Review by: Matthew Frost
Published: May 1st, 2006
The exploits of Capcom’s famed boy robot are pretty darn legendary. Not many characters or franchises achieve the status of being completely synonomous with gaming, but Megaman is certainly one such enduring character. Capcom’s affinity for milking successful franchises ensured that the series would enjoy numerous spin-offs with new and distinct styles of gameplay, some of which have been more successful than others, but Megaman games always comes back to the kind of gameplay that started it all off.
Megaman X, one such spin-off, was a game that came at a time when Megaman’s popularity was initially beginning to wane. Capcom’s response was to make a Megaman platformer with a harder edge and more detailed gameplay. Megaman X was an attempt to make Megaman “cool” again with a new and purportedly mature story. Fans were, nevertheless, quite happy since it came through splendidly in the end. More complex and challenging than the original Megaman games, X established itself as an excellent platforming series that has since run concurrently with the original games. Now, more than ten years later, Capcom has remade the first game in the X series for Sony’s PSP handheld. Megaman isn’t quite the icon he once was, having become more of a beacon for diehard platformer fans than anything else, so perhaps the goal with this release is to show a new generation of gamers what the big deal is.
MegaMan X is set in the far flung future, long after the as of yet untold end to the original MegaMan series. In this future, a Dr. Caine discovers the last work of Dr. Light, a robot simply named “X”. Caine uses the advanced technologies contained within X as the basis to create a whole new generation of robots called reploids. Among other traits, these robots possess free will and, as such, can rebel and go “Maverick”. X himself finds a place in this world as a “Maverick Hunter”, trying to keep the peace in this bold future.
New to Maverick Hunter X is an unlockable twenty-five minute anime that tries to convey the immediate events that lead up to the beginning of the first MegaMan X. The story contained within is filled with hammy dialogue and nonsensical plot points, but it’s slickly animated, packed with action, and makes for a great little addition. Strangely, however, you’ll have to actually beat the game before you can watch the anime.
The game itself is relatively unchanged from the classic platformer first released way back in 1993. Whether you refer to the remake or the original, the gameplay is instantly recognizable as classic Megaman platforming. What sets MMX apart is that the X games are generally more challenging and complex, and place a much bigger emphasis on re-entering levels at later times with new abilities in order to explore for upgrades.
Now, in the bizarre event that you are not already familiar with classic Megaman gameplay, it is as follows: After the introductory level, you’re presented with eight stages that you can play in any order, and at the end of each is a boss. Defeating the eight bosses is the goal, and each one conquered will earn you additional weapons and powers. Once all eight bosses are defeated, you’ll move onto the final few levels and eventually face your primary foe.
Maverick Hunter X, like the majority of other MegaMan games, is a platforming game with a heavy focus on the action. You move left, you move right, and jump to avoid obstacles. Fire shots to destroy enemies, fire charged shots to destroy tougher enemies. Or, if you’ve already defeated some of the bosses, switch out your basic X-Buster for another weapon. As already noted, there are also upgrades to be found which will be necessary for success.