Mega Man X Collection brings together the first six games in the Mega Man X franchise and puts it in one relatively affordable package. It even includes an unlockable seventh game – Mega Man Battle and Chase – which was never released in the US. Mega Man fans will rejoice in being able to play every game in the first full story arc in the Mega Man X series.
From Mega Man X’s beginnings on the Super NES to its storm of the original Playstation, Capcom kept the same winning formula that brought fans back for more. The 2D side scrolling action is still just as challenging as many of today’s more advanced next-generation games. But its appeal may be waning in the light of more realistic graphics and better-written storylines available in newer games.
When players first turn on Mega Man X Collection they will face a front page launcher, from which they can choose which one of the seven games to play. They can also look at a gallery of artwork they have unlocked by playing through the game. The launcher is actually a little slow and sluggish to navigate. But players wont be spending much time here anyway, due to so little extra content outside of the games themselves.
The games span eight years of Mega Man X development, between 1993 and 2001, and one of real treats of the collection is being able to watch the progress between each game. Each game builds upon the classic Mega Man side scrolling gameplay.
– MMX introduced an upgradeable Mega Man, with new parts hidden in every level and an additional weapon with every boss defeated. A Dash ability also made this Mega Man more nimble than his predecessors.
– MMX2 adds the powerful G-Crush ability, but remains essentially an extension of the first MMX.
– MMX3 becomes slightly more open with the addition of Zero as a playable character (in previous games he simply popped in to give Mega Man a hand every once in a while). The graphics are also improved with a jump to the Playstation. The cut scenes between levels are now anime rather than using the in-game graphics.
– MMX4 continues to use anime cut scenes, but cut scene dialog is now (badly) voiced rather than text based. The in-game graphics are also changed to give them a more anime inspired look. Unfortunately, all of this gives the game a cheap “Saturday Morning Cartoon” feel.
– MMX5 keeps the anime style graphics, but loses the anime cut scenes – thankfully shedding the cartoon feel. The dialog remains text-based, but the characters become so chatty that an unbelievable amount of the game is spent reading. They even feel the need to stop in the middle of stages to talk it up over the radio. Just when the series begins to open up level design, MMX5 turns out boring, linear levels and packs them with repetitive enemies. MMX5 is the only real let down of the bunch.
– MMX6 is an a giant step forward for the series in almost every aspect. The text-based dialog can still be tedious, but it is easier to overlook when the rest of the game is executed so well. The levels are designed incredibly well, complex but still negotiable. The graphics are further improved, and the game is given a more mature feel.
– Mega Man Battle and Chase is thrown into the mix just for kicks – diehard Mega Man fans will be happy to see this one hit US shores, and casual fans will get a break from the hardcore feel of the collection. Battle and Chase is a Mega Man racing game where players compete with AI racers to gain upgrades and parts for their vehicle. It is also the only multiplayer game in the collection.
Gamers should be warned that there is a fairly steep learning curve in each one of these games. For those that are not Mega Man veterans a fair bit of practice is needed to get the hang of everything. Rearranging the controls to take advantage of the shoulder buttons can make moving through the MMX world a little easier.
There are a few glaring problems with every one of the titles. For the most part each title is a faithful, and well-done, port of the original, but some rough spots were developed in the transition. A load-save option is built into the traditional password slot in the menu of each game. From the load-save screen one can chose to continue the game, return to the title screen, or exit out to the launcher in order to pick another game. This is the only screen from which gamers can return to the launcher without restarting their PS2, but this option is only reachable while playing a level – not on the main menu. So, gamers must either complete the level they are on or die to get to the load-save screen. When the game is paused there is an Exit option that, through a glitch, doesn’t work in any of the titles. So again, players must either complete the level or die to choose another level. It shouldn’t be work to switch between games and levels.
Being able to follow the story progression between games is another treat in the collection. Each game is linked to the events of the last, making this collection feel more like a single unit than the jumble of titles most collections come off as. This also helps to connect gamers to the different characters, and keep them engaged through the occasionally tedious play. The simplistic storylines of the first few games lay a base for the more mature, slightly darker, tales of the latter ones – mainly MMX5 and MMX6. The titles do assume that players are familiar with the Mega Man universe in general. For those unfamiliar with past Mega Man games will have trouble appreciating some of the relationships between characters – though only through the first couple of titles as new relationships take the main stage.
Mega Man X Collection is a great game for what it is – a handful of titles, some of which are over a decade old. By today’s high standards for graphics, content, and storyline it falls far short. This will not keep nostalgic Mega Man fans from snapping up a copy, but it shouldn’t keep anyone else away either. Challenging and deep gameplay is good, regardless of when it was made. The long time commitment required to complete the entire collection should be the only reason some may hold back. That, and if you’re not really into Mega Man.