Mega Man X
If you played the first four or five Megaman games, you’ll notice they follow pretty much the same format quite accurately. So much so it’s hard for them to make a unique game without having to follow the same route or use the same game designs. Megaman is probably the perfect example of a company milking a good game with several “similar but not the same” sequels. This is good and bad in a way. It’s great they aren’t fixing what isn’t broken, but it’s the same kind of “what isn’t broken” if you know what I mean. They are virtually the same game with different bosses and power-ups, with maybe the odd gimmick here and there. I think Capcom here though it was time to make another Megaman game, but to make it dynamically different from the Classics. Enter Megaman X, probably the “real” sequel to the Megaman seires.
Although following the same format of the classics, Megaman X does much more than become a copy of a game. It takes the essence of Megaman Classic games, throws away what isn’t needed, and enhances the entire thing 100%. It incorporates new things and new ways to do things to do with these new things. If you liked Megaman Classic, then Megaman X will be an upmost pleasure for you. It was funny; I thought this game took away everything that made Megaman well, Megaman. But after the first stage, I was so wrong, so very, very wrong. Another example of me judging a great game before I play it.
The story is mainly explained in the instruction booklet, but some of it is told in the game. In the year 21XX, roughly 100 years after the events of the original Megaman games, an archaeologist names Dr. Cain was digging at a site when he stumbled across some ruins of a lab. This lab belonged to the legendary Dr. Tomas Light. Odd, isn’t it? In this game, Dr. Light and the original Megaman aren’t around, and probably Dr. Wily is (Finally) dead. This is kinda hard news to deal with. What happened? Where are their graves? Do Megaman and Dr. Light rest side by side? Did the world ever find peace? It’s hard to ever imagine those two dead, seeing as they were the good guys, but in this game the truth is there. I suppose that’s a good lesson to learn, that even the best of things die out eventually…
This is enhanced as Dr. Cain finds a message from Dr. Light about his latest discovery in robotics, which is displayed as you start up the game. Dr. Light says he has created a robot that can make his own decisions, completely independent, a robot that has AI, Artificial Intelligences. However, Dr. Light is worried that with this free will, “X” could break the first law of robotics: No robot should ever harm a human. If X could break that law, there’s no telling what he can do. Dr. Light needs to examine and run tests on X for 100 years before he can safely assume his behaviour is reliable for man kind. He states he will not be able to see this to the end, so he puts him in a capsule and hopes someone could carry on his work.
Back to the now, Dr. Cain finds this capsule Dr. Light mentioned in his notes with a warning sign on it. All the lights were green, so Dr. Cain assumes that he can safely open this capsule. Dr. Cain claims Dr. Lights notes are a “quantum leap” over everything the world has ever seen, even after 100 years of Dr. Light’s time. Dr. Cain wants to recreate these robots to usher a new generation of robots. With X’s help, Dr. Cain was able to create the worlds first “Reploid”, which can easily adapt to even the most difficult jobs. Things were looking good, until…
One day, some of the Reploids went “maverick” and injured some humans. Dr. Cain has no idea what’s causing this and some are talking about stopping the production of these robots. So they decide to make “Hunters” designed to take down these maverick reploids that are harming the humans. Sigma is Dr. Cain’s finest Reploid. For two months, Sigma and the other Hunters were able to protect the world from the mavericks.
Then Sigma went maverick and destroyed took out several of the other hunters. Sigma has “decided” that humans are slowing the growth of the Reploids, and humans must be eradicated. Dr. Cain feels guilt for creating Reploids too well, as their normal forces can’t compare, and X feels guilty for helping create this new type of robot. So X decided to help out Zero, the new leader of the Maverick Hunters, to take out Sigma and save the world. I love it when a simple game has a more in depth story.
So instead of going straight to the level select screen, you need to do an “Intro” stage first. This is just to let you get to grips with the controls and what X can do, as well as some motivate perks. The level is designed to teach you everything of the basics, including wall jumping. A fairly easy level compared to what lies ahead. After you clear the first level, you get to choose between eight Robot Masters, erm I mean Mavericks. They aren’t Armadillo Man or Penguin Man, no….They are given more creative names like Storm Eagle and Launch Octopus. Feels a little odd fighting something that doesn’t have “Man” in its name. Oh, hey Spark Mandrill…When you select a Maverick…..Oh. My. X-Buster….That’s the most awesome “You selected this boss” theme ever. I mean I’m just…speechless.
The graphics are quite detailed for a SNES game. They seemed to take the graphics one step further than other SNES games like Super Castlevania IV and Super Mario World. And that’s another thing; they didn’t call it “Super Megaman” simply because it was on the SNES. They called it Megaman “X” because that sounded cooler. The graphics are quite realistic, and the movements are very smooth. They seem almost spot-on to the Classic Megaman games, but the addition of smoother animations for his jumps and walking is simply a joy to watch. Everywhere is brightly coloured and the backgrounds have amazing detail. Doesn’t X look amazing? A huge improvement over the Classic games.
The music is amazing. It’s hard to put in words how great it is. It’s smooth, got a great beat to it, and best of all, most of it seems casual. I feel the music doesn’t have much menace in it, as these Mavericks are only doing what they think is right. It’s only when it gets to Sigma’s castle does it get darker. The music that plays when you defeat one of the Mavericks is also extremely satisfying to hear, especially the pose X does and the little “Ka-Ching!” sound that comes on makes my day.
The controls are a pleasure. In the Classic series, it was very tight. It offered some choppy platforming and quite a pit of patience’s and precision to get pasted. Here, they seemed to have smoothed over the sharp edges into something that’s even more enjoyable that the Classic games. Jumping is very fun to do. I love seeing X lift his knee to the air with every jump and waving those arms around. Shooting things is also fun because they react to your X-Blaster better, exploding with every defeat. It just feels better than the Classic games. They did a good job in making everything that normally seems mundane in platformers exciting and new, or maybe I’m just glad there are more than two frames dedicated to the jumping animation…You can also scroll through your weapons using the R and L buttons, which is really handy. It gets a little annoying when you need to pause with every weapon change.
Hidden in the levels are Heart Tanks, which increase your health a little bit, Sub-Tanks, which are kinda like the Energy Tanks in Classic Megaman, only you can re-use them. They fill up with every extra energy pellet you collect, so it all doesn’t go to waste. It’s the same for the weapon energy. When you collect one of these, it increases (if the special weapon you have is already full energy) a different weapon with the lowest energy. That’s really convenient. Another thing hidden in the levels are the Dr. Light Capsules. These, when found, will give X a message from Dr. Light, telling him what this capsule does. You can dash, head-butt certain blocks, have damage received reduced by half, and the ability to charge any weapon, including your X-Blaster even further, to a completely new and unique attack.
These abilities are there to make the game more rewarding to those who explore its canvas and look around, and to make it easier. It’s a tough game, and is even harder if you don’t collect any power ups. It reminds me of the difficulty in the first Megaman game. This gives the player choice. Go for an easier route with awesome power-ups, or try something more challenging and leave out the chest piece? It’s good they didn’t just shove these powers down our throats. However, first time playing, you’re going to want all the upgrades and stuff, aren’t you?
Which bring me to my only problem with this game: The power-ups are awesome and all, but when you get all of them (And I mean “all” of them), the game becomes less than a platformer and becomes more of a tanking game, seeing if you can defeat the boss before you get killed. It takes a little away from the trail and error in the Classic Megaman games and sort of encourages “getting hit” for the sake of getting further. Where’s the careful jumping and watching the patterns to dodge them? It’s still there, but if you have the power-ups, you’re just going to say “screw the system” and get hit for the sake of defeating the level. In all fairness, you don’t get that at the beginning of the game. You struggle at first because you are weak compared to the Mavericks.
You collect these power-ups because you want to grow stronger and end this war. You want to become stronger, and these power-ups prove a way to do that. However, I’ve always believed in the “Character stays the same, you grow stronger” formula, instead of it being the other way round. I felt that when defeating the final boss, I wasn’t as satisfied all round as I felt like I was relying too much on the Sub-Tanks and got hit too many times, after a fair amount of game overs. Also I used the Hadouken to get passed some of the bosses in Sigma’s castle with ease, with not as much satisfaction in it. When I couldn’t use the Hadouken, using their weakness and tanking their attacks with max health and 50% damage reduction. Some people might be glad there is this stuff to balance out the difficulty. Maybe I should go more hardcore the next time I play it. In the end, this boils down to a matter of opinion to how people prefer to play.
I am also annoyed with Sigma’s Castle in general. Remember the Wily Castles? Remember how you started at the gate and worked your way up, level by level and fighting boss after boss until you finally got to Dr. Wily himself? Well here, it’s not there. Sigma’s Castle is relatively short compared to any Wily Castle you can think of. It does feature some unique bosses in there, which as all very nice and creative, but its sections are short lived, being very short. They cram the Mavericks in bit by bit, shortening the whole level quite a bit. Also, when you complete a section, it takes you back to the level select screen, meaning you have to select Sigma again to continue. Why do I have to do this? Where’s the sense of adventure? In the Classic Megaman games, A Wily Castle was the beginning of the end. You didn’t get your weapons energy back after each section, meaning you didn’t just go back to Dr. Light and refueled. It gave you the sense of “No turning back now”. Here, it’s telling you that you have refueled your weapons energy and can go to another level entirely without it affecting your progress in the Sigma Castle. It just doesn’t flow as well.
Overall, I give this game a 9.3/10 This is an amazing game, no doubt about it. It refines the word Megaman and brings justice to platform shooters. The game offers a good challenge with very fun controls and amazing graphics and music. If you are a fan of Megaman, this game will blow your mind.