|Publisher & Designer:||Capcom|
|Release Date:||January 1994|
Mega Man X is yet another feather in Capcom's proverbial cap and is without a doubt one of the finest Mega Man games ever made. Not only did Mega Man X successfully mark the transition from the NES to the 16-bit realm with its outstanding aesthetics and superior gameplay; it would eventually become a fantastic series of games in its own right...even rivaling the classic Mega Man series itself!
Overview: The late 80s and early 90s in particular was truly an amazing time to be a Mega Man fan. By 1992-93, the Blue Bomber was busy making his incredible run on the NES and Game Boy consoles respectively and it seemed like nothing could stop him! Well, by late 1993, Mega Man's popularity was simply soaring and due to the inevitable demise of the beloved NES, fans were clamoring for the Blue Bomber to make the jump to the red-hot Super Nintendo console. Although Capcom would remain loyal to the NES until the very end and would give 8-bit fans one final swan song in the form of Mega Man 6, they didn't leave SNES fans hanging either.
Enter Mega Man X. When Capcom announced that a spinoff series for the Super Nintendo was in the works, you could just imagine the drool that diehard Mega Man fans were having to wipe off their chins. Based on Capcom's track record and their excellence on the NES and Game Boy systems, you just knew that a 16-bit Mega Man game was going to be something special.
Despite the name of the game, Mega Man X is not necessarily the tenth Mega Man game. I remember the confusion back when the game was first released. Since the X series takes place 100 or so years after the original series (21XX versus 200X), it was only natural for some fans to make the connection and assume that Mega Man X actually meant Mega Man 10. Whatever the case, Mega Man X, although similar in terms of gameplay, is not directly related to the classic series...according to the powers that be at Capcom anyway. Personally, I think that it is painfully obvious that the classic/X series of games are interrelated but we'll get into that a little later in this review.
The beauty of Mega Man X is that, while the core gameplay is a lot like your typical Mega Man game, it is just different enough to come across as being fresh and new versus stale and old. While Mega Man X is an action-platformer at heart, there are several nuances of the gameplay that are unique to this series of games. For one thing, although at first X himself is rather weak with limited abilities, you will notice that he can actually hold onto walls and jump between them or simply up them ala Ninja Gaiden-style. This is truly a wonderful aspect of Mega Man X's gameplay since in the classic games you found yourself falling to your death time and time again. Granted, you'll still lose plenty of lives by falling into endless chasms in Mega Man X...just not as often...we hope...
Another noteworthy quality about Mega Man X is the plentiful presence of plenty of precious pickings (How's that for alliteration?) In all seriously, Mega Man X is chock-full of E-tanks, Heart Tanks, and additional special abilities secreted away in various locations. Unlike the classic, mostly linear NES Mega Man games, there are a lot of secrets to find in X's initial appearance! By discovering the whereabouts of these rare goodies, you will greatly enhance your chances of surviving to the end. And besides, being strong and powerful is a lot of fun too! While some items are fairly easy to find by using simple exploration methods, some require pin-point timing and/or special weapons to uncover/garner them. Due to the nature of this game, you will find yourself re-visiting stages you have already beaten over and over again in Mega Man X. As a completionist who loves to search and explore anyway, I love this element of X's gameplay! It takes a formula that worked extremely well for the NES and simply tweaks it a tad. The result is one incredibly fun game to play!
There are plenty of tried-and-true aspects of the classic Mega Man games that carried over to Mega Man X as well. Although Mega Man X was the first Mega Man game of any kind to feature an opening stage (a nice move by Capcom in my opinion), it still gives you the liberty of choosing from the game's eight stages in any order you desire. Also, when you defeat any of the game's Mavericks (i.e. robot masters), you acquire a special weapon just like before. The password system is also a nice carry-over and is a fairly simple system which is always nice to see whenever passwords are involved.
Graphics: When I first glanced at a few of the game's early screenshots in an old issue of Nintendo Power, I thought to myself, "This game's graphics are going to be so awesome!" It is hardly surprising that Capcom, who maximized the potential of the limited 8-bit NES, would push the Super NES as well with its exponentially-greater power. The end result is one amazing, beautiful game to behold.
In addition to the typical quality one would expect from Capcom, it is noticeable from the start that Mega Man X has a slightly darker feel than its older brethern. The opening stage with its ominous horizon and destructive nature (let's just say that you wouldn't want to be a car in said stage) reminds me a little bit of Contra III: The Alien Wars actually. I like this aspect of the first X game too! Thanks to the overall presentation, Mega Man X feels like its own game and doesn't make the mistake of simply becoming a clone of the classic series. There's no mistaking that the X series is very similar in form and function to the classic series. Some of the little nuances like the atmosphere of the game and the grand explosions and epic boss battles help the X series to come across as a beautiful complement to the classic series rather than achieving a dubious "copycat" status, however.
That's not to say that Mega Man X is a blue-collar, rustic video game with only shades of grey and brown though. Capcom didn't hesitate to use the full scope of colors available and, like always, the variety of this game's graphics is astounding! Everything from the lush, lively feel of Sting Chameleon's jungle-esque habitat to the deep blue sea of Launch Octopus' domain looks amazing. And who could ever forget the ominous red sky found in Sigma Stage 1? Not only are the graphics in the first X installment top-notch in terms of quality, they do an excellent job of creating the aforementioned atmosphere found throughout the game. For the umpteenth time, well done Capcom!
Music: Although I was eager to see how Mega Man X compared to the classic series in all respects, I was especially curious to hear the game's music. Anyone who grew up playing the NES Mega Man games can tell you that, while the graphics and gameplay were outstanding in their own right, some of the music was nothing less than legendary! Since Capcom set the bar so very high with their second and third games in particular, everyone was eager to see (or shall I say hear) what 16-bit Mega Man ditties would sound like!
Well, rest assured that Mega Man X, despite the high expectations, lived up to all of the hype with yet another world-class performance by Capcom! In addition to being catchy and memorable, the Mega Man X soundtrack complements the slightly dark, more serious tone of this game beautifully. Like with pretty much every Mega Man game, the first X game features a lot of variety in terms of the game's music as well. The opening stage features a whopping four tunes (four tunes!) overall ranging from the intense main ditty, Vile's ominous tracks, and Zero's legendary theme. Right away, you could tell that this game was going to be special in the auditory sense.
Additional favorites of mine include Spark Mandrill's riveting track, Sting Chameleon's upbeat melody, and Armored Armadillo's groovy tune. Possibly my favorite track, however, could very well be the awe-inspiring piece that plays in Sigma Stage 1. This particular track, while not as epic as the Mega Man 2 Wily Stage 1 melody, fits the atmosphere/mood of this stage perfectly. Of all of the music found in Mega Man X, this particular tune is the one I find myself humming the most. And lastly, who could forget the amazing ending theme of this game? For those of us who were fortunate enough to beat this game, I doubt that any of us were disappointed or let-down by the game's surprisingly deep and thought-provoking ending. The music is truly beautiful and somewhat emotional for a Mega Man game. The two credits tracks that play afterwards are very nice to boot!
Play Control: Has there ever been a Mega Man game that didn't feature smooth, easy-to-learn controls? Thankfully, Mega Man X took a system that worked wonders on the NES and tweaked things just a tad. As well as containing the classic running, jumping, and shooting elements, Mega Man X introduced a couple of moves that would become staples of the series. The newfound ability to dash (by pressing "A" or the D-Pad twice in consecutive fashion) feels incredibly smooth while being able to jump on the side of platforms was a godsend for those of us who died countless deaths by not quite executing a jump in the classic Mega Man series. Using special weapons is easy as cake and the L and R buttons now allowed you to quickly switch your weapons without pausing the game if you desired. There's not much more to say in this regard. Capcom really nailed the controls in this game...like they always do.
Challenge: Although my previous experience playing Mega Man games really came in handy as I tried my hand at Mega Man X, I did find this game to be quite the challenge as a kid! This was especially the case once I reached the Sigma stages. These later levels in particular really pushed me (That Spider boss at the end of Stage 1 gave me nightmares for a while.) and the final showdown with Sigma was insane until I figured out a strategy that worked. Seriously, starting with the first X game, it almost seems like a tradition for the final battle to be epically hard! Ask anyone who has played a Mega Man X game if they have beaten it. Many will tell you that they made it all the way to the end but couldn't overcome the final boss.
Aside from a challenging final battle, one of the nuances of the X series is that you start off the game fairly weak with a very small life bar. As you progress through the game and locate the hidden Heart Tanks (one of these is in each of the 8 main stages) and valuable E-tanks (four of these can be snagged overall) along with the rare Dr. Light capsules and the special powers that these issue, the game becomes much more manageable. Due to the game's set-up, however, choosing certain stages early on (Hint: Chill Penguin!) is pretty important despite the non-linear nature of the game.
And thanks to the amount of secrets that can be found in Mega Man X, the replay value is actually quite high as well! I find myself playing this game whenever I get the "Mega Man fever" and, in addition to the high-quality gameplay, the prospect of finding all kinds of hidden stuff is a real turn-on for any adventurer such as yours truly!
Storyline: If there is one particular aspect of Mega Man X that Capcom truly improved upon in relation to the classic Mega Man series, it would have to be X's surprisingly deep, detailed background story. I was simply enamored as I read the epic story of Mega Man X in the manual that came with the game. It was very detailed for a Mega Man game and it was hard nigh impossible not to get even more excited about playing this game after reading about Dr. Cain and X and Sigma.
Basically, the story of Mega Man X takes place approximately 100 years after the happenings of the classic Mega Man series. Dr. Cain, a very Dr. Light-esque scientist of the time, is able to unearth the ruins of Dr. Light's secret laboratory one fine day and, along with locating valuable information and research, stumbles across a capsule containing Dr. Light's final masterpiece: X himself. This is quite the discovery as well because, despite being more than a century old, X is an advanced type of reploid that is beyond anything that exists even in Dr. Cain's time. Dr. Cain naturally awakens X, works with him for the greater good of humanity, and eventually creates a whole line of reploids using the same technology present within X. Dr. Cain's intentions truly are good as he hopes deep down of creating a utopia of sorts where the three laws of robotics rule instead of death and destruction that is always the inevitable result of war.
Unfortunately, the peace is short-lived. Due to a mysterious event that was not revealed until the fourth X game, the former captain and leader of the reploids, Sigma, suddenly goes maverick and turns on the humans (hence the terms "Mavericks" and "Maverick Hunters" that you hear throughout the series). Despite his previous solid leadership and sound ability to work with the humans in peace, Sigma completely turns a 180 and the resulting destruction is extensive. Sigma isn't the only reploid to go maverick either. He quickly gains a loyal following and things quickly begin to spirl out of control. X, being very much like our classic Mega Man friend, is extremely opposed to violence but like his predecessor, feels a sense of duty. Since X is technically somewhat responsible since his existence resulted in the existence of other reploids like Sigma, X goes alone and vows to end the violence by taking out Sigma.
This theme is present throughout the game and, in addition to a very sound background story, there is a nice amount of dialouge that takes place throughout the main game as well. In addition to X and Sigma, Mega Man X introduces us to the heroic Zero and the equally villainous Vile. And it all comes together in the end with heroism, sacrifice, and a somber tone being the main themes of the game. For a Mega Man game or any action game for that matter, the first X game is intriguing in terms of story and plot. How often does that happen?
Funfactor: It goes without saying that the first Mega Man X game was an immense success! Despite my fierce loyalty to the NES and its classic Mega Man series, Capcom got it right by creating the equally sensational Mega Man X. Mega Man X is an incredible video game in terms of action, aesthetics, intrigue, and playability. You can tell that Capcom really wanted to impress its loyal fans by meeting the lofty standards set by earlier games in the series. And not only is Mega Man X a faithful rendition of all things Mega Man, this game features just enough new material to keep the gameplay from becoming stagnant.
Overall, Mega Man X stands the test of time beautifully and remains one of the finest action games to ever grace the Super NES platform. Despite the daunting presence of great SNES games, Mega Man X has to be somewhere in the Top 10-15 games ever made for this console. It truly is that much fun!
Negatives: Unless you really wanted to see the Mega Man series turn on its head and feature a completely new style of gameplay, it's hard to find anything negative to say about Mega Man X. This game, despite a few new features here and there, still plays a lot like the classic series. So originality might be an issue with a more nit-picky Mega Man fan than myself.
Also, while the amount of content seems to be about right, there are only 13 total stages in Mega Man X. I certainly wouldn't have had a problem if this game had been, say, 16-17 stages instead but that's just me.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.7 Music: 4.6 Play Control: 4.8 Challenge: 4.4 Storyline: 4.5 Funfactor: 4.6 Overall Score: 27.6 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!
Back to Super NES SpecialLast Updated: March 30, 2012