable. The default controls have the R button as the Speed Gear and the L button as the Power Gear, which matches the Zone Time and Special Shot buttons in Mario Tennis Aces exactly that have the same functions as the gears in Mega Man 11. I changed the jump/shoot buttons to be A for jump and B for shoot, though. You can also use the X button to switch right back to the Mega Buster/Rush from any weapon you have — they're combined into the same selection. Rush's weapon energy is only used up if you jump off him. Very nice quality-of-life.

So, the problem? You use the ZR/ZL buttons, or the right-stick, to do real-time weapon change from Mega Buster to a special weapon. This has been a feature in the more modern Mega Man games, but not the ones that actually released much earlier on than I was used to. I was trying to do real-time weapon change in the heat of danger or battle and I kept getting trashed. For example, the Mega Buster can only shoot projectiles to Mega Man's left and right. But what about enemies flying directly above you? You need to either run away and re-position Mega Man, or switch to the Scramble Thunder special weapon, which shoots directly above or directly below Mega Man. 

I found out that, just like the Mega Man games on the NES, you can still go to the pause menu to change weapons.

Mega Man 11 Pause Menu Nintendo Switch demo weapons Pile Driver
Once I was using the pause menu for weapon change, it was pretty smooth-sailing.

With the experience of knowing what the level design was ahead of time, along with the power of pausing the game to change weapons, I beat Casual mode and then Normal mode.

While the classic Mega Man games never had the fluidity of movement that Mega Man X has, you can do things like air dashes with the Pile Driver weapon. In fact, Block Man's stage has a specific moment where you sort of need to use the Pile Driver weapon to do a mid-air dash to get an E-Tank. The E-Tank, which restores Mega Man's health, is very useful against Block Man, since I don't know how to properly avoid his fist-slams when he powers up.

My overall opinion of the demo? Nothing really wow'd me from it. The level design was okay, not great. The reason I got game overs in my first playthrough was because of things like being crushed by a giant staircase that you were supposed to climb by destroying breakable blocks, but the staircase fell from the sky while Mega Man is on a giant conveyor belt being chased by a death machine to the left. (It's a lot cooler to describe it than to play it, actually.) There's no way to have known that giant staircase would fall down, and you're incentivised by trying to run away from the death machine to push as far to the right as you can as fast as you can. Pretty cheap death. At least Block Man doesn't have disappearing block puzzles.

I only kinda-sorta want to know what the rest of the game is like. It's probably better than Block Man's stage. I'm not repulsed from Mega Man 11 or anything, but I did come away wondering if this is the best that CAPCOM can pull off after all of Mega Man's... vacation time.

Also, Block Man's music isn't of the instantly catchy variety that I expect from Mega Man's series. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem with any of the voice acting, even if Mega Man is constantly now screaming when doing things. I survived when Nintendo did that with Game Boy Advance remakes of A Link to the Past and Super Mario Bros. 2.

Ludwig still plans to buy Mega Man 11, but he was hoping it would be an inspiring and thrilling game in its own right rather than filler until Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It's entirely possible that Block Man specifically is lame, but then that doesn't make for a good demo choice on CAPCOM's part.

Ludwig becomes so concerned over the game's soundtrack, that he won't buy the game after it comes out unless...


  1. I used to be okay with the 8-bit style of 9 and 10 but now playing through 11, would I have loved it more if Jewel Man had voice acting and made jewel related puns?

    I had a feeling it would be possible for the stair case to drop down but it never happened during my playthrough probably because I did them slow enough that both spawned.

    1. ...Yes, you would have.

      Well the game is encouraging "Hey run through this section as fast as you can!" so I did and.... DEATH. Bad design.


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