Building The Perfect Mega Man X

by Adam Biessener on Mar 21, 2013 at 09:49 AM

The Mega Man X series introduced a new robotic hero with a wider ability set while carrying over the core side-scrolling action from the NES titles. The franchise varies widely in quality, though, and we haven't seen a new entry since 2004's Mega Man X8. We outline what elements of previous games Capcom should build on to restore Maverick Hunter X to his rightful glory among action heroes.

(thanks to YouTuber Tan Shao Chien)

Suits – Mega Man X6

X's basic armor is no slouch, boasting charged-shot capabilities and his core dash and wall-grab moves. Hidden armor upgrades have always been a series staple, though, which give additional movement powers and even weapons. The best of the bunch are in X6. The Falcon armor is much like the upgraded armor sets in past games, giving a better charge shot and air dash - both excellent, widely useful abilities. The Blade armor is more or less a super-Falcon armor, and includes more powerful sword slashes alongside the air dash. The Shadow armor, however, is a much more drastic change. This ninja-styled suit can only use sword and shuriken attacks, but in return allows X to walk on spikes, stick to walls without sliding down, and launch upward with explosive force. Having both generic across-the-board upgrades and a dramatic change in moveset in the Shadow armor is a great formula for Mega Man X, and the perfect entry in the series would have similarly creative items.

(thanks to YouTuber HideofBeast)

Zero – Mega Man X6

X's sometime ally often shows up as a playable character in some form or another, but the coolest way he's been included is in X6. He shadows X over the course of the game, eventually showing up with no memories as the antagonist in a tough boss fight. If you follow a series of steps to restore his memory, he joins X as a playable hero. The slow introduction, along with the huge payoff of an awesome alternate character with a completely different moveset, is an awesome addition. We could do without the amnesia, but there has to be a cool way to bring Zero in during the game. Failing that, allowing him as one of the two default choices like in X4 is acceptable.

(thanks to YouTuber metapod)

Axl – Mega Man X-X6

Axl was perfectly implemented in the first six Mega Man X titles. By not existing.

Level structure  Mega Man X5

The fifth game had an exceptional gimmick, which changes the game as the 16-hour countdown to a space colony slamming into Earth progresses. The execution is clumsy in places, but having real consequences for your actions adds another layer onto Mega Man X. The next game, X6, badly screwed up this idea by permanently locking you out of upgrades you could find if you let the reploids you're trying to save be infected. X5 had the idea right, even if the ultimate form it took left something to be desired.

Mavericks  Mega Man X4

The first PlayStation entry in the series was in some ways the best pure expression of the franchise's gameplay before X5 and X6 started adding more elements to the metagame. The overall skill with which X4 was crafted is evident in its excellent bosses, who present interesting-but-not-brutal challenges and grant some of the better weapons in the series. The best boss fights in Mega Man X are when the designers get away from the simple "robot with a weird weapon" formula and give the mavericks off-the-wall, unique bodies and patterns. X4 nails it on all counts.

X4 also features Split Mushroom, who is by all appearances a thinly veiled troll from Capcom. Seriously: Split Mushroom. Think about it.

(thanks to YouTuber PinkKittyRose)

Weapons – Mega Man X

X's weaponry is at its finest when the abilities he gains from defeating mavericks have general usefulness instead of being so unusual that they're only effective in extremely specific situations. The very first X title is a perfect example of this: Chameleon Sting's triple-shot spread, Homing Torpedo's tracking ability, and Shotgun Ice's powerful blast are all great attributes that are widely useful. The goofy effects are saved for the charged-up versions, which allow players to use them occasionally when appropriate and still get regular use out of the basic version. The perfect X game would follow a similar pattern.

(thanks to YouTuber blzdout)

Graphic style  Mega Man X8

The hand-drawn sprites of the SNES games are still charming and hold up well, but the 3D modeling of the PS2 games (of which X8 is the better) update the art style and would allow the developers to use cinematic camera angles and shots for set pieces. Just so long as the gameplay remains strictly two-dimensional, that is.

What not to do – Mega Man X7

Not only did X7 introduce a dud of a character in Axl, it also fails at everything else. The 3D segments suck, the platforming is loose, the dialogue is somehow even worse than in older Mega Man games, and I'm pretty sure its release caused global warming. The team behind the perfect Mega Man X game should keep X7 in mind at all times as an example of what not to do.

That's what my perfect Mega Man X game would look like, not that Capcom seems likely to bring the franchise back any time soon. What would you do if you got to call the shots?