Level Select Thursdays: Mega Man X
Yup it’s time to take a look at one of the all time classics from the Super Nintendo, the series that would become the next evolution for the Mega Man series. I am of course referring to the OG Mega Man X, debuting 21 years ago this game holds a special place in gamers hearts. I have fond memories of this game when I played it as a kid, but I never beat the game itself. Well now I have and I wanted to see if this game still stands the test of time. Is it truly the best in the X line of games? Well grab your controllers and let’s find out!
To start this off, I will say that it is a bit hard to actually appreciate this game for what it is without playing the classic Mega Man series. I know this because I took the dash and wall jumping mechanics as something designed for this game, without realizing why dashing and wall jumping is so great.
If you’ve played the classic series then you are familiar with let’s say, stiff controls. Jumping could lead to easy deaths and Mega Man wasn’t the the most agile character. Once you play those games, then you’ll understand why dashing and wall jumping is so awesome.
From a structure standpoint Mega Man X is near perfect. Unlike other X games, you have a minimum of 3 Mavericks you can easily take out with your buster alone, allowing the player multiple options. Backtracking for this game is kept to a minimum, which means that you can pick up a good amount of the upgrades on the way to beating the game. It makes you feel like your actually making progress in completing the game rather than revisiting locations again and again to get items you couldn’t get before due to lack of weapon or armor piece.
Trust me if play future Mega Man X games you’ll appreciate this (glares at X3 and X5).
So from a game play standpoint what makes Mega Man X so awesome? Well one thing that hasn’t changed with X is the use of the buster to destroy enemies. Only here it’s more powerful and it looks better thanks to the sixteen bit awesomeness of the Super Nintendo. That however is still a hold over from the classic series. Don’t fix what isn’t broke right?
Instead of changing the game play for Mega Man, Capcom decided to enhance the blue bomber. How you ask? Well instead of starting off with a full health bar, X’s health bar is extremely small compared to his classic counter part. So now it’s the players job to find all the heart pieces and the oh so cool armor upgrades to make X feel more powerful. Trust me when I say this, if you do grab all the sub tanks, heart tanks, and armor upgrades the player will be aware of how much X has grown and a character. The armor upgrades themselves are pretty sweet as well. The best upgrade in my opinion being the X buster upgrade, allowing a more powerful charged shot and it allows you to charge a special weapon you earned. Making some bosses mince meat, or at least more manageable.
Plus if you manage to get all the items mentioned, you can learn the Hadoken and one shot bosses! If that isn’t enough to make you search for these upgrades I don’t know what will.
The bosses themselves are fun to fight against and they are still the best in the series. Not because of nostalgia but because even with the respective Mavericks weakness, outside of Spark Mandrill and maybe Armored Armadillo the Mavericks don’t enter a stun lock and repeat their pattern over and over again.
It does make the fights quicker and less stressful, but become to reckless and you’ll end up with one less life. It’s a perfect balance making the player feel rewarded for their hard work and not making it to easy.
Do I really need to say anything about the soundtrack for this game? I will say that X’s soundtrack is one of the most memorable soundtracks in gaming history, it’s that good. I’m pretty sure nostalgia is in full effect here but I encourage anybody to listen to every single track and tell me it’s not filled with sixteen bit rock goodness. From top to bottom this soundtrack is simply the best in the series.
Without a doubt Mega Man X1 is still the best game in the line of X games. It’s fair in terms of difficulty in it’s level design and boss fights, plus it doesn’t waste a players time with back tracking. Combine all that with a kick ass soundtrack and the cool factor of the upgrades and you have one of the best games ever. That’s just me though.
Mega Man X earns a 9/10