This game is huge and is one of the greatest games ever made, so of course it would be part of this Mega Man Retrospective!
The Mega Man X series pushed the Mega Man IP into the future in a big way in 1993/1994 and is a game many site as one of the strongest games in the entire Mega Man series. So, what makes this game so good?
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We have to cover development history first and this went into development after sales of the NES Mega Man games started going down after Mega Man 3. They were doing well enough, but not nearly as well compared to MM2 and MM3. So, they told the core Mega Man team within Capcom to get to work on getting a new Mega Man ready for the Super Nintendo.
So as cited from the MMX Wikipedia page:
“Lead artist Keiji Inafune (credited as a planner as Inemuryar) recounted that the development of Mega Man X required a lot of brainstorming for its storyline and content where the team’s goal was to branch out from original Mega Man games while still maintaining their fundamentals. In the original Mega Man series, Inafune typically designed the protagonist while his protégé Hayato Kaji handled the supporting characters. However, their roles were reversed for Mega Man X. Kaji (credited as Rippa H.K) illustrated the protagonist X, but had a difficult time with the initial design. He was presented with much more freedom than he was accustomed with the SNES’s larger palette of colors when compared to the NES. Inafune and Kaji worked simultaneously on the various designs for X with different pieces of armor attached. The idea for the armor parts came about because the game was planned during a time when role-playing video games were becoming extremely popular. Inafune felt that Mega Man had always represented a classic action game formula in which the hero earns his defeated enemies’ abilities; the armor parts were added to supplement this concept.”
So, what does all of this mean? Well it means that Inafnue had a much larger role in terms of character design for MMX and it lead to Zero being created. Zero was supposed to be MMX, but due to his design being so different (and likely Capcom wanting Mega Man’s image to be consistent across the sub-series), pushed for Kaji’s MMX design over Inafune’s Zero design.
That is very interesting, considering future X games like X4, X6 and X7 when they are really Zero games in disguise, but will get to those when the time comes.
The team that made this game was much larger than MM1, which makes sense considering this beign a new take on the Mega Man IP!
Producer: Tokuro Fujiwara
Designers: Yoshinori Takenaka, Keiji Inafune, Sho Tsuge, Masayoshi Kurokawa
Programmers: Keiji Kubori, Kouichiro Nakamura
Artists: Keiji Inafune, Hayato Kaji, Kazunori Tazaki, Tatsuya Yoshikawa
Writer: Keiji Inafune, Sho Tsuge
Composers: Setsuo Yamamoto, Makoto Tomozawa, Yuki Iwai, Yuko Takehara, Toshihiko Horiyama
Either way, they made a whole new world and setting with MMX, taking place a very long time after the events in the Classic series. Will go over the story details in a bit but the general goal was to make things darker and more mature with the X series. They accomplished this with the MMX series well on the SNES series of games but when we get to the PS1/PS2 titles, it will be interesting to talk about that element there.
So, the game finally came out December 1993 in Japan with NA/EU getting the game a month later in January 1994. It was a critical and sales success, with Capcom comissioning a sequel game to follow MMX and the Classic series still continuing with MM7 a year latter. The Mega Man X Series was born, with more Sub-Series to follow as time went on.
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The story is set in the far future past the time of Mega Man Classic, with the world being composed of humans and robots living in peace. Dr. Cain finds a robot while exploring and using its core design, creates a new type of robot, the Reploids. These robots are living beings, with emotions and have free will. This is unlike the robots and robot masters in Mega Man Classic, where they have to listen to human commands despite showing personality and emotions.
The robot Dr. Cain uses to make the Reploids? Mega Man X of course! Dr. Light makes Mega Man X in old age and makes him to change the world of robotics. He hopes for a world of peace and feels Mega Man X will accomplish this dream. In the original game, we do not see X interact with Dr. Light at all, but in the PSP remake, this is touched upon. Will cover that when we get to Mega Man Maverick Hunter X.
So, what happened to ruin this peace? A virus; the Maverick Virus. The virus causes robots to go wild and have a warped perspective of the world around them, so like the robot masters before them, they attack humans and cause havoc. Sigma, a former commander of the Maverick Hunters gets infected himself after being affected from the Virus by a robot named Zero a very long time ago.
Zero is a partner robot to Mega Man X, using his Z-Saber and his Z-Buster to fight robots. But he isn’t a Reploid like others though, but he was made by the evil doctor himself, Dr. Wily. Its heavily implied that he caused the Classic Series to end, but not much is known about the series connections between Classic and X. Zero lost his memory and is a good guy though, so he works with X to take out troubled robots.
So, him and Zero work together to stop a now evil Sigma and take out the Eight Robot Mast….I mean Mavericks on the lose.
Strong set up for future games and the story does go in interesting directions.
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What makes MMX so great, is its gameplay. It is different from the Classic series on many levels thanks to two major abilities; wall jumping/sliding & dashing. These two abilities completely change how level design works with Mega Man and they are so much fun to use.
You can collect heart tanks (which increase you health bar), sub-tanks (which store health energy, think E-Tanks from the Classic series) and armor pieces. Dr. Light has these all over the map and they give you different abilities. The Leg Piece allows you to dash, the Arm Piece allows you to charge special attacks, the Plate Piece gives you more defense and the Head Piece allows you to avoid objects hitting you from above.
Later games make the armor system a bigger deal, with the PS1 X games giving you more armor options.
X can still use powers taken from defeated Mavericks, jump and shoot (with MM3’s charge shot also being a move you have from the start) but his dashing ability makes things more ‘faster’ paced. You can use the dash to get longer jumps, slide up ramps faster and most importantly, dodge foes better. This makes boss fights very fun, but will get to that in a bit.
What makes the game so rewarding though, is that it teaches you how to do everything, but with no messages on the screen. Not the biggest fan of Egoraptor, but his Mega Man X video is a really good example to look at if you want a complete break down why Mega Man X is such a good sequel series to MM Classic.
I recommend you map the Dash to R on the controller though; makes using it far more useful then double tapping dash with the D-Pad or pressing one of the face buttons.
The wall jump is very useful, as it allows you to slide down walls and jump higher & higher if you time you jumps well. This also allows for more vertical level design for te game, which leads to some really large levels for X to fight through.
Stage design itself is really rock solid, as you have a lot of great gimmicks to play with. Flame Mamoth’s stage for example has lava at points you have to dodge, Storm Eagle’s stage is very focused on tight platforming due to it being in the air, Sting Chameleon’s stage has TWO secret secrets to hunt for & introduces the ride armors (suits X can jump into). They are really fun to play through and depending on the order you beat bosses, they change other levels. Defeat Storm Eagle first? Then when you visit Spark Mandrill, you have to deal with his level having power surges that make the light flicker due to power going out from Eagle’s ship crashing on his power plant.
Makes replaying the game a joy, as things can change depending on your actions.
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The boss’s are a blast to fight through, as they each have unique set-ups. Flame Mammoth for example is a robot that you fight on a convator, with his fire breath having a long range of attack. If you use the Boomerang weapon, you can get his trunk off, making his fire breath have shorter range.
The designs of the bosses are great, with each one being based off different animals:
They have striking designs and the weapons they offer are even better. A boomerang that can pull objects toward you, flame thrower that is very powerful, storm blaster that decimates everything it passes, and charged versions of weapons that are even more effective? Awesome line up of weapons X can gain from defeating them.
I think one of the best examples of boss fights in the game are the two encounters you have with Vile, a Boba-Fet like character what is against X & Zero. You CAN’T beat him, at all. Every shot you have does no damage, but then, Zero shows up and pushes him off.
But when you face him again, the same thing happens, with you losing to him despite having more health, lots of weapons and as the player, more experience with the game. Then after a fatal blow to a helper, X gets pissed and more or less says “You’re done now”. Your shots count and you CAN damage Vile now. It is story through gameplay and I love that when games pull it off well.
Sonic did this great with Sonic 3&K, so its great to see the Blue Bomber pull that off well though the strong boss fights.
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Presentation for this game is outstanding, as they have more detailed sprite work, the levels have a lot going on, and the frame rate is lock solid. The only time the game has performance issue is in Armored Armadillo’s stage, where we get some slowdown at two points. Otherwise, rock stolid frame rate :).
The music though, has to be one of my favorites in the Mega Man series. Such a great set of tunes and I can still hum the intro stage to this day.
Intro Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YROV…&nohtml5=False
Chill Penguin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uCO…71ACABC3369010
Spark Mandrill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO1y…71ACABC3369010
Boomer Kuwanger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo8i…&nohtml5=False
Storm Eagle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngfn…&nohtml5=False
Sting Chameleon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0Vr…&nohtml5=False
Sigma Stage 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRCu…&nohtml5=False
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Overall, Mega Man X is a fantastic game and one of the series best titles. While it might be too easy compared to later X games and other Classic Mega Man games, it is still one hell of a ride and great way to re-introduce the series to SNES owners of the time period.
The series has a long legacy, with a sequel coming not long after. We will talk about that soon enough though.