Friday, October 2, 2009

Rank Up! - Mega Man X

Rank Up! is a brand-new feature on SuperPhilip Central. The premise is quite simple: I take a game series, and I rank the games in said series from worst to best. The premier edition of Rank Up! features the next generation of the blue bomber, Mega Man X! There's eight mainline X games to blast our way through: Mega Man X 1-8, so let's wall dash our way through this list, shall we?

Here are the games we'll be ranking:

Mega Man X (SNES)
Mega Man X2 (SNES)

Mega Man X3 (SNES)

Mega Man X4 (PS1, SAT)

Mega Man X5 (PS1)

Mega Man X6 (PS1)

Mega Man X7 (PS2)

Mega Man X8 (PS2)

In 1993, Mega Man X hit the Super Nintendo. It brought with it 16-bit gameplay, a more agile and dexterous Mega Man who could scale walls and acquire new upgrades from various Dr. Light capsules strewn throughout levels in hidden locations. Dr. Wily was nowhere to be found. Instead, a new villain took the reigns as head honcho, the evil Maverick, Sigma. Fortunately, X was not alone in his battle against the Mavericks with a beam saber-wielding, golden-locked Zero. With eight games under his belt, Mega Man X seldom fails to provide fast-paced action-platforming fun. Now for the list:

8) Mega Man X7

First off is the worst in our octuplet of X action, it's Mega Man X7. X7 attempted to experiment with the series by placing X, Zero, and newcomer Axl into a world where full directional 3-D movement was possible. For a series that was born and raised in 2-D, this experiment didn't pay off. The camera was all over the place, the 3-D portions were just cumbersome to play through, and what there was of 2-D sections were dull and inspired. Not to mention the absolutely horrid voice acting that would make you want to take a charged buster shot to the eardrum!

7) Mega Man X6

The worst exclusively 2-D entry of the X franchise, Mega Man X6 was rushed from the word go. It came out in less than a year after X5, and it showed. The level design wasn't so much challenging as it was cheap with spikes being used liberally throughout levels. The game promised a Nightmare System which was supposed to alter levels based on your performance in them, but this was a blatant lie. There was no such feature. Combine that with poor presentation and high frustration, Mega Man X6 is still an enjoyable game, but it is still one of the worst the series has to offer.

6) Mega Man X5

The game in the series that started the downward trend, Mega Man X5 featured bosses with such odd names as Axel the Red and Duff McWhalen. To this day I'm baffled by Capcom of America's localization of the Maverick names. Regardless, X5 was the first in the series to have Dr. Light capsules awarding X with armor pieces instead of full blown upgrades. When all four pieces of an armor were collected, X could select that armor before entering a stage. Certain armor could only access certain parts of a level where sub-tanks and health-boosting heart tanks were hidden.

5) Mega Man X8

The X series returns to its 2-D roots with Mega Man X8. Characters, models, and enemies remained 3-D, but the game was played on a 2-D track with levels being well-designed with various 2 1/2-D tricks such as curving paths and paralax backgrounds. A tag-team system allowed two characters to switch in and out on the fly, effectively giving the player two life meters to work with. They could also perform a special tag team attack once a gauge was filled. Sigma took a backseat this time around with a new villain being the final boss, a first for the series. The only thing weighing the game down were two on-rail vehicle levels. More run and gun action would have been preferred.

4) Mega Man X3

The final 16-bit Mega Man X game, Mega Man X3 brought with it the return of Vile. Facing him before the final levels was entirely optional, but it meant you could destroy him. This meant you'd face an alternate boss in the final levels instead of Vile. X3 had special red capsules that would give X a special move: double air dashes, improved defense, and so forth-- but he could only equip one of these chips, so it was up to the player to track down the capsule with the chip they wanted. Ride armor was much more pronounced this time around with four different types each for different situations and with varying powers. While not an overly outstanding X game, X3 definitely does its job as being entertaining.

3) Mega Man X2

Mega Man X2 had everything Mega Man X had, but it added more to the mix. It may have felt samey with the similar formula of beating eight Mavericks and then heading to a final series of stages, but it was a welcomed addition to the series. This time around you could choose to track down Zero's three missing parts by taking down a group of rogues known as the X-hunters, Serges, Agile, and Violen. The levels were enjoyable, too, taking X through a junkyard, a weather center, a flying gator ship, and through a desert sandstorm to name a quartet. There's a lot of nostalgia that comes with this game making it nailed at the number three spot.

2) Mega Man X4

My personal favorite of the Playstation era X games, Mega Man X4 allowed you to play as either X or Zero each with their own stories. X will wonder why he continues to fight while Zero wonders what he's fighting for. The new visuals packed a powerful punch with impressive backgrounds, detailed sprites, and well-drawn animated cut-scenes to boot. The soundtrack remains one of the best in the series with many memorable themes showcasing the new CD technology of the X series. Meanwhile, levels were a blast to fly through from a harbor jet-bike level to a performance-testing cyber network to lush, verdant jungle. X4 remains one of the best titles in the series.

1) Mega Man X

Could there be any other game than the original? Call it nostalgia, the very first Mega Man X game stands head and shoulders above every other title in the series. It effectively brought Mega Man to the 16-bit generation with more action, more powers, more weapons, more abilities, and more levels to run and gun through. Hidden in several stages were capsules that gave X new abilities such as the headbutt, charge shot, and dash, heart tanks that boosted the health of X, and subtanks that gave X reserve health in case things got dicey-- which they would. Mega Man X remains the top of the series with memorable levels, unforgettable bosses, and a soundtrack that you'd fight to get out of your mind. Who could forget riding down a mine cart with enemies blazing by you in Armored Armadillo's stage?

That concludes the inaugural installment of Rank Up! Do you agree/disagree with the ordering of the X series? Let your opinion be known in the comments section of your local site.

1 comment:

The Retro Gamer said...

Nice list. You definitely have most of the games where I'd place them, although I might, might swap X2 and X3.