Mega Man 10 continued the precedent Mega Man 9 set of creating new NES-style Mega Man games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well as it did in that game. Much of the charm of Mega Man 9 was lost in its sequel.
The foremost issue Mega Man 10 has, particularly when compared to its predecessor, is that the boss weapons are pretty terrible, even by mid-series Mega Man standards. Of the 8, only one is likely to see regular use against non-bosses. The core issue isn’t the boring weapons, but rather their general inability to hit enemies you otherwise couldn’t. Mega Man 10 has some nasty enemy placements, and there’s really nothing you can do about most of them except to learn the correct timing and strategies to get past them. To make matters worse, most weapons go through energy quite rapidly. Combined with the difficulty of certain bosses, this often means that dying while fighting a boss can result in several more deaths and a game over.
It should be said that Mega Man 10 has an easy mode that changes the game considerably. This review focuses on the normal difficulty (to say nothing of hard mode). This is a good thing, because the stages can be just as tough as some of those in Mega Man 9, though somehow in a less fun way. The game has the most diverse visual design among the levels in the series, even including the non-NES games, but the stage gimmicks all seem to be just a bit too in your face. Sandstorms that last longer than is necessary, ice blocks that invite you to your death, and similar mechanics stop being fun rather quickly.
In terms of basic Mega Man platforming action, Mega Man 10 delivers. The enemies are often placed in slightly unfair configurations, but learning the stages is as rewarding as ever. Instant death traps aren’t much fun, but running the enemy gauntlet can be. The game is generous with bolts and other powerups, so if you need to stockpile Energy Tanks to make it through rough fights, that’s an option. The stages also feature a number of branching paths, giving you options and keeping things fresh in a way rarely seen in Mega Man games.
Mega Man 10 does offer a few very cool novelties, including the ability to once again play as Proto Man (with much of Mega Man’s old skill set restored) as well as Bass this time. You can even fight the special bosses from the Gameboy Mega Man games and earn their weapons for use during normal play. Actually doing this is quite difficult, but the rewards are worth it.
The flaw in Mega Man 10 is that it just doesn’t often feel that fun. The difficulty spikes are typical for a Mega Man game, but there isn’t a whole lot to look forward to when you get through them. The game combines the difficulty of Mega Man 2 with the boring weapon selection of Mega Man 4 and the meaner death traps of Mega Man 9. It’s not a very appetizing cocktail, but it’s unmistakably Mega Man and it’s pretty fun once you get good at it.