Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mega Man X Collection (PS2, GCN) Retro Review

Wrapping up our weekend of Mega Man X, Mega Man X Collection is a compilation of six Mega Man X games with added bonus content thrown in. How does this compendium of X's most memorable adventures shape up?

A Comprehensive Collection For X Fans

In 1993 Mega Man X descended into the future and onto the Super Nintendo. The leap between the classic Mega Man series and the X series was huge. Fans who had waited for Mega Man to jump into 16-bit action had been disappointed that Capcom continued to put the Mega Man games on the NES. Their prayers were answered with Mega Man X. While not the traditional classic gameplay fans were expecting, the X series would go onto have some of the most entertaining stories, levels, and characters of the entire Mega Man franchise.

Mega Man X Collection attempts to be a compendium of X's 16 and 32 bit adventures, and for the most part the title succeeds.

Vintage original Mega Man X action.

The first title on the compilation CD, Mega Man X, featured a blue bomber that fans had never viewed or experienced before. More mature, more action-packed, and more sinister foes filled this new series. Mega Man could now climb walls, charge his X-buster, gain new armor from various capsules hidden throughout the game, collect heart tanks to expand his health bar, and subtanks that could refill his life in an instant. And X would need all of those things before this game's bosses (especially the last boss) were quite tough for a beginner. Earning new weapons from the bosses allowed for the first time in a Mega Man game that Mega Man could return to a previous stage to perhaps find a new item that a weapon or capsule-upgrade revealed.

Mega Man X brought with it new characters like X's friend, the long blonde-locked, saber-wielding Zero, the mercenary for hire in Vile, and the man behind the Mavericks, the evil, undying Sigma. Instead of facing bosses who were "men". The foes of Mega Man X were all animal-themed such as Flame Mammoth and Storm Eagle. Mega Man X took what made the classic franchise great and made the series into something even more legendary.

Not to shy away from what made Mega Man X
so great, X2 was more of the same.

Mega Man X2 was released a year later. Like most of Capcom's franchises (even more so with Mega Man), there weren't too many changes from the traditional Mega Man X formula. The basics were all there. New levels like the impressive Wheel Gator stage, new animal bosses to face like Overdrive Ostrich and Wire Sponge, speedbikes that could be driven, and new optional challenges such as rebuilding Zero from the hands of the X-Hunters all added more to the series. The most important feature that would remain a godsend for all future X games came to be in X2- the mid-air dash.

X3's version is the Playstation code.

The final 16-bit entry in the Mega Man X franchise, Mega Man X3, had multiple versions on multiple consoles. The version the collection has is the Playstation version with remixed music and anime-inspired cutscenes which stood itself out from the SNES version which had music that sounded like it was all from the same instrument. Needless to say I prefer the Playstation version for that reason. The gameplay is still the same for any version. X3 brought with it a new anatagonist, Dr. Doppler, and his creations Bit and Byte. Also a returning foe loomed in the shadows ready to face X and Zero once again. Zero was also playable for the first time, but once he was killed, he was gone for good. Additionally there were multiple ride armors to pilot and one-time use red capsules that X could only choose one of. Should X get the double dash upgrade or receive a third charge on his X-buster? The choice was up to the player.

New generation, better graphics.

One of my favorite entries in the X franchise is Mega Man X4. It had the best music, levels, and action in my opinion. What other character could get away with yelling "What am I fighting fooooooooooooooooooooooooooor" with such horrible conviction? I'll tell you-- anyone NOT named Zero. Both X and Zero had their own storylines. X was for beginners while Zero was for the more hardcore of Mega Man X fans as almost all of Zero's attacks were close-ranged.

Mega Man X5 was where the series started to decline for me. Not only were the levels not as well-designed, but the Mavericks were named idiotically after Guns 'n' Roses members. Capcom of America, you can hardly look over your own typos in games, but now you're taking liberties with the series' boss names? Ugh. Duff McWhalen would like a word with you.

Certain levels will drive you batty.

Mega Man X6 was just there. Many complain of its unfair difficulty and questionable level design. It was marketed with a Nightmare system that randomly changed how you played each level. Yeah, that was crap and marketing propaganda. The only real part I enjoyed about the game was its music and its main antagonist, Gate.

The bigger they are, the more bones they break.

Rather than add bonus content for the collection, North Americans were left with some pretty poor extras like music from the PS1 version of X3 and tips on how to play the game instead of the content that was promised such as remixed music. Where did the remixed music go? It was supposed to be used for the sequels to the PSP Maverick Hunter X games, but unfortunately those titles bombed universally. Speaking of universal things, there is no universe control set-up for the games. So if you wish to set-up the button layout one way for a certain X game you'll have to set it up for all of the other titles as well.

Tracking down a new copy of X is harder than
a no-death, no sub-tank run!

Criticisms aside, you'd be in a tight spot if you wanted to purchase the original copies of the games. Thankfully Mega Man X Collection brings all of the great and less than stellar X titles in one $29.99 package on one DVD. Now that's just an awesome value. Mega Man fans shouldn't miss out on the PS2 version as the GCN's controller isn't meant for 2-D platforming for the most part due to its odd d-pad and button layout. It's a shame because I believe most Mega Man fans are on Nintendo's consoles. Regardless, if you don't have a PS2 the Gamecube version isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10] - It's missing a lot of bonus content, but six games for $29.99 is too difficult of a deal to pass up for anyone.

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