Does Mega Man 11 Have an Ace Up its Sleeve?

There’s only two weeks until Mega Man 11. An extremely-anticipated sequel, both as an anniversary celebration and return to a classic franchise that’s been dormant for over eight years. It’s hard not to be excited for the game. Mega Man was a huge part of my childhood and I’ve loved practically every game in the series. Heck, I even consider Mega Man 3 to be the greatest game ever made, without hyperbole. So when Capcom announced the eleventh game (with a new style for the first time in two decades, no less), I was ecstatic.

Then more details came out over the past months since the game’s announcement. Robot Masters and stages were revealed, along with gameplay details. And most recently, a demo was released for home consoles. I have indeed checked it out and it’s a great deal of fun. While there could stand to be one or more checkpoints, the gameplay is as solid as ever, and the Double Gear mechanic is a nice touch, a cool addition for various parts of the game. And unsurprisingly, it looks and sounds fantastic as well, with some great animation. So everything seems to be coming up roses for the Blue Bomber’s return!

And yet, throughout all of this, I have a bit of a nagging feeling, a question I need to constantly ask…is Mega Man 11 hiding something?

Not in the bad way, mind you. But considering how this series has developed over the years, I couldn’t help but notice what isn’t being shown. Namely, what exists outside of the basic, standard structure and gameplay for Mega Man 11. How it typically goes for a Mega Man game is that you fight eight robots and then move to Dr. Wily’s Castle, yes. But what about the games where there’s more to it than that? Mega Man 3 had a plot twist that led to you going through four remixed levels. Mega Man 5 and 6 had collectibles and alternate paths to traverse. And Mega Man 7 and 8 had a deeper focus on plot (for better and worse) and introduced the shop.

But then the ninth and and tenth games went back to basics, though the shop came along. I don’t actually recall seeing the shop for Mega Man 11 yet, however. Or anything outside of the core gameplay, really, save for a brief cinematic. Is this all we have, or is Capcom concealing some surprise in gameplay, story or both? Most notably, Proto Man and Bass — two of the biggest players in developing the mythos of the series — haven’t been seen yet. What is their role here, if any? Or will we defeat the eight Robot Masters only to learn a twist in Dr. Wily’s plan, leading to more levels? Come to think of it, we know nothing of Wily’s plot beyond using the Double Gear on eight stolen robots. Is there more to it?

It just seems like that when you consider how this is supposed to represent an evolution for the Classic series, there should be at least a bit more to Mega Man 11. Even more so when you consider its recent peers such as Shovel Knight and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. Mainly the former, which features a similar eight-stage/eight-boss/final castle formula, but goes beyond that with the likes of hub worlds, optional bosses, a subtle yet captivating story and more. Will Mega Man 11 follow suit and expand upon its formula as well?

Mind you, even if Mega Man 11 does still stick to the standard formula, it doesn’t look like many people will complain. Again, the game as is seems to still be shaping to be another damn fun action platformer. And it will still have several different challenge modes to check out that should add some nice replay value. It’s just that while it may have a pair of aces in its hand right now, that extra hidden ace could make the difference and not only guarantee success, but deliver a true classic for the legendary franchise that signifies a bold new direction while still staying true to its roots. We’ll see if that happens when Mega Man 11 comes out soon on October 2.