If you're interested in Mega Man 9, you're already aware of what you're stepping into: an 8-bit time machine. It'll take you to the 1980s, when out-of-touch adults called every game system a "Nintendo," and you could swap cartridges with your next door neighbor. On the off-chance that you weren't alive back then, Mega Man 9 will still take you there, but you might not be tuff enuff to handle it.
That's the potentially polarizing component of Mega Man 9: its difficulty. If you're a long-time fan, don't believe those weenies who tell you that MM9 is tougher than any other entry in the series. Intentionally designed to be on the same level as Mega Man 2, MM9 accomplishes this admirably: it'll task you at first, but after a few plays, you'll feel like you've gone home again. You'll use your d-pad to inch forward, blasting enemies at the screen's edge before they even see you; you'll detect booby traps and disarm them before they get the best of you; you'll graze past spikes and feel like a ninja each and every time.
Anyone who adored the Blue Bomber must take this bargain-priced trip down memory lane
Unless, of course, you're not used to those gameplay aspects. Anyone weaned on titles like Mega Man Legends and the Battle Network franchise won't be. They'll be thrashed by the fast-paced attacks of the bosses; they'll despise the disappearing blocks, lasers, and other environmental hazards; they'll hate those jumps that demand pixel-perfect accuracy. Capcom took a risk here; I applaud them for it, but it'll alienate most of the uninitiated.
Undeniably, that too reveals what a successful emulation of old school Mega Man this is. If you're past your 20th birthday, you'll agree when you watch Mega Man 9's intro. Using a minimalist color palette, to-the-point sentences, and the utterly ridiculous premise of the world suddenly trusting Dr. Wily, it's a thing of beauty. You know who the villain is as surely as Mega Man does, and be ready to wreck those Robot Masters to clear your creator's good name.
Along your journey, you'll find a lot of series staples, like areas where you can scroll the screen to-and-fro to repeatedly kill foes for rewards. You'll spy unreachable items that you know you'll need a gadget to procure, and wonder when you'll get it. On the quest to find out, you'll blast those Robot Masters, feeling proud when you discover their true weaknesses. Then you'll plow through 'em to reach Wily's castle. And during that whole first half of your crusade, there's one thing you won't need: the store.
If any of Capcom's inclusions can be questioned, it's Auto's Shop. Complain all you want that the slide would've been a "cheat;" it's nowhere near as bad as this. Sliding didn't afford an abundance of extra lives, immunity from spikes, nor the option to summon Eddie or Beat whenever you pleased. Furthermore, any experienced gamer won't need those items until endgame, if ever. You could even argue that series newcomers won't need these bought-with-screws bandages, because once they've got Gravity Man's weapon, almost every stage becomes a cakewalk.
If only they'd ditched the shop, and provided the option to save your progress in-between every segment of Wily's castle instead. As stated, a lot of MM9's buyers will be adults; they'll rarely have time to beat the hardest stages in one sitting. Maybe we left our NES on for hours in the 1980s, but who honestly expects us to do this now?
Fortunately, when you do conquer Mega Man 9, you'll be rewarded for all that suffering. With one of the greatest, most tongue-in-cheek Mega Man endings ever, it'll amuse old and new fans alike. On top of that, there's plenty of reasons to play it again; its bevy of challenges and achievements are worth completing. Thanks to them, you won't need a VCR to record your greatest accomplishments; you'll just need to load up your save file whenever your buddies are around.
Heap onto that its respectable downloadable content, and Mega Man 9 is a rebirth done right. Anyone who adored the Blue Bomber must take this bargain-priced trip down memory lane. If you're younger or for some wacky reason are still in doubt, just remember the mantra of the old school gamer:
Graphics aren't everything. Gameplay is.