Capcom released the first Mega Man game on the NES at the end of 1987. Although not a big hit, another was made and Mega Man 2 would become a huge success. Capcom continued their success with Mega Man 3. After its release, the NES successor was released, the SNES or Super Nintendo. Many waited to see Mega Man on the new console. However, instead of a new Super Nintendo Mega Man game, Capcom released not one but two more Mega Man games for the NES. Many started to wonder if Capcom would even release a Mega Man game on the Super Nintendo. Finally, it was revealed that a new game in the Mega Man series would be on the Super Nintendo, tentatively titled “Super Mega Man”. The final product, Mega Man X, was a spin off of the original series. It was released in the beginning of 1994, three years after the release of the Super Nintendo, and it was worth the wait.
The graphics in Mega Man X are quite good. The color palette for the game is colorful and full of life. Everything shines and has a fair amount of polish. Also, characters emote and locations are more naturally designed, unlike in the previous NES titles. One complaint though is that the graphics tend to lend towards looking too robotic. However, what makes the game look so pleasing to the eye isn’t the power projecting the images but the design that creates them. Series designer Keiji Inafune and his protégé Hayato Kaji made Mega Man X looks more solid and articulated as a character. His friend, Zero, is a much more fleshed out character aesthetically that characters of yore. The eight bosses are no longer just elements or objects with ‘man’ attached onto their names. They are now designed from animals or just creatures with their proper elemental or item connected to their names in a more natural manner, such as Storm Eagle or Flame Mammoth. They are even given names on the level select screen. Everything in Mega Man X feels better constructed and thought out.
The music in this game is phenomenal. The levels feature catchy themes and the boss battle music extenuates the moment’s tense environment. Capcom’s Alph Lyla ground composed the game’s score and they truly went above and beyond. Many of these songs could be listened to recreationally and should be sold as a soundtrack (which it was in Japan). The sound effects have a nice sci-fi feel to them, especially the sound of Mega Man X’s X-Buster. However, nothing stands out as memorable. Everything just sound like you think it would and none of it is exceptional or surprising.
The reason why this is a classic to this day. Mega Man X takes the basic formula from the NES titles and adds new features, enhanced capabilities and more varied to the levels, boss battles and game mechanics. The story follows the new main character X as he tries to stop eight powerful rogue robots or “reploids” and Sigma, their leader. Helping him is Zero, a mysterious Hunter. Not much is known about him but is very powerful and has a good sense of justice. Much of the game’s layout follows that of the original games. After an initial prelude level, players choose from eight stages and must complete all eight before moving on to the multi tiered final level. After completing each level by defeating the boss at the end of the level, X absorbs their abilities for himself to use. New additions to the classic Mega Man formula is the ability to now upgrade X’s armor by finding hidden upgrade chambers, in addition to health upgrades and health tanks. X can also wall kick and slide down walls, allowing him to climb or slide down walls. This opens up the gameplay and level design immensely. Along with the ability to dash forward and a medium difficulty curve, gameplay is now faster and more immediately gratifying. Other additions, like the mech suits present in some of the levels, help to break the sometimes monotonous flow.
Mega Man X holds up to this day and is one of the greatest titles on the Super Nintendo. From the graphic design to the refined gameplay, Mega Man X is a success. A complaint could be made about the final boss battle, which is extremely hard, as well as the gameplay design that gives you infinite tries at a stage but only a limited amount of lives until being sent back to the level select screen. A classic game that shouldn’t be missed.
Presentation: 4 out of 5
Sound: 4 out of 5
Gameplay 4.5 out of 5
Rating: 4.5 out of 5