Sadly, not all versions of Mega Man 11 are made equal. At the Toronto 2018 Fan Expo, the game was playable on both Switch and Xbox One, performing better on one platform than the other.
The demo was the same on both consoles and should be the same build, though the Switch version shone much brighter. The first notable issue on the Xbox One is the responsiveness. The Mega Man franchise is renowned for being highly responsive with tight controls. When playing on the Xbox One, the game feels slightly floaty, and the inputs feel imprecise. Ground sliding, which is achieved by pressing down and the jump button, is a major part of the game used to dodge attacks and traverse the levels. On the Xbox One, the slide function often felt unresponsive or late to trigger, making the player attempt it again, while on the Switch the action occurred far more smoothly.
Another issue with the demo was jumping. One section that proved much more difficult on the Xbox One had the player jumping through large, self-contained obstacle-course blocks. Several of these blocks have a hole requiring Mega Man to jump up vertically to reach the next platform. On the Xbox One, the character would clip at the bottom of these openings, pushing him into a wall, making for what looked like a slight forward leap rather than a vertical. The only way to get around this issue was to continue moving toward the wall while jumping, before changing direction in mid-air after the collision detection fault is passed. This flaw was not apparent on the Switch. At a later point, the demo calls for the player to jump from pillar to pillar. Again, this section is more responsive on the Switch and thus easier to perform the perfect jump at the edge of platforms for the best distancer. Whether this problem comes from the controllers—as the Xbox One controller is more suited for shooters—or from the particular build of the game cannot be determined.
The demo only had the Block Man stage and also featured the new ‘Double Gears’ mechanic. Mega Man 11’s most significant change from its predecessors, aside from the Double Gears, is the updated and modernized graphics, marking the first time a mainline Mega Man title has been visualized in 3D instead of sprites. The game also features with four difficulty settings, including one for newcomers, which helps by lifting players out of holes they fall in and resulting in them taking less damage overall.
The new gear system is an interesting addition to the franchise. By hitting the left lower shoulder button, the Red Gear will engage, giving Mega Man improved attack capabilities: normal attacks shoot multiple bullets in succession instead of one, and the charge shot fires two stronger blasts in succession. Meanwhile, the right lower shoulder button will trigger the Blue Gear, which slows down time but allows Mega Man to move at normal speed. Both gears offer new tactics to the series, but take some familiarization as these are not normal functions for the franchise and need to be managed. If either gear is used too much, it will overheat and enter a cool down state, locking both gears from use.
The gears are a fun way to change up the gameplay but, based on the demo, do not seem necessary. Instead, Mega Man 11 feels akin to its predecessors, as the gears just seem to be an add-on at this stage. While the demo shows that Capcom can still make a good Mega Man game, the demo is not without a few issues. For those excited for the release of the upcoming game, waiting for reviews may be best to ensure the issues are fixed, and to determine which of the four platforms would be best to play on: PlayStation 4, PC, Switch, and Xbox One.
Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash
Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.
While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!
We Were Here Together
We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.
The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.
We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.
The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.
Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.
The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.
We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.
During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.
I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.
Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario Party—Cake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.
Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.
The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.
While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.
The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.
Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.
The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.
Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.
The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.
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