No big secret that I feel that Mega Man X6 is, or at least was at the time(given peoples’ feelings on X7, both for good and bad), perhaps the worst title in the entire Mega Man X series.

Now, I’ve been playing through the PS MM games recently… and I guess maybe I’ve lightened up, or become more objective, or something. MM8 is better than I remember, but I think X5 steeled my reflexes for the snowboard stages there. And I’ve grown to be able to tolerate the voices.

Playing X6, I feel that while yes, it was rushed, it was actually a tragedy that it was. This game actually had the potential to be one of the greatest of all the series… but because it was rushed, it fell way short. Let’s look at some different points of the game…

First, we have the intro. In my opinion, this is definitely the best intro to any of the games in the series. Pure Capcom-styled art(as opposed to the crummy off-model anime of X4), with touches of animation, and the original soundtrack. No doubt the soundtrack here was kept BECAUSE it was rushed… a mixed blessing, no doubt. Had they taken longer, at least in porting it to the US, no doubt the game would have been better, but we’d have lost a really nice opening sequence.

Translation of dialogue, isn’t the best, but not as bad as people say, for the most part. Again, likely more the result of being rushed than anything. Worst part here is the childish cover-ups of cursing in a game meant for an older audience in the first place(according to the developers)…

“Drat! He’s back!”

“My longest enemy who’s killed my best friend, destroyed the Earth, and attempted to wipe out mankind numerous times is back. Well, drat! Drat it all!”

Voices: Casting is top-notch, and the acting is great. Pity it’s not in English. X7 later gives us our choice, a trend I hope to see continued, but the English casting is dubious, and for the most part, the range of acting nonexistant. You may not know what exactly it is they’re saying in X6, but you can be damn sure they mean it, whatever it is.

Music: Some of the best in the series, in my opinion. I especially like the opening stage, the boss music, Gate’s Lab’s theme, Gate’s theme, and the remix Sigma theme during the final battle. I.D.E.A. makes a great ending song, and I enjoyed the remixes of other music from the X series thoroughly.

Stage graphics: Some of the best I can remember; they have more of a look like a really detailed cartoon background, like in so many anime, as opposed to others backgrounds which I believe blended with the characters more, but looked less real. Favorites are Amazon Area, Inami Temple, and the colony crash site. The statues in the back of Gate’s lab are cool, too… maybe too cool for the E rating it got?

Enemy graphics: Here is where the game starts to slip a bit, seeing enemies with less animation than ever before. On top of that, there are just fewer enemies altogether in this title; many are returns from X4 and X5, while most of the rest are Nightmares, or one of about five other new enemies for this game. No doubt, this is due to a lack of time… and I feel I know where the biggest lack of time may have come from. More later.

Player graphics: All in all, I felt they were good. Seeing new Zero sprites and animation was a nice touch.

Control/gameplay: For the most part, control is as good as ever… at least for X. Zero seems to have slowed down a bit since his death, and the inability to turn off one of his moves that seemed to have been misprogramed in the rush does not help.

I’m sure you all know the move I’m talking about, too. The one that drives you into a pit or spikes whenever you try and attack from a wire. If I’m not mistaken, though, when you gain this ability, Alia tells you that to activate it, you press DOWN and attack, not up, which is where the trouble comes from, as you have to hold up to grab the wire, or else fall through it.

I also seemed to have some control issues when fighting Gate. For some reason, it just seemed like it would not respond at crucial times, like when I’d be holding onto a platform or wall one second, and the next, I’m helpless.

A big plus is the way Alia is handled. Far better than in X5, it’s entirely up to you whether or not she says anything… with a few minor exceptions.

I like the idea of rescuing Reploids/people; I came up with it for a MM game before Capcom even did. Even the part about getting items from them was an idea I had. What I do NOT like is that you only have one shot to get the item/rescue the Reploid, else be hitting reset. A bit of a nuisance.

But not as much a nuisance as the dead-ends the game provides. X6 seems rather notorious for not only putting you in situations where there is NO way out, but for also pumping you stock full of lives before reaching them… leaving you to have to find a way to kill yourself off 10 times if you don’t want to loseWeight Exercise something you’d gotten. Pits that can’t be crossed, enemies that can’t be killed…

…and frankly, it would have easily been avoided if they’d just let you exit a stage before it’s completed. I’ll never understand their anal-retentiveness regarding that one.

The Nightmares seem to make for annoying enemies, though, in that they break the rules of gameplay. As of X5, they removed the ability to shoot through walls, no really big deal. They even made a special weapon for the Falcon Armor to counter that. Yet they remove that option here from the armor, but allow the Nightmares to move AND shoot through walls. Other enemies, too.

The method of getting upgrades is a bit better than X5, I think; you have an idea of what you’re getting, rather than the near randomness of X5’s system. Still a shame you can loseWeight Exercise so many items without even realizing it, though.

Story: Where this game perhaps excels above all others before it. More cut scenes, more information on enemies…

And with a new enemy in Gate, even for just one game, the story felt refreshing to me. High Max and Isoc were neat as well.

Overall, it felt a lot more complete as a story, far more than X4 did, which left out many, MANY details… X is barely seen in the story segments.

Of course, part of where the story falls is Zero’s return, an unavoidable part of it…

Zero: In my opinion, the worst part of Mega Man X6 is Zero’s return. I’m sure it was a late-in-development mandate by upper management, for reasons such as his popularity, or to lead in to the Zero series, without realizing the story Inafune had set in place.

Zero seems like such a small part, but I imagine in development, adding him in was a HUGE undertaking for the developers who were no doubt on a very tight schedule as it was.

First, there was his sprites. Though the reasons remain unknown, Zero’s style is decidedly different from before, perhaps to differentiate him from the Nightmare and from the now saber-wielding X. So a number of sprites were added, including several new weapons and mechanics, I’m sure, resulting from items and defeated bosses.

Voice recordings had to be made, and no doubt a partially rewritten script to accomodate the addition of Zero. Of course, they were clever here, in a way… rather than scrap what had been done, I’m betting they made Zero’s scenes seperate from X’s; note that unlike X5, they don’t share any scenes; it’s either X, or it’s Zero, with a few exceptions that rely on Zero anyway, such as his return, and the ending. Everything else seems separate from X here, which leads me to believe that X’s cutscenes were made first, and Zero’s added in later. They no doubt would have had to redo X’s endings to include Zero, and of course give Zero his own loner ending.

All in all, I believe that with more time, maybe even if Zero hadn’t been forced in, or rather, patched on(seriously, his presence in this game reminds me more of Knuckles’ playability in Sonic 3 than Zero’s role in X5), X6 could have had more time for polish and cleaning up, and would have been one of the best games of the series…

…and who knows? Maybe they could have even included that Nightmare System that they used to advertise the game with.

Maybe someday we’ll get to see X6 the way it was meant to be, rather than how it was forced to be.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, using the Ultimate Armor for X makes the game a LOT more fun and tolerable, as it helps to neutralize most of the game’s major flaws, at least until you acquire the other armors and power-ups.

So if you’ve ever been really frustrated with the game, but refused to use the Ultimate… just do it. It’s less a matter of cheating, and more a matter of leveling the playing field and compensating for a rushed product. No one will hold it against you.

LBD “Nytetrayn”