Well, I’m finally reviewing something for the first time. And since I recently replayed the original Mega Man X on my SNES, I figured why not start with that? (And for anyone confused about my rating system, please see the info page for a breakdown of possible scores.)
Mega Man X, if you didn’t know, is the first of a series that is the successor to the Mega Man series that began on the NES (often referred to as “Mega Man Classic”), released in late 1993 in Japan, early 1994 in America, and mid-1994 in Europe. They are sidescrolling action games, though I wouldn’t quite call them platformers (the classic series, I would, though). They take a lot of ideas from the classic series, though the X series tends to give you noticeably more powerups and different moves, and the plot is a good deal more angsty. The robotic protagonist, known as “X”, is tasked with destroying all the robots that have gone rogue, including our local stage bosses (known as “Mavericks”, though I think the term might also have been used to apply to normal enemies?) and the main villain, Sigma, who was actually one of the good guys before being infected by a virus that turned him evil. Not that the game tells you this. After finishing the introductory stage, or “intro stage”, you are taken to a screen where you may select any one of 8 possible stages. You can’t progress to the end of the game without beating all 8 of these, but you can do them in any order, which is a theme common to Mega Man games in general. Another common theme is that beating a stage gives you a special weapon based on the stage boss, either their powers or one of their attacks (for instance, you get Fire Wave from Flame Mammoth and Storm Tornado from Storm Eagle), and each of these weapons does extra damage to one of the other bosses. Upon beating all 8 main stages, you can progress to the fortress, which consists of 4 stages (in this case) and culminates in a battle with Sigma. This is the general formula for the Mega Man X series, with games occasionally varying it up a bit by, for instance, having more or fewer fortress stages, or ways to skip some of the main 8.
Now, what does all this mean for this particular game? Well, since it is the first, it maybe isn’t quite as fine-tuned in some areas as the later games; for instance, in this game, there is an upgrade that allows you to dash, but every other game in the series lets you do that from the start anyway, and since not being able to dash can make some parts of the game much more difficult, it pretty much goes without saying that anyone who knows about this will want to do the stage that contains that powerup first. It helps that the stage in question also has probably the easiest boss to defeat. I also don’t find the difficulty curve in this one to be very even; while certain stages out of the main 8 being far harder or easier than others is nothing new (it’s a phenomenon that has existed since the very first Mega Man game and continues to show up to this day…or at least, to the most recent time when Mega Man games were actually being made *shakes fist at Capcom*), the fortress stages in this one, in my opinion, are some of the most annoying in the series, especially the first one. They might not be quite as bad as, say, Mega Man X6’s, but they’re definitely up there, especially considering the main 8 stages are generally on the easy side.
Also, the final boss is crap. The first two forms are easy once you know how to deal with them, but the third form is just obnoxious, not fun no matter how good or bad you are at dodging its attacks. I will admit, however, that final bosses have never been a strong point of Mega Man games, either in the X or classic series. Overall, while Mega Man X does suffer a bit from being the first in a series, it isn’t nearly as bad in that regard as its predecessor, and it’s still a pretty good game, though not my favorite in the series.
I would consider later games in the series better in that regard, but yes, it’s up there.
The Mega Man games in general tend to just have excuse plots, though the X series at least puts more into them than the classic series. You don’t really need much of a story for a game like this, though, so it works.
The graphics are fine, pretty standard for the SNES, though I will say that there might be too many stages that kind of just look generically metallic (Flame Mammoth’s comes to mind). Still, it’s not as bad in this regard as X3 was, really.
I don’t really have any complaints about the music. Particularly good tracks are the themes from the first fortress stage, Spark Mandrill’s stage, Armored Armadillo’s stage, and Storm Eagle’s stage. A few of the stage themes seem overly similar in style (though again, X3 was worse). There are definitely games in the series with better soundtracks, though.
Positives: One nice thing about this game is that it doesn’t go for all the extra waffle that some of the others do. There are no randomly-appearing bosses to worry about, for instance.
Negatives: The fortress stages suck, and so does the final boss. Also, the sole purpose of the helmet upgrade in this game is to obtain more hidden powerups.
Final score: 6
Mega Man X is a pretty fun game and a worthy successor to the classic series, even if it doesn’t play quite the same and, in my opinion, is outclassed by at least some of its sequels. To anyone who likes sidescrolling action games, especially if they have a SNES, I would recommend checking it out.