So…these past two weeks I decided to stream [on twitchTV @troyfullbuster] Megaman X2 then X3 and then Megaman X for the heck of it (and in that order). So, as per custom I guess I should right a review on a game nearly 20 years old. Megaman X is series based off the original Megaman series for the NES and SNES, in which it is a distant future (where Dr. Light is dead) and the world is seperated with not only humans but androids known as Reploids. Megaman X works with his partner Zero (not Protoman but created by the same scientist) as a “Maverick Hunter” and must thwart the evil plans of the Mavericks leader, Sigma.
Since I will be reviewing three games in one the differences will be relayed in the story and gameplay factors, not the replayability and music.*
Story: In Megaman X, in the years of 21XX (100 years after the Megaman series), Dr. Cain discovers Dr. Light’s greatest creation, Megaman X, who is a synthetic android that has a free-will. By copying this design and creating a world full of replicas, known as Reploids, free-will android’s are born. Unfortunately, free-will means crime and so Dr. Cain creates an ultimate reploid to fend off these crimes and with “anti-Maverick” data; this robot’s name is Sigma. Sigma, eventually becomes a Maverick and Megaman X feeling responsible teams up with Zero, the only other Maverick Hunter, to save the world.
In Megaman X2, after Zero’s sacrifice (he blew himself up to stop Vile from killing you) Megaman is hunting remaining Sigma forces only to find three enemies, Serges, Agile, and Violen, attempting to resurrect Zero and Sigma. While fighting your way through the game, you are given the choice to get Zero’s parts back or let the enemy resurrect Zero, which brings an optional fight to fight Zero before Sigma or not. After chasing through Sigma and once again defeating him and destroying his “Maverick Factory”, you meet up with Zero outside the factory and the game ends from there.
Megaman X3 goes back to an actual story as the story now revolves around Megaman X, Zero, and a new character Dr. Doppler. While Sigma has been defeated twice, Maverick outbreaks continue to increase, that is until Dr. Doppler finds a “neutralizer” to prevent these outbreaks. Soon after all the Mavericks live near Dr. Doppler in a “utopia” known as Doppler Town and everything seems peaceful until the Hunter base is attacked and Doppler is held responsible. Upon fighting your way through the game, you find out that Sigma is alive as a virus and infected Dr. Doppler and had made him create a new body for himself. After defeating Sigma with his new body again, Sigma attempts to possess X’s body, but is destroyed as Zero uploaded an anti-virus program into his sword and seemingly destroys him.
Gameplay: The Megaman X gameplay is very similar to the regular Megaman gameplay, almost that of an expansion. While in the regular Megaman series you can only jump and shoot (and then get upgrades due to defeating bosses); in Megaman X you not only have those abilities but the ability to dash and wall jump. The style of gameplay had changed from the traditional “run-and-gun” to “action-platform”. Each Megaman X game has a “different ending” (they are minor changes to the same subsequent ending) and each game involves eight bosses, who are weak to one certain weapon, until you get to the final 3-4 part finale; where you must re-fight each boss and a few new bosses, along with Sigma multiple times. The special thing about Megaman X is the ability to upgrade your armor, find sub-tanks, find heart tanks, and use vehicles.
In Megaman X, you are able to find the X armor which gives you certain abilities to enhance your Megaman. The body armor decreases damage by 50%, the head-armor allows you to “head-butt” objects and enemies, the feet armor give you the ability to dash (which becomes a normal thing for Megaman X in all came later), and the X-buster upgrade allows you to fire off a super charged Buster Shot in the form of a wave. Megaman X has a special, secret move, if you get all items I mentioned; the move is the Hadoken, which can kill any enemy, any boss with one hit.
In Megaman X2, everything is similar to what was said in Megaman X, with the exception of the dash ability being something you start off with. everything is similar. There are eight bosses, each weak to one special attack, and there are four different X armor’s , along with one hidden move. Only three of the four armors in this game change their distinct abilities, with the X-buster having the ability to fire two full blasts instead of one, the leg upgrade giving you a midair dash, and the helmet displaying “secret locations”. I mentioned before about the optional “Zero boss” in this game, which requires you to fight the three bosses, before the final levels, and collect Zero’s parts. The secret move in the game is the other famed Street Fighter moved, Ken’s version of the Shoryuken (which has flames); the requirements are the same as in the previous Megaman X.
In Megaman X3, this when things started to change in the X series. Besides the usual eight bosses and hidden armors (which all once again changed their abilities), you now have the option of collecting ride machines (Hawk, Kangaroo, etc.) and the option of collecting “chips” to further upgrade your upgraded X armor. This was also the first game where no Street Fighter move was the hidden move, but this was the first game that allowed you to play as Zero (only for a brief spell though). The playing as Zero was a foreshadowing for the secret move, which was his sword (used as a full-charged X-buster attack). The abilities and chip abilities of each part where: the X-buster charged shot spread (2-shot combination) and a special fire only charged shots (chip upgrade), legs, dash in mid-air, including up, and the abilities to dash twice (chip), helmet displaying of map and locations of items in level and on main screen, and armor decrease damage and added protective shield when hit.
Music: The Megaman series, in general, has one of the best and catchiest soundtracks, that gaming has to offer. From its main theme song, to the regular levels, to each boss theme (like Spark Mandrill, or getting an X-part/Dr. Light theme) the music just fits.
Replayability: Low. While I may have mentioned the idea of “different” endings, it is not in the way you think (like 999 or even Megaman X) because these endings are only minor changes and still lead to the same ending of the game. It’s almost like you walked in the left door instead of the right door, but both lead outside. Megaman X replayability is low because once you beat all the bosses and the game, whether you got the secret move or not, you feel there is nothing else to accomplish. You know the secrets of the stage and there is no more discovery, just repetitiveness/
Megaman X: 8.2/10
Megaman X2: 8.5/10
Megaman X3: 8.6/10
The entire Megaman X series, is not only fun, but a classic. While not as advanced or fun as the PSX/PS1 series (X4-X6), it still was entertaining and like true Megaman games, had some of those moments when dying 50 times meant you were playing it right.
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina