So, the remake of all remakes has arrived. The revision to make the Star Wars Special Editions look like piles of puke…
…but does it?
Or maybe it doesn’t.
It’s good, no doubt. And while it’s quite similar to the Mega Man X that began on the Super NES so long ago, it’s also quite different as well, moreso than any review is going to lead you to believe.
For starters, my most basic gripes. The days of shooting through walls are truly over, as Maverick Hunter X takes to the X5+ tactic of having walls act as walls. This can shake up some strategies a little bit. However, special weapons don’t seem to have that problem so much. Given the Sub-Tank in Spark Mandrill’s base, it’s obvious why something somewhere had to give.
Additionally, dash-jumps no longer work.
Well, no, not entirely true.
STANDING dash-jumps no longer work. Whereas before you could press both buttons for a spectacular flying leap, now X needs a little bit of running room to perform the same. Why this might be, I really don’t know. Might have something to do with Vile’s lack of a dash feature, but I can’t say for sure yet.
Dash-jumps from the wall, however, are unaffected.
Also, the recoil from hits is greater than in the SNES game. This can make crossing pits VERY treacherous, and is especially annoying in some parts like the heli-platforms outside of Sigma’s Palace.
But the controls hold up just fine. I’ve no complaints at all about those. The only problem that may affect some is that the 3-D perspective and scrolling of the backgrounds may throw things off for those used to seeing only one side of something in a game. You need to pay closer attention, but seldom to a degree that it’s distracting.
Graphically, it’s very, very nice. My only complaint is once again minor. It’s just strange to see X in full armor onscreen, and have his close-up dialogue image be bare-bones. The first two X games on SNES were able to interchange parts, what’s the big frickin’ problem? Could they not have overlaid some extra pieces here? Way I hear it, this thing doesn’t come close to maxing out a UMD. It just feels cheap in this day and age.
A lot of nice effects are added. Setting fire to Chill Penguin has taken on a whole new joy, as well as the way he enters the boss room. Other effects like blizzards, dimmed lights(with X’s crystals lit up) are cool as well.
Speaking of the Mavericks, every one in this game oozes with far more personality than before. Problem being, with a game that’s about 15 years old whose only source of characterization came from sourcebook materials and manga many have never seen/read/bothered to look for online, some takes in the game may not match those outside of Japan. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but suffice it to say that each Maverick seemed to have a nice bit of characterization for their short time in the spotlight.
Plus, unless I’m mistaken, their dialogue is randomized. So you can play the game through more than once and get different boss dialogue. That, or I’ve become horribly forgetful in my old age.
On a side note, Boomer Kuwanger is now Boomerang Kuwanger. Retconned with the rest, or screw-up? You be the judge.
Power-up parts are a mixed bag. Only one capsule has been moved; the rest are merely swapping what parts they contain. Everything else is right where you remember it, right down to the Hadoken.
On a side-note there, I don’t know if getting Zero’s Buster(which provides a different charge shot now, and I hear it’s more powerful than Light’s) affects getting the Hadoken. I couldn’t get it earlier, but I missed my jump on about the fourth time through, so maybe it resets now. I’ll find out later.
It’s also worth noting that you can exit the stages at any time, whether the boss is defeated or not. A nice touch. And you get a refill of lives when you leave a level, if I’m not mistaken, up to two spare.
While most of the game is the same, there are bits that are different. Sigma’s stages are pretty much revamped entirely, for starters. Enemies tend to be more animated, which means your timing will probably need to be adjusted. Some Mavericks attack differently as well; watch out for Storm Eagle. He’s like a new boss, practically. And speaking of Storm, you don’t fight around his little ship anymore, either.
Some weapons act differently when you get them as well. You can swap weapons when using the powered-up Rolling Shield, for example. And Homing Torpedoes aren’t quite as effective, as they have to travel a bit before they lock on. Add to that the seemingly higher recovery time for Mavericks, and it changes things a bit.
Though, I had to dodge Spark Mandrill(whose hand isn’t replaced by a drill, but can merely convert to one) a bit the second time I fought him to see what he could do. The first time he never got to move.
Speaking of the second Maverick battles in Sigma’s lair, they finally added some story to those battles.
And of course, a word of warning for the first-timers on this: you need to fight Vile in the intro stage. Otherwise, he’ll pound your ass into one less life. It’s an easy battle, however.
Overall, the game is a bit more challenging altogether than the original, and that’s on Normal Mode. I dare say that some people I know may not wish to try it, as their frustrations with recent MM titles may only be added to with this. But without a PSP, it’s a moot point.
The PSP format of course perhaps being the greatest strength and greatest weakness of this title. It looks great… for a portable. Though I’m not sure if many of the in-game models take as much advantage of the hardware as say a console version would have. From a distance, the game’s usual default, though, it all looks great. But when you get a weapon with X and it features a close-up of the model before pulling away, it doesn’t quite seem to be as smooth as CM. But then, it’s not cel-shaded the same way, either. It is perhaps more reminiscient of X8 in graphic quality(though not so much stylistically).
Voices are great as well, everyone is well-represented, including Sigma. Finally, a Sigma voice that commands respect instead of sounding bonkers. It’s like a dream come true.
The two big gripes that are likely to be heard, however, are Spark Mandrill and Vile. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, really, but people fell in love with the Mega X versions and haven’t looked back. Vile is much like X8, maybe even better performed than in that title, but lacks the digitization that helped make the Ruby-Spears version sound so awesome.
And Spark Mandrill no longer sounds Russian.
Zero’s death and X’s confrontation with Sigma are excellent as well.
The anime is quite good. Not major-motion picture quality, but damn fine nonetheless. It just could have used more of it.
Plus, it goes through the ending. Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for the presence of Sigma’s message from the end of the original; I think I forgot to wait. So I don’t know if it’s there or not.
…plus, the save system got me. I wound up saving over my New Game + with X with the start of my Vile game due to infamiliarity. I did get to play some, though. You keep everything you had before, so you can fight Vile on the highway with all armor and weapons, or skip straight to the final Sigma level. And all bosses are back, too, and you can fight them as many times as you wish.
This leaves Vile mode.
Vile mode, I’m enjoying so far. Stage layouts are different, enemies are different, and controls are different.
Vile cannot dash. The dash button now activates his leg-equipped weapon, a grenade called the Bumpity Boom, which stops his movement briefly(you try walking while your leg is split open). His shoulder-cannon is activated by the extra Triangle button(which now activates X’s buster when X has a special weapon equipped, btw. No charge shots, tho), and his hand vulcan is the standard shot.
Vile has a small weapons energy meter that depletes when he uses any weapon, but slowly refills, and usually doesn’t take long. But if needed, a Special Weapon capsule fills it right back up. And his 1UPs are Vile helmets, natch.
But Life Energy capsules are harder to come by. And MAN, does he need them. Vile takes damage like a mutha, and it’s little wonder he uses Ride Armors so much.
Thing there is, when you do find it, if you don’t destroy something, it self-destructs in 30 seconds. The fact that the armor is clumsier to use and a little slower than the originals doesn’t help much. Same goes for X, btw. Part of the slowness, however, is because the punching alternates hands, rather than repeated strikes.
Overall, Vile’s game is quite a bit tougher. We’re talking around MMZ difficulty here. I died several times via a turtle in the opening stage. And Chill Penguin got the best of me a couple of times, too.
I did beat Chill, though. And got squat for it. You’ve got to combine parts from different bosses, if I’m not mistaken. And it may call for a certain order at that.
Regarding Vile’s story, it’s neat. He’s not the lackey of Sigma that everyone has taken him for over the past decade and a half. But on the downside, it seems there’s some conflicts in continuity as well. In truth, I don’t think Vile’s game is meant to be canon, more of a “what if?”
Overall, it’s a great game, definitely a sort of “Ultimate Marvel” kind of take on the Mega Man X legend.
Storywise, a few small snags that bug me.
Sigma and Zero are the ones besides Cain who see X’s true potential. And stranger still, it seems almost as if Sigma is less concerned about Reploid rights and more about revealing X’s full potential.
On a more selfish note, the Maverick Hunters are cited as an organization that was started to investigate and handle matters that was comprised entirely of Reploids.
Naturally, that conflicts with some stuff Red and I have done. Gee, thanks for that needless point, Capcom.
Still, found a workaround for it. It could have been comprised entirely of Reploids to start, but had some humans implemented later. That sort of fits with what Red has, anyway.
Until somesuch line in a later MHX game ruins that.
So, basically, Maverick Hunter X is a great game, and I don’t regret having it one bit, despite the politics surrounding it with Capcom. I recommend it for anyone who’s ever liked Mega Man and who owns a PSP. For those who like Mega Man without PSPs, if they do come through with the sequels they alleged at, definitely get one for this and Mega Man: Powered Up(which I’ll discuss the demos later). Not at full-price, though. But if you know some guy who thought PSP would be the be-all, end-all of game systems(like my ex-boss), and lets it go for cheap to recover some of his investment(like my ex-boss), it may be worth your while to take advantage of it.
In other words, I don’t know that I can recommend buying a PSP for this game(unless you REALLY love X…) at full price, but if you can get one at a more sensible price that’s worth it to you, go for it.