When you think of superlatives like greatest, best, or most awesome, you might have the tendency to think of one of your favorite video game characters. For me, I think of Mega Man X, or X for short. Back in the early 90s, about 20 years ago now, Capcom decided to release a spinoff series for Mega Man, which had its start on the Super Nintendo, and it was awesome. In fact, to this day it is still one of my favorite 2D platforming series ever. Over the next series of articles, I am going to be taking a comprehensive look at each Mega Man X game individually, and not only reviewing them, but mostly comparing them to the others in the series, as well as looking at what made each one succeed, or fail in a couple cases.
What differentiated the X games from the original series were the armor capsule upgrades, the ability to cling to and jump off walls, and a different final boss-Sigma. The bosses are known as Mavericks instead of robot masters, and are all based on animals in some way. In addition, in later games Zero and Axl were made playable characters, and each character played in very different ways from X.
The first generation of X games(X1-X3) were on SNES, and were arguably the best in the series, and I’d even go as far as to say some of the best games ever made. They were in 16-bit, stuck to the classic 2D platforming formula, and had some awesome armor upgrades for X, tough mavericks to fight, and excellent soundtracks. Then along came the PS1 generation(X4-X6), and many people consider X4 to be one of the best, as do I. You could play through the entire game as Zero for the first time, and the graphical updates and voice acting in the cutscenes were quite good. X5 had a few changes, but was still a solid game overall. X6 had some major and minor flaws, but still managed to do some things very well, so it depends on who you talk to as to whether it was any good. Finally, there was the PS2 generation(X7 and X8), and X7 was a huge gamble for Capcom that did not pay off, as much of the game was a clunky 3D platformer, unlike all the previous entries, but the soundtrack and graphics were still quite nice. X8 redeemed the series one last time, and ended it with a bang, with X, Zero, and Axl all having unique abilities and upgrades that were useful in different situations, and the game was mostly in 2D, so that was great.
I should point out that there are a few games that are spinoffs from the main X series, as well as one remake. These are Mega Man Xtreme and Mega Man Xtreme 2 for Game Boy Color, Mega Man X Command Mission for Gamecube/PS2, and Maverick Hunter X for PSP. I have not played all of these, but in future articles I will cover the ones I have played. There is even an incredible looking fan made game in development right now called Mega Man X: Corrupted. It looks faithful to the 16-bit originals, and looking at demos of the gameplay and listening to the soundtrack, I can already tell it will be awesome when it is complete.
Sadly, with Keiji Inafune’s(creator of Mega Man) departure from Capcom not too long ago, it is almost certain that there will not be any more official Mega Man related games(the last one being 10 in the original series), and certainly not anymore Mega Man X games. My hopes for a 16-bit Mega Man X9 or even a more modernized, X8 style sequel, will probably never see the light of day. It’s such a shame, too, as there are only two Mega Man series that had true closure to them. One of them is the Mega Man Zero series, which ended with Zero 4, and was a great series in its own right. The other was the Mega Man Battle Network series, which ended with number 6, but I never played past the first one so I could care less about those games. The original, X, Legends, ZX, and even the original Gameboy ones had open ended endings, as far as I know.
Next time I’ll be covering the original Mega Man X in detail, and as most of you know, that’s a game that stands up as one of the greatest of all time, even after almost 20 years. On a console with an already astounding number of awesome games to choose from, the first in the X series still manages to stay on many people’s top ten lists, and with good reason. More on that next time.