Mega Man X5 – X Series

This continues my Mega Man Retrospective and this is a major game in the X series; this was supposed to be the conclusion to the X Series originally. So, this game tries to wrap up a lot of loose ends that hanged since day one.

How does the game compare to other Mega Man X titles and is it a solid conclusion to the series? Lets find out!

But first, this WILL contain complete story spiolers, so please read ahead with caution if you never played this before.

Development:
Inafune had little part of X5’s development, telling the team ‘Finish the series off with this title’ making the team push for the game to cover everything; the series connections to Mega Man Classic, how the future series of Mega Man is set up (MM Zero), and in general, trying to make a fun final game for fans of the X Series.

The team behind the game includes the following:
Director – Koji Okohara
Designer – Toyozumi Sakai
Artists – Haruki Suetsugu, Ryuji Higurashi
Composers – Naoto Tanaka, Naoya Kamisaka, Takuya Miyawaki

But Capcom commissioned for a sequel game, MMX6, to release a year later after MMX5. Will be covering that with great detail when the time comes, but for now, lets just say they had little time to work on it compared to X4 and X5.

Localization of the game is something to note here, as the Mavericks you fight have original names for the NA/EU releases instead of translations of their Japanese names. This is thanks to Capcom voice actress Alyson Court, who was involved in the game’s localization, came up with names for the Marvicks as a tribute to her then-husband’s love of the rock-band Guns & Roses. This lead to some really fun names for the different Mavericks: Grizzly Slash, Duff McWhalen (amazing name by the way), Squid Adler, Izzy Glow, Dark Dizzy, The Skiver, Matterx, Axle the Red

The game released in November 2000 in Japan and in February & August in 2001 to lukewarm reception. But the series continued and we got three more mainline X titles despite this originally being a conclusion title for the series.

Story:
The game takes place a few months after the events of Mega Man X4, with the Repliforce ending and Earth being in piece. The rest of the story summary is from the detailed and well organized Mega Mega Man X5 Wiki:

“The repair of the space colonies damaged during the war was almost complete, the only space colony remaining being the giant colony Eurasia located in a Lagrangian point. As it was quite old, it was planned to receive extensive renovation. However, one day someone had occupied Eurasia and took control of it, scattering a virus in the colony and using its artificial gravity systems to set it on a collision course towards Earth. Within 16 hours, Eurasia will crash and cause great destruction, in the worst case extinguishing all life from the planet. The Maverick Hunters plan on using the large particle cannon Enigma to destroy Eurasia before it happens. The Enigma cannon is somewhat old and needs to be upgraded. Signas, the Hunters’ new commander, orders Mega Man X and his comrade Zero, as they race against time to collect the four parts necessary to upgrade the Enigma and stop Eurasia before it’s too late. To make things worse, Sigma scattered the Sigma Virus all over the world and the parts needed are being protected by Mavericks.”

So X and Zero head out to get the parts needed for the cannon and ship, with the goal of taking out the Eurasia Ship to prevent further damage to the Earth. Where things get interesting, is based on if you play as X or Zero. X has interactions with the Mavericks and it is very interesting; some Mavericks like Squid Adler KNOW X from past events or others honorably push X to fight them for the part like Grizzly Slash and Duff McWhalen. I enjoyed encountering the bosses just to see what the Maverick will say. Its also interesting to note that The Skiver was part of the Repliforce, showing that continuity is important to the series. The story also explores Zero’s past with Wily, as the Simga Virus WAS originally the Zero Virus, just transferred. This causes Zero to be immune to its effects and gets stronger the more he takes in. Depending on if you use the shuttle or not and it succeeds, this leads to Zero being activated how Wily intended and him becoming ‘evil’.

The end of the game depends on if destroy the station or not but how it plays out is interesting. If Zero isn’t evil, X just lives on and fights another day. But if Zero is evil, not only does X recover from his fight but we get Zero being dead, X forgetting everything about his friend & even seeing some hints toward the Zero series.

It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it isn’t super interesting over all. I enjoyed the boss encounters and the end-game story stuff but the text boxes and long stills were a step down for me compared to the FMV’s that X4 had.

Gameplay:
Well, its more Mega Man X in many respects. X has his Mega Buster and Fourth Armor from MMX4 (if you play as him from the start) and Zero has his Z-Saber and Z-Buster (if you start the game as Zero). Both can dash on ground & mid-air, wall jump/cling, and have basic attacks (X = Cannon Attacks, Zero = Melee Attacks).

What is different is the smaller things. One thing is a time system, where once you select a level, you lose one out of 16 hours. If you lose all your hours, you HAVE to fire the cannon/fly the shuttle. But with 8 Mavericks and two fights with a new character, you still have 6 extra hours for backtracking and stuff, so this isn’t that big of a deal.

Hostages are a new system though, as if you save enough in the stages, you can increase your health or weapon energy. This is a much larger mechanic with X6 though…..an annoying one I must say.

The armor system is different too, with X having three armors to collect, but unlike past games, you need ALL FOUR PARTS for them to work. Meaning, you have to get every part to even use the thing. This is very, very annoying and makes them useless until you reach the halfway mark. Will touch on why this is annoying when I talk about the stages. But anyway, you have three armors; Falcon (ability to fly for 10 seconds in the air), Gaea (greater defense and ability to move on spikes but no air-dash) and Ultimate Armor (ability to use the powerful air dash Giga Attack). Zero even has an armor and like the Ultimate Armor, you can find it in Simga Stage 3.

Stages:
The stages in X5 are varied, ranging from a stroll through a sunken ship, racing on a jet ski to a hidden base, and exploring a location filled with literal guns & roses (ha); the level variety is on point and makes each one fun.

Squid Alder’s level is fun if you are just going through it for example, as it’s a high speed bike section during the introduction that leads to a platform heavy puzzle area where you are hit/shoot pillars into switches to continue. If you want to get the head armor piece to the Falcon Armor…….you will be here for a very long time due having to collect little spheres. This stage was the reason I never bothered collecting the armors outside of the Ultimate Armor. Otherwise, fun stage.

Also enjoy the fire level in the game where you fight Matterx; it has you hide behind rock pillars to avoid insta-death fire blasts and it is fun to avoid all the attacks plus it makes great use of the wall cling ability.

The fights themselves are sadly not that rewarding if you are going in weakness order. They get locked in place after you hit them with weakness attacks and it makes the fights very easy. I tried fighting a few of the Mavericks with only the Mega Buster and they presented fun patterns. Duff McWallen is a great one for example, as he shoots pillars of ice that make a platform you run across. And during the mid-fight, you have to avoid them being shot at you rapidly toward the wall with spikes. So if you want a challenge for X, do not use the weakness for the bosses.

Boss Weapons:
Items you get from the bosses are good; you get the Slasher which can be charged into a shield that attacks foes for a bit, Izzy Glows weapon is a movable missile, and you have the Goo Shaver which shoots a sliding across the floor. But two weapons I want to highlight; the Electric Ball and the Time Stopper. Yes, the Mega Man 1 and Mega Man 2 weapons are in this game and function almost 1-to-1 the same. Even two bosses heavily mirror Mega Man 7 and Mega Man X1 bosses.

Virus/Sigma Stages:
Then we have the Tower Levels, which are complete re-creations of past Mega Man locations. Virus Stage 1 is a remake of the Bubble Man’s Stage from Mega Man 2….

…..With the boss of the level being the YELLOW DEVIL! Yes, the X Series has its own Devil fight and is just as long and difficult like past Mega Man Classic games. But the final form of this thing is Wily Machine Six.

The next Virus Stage is a re-creation of Sigma Stage 1 from Mega Man X with it concluding with this guy from Mega Man X (link to image). It’s the same exact fight as well.

We have two more Virus Stages, with one concluding with a fight with Zero and the next one having the vanishing blocks from past Mega Man Classic titles. It concludes with a fight with Sigma.

Overall, the level design is strong here and despite some really annoying bits here and there, I had fun running through the game as X. Yes, I said X as I didn’t play as Zero for this run of the game. I completed most of the game as Zero with my X Collection copy a few years back and decided to try the game out with X and I made a good move, as you can lose Zero. This is a problem that I need to bring up; if the shuttle fails, you lose the ability to play as Zero. And this is randomized after you collect all the parts of the shuttle. One way to avoid issues is either collect three pieces of the cannon and keep firing it until you get it to work or just play the entire game as X, with you collecting heart tanks with him.

Presentation:
The anime cut-scenes are gone but that does not prevent the game from being a great looking title. The levels have a lot of detail and the sprite work is very well done. The Pre-Rendered bits here and there look nice to me honestly too. The music is filled with great remixes from past MM Classic and MMX tittles with the new tracks being really great inclusions. Some of the new tracks like the Boss Theme are personal favorites to me.

Opening Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYlf…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Into Stage X: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwnR…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Intro Stage Zero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-8s…-Eu244&index=5
Grizzly Slash (Crescent Grizzly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyIF…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Squid Adled (Volt kraken): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBmq…Eu244&index=10
Duff McWhalen (Tidal Makkoeen): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLfR…Eu244&index=12
Shadow Devil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axwD…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Boss Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHkk…Eu244&index=19
Zero Virus Stage 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9578…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Zero Virus Stage 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duPo…Eu244&index=24
Dr. Light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKzw…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Zero’s Death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XNc…Zoub84l0-Eu244
Sigma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3fi…Zoub84l0-Eu244

We even have a few unused tracks too.
Deep Sea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMSW…Eu244&index=32
Dr. Light Beta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUTL…Eu244&index=33
Zero’s Death Beta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g02o…Zoub84l0-Eu244

Overall:
This is a fun action platformer that while having some issues, is still a great time for people that are fans of the X or Classic Series. The game really celebrates the entire Mega Man series (from 2000) and it is a game I recommend playing.

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