Platform: Playstation 2
Release date: 1/10/06
If any a company in the video game industry understands the feeling of joy generated by the nostaligic experience of playing a videogame from your childhood, it would be Capcom. Countless people have played the Street Fighter rehashes, the Darkstalker re-re-releases, and of course, the Megaman collections. While Capcom puts together a nice collection of the almost entire X series, most of the games are plaugued by problems that should have been addressed when the game was initially launched, and should have been fixed for their re-release.
For newcomers to the series, the X series is the darker, edgier side of Megaman, where characters actually die as the storyline progresses from game to game. X is heavily based on add-ons to his weapons, armor, and health, making all of the games a much more robust expereince in contrast to the staightforward romp that the old school Megamans are known for. Also, in certain situations in certain X games, you will be given a chance to choose between a few characters, which livens up the carpal-tunnel inducing gameplay that is mashing the square button for X's blaster.
To get the gritty out of the way, let's talk about how Capcom has completly neglected to do anything regaurding the aging graphics of the series. Purists may argue that improving a classic game is blasphemy, but the fact remains that a good majority of the X games would have looked amazing if Capcom had gone back and redrawn X, Zero, and his adversaries to have more fluid animations. Even Final Fantasy IV Advance went ahead and redrew a majority of the uglier sprites in the game, the least Capcom could have done for us was redraw Megaman in X1, or fix Zero's freakishly large head in X2. Gripes aside, the earler games still hold up their pedigree for having some of the best looking 2D environments next to Castlevania and the Final Fantasy series. Each level features a nice variety of environments, and while each game has it's staple enemy that appears in a majority of the levels, but the game is not one to recycle enemy models, which keeps the experience fresh.
As with the graphics, the sound seems to be untouched in every game as well. You won't bat an eye when you hear a level theme start or X charge up his blaster; but there is one game that will bother some players because they can't seem to pinpoint what makes it feel so different when they play it in this Collection: X3. While a limited (and lucky) majority of us played X3 on the SNES, Capcom has decided to use the Sega Saturn release of the game instead. Players will notice that there is a change in many of the sounds in the game, and there is also the inclusion of nonsensical anime cutscenes in the opening and at the start of each level.
Another difference is that X3 also has 20-30 second clips of level music, which in traditional CD style, fades out and reloads over and over. This is definately a problem that should not be existing in the year 2006, and the game should have featured full-length audio tracks that blended seamlessly together. But as for the X series as a whole, there isn't much to say besides "It's MegaMan music", for the uninitiated, let's just say Megaman music complilations aren't flying off the shelves with the exclusion of die-hard fans snapping up every peice of Megaman memorabilia available. For the most part, there really isn't any major transition in the techno/guitar themes that pervade X1-4, and the scores featured in the newer games are nothing special in the first place.
But the core of the X series is that it has always provided some sort of challenge to the casual gamer, and sometimes even manages to piss off a hardcore gamer or two. This is true for the first 4 entries into the series, where fun, yet challenging level obstacles keep the player coming back for more just to beat that section. But for the latter half of the series, the challenge borders on maddening because of the ridiculous amount of challenge and the fact that the game camera will not adjust itself to show the player what is ahead or below them. Get used to dying frequently in X5 and 6 while jumping off a simple ledge because the camera neglected to show you the gigantic pit of spikes below you.
Control in this collection is also a mixed bag, since the former part of the series features the pin-point precision of being able to make X land exactly where you need him to be, and the latter part trying to mimic real-life physics and taking momentum in account for each dash and jump. One of the main factors in X4 and 5's challenge is the fact that X does not move in the same way that he did in his earler incarnations; in a game where life and death depends on landing in a specific spot, and with pin-point accuracy at that, adding slight physics to long time players will throw them off and cause frequent deaths. The whole aspect of X finally succumbing to momentum later on in the series makes it for a difficult time when you jump from a game of X2 to a X5, and have to compensate. As for general D-pad and botton responsiveness, Capcom has kept everything in tip-top shape, nearly every action in the game executes brilliantly and instantly, as it should.
Overall, Megaman X Collection is a game where the new player will most likely be put off by the confusing plotline and the varying difficulties, and the veterans will be pleased to see their beloved classics crammed into one package for less than half of Megaman X3's going price on EBay. If you are looking to get into the X series, this would be a good start if you don't have access to a SNES, but if you do, it goes without saying that you should experience each of these games in their purest fo forms.
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