While the original Mega Man series stayed on the NES and managed to put up with its technical limitations, the fans cried out for the series to ditch the ageing hardware and head for the new pastures of its (Super) successor. Their wish was granted, but it wasn’t what they were expecting.
Instead they received a brand new Mega Man world to delve into – a brave move from Capcom – stray too far from the games roots and you risk alienating its core fans. And perhaps getting rid of its ultimate villain (Dr Wily) was the bravest move of all.
In the long run Capcom were right and it all paid off. Arguably even Capcom did not realise how popular its series would be, and that it would actually reach a total of eight games (not counting spin off’s Mega Man Zero and Command Mission). Despite this huge back catalogue though, the Blue Bomber still hasn’t learned how to duck. What really sets X apart from other releases in the series is the engaging plot. It follows X – a reploid – who must stop the mavericks from destroying the human race. He is joined by fellow maverick hunter Zero and together they must stop the evil Sigma and his legion of followers.
Looking at the instruction book though, you’ll find an even more in depth tale of the events leading up to the game with journal entries from Dr Cain and old Mega Man creator Dr Light. Then there is the last level ‘plot twist’ that Gamestyle won’t spoil for you, but veterans of the series will already be aware of. Players who were fans of the earlier Mega Man games weren’t disappointed as X still has the old elements of previous titles. You still have the ability to choose which level you tackle first (with the exception of the opening stage) and you gain bosses abilities as you defeat them. Much like other games in the series defeating bosses in a certain order will also give you a decidable advantage over the rest.
Unlike the older games however it also effects the level you play on, for instance beating Chill Penguins stage first will freeze all the molten metal in Flame Mammoths level, helping you to gain secret items. These secret collectables are what really sets the game up as not being just another Mega Man game. Each item you gain is hidden very well, which adds a certain degree of exploring to it. Aside from health tanks and sub tanks which both add energy gaining abilities to your arsenal, the most intriguing items you can find are pieces to a brand new white suit. Pieces of this suit gives you special abilities ranging from reducing damage to firing a more effective projectile.
As with all Mega Man games the difficulty level is soon ramped up, so finding these items is more than just an option, its a requirement. The bosses themselves aren’t the toughest encountered, but they still offer a challenge, especially to Mega Man newcomers. All follow a set pattern, its just finding their routine that can cause you to lose a fair few lives. Graphically the Mega Man world has never looked so vibrant, with excellent backgrounds and incredibly detailed characters.
Adding to each environment is the wonderful music score and not to mention the nicely done sound effects. Although if you’ve played any of the other games in the series, you’ll know what to expect. For those that thought Mega Man was losing his touch after the series had seemingly gone stale need only play Mega Man X.
While admittedly following on from Mega Man 3 the series had took a slight nosedive, the quality declined, but overall Capcom had still managed to inject some new ideas into the already established layout. What you get then is the finest Mega Man game ever created and something that all SNES owners should own and cherish.