Publisher: Capcom, Nintendo, Majesco Entertainment
Initial Release Date: January 1994 (U.S. release)
Initial Platform: Super Nintendo
Rated: E for Everyone
Lets go back to the 90s, during where SNES is somewhat new and thriving. After seeing the success of the Mega Man series for NES, Capcom decided to take advantage of the advanced technology for SNES (back in the day) and create something new and refreshing for the Mega Man series. Of course, they decided that making this new while retaining the formula that all of us Mega Man fans are familiar with is no easy task. They thought that making a spin-off with a more mature story line might not be a bad idea for the series. Which is what led to the creation of one of the timeless classics for the SNES, Mega Man X.
You start the game off on the highway, running past the destroyed cars, and shooting down any bad robots that come your way to an upbeat rock tune. When you defeat a giant bee-like robot, it crashes down and making you fall down, forcing you to wall jump your way out and back on the highway. You’ll continue to traverse through the level until you can’t go any further. After defeating a few more robot baddies, the very first boss of the game comes to serve your butt on a silver platter. At this point on, the main protagonist, X, realizes that he must become stronger in order to defeat the Mavericks and their leader, Sigma.
Even though that I can’t do justice with just words alone, this first level alone gives the player a taste on what’s to come with the entire game. It’s better to experience this to get a good taste on what’s to come.
Not only did Mega Man X managed to meet the standards of a Mega Man game that the previous titles have established, but they have managed to exceed these standards to give these fans of the blue bomber more than a Mega Man game. There’s something about Mega Man X in particular that puts this game in the same echelon of classics as Chrono Trigger or A Link To The Past . It’s almost like the game itself gives the player some excitement through it’s fast paced game play that is even more exhilarating than the previous Mega Man entries could be.
The controls are overall pretty intuitive. You have your basic Mega Man controls, you move, you jump, and you fire your signature Mega Buster. The controls are easy to learn, and the more advanced techniques can be mastered almost just as easy as learning the basics. Given that aspect, this can give the player a great sense of agency fairly quickly which can help the player meet up to the challenge. They even add two ways to use the Dash ability. The only complaint that I have for the controls though, is that when it comes to riding a Ride Armor (which is like a mech) in some levels, figuring out how to dismount a Ride Armor is one of the harder things that I had to do in the game. But it’s not bad once you figure out. That unless you consult a FAQ of some sort, unlike I did.
Now we get down to the meat of the Mega Man X: the levels. The Mavericks that you’d have to fight at the end of each level are pretty well designed to make them as memorable as they are challenging. And they can sure keep you on your toes! The levels themselves are what gives the player a feeling of excitement. Not to mention that the levels compliment their respective Mavericks very well, as each Maverick has a level that best suits them. Like for example, are you going against Launch Octopus? Well you’ll be put in a water level (not a shabby one at that). What about Storm Eagle? You’ll be in a airport, jumping on top of buildings to get to the Maverick’s ship. The excitement from these levels not only come from their stellar design, but from the a challenge that each level brings, which the Mega Man fans are most familiar with. As well as making each level difficult in their own way, they have managed to make the bosses just as difficult, but in a way that Mega Man fans are familiar with as well. In order to defeat a Maverick, you’d have to find which weapon works best for each Maverick, and go from there. The perfect marriage of level and the design that goes in each of them not only resonate with the Mega Man fans well, but the stellar design and the ability to do more with the advancing hardware is what makes these levels superior to the decent Mega Man levels in the NES era.
As much as they remained faithful to what makes Mega Man great, they managed to tweak the level formula that doesn’t make the levels stray too far from what Mega Man levels are supposed to be. One example of this is the level landscape modifications, which can occur on some of the levels depending on which Maverick you defeat in prior to playing one of these levels. For example, if you have managed to beat Chill Penguin before facing Flame Mammoth, you’ll see that the lava based level has frozen over. This adds some depth to the game to where the levels themselves can be modified. May defeating a certain enemy might make a level easier, or maybe it’ll just change the appearance of the landscape. The game also has upgrades scattered across the levels, which can help X improve himself. These upgrades improve his armor as well as increasing his health and the number of Energy Tank reserves. These upgrades are cleverly placed throughout the levels (although backtracking to some is required to get them all). These upgrades add a nice touch to the story, as it is about X’s quest for improvement. These additions have done well to help this game stand out from the other Mega Man games that came before Mega Man X.
If the controls and levels weren’t enough to help elevate this game to a legendary status, the music in this game helps put Mega Man X in the tier of timeless classic of SNES games. With the soundtrack made by Capcom composers themselves, the composers took advantage of the hardware to compose a rock-style soundtrack which is sure to get the players excited as they navigate through the mines, or through the snow barren to beat the snot out of those Mavericks. The Mega Man X soundtrack is arguably one of the best soundtracks ever created for the SNES generation, which can easily trump Mega Man 2 soundtrack.
Not only did the music win over the players, but the art in Mega Man X has managed to woo over players as the graphics and art style certainly pops out in the most pleasing way. The palette choice for each level makes each level breath taking in their own ways. The water level looks almost realistic in terms of SNES graphics, as well as the sky and buildings in Storm Eagle stage is certainly breathtaking.
The only issue that I have with the game is that you don’t start the game with one of the most essential abilities in the entire game: the ability to dash. As much as it would serve as a valuable time saver if you do have this ability, it is almost essential as you need to dash in order to get over certain obstacles in the game. Of course, they offer this ability via armor upgrade in one of the levels, which in turns designates that level as the “first” level as it almost forces the player to go there to obtain that power up, making the play through almost limiting. That is of course unless you know what you are doing.
With that minor issue aside, all of the other aspects in this game that I’ve mentioned helped shaped up Mega Man X to be a timeless classic for the SNES generation. This game manages to revitalize the Mega Man franchise that the gamers already love. Even though that we would be willing to settle for a sequel to Mega Man 6, this is the game that belongs to the collection of any gamer that plays Mega Man games. Of course, nowadays it is quite easy to get a copy of Mega Man X. Well if you have one of the more recent Nintendo consoles at least.
Why do I believe that Mega Man X is worthy for Last Token Gaming’s Hall of Fame? Well for starters, a reboot of a well beloved classic series should be able to help ignite the love for that series, as well leaving the impact in the gaming community, and keep the series afloat for at least a good while. For a reboot that had a lot to live up to in terms of expectations established by the previous Mega Man games, Mega Man X has managed to exceed all of the expectations. For one thing, Mega Man X helped inspired to bring Mega Man 7 a couple of years later. Not only that, but many sequels have spawned all the way through the PS2 generation, along with a handheld spin off series called Mega Man Zero. Mega Man X also managed to help keep the love of the blue bomber alive to this day to the point that we are still eagerly waiting for Mighty No. 9 to come out (anytime now would be nice). At the least though, Mighty No. 9 wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the dedication that the fans have that was contributed by Mega Man X along with other great Mega Man classics. If you were to browse the internet for Top 10 SNES games of all time, I can guarantee you’ll find Mega Man X at nearly every single one of these lists. Last but not least, the music was so memorable that you could find remixes of some classic tunes from Mega Man X. And on that note, I’ll end things with a great example here: