You ever get the impression that a game was made by people who really wanted to make a movie instead? That?s what I thought while playing Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X for the PSP. This remake of the 1997 SNES title Mega Man X has been completely revamped with 3D models, an updated soundtrack, and a new playable character.
If you?ve played any Mega Man, you?ve played this one. Not to say that?s a bad thing. Despite the new look, the stages are completely true to the original. The player chooses from eight stages, then shoots and jumps his way to a waiting boss. Defeat the boss and the player then acquires his weapon. To add depth, the player is rewarded with a short but well done animated sequence at several milestones in the game.
Not that I?ve ever played a Mega Man title for its story, but this one isn?t half bad. X, the final and greatest creation of Dr. Light, lives in a time when free thinking robots (reploids) serve mankind quite peaceably. Occasionally, when one of these machines goes “maverick” and rebels, it?s up to Sigma?s maverick hunters (including X) to put down the revolt. But when Sigma himself decides to go maverick, it destabilizes the very foundation of society.
The simple gameplay makes for simple controls, and you can customize the buttons however you want. You can also set a button to fire the basic gun while a special weapon is equipped. It would be nice if the weapon list was as customizable, as I had a hard time finding the weapon I needed on a moment?s notice.
Compared to other Mega Man titles, this one is a push-over in terms of difficulty, but newcomers to the series might still have a hard time with it. On hard mode I had trouble beating my first boss, but once I found the dash boots and a reserve energy tank I cruised through the rest quickly. Besides the boots, you can find extra armor and a gun that unlocks the ultimate powers each special weapon. This adds a new dimension to gameplay as it doubles the number of attacks and tools to your repertoire, including temporary invincibility.
Even though this is a 2D sidescroller, all of the characters and enemies have been given a 3D makeover. This look works well for minor enemies who always seemed cartoony and now seem more so. However, it doesn?t benefit bosses the same way. In the original game the bosses seemed sinister and cool. Now they seem like comic relief even when they are exchanging melodramatic dialogue with X. The impeccable backgrounds are full of detail that reminds you where you?re actually fighting; a quality left out of most games in the series.
As a Mega Man title, you know the soundtrack is going to be good. The music is just barely identifiable as a remix of the original. The shouts from X as he uses special attacks or takes damage also compliment the action. The only problem I had with the sound was in the X?s overly dramatic dialogue. Before boss battles, X talks to the enemy like he?s trying too hard to win an academy award. Though you can skip any of the dialogue, I did feel it enhanced the overall experience of the game. Each boss has been given a distinct personality and back-story, which seems out of place for this series. I mean, I never really thought about why I killed robots before. I just walked into those little rooms they waited for me in and after a few frustrating confrontations they were gone. Now that the bosses are somewhat developed characters, I kind of feel guilty about it?oh well! I?ll just have to bury my grief in a sea of exploded scrap parts.
After beating the game I expected to give it a below average rating, but then I saw all of the unlocked features, including a 30 minute mini-movie called “The Day of _.” For a bonus feature, the quality of both the animation and voice acting were quite good. The story reveals the origins of both X and Sigma and builds up to the reploid revolt that the player just put down. It made me hope that Capcom would make an entire series based on the X saga.
Though it should have been available from the start, you can also unlock an alternate character to play through the game as. Vile, a reploid with seething hatred for X, actually makes for much more engaging gameplay with a customizable weapon system. After beating a boss, Vile gains several new weapons that can be equipped to his arms, legs or shoulder cannon. Since each weapon is activated by a different button there is no need to scroll through a list before shooting different one off. This offers the player a wide variety of combination attacks and strategies. Plus, one can never underestimate the thrill of playing as a bad guy.
Newcomers to the series will be instantly drawn to the simple and exciting gameplay that is a staple of Mega Man, while the new features make it a worthwhile rent for veteran fans. While there is only moderate replay value, you are sure to have a consistently good time from the moment you start playing until you?ve mastered every boss.