Part Two Led to Exit Stage Right
The first half is a repetitive adventure while the second half just repetitive.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #7/100
Gaming in the early 90s was compartmentalized to your immediate sphere of influence. Outside of Nintendo Power, there was no media access for new releases or reviews. Your choice of games were influenced by whatever your parents brought home, the blockbuster employee’s suggestions, or what your friends owned. Due to this randomness, Mega Man completely bypassed me.
I see the allure of Mega Man: having to figure out which bosses to defeat first to get the right weapons that then let you defeat other bosses. This made the repetition of going through the same eight stages at least worthwhile. After that, I’m not sure there is any reason to play Mega Man X.
Mega Man is a pretty good robot, but Vile is a better robot, so Mega Man needs to become a greater robot, so he can defeat Vile the better robot.
First things first, you need to get better weapons. There are eight bosses with their own unique stages. You are going to get to know them well because many of them you will have to repeat quite a few times. You get three lives per stage and losing brings you back to the selection screen requiring you to repeat the entire stage even if you reached the boss.
You get to select the order of the stages you try and beat. Underlying the non-linear gameplay is actually a linear path that makes everything easy: each boss is weak against a weapon you receive from another, so if you can figure out this sequence, you can have it easy peasy. Some of it is intuitive (fire probably won’t like water, for instance), but then some pretty opaque — who knew lizard would be weak to a boomerang hook?
The game becomes so much less fun after this. Part two is a sequence of stages that are more difficulty than their predecessors, way more difficult. The reason for the difficulty sometimes being more cheap than intricate.
There is one particular sequence where enemies respond immediately when you go off screen as you scale a lengthy wall. Jumping to kill these guys won’t help as when you jump again they have instantly returned. This is infinitely infuriating, as defeated enemies pop back into existence to knock you down the wall which then returns all the enemies that you dispatched having to restart the whole process.
Without the mystery of which weapons defeat which bosses, this becomes a repetitive slug that just isn’t fun.
Mega Man X was part of the upgrade revolution in the 90s when franchises transitioned from NES to SNES or from 2D to 3D. People could do no wrong here — the hardware upgrades made every game prettier, deeper, and more fun. Looking at contemporary reviews, their content focuses on this hype.
Without that excitement, Mega Man X is middle of the road. It’s only defining feature is the beginning puzzle to figure out which boss is weak to which weapon. After that, it returns to its NES roots — an impossible side scroller.
Other People’s Takes:
- Wizard Dojo: “Mega Man X remains a textbook example of how to revitalize a gaming franchise.”