These side-scrolling adventure games have always relied on classic running and gunning action more than gimmicks, and this one is no different. Mega Man 11's cartoonish side-scrolling action will be instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever played one of the Blue Bomber's previous games. Movement and combat should feel familiar, too, with players forced to make skillful jumps across hazards while avoiding and shooting at enemies. This forces players to quickly and wisely choose the most appropriate weapons in fast-changing situations. The new Double Gear system is this entry's biggest departure from previous games in the series, but it fits in nicely, adding new strategic options not just in battle, but also when facing tricky gauntlets. For instance, this can occur when you're moving through maze-like game environments while trying to keep ahead of a quickly moving wall of fire. As usual, though, it's the boss battles that are most memorable, with plenty of challenge coming in the form of bad guys who transform, teleport, and unleash complexly patterned assaults that require great skill and practice to avoid.
All of this said, much of what makes Mega Man 11 great for nostalgic players might end up turning off some kids (and older players who've grown used to and comfortable with modern gaming elements). It's relatively short compared to most modern games, entirely focused on solo play, and extraordinarily difficult. You can dial down the difficulty and take advantage of aids such as infinite lives and zero fall damage, but this also takes away much of the challenge, which defeats the whole purpose of a Mega Man game, robbing us of the satisfaction of doing something hard. Mega Man 11 successfully achieves what it sets out to do -- provide a challenging old-school side-scrolling action experience -- but its audience may be limited.