Mega Man X6 – X Series

 

This game in the Mega Man Retrospective continues the Mega Man X series despite X5 originally being the final game in the series. Unlike X4 and X5 which got enough time to be made, X6 only got under a year to be produced.

Does the story make sense considering X5’s ending? Is the game enjoyable despite its rushed nature? Is it REALLY as bad as some of the weakest games on the market?

All will be answered here hopefully and while I might not be the most positive with this one, I hope you still enjoy reading my Retrospective on the title!

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Development on Mega Man X6 started not long after work on X5 wrapped up and most of the same team worked on that game but with a much tighter work load.

Director – Koji Ohkohara
Designer – Toyozumi Sakai
Artist – Haruki Suetsugu
Composer – Naoto Tanaka

This game was infamous for how it was produced behind the back of Inafune, who was at the time Mega Man series producer and his comment on the game follows: “And so I’d always planned to make Zero come back to life in the Mega Man Zero series, but then X6 comes out sooner from another division and Zero comes back to life in that, and I’m like, ‘What’s this!? Now my story for Zero doesn’t make sense! Zero’s been brought back to life two times!'”

He was flabbergasted with X6 being made and wanted to make up for fans for the title with pushing Inti-Crates to ensure MM Zero is strong title. Artist Hauki Suetsugu, someone who worked on past MMX PS1 titles, also cites rough working conditions when making the game. This lead him to design the Mavericks of the game to be more ‘simple’ compared to past MMX games.


*Image made by deityofshadows on DeviantArt

The last bit of info is that the game was completely voice acted in JP for all regions and it even kept the J-Pop intro song many PS1 Mega Man games had in the JP version but got gutted in the localized version.

X6 released in November in Japan, with December & February releases in NA and EU following after. It got meet mixed reception with a few positive reviews thrown into the mix. IGN gave the game an 8/10 while EGM gave it a 3.5/10 for example.

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The story of MMX6 is odd, as it is a mix of the two endings of MMX5. You have the good ending being used to show that X and the other hunters continue fighting on despite Zero’s death but you have the bad endings impact on the Earth be present.

So the game opens two weeks (instead of two years) after the events of MMX5 with Zero still being dead and Earth being heavily damaged from the impact of the Eurasia Colony. X is sent to take out a Maverick in the crash site while seeing Zero land the final blow.

A robot called High Max, looking for the ‘Zero Nightmare’ and after a fight with X, both it and X warp elsewhere. We later see a Reploid called Isoc (who is NOT Dr. Wily in robot form) telling everyone that they are in charge of repairing the Earth and are looking for researchers to help find out what is going on.

X and the Maverick Hunters don’t by this and start going to where eight of the researchers are located to check up on them and see what this ‘Zero Nightmare’ really is. The overall plot is……meh to be honest though, the translation is the highlight here.

After my enjoyment of SAO: Hollow Fragment on my Vita, I get a kick out of Engerish and badly translated games sometimes, so seeing this game being riddled with them was funny! Here is exactly, line-from-line, not joking here, an exchange between Zero and Dr. Light’s Armor AI:
Light: “Zero, I’m glad to see again”
Zero: “I will never die…..”

Or here is one between X and Zero after X finds Zero alive:
X: “How did you come back?!
Zero: “I hid myself to repair myself”

Shakespearean works of art, I must say. To be serious, I should be mad with this as no other X game had this level of badly translated writing but like the bad voice acting in X4 and MM8, I just can’t help but chuckle at this.

Story does touch on interesting things, like Isoc being heavily implied to be a robot version of Dr. Wily and getting a bit of Aila’s life outside of being a navigator for the Maverick Hunters via Gate but otherwise, its not that interesting overall.

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Gameplay here…..well I will be cutting this into three parts; core gameplay, level design & the Nightmare system.

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Gameplay is more Mega Man X, with X having his Falcon Armor from the start while Zero being unlocked via special gate in any of the levels (after you take down the Zero Nightmare boss). X is fun to play as and Zero is very overpowered, making him a joy to play as. The only major inclusion here is that X can use the Z-Saber and that Zero has his Z-Buster from the start when you unlock him.

Levels are built in mind for Zero instead of X this time though, which I will be touching on soon enough. But for now, lets just say Zero deals with the least amount of annoying things here.

We also have hostages returning from X5 and they are a large mechanic here; you NEED the parts they offer you like Speedster, Armor Defense (which increases your invincibility frames when hit) and Higher Jump (X NEEDS this) to get everything in the game and when Nightmare creatures touch a hostage, they are gone for good.

Even if you go back to the level, they are still ‘gone’. So reset your game when this happens. Otherwise, the only thing to comment on is weapon abilities/armors and Zero has a few good tools here. You have a strong screen nuke attack and a powerful super fast spin attack are great additions to Zero’s line up. X has some good tools as well, with two new armors that allow him to become a ninja (shooting shurikins) and one that lets him use the Z-Saber more…..but its best you stick with the Falcon Armor.

Overall, the gameplay here is fine enough and if you enjoyed past X games, you will have fun here……as long as you put in the cheat codes for Ultimate Armor X and Black Armor Zero. Will explain why in the level design portion.

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Level design….where to begin? Okay, lets start with the good. Some of the levels present fun gimmicks that I enjoyed. You have the ice level with walls you cannot cling/jump off of and that was a nice deviation from how things are in most X titles.

I also liked the acid rain gimmick in one of the stages, as you are pushed to get things done super fast and the game is somewhat fair with health re-store stations if you have low health.

Also like the idea behind the dual-level system where each level has a smaller level to explore that has an extra boss at the end of the state, making things quite replayable.

Now, lets move on to the bad, as there is sadly a lot of that.

X has a very hard time here, as the game was NOT built for him. You have sections where you need the added height of Zero’s double jump or faster movement abilities to get through places but you do not have that. This is something you can adjust to at varying levels depending on the Mavericks you take on with X. Levels like Blaze Heatnix where you have to fight the same mini-boss 5-6 times is a problem with X but some of the earlier Mavericks aren’t that bad to deal with.

Zero is the best way to play the game, as he has less annoying bits do deal with thanks to his expanded moveset. But his base armor is very weak and with how dangerous things can get for Zero are, it makes him die very frequently. Using the Black Armor Zero code removes this issue and as a result, the game can be quite fun with him. It also turns what should be a game that is very annoying to play, into quite an easy game.

I beat the game as Zero in a single sitting and that is without hunting down for everything. X took longer to beat with though and if you want a hard challenge, play the game as him.

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The Nightmare system is something that NEEDS to be discussed, as this is one of the worst parts of this entire game. Level design is a bit annoying and the core gameplay is fine but this causes a lot of the frustrations many have with this title.

Design wise, this was supposed to mirror the levels changing after fighting specific Mavericks like in MMX1 or MMX3 and that affecting the other levels. If you never played X1 before, picture this; fighting a Storm Eagle and after taking him out, Spark Mandrills stage is completely blacked out due to Eagle’s ship crashing into his power-plaint.

That is a great idea, but if done poorly, it can just anger gamers with annoying level gimmicks that are NOT needed. X6 suffers from this poorly implemented on the game with Nightmare Effects that only detract from levels. Having acid rain come down on you with darkness being all over the place, fireballs making navigation across icy platforms far more frustrating then before and having extra blocks making the crusher stage even more stressful.

I don’t mind this idea, but it really detracts from the game and that is a problem. You can avoid this by not selecting the Red covered stages……but you still get Nightmare Effects when you select non-Red covered stages. It makes the effect feel random and it shouldn’t feel this way.

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The last portion before presentation is the tower stages and we have two with gate and one with Sigma (SHOCKER! He’s back). The first Gate Stage has spikes everywhere and a very large gap that if you do not have the jumper or Shadow Armor, you will NOT be able progress. That is a major design issue that shouldn’t be present. Otherwise, it is a challenging first stage, more so then other first tower levels honestly.

Rising Lava, spikes all over the place and foes flying at you from all sides. The boss (Nightmare Mother) is a fun fight with Zero as well.

The second stage for Gate is okay for and I had fun getting through here. Fighting with Gate was a tennis match the balls hurting you the more you hit them….but you have….to…hit….them. Again, poor design rearing its ugly head but fine level otherwise.

The Sigma stage is okay and fights with him (two of them) are quite easy compared to past battles. The second phase has an amazing theme though and one of my favorite versions of Sigma’s theme in the entire series.

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The presentation continues the devastated look that X5 established and I like this style. Harsher looking locations makes me feel more at-edge when exploring the various levels.

Musically, its a damn good soundtrack, with many tracks hitting home. Intro Stage, Blizzard Wolffang, Blaze Heatnix, Sigma Phase 2…..many of the tracks are fantastic and next to X1, X2 and X5, this is my favorite score in the series.

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This game is very odd to me, as I should hate it more. It has bad design issues and the story isn’t that interesting. But, I had fun with this and for people willing to deal with some really annoying gameplay systems/design issues, it is worth playing this game at least once.

I take back my comments about this comparing to Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06, but I still do not consider this a good game. Its just ‘okay’ to me honestly.

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