Right on! Capcom's finally transferred its man of steel, er, titanium from the 8-bit wastelands into bright, bold, brilliant 16-bit glory, and this one was worth the wait! Mega Man X is one of the best SNES side-scrollers ever.
Send in the Reploids
Mega Man X brings a new and story line to the series, while maintaining the classic elements of the 10 NES and Game Boy prequels. When a journeyman scientist named Dr. Cain unearths a several-century-old time capsule containing the powerful Mega Man X, he tries to replicate Dr. Light's triumphant work of robotic genius. Unfortunately, his replication technique is imperfect, and many of the resulting reploid robots go berserk. It's up to X and his reploid friend Zero to track down the mavericks and their leader, Sigma.
While old-time villain Dr. Wily didn't have a hand in the mischief, Wily's fingerprints seem to be all over the concept of this new game. After a great introductory sequence, you enter the familiar eight-robot stage-select screen. Your new adversaries are much more diabolical than before, looking more like twisted robot creations than generic humanoid android forms. Their weapons are powerful, and they have fearsome new abilities, such as Sting Chameleon's Predator-style cloaking and Storm Eagle's wind blasts.
ProTip: Dr. Light is still Mega Man's mentor.
X Marks the Shot
The X-Man's arsenal is now stoked to the point of boiling over! As always, he's equipped with the standard Mega Buster, and he can add a new gun each time he defeats one of the Mavericks in top-secret areas. X can also find some great power-up abilities, such as the Dash Attack, the Head Butt, and the Super Arm Cannon. Sadly, a dog catcher must have rounded up Rush Dog, but the new abilities more than compensate for the pooch's absence.
Your friend Zero will get you out of some tight spots. You'll need his help later!
Controlling Mega Man is more intuitive than ever, since you can now swap between weapons at any time just by pressing L and R (you don't even have to pause and enter the sub-screen). The controls could have benefited from having one button fire the Mega Buster and another button activate an optional weapon, but otherwise you won't have any hangups with Mega's maneuvers.
- The wall jump can get you out of tight places!
- This is the new stage- select screen. You can check out where each robot is located on the map, get a bird's eye view of their stage, or find out their name and weapon of choice.
- The new password system is much easier to transcribe than the old grid!
- If you're fighting this creature of the deep, don't always go against the flow. Let it drag you to safety.
X for X-cellence
SNES Mega Man packs a thrilling display of graphics. From the tiny Hard Hat Macs to the gigantic tunnel-diggers to the underwater missile tortoises, the new-look enemies really reach out and grab ya! The richness of animation, detail, and movement is superb, and although the game frequently slows down it doesn't impede your enjoyment too much.
MM X is graced by a solid lineup of metal-munching music and bold sound effects. The tunes sound like they're merely upgraded versions of the 8-bit songs, but enough bass and other musical effects have been added to keep you in high gear. The sound effects really crank and reverberate for big explosions.
The only major X on Mega Man's checklist is the number of levels (12 instead of the traditional 16 in the NES games). X-perts will be able to plow through this one in a few days, but if you miss all the secret power-ups and energy tanks, you'll be horse meat when you face off with Sigma!
- Use one power-up to find other power-ups. You'll need the Emergency Acceleration System (a.k.a. the speed boots) to find the armor in Sting Chameleon's Stage.
- If you reach Sigma's stage, you'll need the Homing Missiles to stop the homing enemies who try to knock you off the floating platforms.
- The map actually has significance! Flame Mammoth's stage will be a little frostier if you return after defeating Chill Penguin.
- Once you find the Super Arm Cannon, experiment! Pull out one of your optional weapons, hold down the fire button...and check out the results!
They Saved the Best for X!
No doubt about it, Capcom's poured the best of its creative juices into designing this triumphant SNES debut. There's plenty of room for improvement in the future (and you can bet there will be sequels ad nauseum!), especially if the game adds mucho more levels. But for now, take Mega Man X and call in sick tomorrow!