Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mega Man X (iOS) Review

Earlier today I reviewed Swordigo, the first game review of March. Now, I turn my attention to an iOS remake of one of my favorite games of all time, Mega Man X. How did I like it? Well, I somewhat spoil that answer with my tagline for this review!

A mega mess that still remains enjoyable

I love Mega Man X. It's one of my favorite games ever made. It has a perfect amount of high-octane action, superb level design, fantastic synth rock music, and gorgeous graphics. Pretty much any time a new port or version of Mega Man X comes out, I come running. With the PSP remake, Maverick Hunter X, I bought the system for it. That's how dedicated I am to the sequel to the Classic Mega Man series.

I remember back in 2011 when word was given that Mega Man X would be coming to iOS capable devices, I was green with envy. The thought of having an iPhone was but a pipe dream. It was on a platform that I couldn't play the game on, and that killed me. Now, it's five years later, I have an iPhone, and I downloaded the iOS version of Mega Man X. It says something about my love for the SNES original that despite the iOS version being a completely bastardized take on Mega Man X that I still found much joy with it.

A familiar sight for Mega Man X fans, but something here is quite different!
It's interesting that I still found something to like with this port, as from stage one, the touch controls are not very good. Not only did my fingers obscure my view most of the time, the spacing of the virtual directional pad is too close, meaning oftentimes I'd move left when I wanted to move right. Dashing, unlocked from the Dr. Light capsule in Chill Penguin's stage-- impossible to not come across-- is performed by either double tapping left or right, or pressing down. Again, on many occasions I'd want to dash, but instead I'd just walk into a bottomless pit or worse, self-destruct on a bed of deadly spikes.

And trying to dash from one wall to another? Forget about it. It takes a lot of concentration and finger dexterity to successfully make the jump on one's first try. The jump button itself is rather small and easy to miss. Thus, dashing right into a hazardous situation can happen when you least expect it.

If you choose to, you can have Mega Man X's X-Buster charge automatically, giving you bigger, more powerful shots to shoot at foes in order to take them down with less bullets. The only problem with having this option on is that when you equip a subweapon, given to you by each of the eight Mavericks in the game, it unleashes the super version of that weapon if you've already charged your X-Buster up. Thankfully, the X-Buster doesn't keep charging up after this super shot.

The Chameleon Sting would not be the right weapon for this occasion, X.
So, considering all of the niggling control issues I experienced with Mega Man X, and how the controls are at best imperfect, then why do I still like the game? That's a well thought out question. The reason for this is that there are multiple difficulties to choose from to make Mega Man X on iOS much less frustrating.

For instance, the game's Easy mode pretty much cancels out the lackluster controls by implementing less damage for Mega Man X when he gets hit by enemies, less enemy health, and helpful platforms that cover up most bottomless pits and spike traps in the game. Call it wussy mode if you like, but with the problems with the controls and how imprecise they can be, messing you up when you least expect it, it's nice to have a mode that complements the lackluster controls in providing an enjoyable action platformer. There aren't any difficulty mode achievements to worry about anyway, but if you want a greater challenge, then Normal and Hard difficulties are there for you if you have a better mastering of the virtual controls.

Speaking of achievements, there are a good variety here that are of a worthy challenge to any Mega Man X player. Outside of beating stages or using a Maverick's weakness against them, you can unlock achievements by collecting upgrades, beating the game without using Subtanks, without collecting any items, beating the game in less than an hour, and defeating bosses without taking damage. There's a wide range of challenges here, and these will keep you coming back for more if you are entertained by Mega Man X enough.

Another point of contention with Mega Man X's iOS outing is that levels are split up between screens instead of being one long, continuous level. No doubt iOS devices are capable of running a somewhat simple 2D game without needing to split up entire levels into multiple segments. This game isn't resource-intensive. Further, once you enter a new screen, you are unable to go back. Miss an item you wanted? You better start the level over again. Also, you might want to change the orientation of the screen from the default setting, so you can see more of the levels around Mega Man X.

Speaking of the levels, the innovation from the original Mega Man X is gone in the iOS version. The innovation I'm talking about is that in through beating some levels, other levels would be altered. For instance, beating Chill Penguin first and then going to Flame Mammoth's stage would have you see what was once flowing lava coursing throughout the factory frozen over. That stage's Heart Tank was put at a precarious location that you could only get without taking damage when the level's lava was frozen. Now, the Heart Tank is up for grabs in an extremely simple location that makes you wonder why the designers just didn't put it in a different place.

The visuals are pretty appealing to me, but they definitely don't beat the Super Nintendo original.
I wouldn't think that a game like Mega Man X would possess superfluous downloadable content. However, this iOS version actually does. Through normal play and simple searching and finding, you can gain new armor upgrades from Dr. Light's various capsules, Heart Tanks that increase X's health, and Subtanks that are like health reserves. However, Capcom has decided that some players just don't want to do that "work". Who needs to explore the levels, an enjoyable task, when you can just use real world money to unlock all eight Heart Tanks, spend money to get every capsule upgrade, and invest some moolah in getting all four of those hidden Subtanks? By no means is it necessary to do this to enjoy the game, as I said, but it's incredibly humorous to me that this is an even an option to have.

Don't be dumb with your money. Just earn these things (besides the arranged BGMs) for yourself.
Mega Man X has gotten a bit of a makeover on iOS. The 16-bit sprites of the Super Nintendo version are now incredibly sharp, boasting vivid colors. Obviously they don't have quite the charm of the SNES original, but I don't think negatively of them, which might not be a popular opinion. Though Spark Mandrill's fangs from the SNES version now look like he's a bucktooth hillbilly in this iOS re-imagining. Additionally, the animations aren't that hot either, making for characters that move more like they were in a Mega Man fan game than an official product.

Rock(man) 'em, sock 'em robots.
Meanwhile, the music remains unchanged from the SNES original. You still get all the rockin' beats and rhythms that you loved from 1994 in this 2011 game. I assume the arranged versions of the songs in the game are from the PSP remake, Maverick Hunter, but I wasn't about to pay an extra $2.99 on top of the $4.99 I spent on the game to find out.

With so many things wrong with Mega Man X's iOS outing, it says a lot about my love for the base game that I still can find myself enjoying this admittedly bastardized version of the game. The touch controls don't offer anywhere near the same amount of precision, the lack of level changes is disappointing, and the need for stages to be split up between screens is baffling at best. However, the fun is still there, buried underneath those inaccurate controls, imperfections, and a laughable excuse for downloadable content.

[SPC Says: C]

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