Old school gamers rejoice, for Mega Man has returned. Not Mega Man ZX, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man.exe, or even Mega Man X. No, it isn’t any of these poseurs. It’s the original blue bomber, in all his 8-bit glory. Keeping up with it’s retro revivals (see Street Fighter IV and Bionic Commando), Capcom had the ingenious idea of creating a new 8-bit Mega Man game and releasing it for all three consoles via their respective download services. The result is a classic throwback that caters strictly to longtime series fans while introducing the Mega Man series to a new generation.

After the evil energy from Mega Man 8 almost caused a world wide crisis, things have seemingly gone back to normal. Unfortunately that doesn’t last long, as robots around the world mysteriously go on a rampage. Is Dr. Wily back to his old tricks? You’d think so (and you’d probably be right), but it seems that these are Dr. Light’s robots. What’s more, it seems that Wily seemingly has video evidence that Dr. Light has gone to the dark side (of course we all know better than that). It’s up to the blue bomber to uncover the truth, halt the rampages, and kick Wily’s rear for the umpteenth time.

This is classic Mega Man business. You have 8 levels, and you choose which order to take them on. When you defeat the boss of a level, you gain their weapon. The trick is finding out which weapon works on which boss. Afterward, you’ll travel through Wily’s castle on your way to the final showdown. Capcom wanted to recreate the atmosphere of Mega Man 2, so that means the game is very challenging. Strangely enough, although Rush the robot-dog is in the game (a feature introduced in Mega Man 3), and you can buy items at Auto’s shop (a feature introduced in Mega Man 5 for Game Boy), Mega Man can neither slide nor charge his blaster. In the way of more modern gaming features, there is a time attack mode as well as several achievements and challenges to meet, so there is a substantial amount of replay value after you finish the main game. There is even some downloadable content on the way, so who knows what kind of surprises Capcom has in store for the future.

Mega Man 9 is not simply another solid entry to Capcom’s flagship franchise. It’s a clever throwback to a time when games didn’t need fancy graphics, celebrity voice work, online multiplayer, or motion sensing to keep players hooked. All you needed back then was a clever gameplay mechanic, some creative platforming levels, a memorable lead character, and some catchy background music to win players over. Hopefully this will open the window for more retro-style games. I (and I’m sure many others would agree) wouldn’t mind seeing a new 16-bit Final Fantasy title, a Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog, an 8-bit Ninja Gaiden game, or even an Aki-developed N64-style WWE wrestling game. A man can dream can’t he? Until then, gamers yearning for gaming’s golden years would do well to download this title.