The best robot adversary in Mega Man 11 is a small welder bot. He seems genuinely innocent, passing back and forth, heating pieces of metal as programmed. His eyes droop in indifference. Clearly, he’s tired of all of this, the scientific back-and-forth between two lab coat-wearing rivals, Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. Imagine being around for 11 of these wars, just trying to weld. Innocently. Calmly. Then comes Mega Man with a plasma buster to end it all.
Mega Man 11 is comically charming like that. Dissecting this is like dissecting any Saturday morning kids programming. Here, Dr. Wily returns to his college days, infusing his robots with a gear system, granting them enhanced powers. Of course Wily’s new castle is then constructed on a mountain of gears, churning in the background, stacked improbably in a monument to madness. It’s wonderfully considered.
The pace is down a bit from prior Mega Man games. Mega Man himself no longer has a determined walk; he rather lazily wanders around these stages. He’s just as tired, but no less the hero. As soon as Wily appears, so too does the blue armor, striking in color via this new art style. Hopping and shooting in Mega Man 11 is granted personality, with splendid touches of animation affording the world a renewed life. Certainly the pixels of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 charmed, but without this many flourishes as afforded by the freedom of polygons.
In the end, Wily is conquered, of course. Mega Man 11 doesn’t stray from the cartoon formula; this is just another episode. Yet again, friendly Dr. Light attempts to reason with his rival. That doesn’t go well, and off Wily goes into Mega Man 12. He won’t stop. Chances are, neither will home studio Capcom.