Megaman 9: two first impressions.|
Impression #1: This is an AWESOME game. They've taken the best of the Megaman series and made it shine in all the 8-bit glory they could muster.
Impression #2: I predict Wiimote sales will be up 15% by the end of the year. This game is at least as hard as the original Megaman, and I foresee a lot of kids who never played old Nintendo games screaming in frustration. Remember; your average teenager today was born in 1994 and started playing games during the frustratingly easy and kiddyfied N64/Pokemon days of Nintendo.
#1 - Intro: I love the way it brings you in. And it took a good few minutes to sink in precisely how the game had started plotline-wise... even remembering the starter of the original.
#2 - Way to bring back classic characters and scenes. Really. I heartily approve.
#3 - Penny Arcade made a big fuss over the request by Lionshead that a "non-gamer" review the title. I'm a gamer, but I think the PA guys missed the point. This is a fun title, as such. "Hardcore Gamers" will find it easy, and will probably be raping and pillaging the countryside in no time flat.
By the same token, though, the voice acting is MUCH improved from the first, the interface is incredibly intuitive, the music and graphics are brilliant, the expanded size of the world is glorious, and I can really see this as a game that starts people down the road of becoming gamers. You can pick it up, not go through any major "OMG it's a tutorial" scenes, just simply start playing and that's that. The game teaches as you play it, for the most part hiding the tutorial experiences behind simple hints and beautiful scenery.
What the PA guys miss is the same thing so many people missed about the Wii - it's not necessarily about every industry product appealing to hardcore gamers. There's room in the gaming industry for crazy, insanely-difficult games like Megaman 9 where the replay value comes from simply finally beating it rather than the forced "replay value" of beating it 300 times with 100 characters on every difficulty setting (I'm looking at you, Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe), and there's also plenty of room for the games that will teach people to be gamers. There has to be, if the gaming industry is going to grow.
If you watch the "Hardcore" gaming community, they're rather insular. I can see why Lionhead would ask that someone from the target audience be consulted on the game. It's much like giving a Sesame Street game targeted at 4-year-olds and having a 30-year-old accountant trying to write the review, you get the "garbage in, garbage out" effect full-force. The Accountant will attack the game for any number of reasons, the 4-year-old will happily just run around in all the minigames having that raw, unadulterated fun of which people tend, alas, to grow out of too fast.