One of the greatest action platforming series of all time, entry by entry.
Over the summer, I had the joy of replaying the entire Mega Man X series. I really had no specific reason as to why I chose Mega Man X in all honesty, but it just hit me one day. I woke up and felt an urge to play through the entire series. It made sense on the surface, since I haven't played a variety of the games in nearly a decade, but when I actually sat down and played the series, I was wondering why it's been so long since I touched even a single game in the series. Most of the series is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone.
So with this retrospective, I'm going to try something a little bit different. I'm going to talk about every game in this one article, and then give a series analysis and rank each game at the very end. Not only is this going to be simpler for me and easier for me to handle, but also much more convenient for the reader. No more will you have to read seven posts to get my opinion on the whole series! Now it's easy to find, read, and enjoy!
Just so we're all clear on this, I'll be covering each of the main series X games (1 - 8), as well as the RPG Command Mission and the PSP remake of the original game, Maverick Hunter X. I will not be covering the Gameboy games Mega Man Xtreme or Mega Man Xtreme 2, seeing as how those games are just remixes of the first three Mega Man X games. So with that in mind, let's take a look back at the entire Mega Man X franchise.
|Mega Man X (1993) - SNES|
This is one of those games that you could make a legitimate case for being a perfect game, it's that good. To me though, while I really do love the platforming, the graphics, and nearly everything about this game, I'm not as in love with it as other entries in the series. It may be because the game is too simple, but its simplicity is what makes it great. In all fairness, no reason I could give would be satisfactory besides the fact that I just think other games in the series expand upon the phenomenal foundation. Still, there's no denying that Mega Man X may just be one of the best video games on the SNES, if not for all of retro gaming.
|Mega Man X2 (1994) - SNES|
There was no wow factor in this game for me. Nothing was memorable in the game and seemed like a quick way to appease fans of the original, but try to capitalize on a trend without knowing what the trend was. Later X games found their flow just fine, but this game was just bizarre to play through. Add on to that a weak final boss fight, yet surprisingly hard Sigma Palace bosses (the final four areas of the game), and you have an uneven, unfocused mess of a game.
|Mega Man X3 (1995) - SNES|
The only complaints that I can muster about the game are some of the optional elements in it, keyword being optional. There's a bit focus in this game on Ride Armors, mech suits that give extra strength during levels. There are three Ride Armors to use and each one needs a corresponding chip to use, but you can use them in each level. Personally, I never found them all that useful and actually taking time out to find them never really seemed like it was worth the effort. Also, Zero was playable, but he couldn't fight bosses and was inaccessible if he died once in the whole game. It barely deserves mentioning that he's in the game and the only reason I remembered that I could play as him was when I looked at a walk through for some of the trickier parts. However, it wouldn't be long until Zero had a legitimate campaign...
|Mega Man X4 (1997) - Playstation|
X4 is a bit easier than the other X games, to the point where if you know what you're doing you could beat it in only 2-3 hours, and there was less room for exploration, but X4 didn't really need to be more focused on exploration. It was a more action oriented X game that didn't need hours to explore and learn. You learned through trial and error, not through exploration. Different approach, but gave an impeccable entry in the series. Oh, and the voice acting. Sheer, terrible, genius. Everything is so bad it's amazing. The General sounds bored, Colonel is Australian (?), X sounds like a whiny teenage girl, and Zero's classic "WHAT AM I FIGHTING FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR?" line will always be remembered in the annals of video game history. Simply classic.
|Mega Man X5 (2000) - Playstation|
So why does this entry irk me? Simply put, the bosses here are absolutely awful. Without a doubt, these are the worst bosses in the series because of how difficult they are and how useless your weapons are. Not only do the bosses have ridiculous health bars while yours is so small, but any weapon you use against them is paltry, even the weapons that are supposedly their "weakness". Take for example Mattrex, a flaming dinosaur. His weakness is a wind based attack where you give the enemy an uppercut tornado. You can only use this weapon in close range, so of course, Mattrex is a boss that attacks by ramming himself into you. You take damage when you hit him, and it'll take about 25-30 uses of your special weapon to fully beat him. If you're megabuster is a more effective weapon against bosses than their actual weaknesses, you're doing it wrong.
I know a lot of people like X5, but I'm just okay with it.
|Mega Man X6 (2001) - Playstation|
As I've made it abundently clear, there are many points to harp on with this game, but the biggest stickler for me is how unfair it is. The camera does not move with the player and enemies will swarm you without delay. This is the one game in the series that you can feel overwhelmed like a bullet hell shooter. But the game thinks that's okay because it gives you a metric ton of lives, only to take them away from you. It's the illusion of challenge, but the challenge is not there when it's just the game beating you consistently. Then it has the gall to give you frequent checkpoints so you can get right back into it, except that those checkpoints work when you have to continue the game. So instead of starting at the beginning of the level, it just starts you at the last checkpoint where you died... the same point where you would have spawned if you lost one of the dozens of lives you get. Death has no meaning, and instead gives the game an excuse to be as hard as possible just to punish the gamer.
I could go on for ages about why I hate this game, but I don't need to. Just look at the general consensus for this game and you'll see that everyone hates it. No one wanted it, but we sure got it.
|Mega Man X7 (2003) - Playstation 2|
I will say that Axl, a new Maverick Hunter introduced in this game, at least has some decent abilities. He fires guns at a much more rapid rate than X or Zero, offering a nice alternative to them. He's faster than X, but not as strong. He has a copy ability, but outside of maybe one stage it's worthless. And you better like Axl and Zero, because you cannot play as X until over halfway through the game. Your main character... is unavailable for most of the game. Not only that, but all of the characters seem incredibly out of character. X whines at nearly everything and preaches non violence even when he's destroying Mavericks, Zero is Sasuke Uchiha, and Axl, though new, comes off as trying way too hard to prove himself. I will say I like that the bosses and characters have full time voice actors, but some of them are barely passable. And don't even get me started on the 3-D stages of the game. Bottom line, a flawed, flawed, flawed game that was swiftly forgotten in the X lore.
|Mega Man X: Command Mission (2004) - Gamecube, Playstation 2|
On that note, I can't fully recommend this game either. It just has too many little quirks that rub me the wrong way. First off, this game is hard. Like, hardest in the series even though it's an RPG, hard. The bosses are designed to be hard and challenging and almost requires grinding to beat them, plus a final chapter that is beyond punishing to the uninitiated. Combat is slow and random encounters are frequent, which is never a good policy. The saddest part of all is that it just doesn't feel like a Mega Man X game. It feels like a knock off. The tone is off, the combat is off, it's just an off game.
|MegaMan X8 (2005) - Playstation 2|
|Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X (2006) - PSP|