Tag Archives: vile

FGC #367 Mega Man X8

Mega Man!Here lies the Mega Man X series. Forever may it rest.

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: Mega Man X is one of my favorite games. Mega Man X2 and X3 are both great experiences, too, as, while they’re not as great as OG X, they both contain that same (exactly the same) enjoyable X gameplay. Then we get into X4 and X5, which introduced Zero as a (permanently) playable character. The jury is still out on whether or not this improved the series, but, for my money, there is nothing more joyous than double jumping around with a lightsaber and dicing mavericks to maver-bits. Then, starting with X6, the series tried to be experimental. And by “experimental” I mean “completely horrible”. If the stories are true, Inafune stopped formally directing the X series with X5 (so he could move on to the Zero series), and X6 was left in hands that were… slightly less capable. X6 may not have been the disaster some have claimed (it is an extremely unpolished mess, but it is still “X gameplay” at the end of the day), but then we got X7.

I’m probably never going to forgive Mega Man X7.

I’ll save the majority of this rant for when ROB inevitably pegs that Playstation 2 title, but, long story short, Mega Man X7 tried to do the “bring old franchise to the modern era” trick… but failed miserably. 3-D action areas were broken and slow, and the beloved gameplay of the SNES/PSX titles was forsaken for Flame Hyenard announcing his intention to “burn”. It was a rotten experience all around, and, while the drive to innovate is always appreciated, it certainly did not work out in this situation.

But, aside from the crummy gameplay, Mega Man X7 introduced another fine addition to the X canon: it firmly planted X’s head so far up his own ass, he could lick the inside of his own reploid ribcage. Only the buster on his arm knows for sure why, but the Mega Man X series always had a sort of maudlin sentimentality to the storytelling. It was mostly confined to the endings during the first three titles, but X4-X6 managed to wedge in conversations with Mavericks that often involved robots lamenting their sorry lots in life shortly before shooting homing fish at each other. Pew PewX7 ratcheted that up a notch or two with a tale of betrayal, refugees, and Sigma that was, fun fact, the exact same plot as Mega Man X4. X7 managed to expand the talky talk of the X series, but still told the exact same story as ever.

The next logical step was clear: an endlessly philosophizing JRPG called Mega Man X: Command Mission. Wait! No! That’s a terrible idea! Please keep the franchise going! We like action games! Please give us a new Mega Man X game, and please let it be an actual goddamn Mega Man game! Please?

Well, we mostly got our wish.

Mega Man X8 should be lauded for a number of reasons. First of all, it was a return to (almost entirely) 2-D gameplay, so 90% of X7’s inane bullshit went right out the window. Additionally, X8 did its best to add an interesting facet to the series, so it allowed for character switching “in battle”, and based a number of scenarios, like escaping a grasping opponent or teaming up for a double attack, on the convention of having two combatants available. X got some curious armor, Zero scored a menagerie of weapons, and Axl’s “morph into a mook” ability got expanded to something actually viable. Couple this with some stimulating secrets, one of the better uses of “money” in the franchise, and your typical eight mavericks ready for a beat down, and Mega Man X8 is a pretty good game to actually play. Assuming you can forgive the vehicle sections and a few areas that are entirely instant death traps, X8 is an enjoyable experience.

But then there’s the story. It’s not that the story is bad (which it certainly is), it’s not that the story is somehow at war with its own continuity (thanks, Zero series!), and it’s not even that the story pukes all over the very concept of even basic science (Earth does not need a space elevator!); no, the greatest sin of the plot of Mega Man X8 is that is tries to be Mega Man Genesis Evangelion without the tiniest hint of irony or self-awareness. The subtitle is “Paradise Lost”. The first stage is Noah’s Park. The final battles are against Sigma as a fiery devil, followed by a fallen angel with beautiful wings. X whines about having to murder his fellow robots while battling the thinnest allegory for the Light Bringer in the history of gaming. Someone thought it was a good idea for Mega Man X, the robot built by Santa Claus to bring about world peace with his flamethrower arm, to play out some Bible fanfic while incidentally battling Isn't that a song?Bamboo Pandamonium, the nihilistic panda robot with swords for fingers. This is a thing that happened, and it absolutely could not have happened by accident. Someone… probably multiple people… thought this was the proper direction for a series featuring a robot that is occasionally named after granite.

And… it killed the X series.

There are likely a number of reasons Mega Man X8 was the final chapter. At this point, it was becoming more and more complicated to create realistic and cartoony graphics, and the general population wasn’t a fan of the latter appearing in practically anything. The man behind the Mega had already moved on to a new series, and the new home of 2-D gaming, the booming portable market, would wind up hosting a number of different Mega experiments (see ZX, Powered Up, and the X-based Maverick Hunter releases). And, hey, the original Mega Man series had stopped at 8 at this point, too, so maybe that’s just the cutoff for Capcom properties (sorry to be the one to tell you this, Resident Evil). The fact that Mega Man X8 had sagging sales compared to other Capcom properties may have been a factor. But, all told, it’s terribly unlikely that anyone looked at the plot of this bonkers adventure, acknowledge said bonkinality, and decided it was time for a break. But should we have received a Mega Man X9 on PS2, I have no doubt it would have continued the story of Axl, the lamest Maverick Hunter in the world, and maybe involved a parable about the sacrifice of Christ or something.

So I have to say this right now: Capcom, if you considering rebooting or reigniting the Mega Man X franchise, please, please ignore every X game since… let’s say… Mega Man X.


All together nowLook, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Zero is a lock for inclusion, and even Axl could be pretty interesting with his Bass-esque abilities. Include armor parts, weapon upgrades, and maybe even a chip system. That could all be pretty great. But please ignore the entirety of Mega Man X continuity. Please let X just be moderately conflicted, and don’t make him fight gods. Let him run, jump, and explore, but don’t let him in the same room as anything called “The Jakob Project”. X, Zero, Dr. Wily, Sigma: that is all okay. Fighting angels is not.

Mega Man X8 is where the X series died. Let it be dead, and pray that its next resurrection is decidedly less holy.

FGC #367 Mega Man X8

  • System: Playstation 2, and PC a year or so later. Let’s hope the PC version fixed that glitch where the robot ant becomes accidentally trapped in his own box.
  • Number of players: Two hunters at a time, but only one player.
  • She's my buddyBest Reward for OCD: I normally disparage collectathon elements, but the reward for playing this game an unnecessarily long time is unlocking the three navigator lady reploids as playable characters. They’re just reskins of the main cast that are randomly weaker… which is not sending the best message… but they’re also the first you’ve been able to play as anyone with a rep-gina in the X series (give or take the JRPG). And Layer with Sigma’s humongous sword is a beast, so I will hear no detractors.
  • Favorite Maverick: Gravity Antonion is an excuse for flipping stage orientation in a 2-D game, so he gets my vote. He’s also one of the few insect-based mavericks that is any fun at parties. Uh… don’t ask.
  • Did you know? Dark Mantis‘ Pitch Black stage is located in Africa. Darkest Africa. Are you getting Capcom’s clever/racist joke!?
  • Would I play again: I guess there’s an X collection on the horizon, so it’s kind of inevitable. Not looking forward to reclaiming all my hard-earned powerups from scratch again, nor do I want to hear X shout “Lumine” ever again, but, hey, sacrifices must be made.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Street Fighter 4 for whatever system I can find! Hooray! Street Fighting times for the last article of the year! Please look forward to it!

So much purple

FGC #275 Mega Man X3

Die monsterToday 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.

WeeeeToday’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.

You're a hero!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.

Putter putterAnd 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.
  • OwieFavorite 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!

Look out, Zero

The Gaming 5 #1 Mega Man X

Around February of 2015, Issun of the Talking Time forums proposed a question, “What five games would you use to demonstrate to anyone, be it an alien or someone from three-thousand years in the future or a fellow gamer or your mom what defines gaming now and forever?” I made up a list of five games pretty quickly, so, for the next five posts (effectively the next two weeks), I’ll be highlighting my choices. So we’re starting with…

You.  Done.Mega Man X

Why is it on this list?

Unlike every other entertainment medium I can think of, video games are about improvement. Casting aside retrograde amnesia or a serious degloving accident (don’t google that), from moment one, you are only ever getting better at any given video game. This is a completely separate experience from consuming cinema, music, literature, etc. Yes, you can get better at writing, composing, or playing music, but, try as you might, you will never get any better at listening to Baby Got Back. The experience is wholly different with video games, where, without even realizing it, you are getting better at any game you are playing, whether through leaps and bounds or just incrementally gaining the knowledge to avoid that goomba. It’s one of the chief reasons I believe video games are not only good for children, but people from all walks of life. It’s all those benefits people are always attributing to sports, but without the tedious getting up.

The Mega Man series embraces this idea, and always presents a little metal boy that improves with the player’s skill. As you, the player, gain the skills and knowledge to defeat robot masters, mavericks, or net navis, your digital avatar gains further skills and abilities to better defeat the next threat. There’s a glorious synchronized ballet performance in every Mega Man game, even though most people just remember those damn disappearing blocks.

So Why Not Any Other Mega Man Game?

Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 are both phenomenal games, but both have obvious choke points for new players. Even before the Boobeam Trap of Mega Man 2, there’s every chance someone’s first stage will be Quick Man, and that experience will end… quickly. Mega Man 3 isn’t as punishing, but by the time you reach Doc Robot and have to face two Mega Man 2 bosses per stage and ridiculous Rush Jet sections, well, let’s just say there’s a Plinkreason it was a long time before I ever saw the third Wily Castle. And Mega Man 9, another unparalleled game, is astonishing almost because it’s a masters course in Mega Man design, which makes for an uniquely challenging game, but a poor starting point.

The Mega Man X series has one major advantage over every original series game, and that’s that it improves not only X’s armory through weapon acquisition, but also rewards the player for exploration through movement, armor, and life upgrades scattered about its stages. Every single X game starts with an appreciably weaker than Mega Man version of X, and, should the player show any skill in discovery, will culminate with an X that could turn any given Wily-bot into robo pudding. It’s one thing to obtain a neat fire weapon, it’s another to gain a leg upgrade that allows dashing new opportunities.

So Mega Man X, not X2? X4? I know X6 is right out…

Mega Man X is the purest embodiment of the X concept. Already by X2, we’re introducing things like the X-Hunters, who take up time with weird little cinema scenes and then offer “rewards” in the form of Zero’s body parts. That’s fun and all, but to a completely new player, the Zero parts offer no obvious advantage or upgrade until the absolute last moments of the game. You find a heart container in Mega Man X, and you get a health upgrade; it’s straightforward and easy to understand. What are the odds?By Mega Man X4, the series has acquired way too much jibber jabber, and it’s downright embarrassing to select Storm Owl’s stage, and then listen to X be actually surprised to encounter, at the end of the Storm Owl Stage… Storm Owl. It’s even worse when X pleads with any given target to stop the violence and why can’t we just talk this out, as, come on, I just selected this stage for the express purpose of murdering this guy, X, get with the program. You have a gun for a hand for a reason!

And to be perfectly clear, by no means do I claim these games are bad for their plot excesses or items that don’t immediately benefit the player; I’m simply stating why these issues make these games a poor choice for a “first game”.

Any other reasons for Mega Man X?

Millions. Mega Man X was a very carefully constructed game from beginning to end. The Intro Stage takes the time to nudge the player into using each of X’s innate skills, from jumping to shooting to wall jumping (and shooting), and even ends with a “plot” that encourages the player to get better. While it’s a shame that the player only has a 12.5% chance of choosing Chill Penguin first, his stage simultaneously introduces the essential dash mechanic and the concept that you should be looking for these crazy Light capsule things. Do you want to try to tell me that, after seeing X with freshly armored legs and nothing else, you thought, “Well, guess that’s it, improved shins, that’s all I need. Way to go.”

Stylin'Stages interact in interesting ways: Storm Eagle’s airship very clearly begins to crash after his defeat, and then the remains can be found in Spark Mandrill’s Stage messing up the power grid. Interestingly, this “levels affect levels” mechanic did not make a noticeable return until Mega Man X6, when it was reintroduced compliments of a monkey’s paw. All over, Mega Man X interacts with the player in significant ways, without once taking the time to stop and shout “Hey listen” to jerk the player’s attention toward the obvious.

While I know my own bias is affecting my hypothesis here, there’s also the fact that a number of systems within the game are synonymous with what I consider to be “gaming”. Lives and health restoration items are available as enemy “drops” or just laying around. Bottomless, deadly pits and lethal spikes litter locations best not tread. Even the basics of jump, shoot, and beat the boss are all things that we, as gamers, take for granted (and must have been learned at some time, right?). If this game had at least one door that necessitated pressing up to enter, it’d have all the video game shorthand anyone would ever need.

What about Maverick Hunter X?

Despite being a “remake”, Maverick Hunter X falls far short of its predecessor. The reduced screen real estate is a pain, and even leads to some weird and atrocious scrolling errors related to enemies and powerups. Additionally, it’s acquired all the plot baggage from other later Mega Man X games, so get ready to hear Sting Chameleon’s monologue on violence before his brutal end. And, to top it all off, some of the upgrades have been “reshuffled” throughout the levels, which leads to a lot of unnecessary backtracking and general confusion. ChillyVile mode is a blast, though, and I’d recommend the game for anyone who is already familiar with Mega Man X and the series, just keep it far away from amateurs.

So Mega Man X is for amateurs, then?

It’s for everybody. I might go as far as saying that Mega Man X is the ur-video game, almost primal in how it defines itself and all other games before and since. Mega Man X is not the first video game ever made, and it’s entirely possible that someone who has been producing games for decades (say, Shigeru Miyamoto?) has never played or even heard of the game, but everything involved in Mega Man X, from intro to three forms big bad final boss finale, is “video game” as I think of the medium, and, even in games designed decades and generations later, there’s a little X in there.

Let’s call it, I dunno, the X-Factor.

The Gaming 5 #1 Mega Man X

  • System: Super Nintendo, also available on Wii/WiiU, and any system that had that X Collection. The Maverick Hunter X remake is for PSP, also available on Vita.
  • Number of Players: Just one. I suppose one significant “video game” thing this game is missing is a two player mode of some kind, but, hey, can’t win ‘em all.
  • Favorite Maverick: Chill Penguin just seems like he’s trying so hard. Good on him.
  • WeeeeFavorite Maverick Stage: Armored Armadillo’s mineshaft is a great deal of fun, particularly with the great minecart sequence in its finale. That also might be the only time a vehicle is any fun in a Mega Man X game.
  • Did You Know? Sigma went through a number of redesigns before they settled on the zombie robot we all know today. At least one/three of those designs got recycled into X2’s X-Hunters, proving that Inafune and friends never let an idea go to waste. Come to think of it, there’s an enemy called Gunvolt in there…
  • Would I play again? Because I know the game so well at this point, I’m always happy to see a version pop up on any system, as it is an ideal way for me to calibrate and test a new controller. Three face buttons and L and R are used frequently across the game, and collecting all items requires some dedicated control stick waggling. Also, ya know, I rather enjoy the game.

What’s next? Let’s claim this list is a mystery, but I’ll provide the hint that Ridley is too big for the next post. Please look forward to it!