The older I get the more things stay the same. Maybe I should re-phrase that be saying "Corporate America is trying to cash in on an aging demographic of video gamers." It doesn't have the same pizzazz as the first sentence but it works. What does any of this have to do with a game review? Well it's all about gamers reliving old memories they had of games (not so) long ago. It seems everywhere you look a new collection of classic games from the 80's and/or 90's is popping up on store shelves everywhere.
Whether it's a stand-alone collection built into a joystick or a collection for one of the three console systems, gamers are being treated to cornucopia of classic games. In fact, Capcom was already gracious enough to give us a collection based on the original Mega Man series and now we are being treated with a collection of the Mega Man X series. Rejoice! Dreams are coming true! Long lost moments of gaming heroics, and frustrations, are back to tempt us once more!
For those five of you out there that have never heard of Mega Man X the story revolves around X, the ultimate robot invention of Dr. Light. Dr. Light was the creator of the original Mega Man, which started out on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1987. Mega Man X is discovered by Dr. Cain who uses X to help build new robots, called Reploids. The Reploids start harming humans and soon a group of "Hunters" are assigned to stop the maverick Reploids. The Maverick Hunters are led by Sigma who initially squashes the maverick Reploids but soon turns on humans as well. The new leader of the Maverick Hunters, Zero, is determined to stop Sigma and X decides to help in the struggle.
The collection is a nice assortment of games that starts with the first Mega Man X (released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo) and includes every Mega Man X game up to part six. The first two X games are based upon the original SNES versions while the remaining titles are taken from the PlayStation 1 versions. For the truly dedicated this means that Mega Man X3 isn't the SNES version, instead we get the PS1 version, which includes some additional anime cutscenes not found in the SNES version. The collection includes a total of seven games but the last game is the elusive bonus game.
The extra "bonus" game included is the Mega Man Battle & Chase racing game that was never released in America. Now I have to make a comment for all of you out there thinking about buying this game just for the Battle & Chase game, be prepared. The Battle & Chase game isn't playable at the very beginning of the collection; no, you have to "unlock" the game in order to play it. Why do you tempt us so, Capcom? In order to unlock Battle & Chase you will need to beat the first three Mega Man X games. Now I know the purpose of this is to reward gamers for actually playing the games (and beating them) but this is almost a form of punishment. You remember how your mom and dad used to tell you to eat all of your dinner so you can get desert? This feels the same way.
I can hear the conversation now..........
Me: "Please Capcom can I play Battle & Chase?"
Capcom: "NO! Not until you complete Mega Man X 1, 2 and 3."
Me: "But....but....I haven't played those games in years, I really want to play Battle & Chase since it never came out in America. "
Capcom: "I said NO! If you would have kept playing those games you wouldn't have any problems beating them now, would you?"
Me: "But...but...I thought the point of me getting this collection was so I could play any of the games I wanted to at any time."
Capcom: "What part of unlockable bonus game don't you understand? Now go play the games, it's been almost 10 years, you have lots of practice to catch up on."
Me: "Oh....do I have to? Will the enemies keep appearing even after I destroy them and walk away for five seconds?"
Capcom: "Every glorious moments has been recreated for your gaming pleasure. Now GO!"
The Mega Man X Collection isn't the first collection to include the unlockable bonus game, but it's still a feature that has got to go. Don't even advertise the unlockable game(s); make them a surprise for gamers. I buy the special edition DVD's because of the extra content included not for the unlockable content stored away hidden on the disc. Give me the goods and I'm a happy camper. Hold out on the gaming goodness and I get moody.
Besides the minor inconvenience of Battle & Chase this collection is a shining examples of gaming from the 16-Bit and 32-Bit eras. All of the six X games are side-scrolling action games with one simple goal, beat the boss. Once you've beaten the boss of the stage you earn the powers of that particular boss that you can use during the next stage. The standing tradition of the Mega Man games (the original series and X series) has been really a game of paper, rock, scissors. Each boss has a weakness to another boss' special powers. Once you determine the correct pattern it's usually a walk through the park when it comes to some of the boss battles.
Now that isn't to say that the rest of the game slacks off; in fact, just the opposite is true. All of these games are tough and will remind you of how much gaming has grown over the years. There are moments that are littered with relentless weapon assault from enemies that will require pinpoint accuracy on your part. Thankfully all of the six X games include the same tight controls and great responsiveness found in the original titles. The analog stick on the Gamecube's controller works fine but can feel a little floaty at times especially for those that have played these games on the original SNES or PS1 controllers. Pre analog stick days!
The graphics and sound effects in the game are virtually spot on with the original versions, with only a few minor sound issues. All of the sprites from the SNES versions and PS1 versions are included in accurate detail. I didn't notice any slowdown during any of the games. In fact, I should mention that playing through this collection made me appreciate the 2D capabilities of the PS1 system even more today. Everyone at the time was really down on the PS1 because of it's lack of RAM for 2D sprite-based graphics but playing through this collection you would never know this was an issue. The leap in graphics from the SNES titles to the PS1 titles really is a giant leap that you will notice, in terms of action on the screen, colors and quality of animation. The only exception to this would be the third X game since it's essentially the SNES version only with extra anime added to the game.
In the end though the Mega Man X Collection is all about taste. If you're one of the gamers that buys all of the new Mega Man games when they come out then this title is a must own. Instead of having to sort through six different games and two different systems you have all of the games on one disc. But if you haven't played, or enjoyed, a Mega Man game since Mega Man 1 or 2 then little has changed. The graphics are better, especially on parts 4, 5 and 6, but the same intense and at times aggravating gameplay is intact. I remember tossing several controllers across the room in my younger days when I played Mega Man and these games all bring back the same memories. The gameplay is all about timing the patterns and attacks right. One false move could doom you for the whole level, especially in boss battles. If you're a Mega Man fantastic or just looking for a a great collection of classic titles to add to your library then Mega Man X Collection is the game for you.
|Review Scoring Details for Mega Man X Collection|
The gameplay is still as intense and tight as it was when the games first came out. If you have every stage still memorized then you should be Ok but for the rest of us get prepared. The games are tough and relentless at times which will have you playing through levels repeatedly.
All of the graphics are duplicated with pinpoint accuracy from the original version. This is 2D gaming at it's finest. The anime cutscenes during the later titles are a little grainy and resemble something you taped on your VCR.
To me all of the music and sound effects in the game sounded just like the originals. I'm sure some of the titles had remixed versions but it's nothing that will have you yelling at the speakers. But the voice acting in the later titles is horrendous. Don't be shocked if you cringe at the voices.
None of the games in the collection will ease up on you at any time. I've mentioned before that this is a game that relies on pinpoint accuracy in all of your actions in the game. One wrong move, one wrong attack and it's over. Learn the patterns of the attacks and you will succeed. Rush into battle and be prepared to get clobbered.
I love these collections. It saves me money and it makes the people on eBay upset because now there are fewer people looking for these hard-to-find classics. But why does everyone insist on included unlockable games as a bonus feature? We pay for the games, let us play the games!
For a trip down memory lane don't forget to look out for the Mega Man X Collection. Six quality titles and one bonus game make for a great collection. But make sure you bring your "A" game because you're going to need it.