Today we’re going to talk about the value of value.
Unlike the Mega Man series, the Mega Man X franchise has a pretty straightforward set of power rankings. Millions have died in the Mega Man 2 v Mega Man 3 wars, but the X list is well established. Off the top of my head…
Mega Man X – Excellent Game
Mega Man X2 – Pretty Okay
Mega Man X3 – Meh
Mega Man X4 – Excellent Game
Mega Man X5 – Pretty Okay
Mega Man X6 – Terrible
Mega Man X7 – A gaping black hole of rot from which no fun may escape
Mega Man X8 – Pretty Okay
However, doing a quick EBay search that is in no way based on anything other than a quick EBay search conducted right now, here are apparently the current monetary values of the Mega Man X franchise:
Mega Man X – $30
Mega Man X2 – $90
Mega Man X3 – $200
Mega Man X4 – $12
Mega Man X5 – $12
Mega Man X6 – $18
Mega Man X7 – $12
Mega Man X8 – $30
(And, for the record, the Mega Man X Collection, which contains Mega Man X one through six, is worth about ten bucks.)
As far as I’m concerned, nothing about this makes sense.
Today’s game is Mega Man X3, so let’s maybe take a quick glance at the most expensive Mega Man X game (not) available. Personally, I’m always going to have a soft spot for X3, because it was the one and only Mega Man game I owned for the SNES when I was but a wee Goggle Bob. Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 were both games I loved dearly, but because I was some kind of Mega Man savant, I could beat both games in a rental period, so… why bother with an actual purchase? Ha ha, you damn videogame publishers were right, West Coast Video was eating into your profits! However, by the time Mega Man X3 was released, the SNES rental wall was paltry, so I had to beg my parents for a birthday helping of Mega Man. They complied, and, because I didn’t want my parents thinking they were losing money on this whole “buy videogames” thing, I played the hell out of X3. I have probably beaten this game roughly three millions times, and that might be a low estimate. I can air dash like some kind of machine designed only for air dashing.
However, that doesn’t mean the game was any good.
Mega Man X3 does a lot of interesting things in an attempt to differentiate itself from its forefathers. For one thing, Zero is a playable character, finally. Unfortunately, Zero is very limited, as he only has one “life”, and the minute you crash that dork into a random pile of spikes, he’s out of the game forever. Even the quasi-save password system remembers that you shamefully killed your best reploid friend, and you may never use that red robot ever again. However, crippling handicap aside, Zero “feels” right, and he fills the exact same niche as in his Mega Man X (1) appearance. Zero is leaps and bounds ahead of X when the game begins, but, give X eight or so stages of powerups, and Zero is quickly outclassed. That’s great! That further defines two characters that could easily become Mario & Luigi given a less deft direction, and, while X4 and later decided to pursue a “separate but equal” kind of thinking for the duo, it’s nice to see one last hurrah for the “X only gets stronger and stronger” narrative before Zero decided to heist the franchise. And X can steal his beam sword, which is always fun.
And there is other cool stuff in X3, too! You can get your own ride armor that is kinda-sorta permanent (as opposed to “once in Chill Penguin’s stage, and then never again”) and can morph into other, sometimes better ride armors. There are random mini bosses that can make every playthrough different (though nothing changes if you religiously always use the exact same path through Robot Masters like some people [I’m currently giving the side eye to a mirror]). And I’m pretty sure this is the only SNES X game where the helmet piece is at all useful. It might hold up a teeny bit of gameplay, but seeing a grid map of the stage with points of interest marked all over the place really helps anyone with OCD and a lack of Nintendo Power (poor souls). Overall, it’s plain to see that Mega Man X3 was an attempt to keep the virtues of Mega Man X while expanding on what fans wanted to see (basically, more giant robots).
Unfortunately… a few Mega Man X3 features seem… a bit rushed. The most glaring example involves the sad fact that most of the Maverick Masters have patterns that are overly easy to predict. With the possible exception of Neon Tiger, I’d say that every Maverick in this mission can be conquered by tricking the AI into a sort of endless loop of running square into X’s buster. There are some cool Maverick designs in this game (Tunnel Rhino is basically “what if… spikes? All of the spikes.” And it works) but, even without the boss weaknesses, most of these guys have less AI than your average Merry Man. This is in stark contrast to Bit, Byte, and some of the more interesting Doppler Stage bosses, who have simple patterns, but with enough variation that they actually become engaging battles. It’s like the designers of Mega Man X3 knew they could do some interesting stuff, but completely shied away from doing that for any of the “real” bosses, which, let’s face it, are a significant part of why anybody plays a Mega Man game at all. This would be akin to making a Mario game where the jump physics are “okay, but a little bit off”. So, ya know, Super Mario Land 2.
And the most telling of all the weird blunders are the lights in the Blizzard Buffalo stage. Like in Mega Man X, if you conquer one stage before entering another, it will impact that stage. In this case, the street and underground lights click on if you’ve already conquered Volt Catfish’s power plant. Unfortunately, unlike Mega Man X, this change doesn’t impact anything at all. It’s like someone correctly identified that the “stages impact each other” trait in Mega Man X was pretty cool, and then implemented it without a damn clue why that kind of thing is actually worthwhile. Flickering lights are not exciting! Unless this is a Mega Man Rave! Which would be cool! Just saying!
When you get right down to it, Mega Man X3 boils down to a resounding, “Meh”. Like a bad episode of a Bryan Fuller show, it’s probably still better than most of the stuff on your television, but it doesn’t stack up to its better ancestors (or descendants). It’s a perfectly passable, yet flawed, X game.
So then why is it the most monetarily valuable X game?
Well, we actually have an answer for this one. First, the game was released in late ’95/early ’96, when practically everyone was moving on from the SNES to greener, more disc-based pastures. This limited the manufacturing run. And the other reason is this sucker…
Like Mega Man X2, Mega Man X3 employed a special chip for rendering polygons (… or… rotating… or… something?). However, unlike X2, X3 only used this special graphical ability for… let’s see here… the weapon get screen, one stupid mini boss that looks like a snowflake, and the final-final form of Sigma, which is on screen for all of thirty seconds. However, even though this chip is, to say the least, underutilized, it still jacked up the original MSRP of Mega Man X3 to $70, scaring off all but the most dedicated of (my) parents. Limited print run plus expensive right out of the gate equals a lot of X3 cartridges going to wherever videogames go when they’re completely ignored (heaven?), so, by the time EBay started selling broken staplers for twelve bucks, Mega Man X3 was worth a king’s ransom (albeit, probably a very poor king).
But that’s all it takes! Mega Man X3 is a resoundingly meh game compared to its X-temporaries, but it’s rare, so it’s valuable. The end. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure purely because of desire, and not actual value. Well… desire and one stupid chip, I suppose.
Come on, pay attention to his name, we all know Zero isn’t worth this much.
FGC #275 Mega Man X3
- System: Super Nintendo for the “real” version, but there was also a Playstation and Saturn port… albeit only in Japan. I think that’s the base of the Mega Man X Collection port, though.
- Number of players: You’ve got two different Maverick Hunters this time, but still only one player.
- Favorite Maverick: Neon Tiger is like some manner of Wolverine robot, and that’s awesome. And, while I love Neon Tiger, if I’m thinking of X3, I’ll probably name Toxic Seahorse first, because that is probably the most memorably lazy boss fight in the series.
- I’ve wasted my life: As mentioned, I replayed this game about 12,000 times as a child, but I was too much of a dummy to ever naturally discover that it’s possible to kill Bit, Byte, and Vile during their first encounter. Technically, I feel like I should let them live, as I prefer their fortress boss forms to the generic bots you face in their place… but I need to make up for like a decade of wasted dead robots, so now they must die every time.
- Manual Transmission: Since this was one of my childhood games, I still have the original manual in excellent condition. The back of the book advertises the Ruby-Spears Mega Man animated action figures. Full disclosure? I’m not going to go get in a fight on EBay for it, but I would totally blow a hundred bucks on a Drill Man action figure.
- Did you know? There was actually a 3DO version of this game planned, but it never came to fruition. The lack of the obvious Mega Man X3DO title is one of history’s greatest losses.
- Would I play again: Somehow, this isn’t even the least of the X series, so it’ll probably get replayed when I inevitably say “Well, it beats X7.”
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers for the NES! Hooray! It’s the real debut of Volt Catfish! Please look forward to it!