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Retro Month: Megaman X Series

Back in 1993 Capcom burst onto the Super Nintendo with a game that is now a well known and loved series. Megaman X was the first of many of the new games that would be the new face of Megaman hence forth, and brought a lot of new and interesting things to the table. Although technically a continuation of the original series, X is truly a standalone that has its own plot, characters, and life of its own. In the year 20XX, Dr Cain is digging for Mesozoic plant life and unexpectedly uncovers a capsule sealed one hundred years ago by Dr Thomas Light. Inside the capsule is a new kind of robot named Megaman X. X was Dr Light’s ultimate and final creation, and was far different from any other creation before him. X has the ability to think on his own, feel real emotions, and make his own decisions based on those thoughts and emotions. This spawns a new “species” of robots that are called Reploids, but the creation of true intelligence never goes as planned. Soon the Reploids decide they don’t need there human creators, that humans are inferior and soon enough violence breaks out and a hero is needed. Sure enough, our hero is X.

 

For the sake of space and time on this article, I will be breaking down the series into sections. From 1993 to 1995, Capcom released Megaman X1 through X3 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment system. The controls and game play closely resembled the original Megaman games, being the well known side scrolling shoot em up style that made it famous. But it had beautifully rendered new graphics, entirely new characters and plot, as well as new enemies and stages. Players can now “wall jump”, allowing you to quickly tap the jump button to climb walls. The music also got an overhaul focusing more on the rock and heavy metal feel, but this gave the series a much more upbeat experience for the player. The basic story in X1 is Sigma, leader of the Maverick Hunters (an organization that stops Reploid revolts and conflicts), goes maverick himself and leads a war against the humans. X is a maverick hunter himself, so it’s your job to stop Sigma once and for all. In X2, you must battle an organization calling themselves the X-Hunters; in order to retrieve the parts of your friend Zero before the evil doers can use him for their own purposes. And finally in X3 a scientist named Dr Doppler starts a massive maverick revolt using the “Maverick Virus” he has discovered and so X and Zero are sent to put the revolt down.

 

From 1997 to 2001, X4 through X6 were released on the Playstation Entertainment System, and featured several new features to go along with the new platform. Boasting a significant upgrade to both graphics and the soundtrack as a great start, the game play itself gave gamers a few nice surprises as well. X4 was the first time you could play through the entire game as both Megaman X and Zero. This gave you several exclusive fights and cut scenes you could only see if you played through the game with both characters. This installment also finally reveals the back-story and history of Zero, and the true origin of the Sigma/Maverick Virus. X4 is truly the start of the heavy story based aspect for the X series, which is one reason it was so popular. On top of being a well known and loved franchise, it had an amazing story for all of its characters. X5 finally gave gamers a feature that had never been seen in any Megaman game thus far, the ability to crouch. Although it may not sound like a huge deal, this was a true difference maker in the way you played through the game and series from here on.

The basic story in X4 is that the Sky Lagoon is destroyed and the Repliforce, an army originally made to support the Maverick Hunters, is blamed for it causing them to be labeled Mavericks and going to war with X and the hunters. In X5 Sigma tries to crash the space colony Eurasia into earth, wiping out most life and spreading the Sigma virus. In X6, X searches for the now missing Zero, while uncovering the secrets of the new “Nightmare Phenomenon”.  Interestingly enough, X5 was truly meant to be the end of the X series. For all intents and purposes it was. But due to the popularity and success of the Megaman and Megaman X series, Capcom wasn’t ready just yet to let the franchise go. And a year after X5 was released, X6 hit the shelves.

 

From 2003 to 2004 X7 and X8 were released on the Playstation 2. These were the first 3D games in the series. Interestingly enough, X7 has also been called by many gamers, the worst game in the X series. It did however introduce a fun new character called Axl, who instead of a sword or mega buster used dual pistols as his weapon. X8 ended up being the “ending”; of the X series if you will, but there has been several remakes and off shoots so it really isn’t the end. The basic story in X7 is that X retires from the Maverick Hunters, and a new organization calling themselves Red Alert shows up to fill the gap. A new reploid known as Axl accidentally sparks a conflict between the Maverick Hunters and Red Alert. In X8 a new generation of Reploid’s copy Sigma’s DNA and attempt to take over the Orbital Elevator. All in all, these two games were really the not so great part of the X story, and many people believe that although X8 was a huge improvement over X7, the fifth installment still should have been the final game.

 

In 2001 and 2002, Gameboy Color got a few entries from the series known as Megaman Xtreme 1 and 2. The basic story in Xtreme is the computer in the Hunter base is hacked, and X and Zero must digitize themselves into the computer to battle the threat. In Xtreme 2 a Reploid research facility on Laguz Island reports that the “souls” of reploids are disappearing and X and Zero are sent to investigate. In 2004 Megaman X Command Mission was released on the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube. This was interesting as it was the only true RPG in the X series, featuring several new characters, turn based battle system, new music, and a new element for the franchise. In this game, you’re sent to Giga City, to stop a rebellion caused by a Reploid called Epsilon and destroy any Maverick involvement. In 2006, Playstation Portable got a remake of X1, called Megaman: Maverick Hunter X. With updated graphics and videos, it brought back that nostalgic feeling from the first installment with a new coat of paint so to speak. And in 2005 a Megaman X collection featuring X1 through X6 was released for Playstation 2 and the Nintendo Gamecube as well.

All in all, the X series was and still is incredibly successful and popular among hardcore fans and new gamers to the franchise alike. With in depth stories spanning across multiple platforms and generations this is one title I would highly recommend to any gamer. Without being biased (as this is one of my all time favorite series) I have to give Megaman X series by Capcom 8.5 out of 10.

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