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Mega Man X

Released: 1993
Company: Capcom
Genre: Action

Around the same time Mega Man 5 was coming out, Capcom decided to extend the series to the younger Super Nintendo, so that the legacy could live on even with the death of the NES. However, this "spin-off" had a number of differences from the Mega Man we all new. Characters were missing, items were introduced, and overall the feel of the game changed.

While the improvements to the audiovisuals weren't breathtaking, they were improvemtns nonetheless.The graphics in the original Mega Man series was all pretty good to begin with, but with the enhanced capabilities of the Super NES, more can be done. The backgrounds are very fitting, the animation is great (it's neat how some enemies laugh at you when you get hit), and X himself is well drawn. As for the audio, it has its hits and misses. It all sounds a bit techno, but then again it's warranted due to the robotic setting of the game. Some of the themes are done very nicely, such as the background music for Chill Penguin and Storm Eagle. The presence of a Sound Test in the options menu adds to the availability of the good themes. Some of the background music, most notably Launch Octopus and Sigma's the level, falls terribly flat.

The Play Control has a couple of new features to it. First of all, the ability to climb walls is added, but it felt a bit out of place. There were no areas of the game where it was necessary to latch onto the walls until the very end of the game. Another problem with it is that it was difficult to build up your gun while maintaining your position on a wall. All too often I've forgotten how X faces the wall when he jumps so I accidentally shoot into the wall and not at the boss. I do like the idea of not having to pause to scroll through your weapons, though. It saves time, and there are some cases when it can even be done during a boss presentation.

Most of the Mega Man games tend to fall into the same trap of making things too easy once you know the order. MMX has a bit of the same problem: once you know which weapon works best against which boss, much of the challenge goes straight down the tubes. The stages themselves are extremely easy, and even the later stages don't have the obligatory pitfalls that Mega Man fans are used to. No fall down a spike-lined shaft? No appearing/disappearing platforms? These are some of the things that gave Mega Man that extra challenge, and now they're missing. Sigh...

While the new plot is sort of a breath of fresh air, it might have changed a bit too much. True, there's no more Dr. Wily. But neither is there any more Dr. Light, Rush, Break Man, or any other Mega Man character. Very little of the original plot ties in with the X series, and because of it the game loses a bit in the translation. The introduction of new characters, such as Zero and Vile, counterbalance the problem a bit, but still seem a bit out of place considering how new they are in the series. This is definitely a plot you have to get used to.

Mega Man games have often been known to be quite fun, among the most enjoyable series created. Well, they're partly right about MMX. The first half of the game is pretty neat, but after a while the lack of challenges and likeable characters makes this game somewhat of a bore. And because of that, the game loses a bit of its longevity as well, because we know what we're in for when we plug the game in. The addition of enhancements for X add to the exploration concept, but it also forces you to do something the Mega Man series never really meant to do - force players to go through the levels in a set order.

All in all, much of the mystique regarding the series doesn't translate well when the storyline is changed as much as it did. Still, it's a very respectable move up to the 16-bit level.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 13
Challenge: (Easy)
Thrill: (Boring)
Aesthetic Score: 17
Overall Score: 71%

You are now listening to the Boomer Kuwanger stage music to Mega Man X.

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