This week is the ultimate showdown. Mega Man versus Mega Man X. Which has the better games? Gameplay, bosses, soundtrack, graphics, side characters, and pretty much everything is in play here.
I love the classic Mega Man series. It’s a tough-as-nails, Nintendo-hard, jump-n-shoot adventure that changed the gaming industry. But as well beloved as the series was, by the end of the NES lifecycle, Capcom had pumped out six titles in the main series and each had generally the same look and core gameplay elements as the last. It was getting stale like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed are today. Capcom had to drop something fresh and new for the Blue Bomber on Nintendo’s new hardware to save the beloved character.
Enter the Super Nintendo and Mega Man X.
Mega Man X improved by leaps and bounds over the NES titles. The sprites and environments are bigger, more colorful, and more detailed. The new upgrades to your character and the inclusion of a super rad new character to the story, Zero, helped round out this completely new experience and gave Mega Man the shot in the arm it needed to move forward and give us more great gaming experiences.
Of course, the later games in the Mega Man X series went in a direction that pulled away from what made the series great, but Mega Man X through X6 were great games and even though they may be getting expensive to collect, with X2 and X3 demanding well over $100 each, the games are easily and inexpensively had in compilations like the Mega Man X Collection released for PS2 and GameCube.
Overall, I would have to say that even though the classic Mega Man may hold more nostalgia for retro gamers, the Mega Man X series tops the original.
Mega Man and Mega Man X are both amazing series. Each has its pros and cons, but I will have to go with Mega Man X. Before I state why, let me make it clear that I am a huge Mega Man fan! Not only have I beat all ten Mega Man and eight Mega Man X games, I have also played/beat: Mega Man X Command Mission, Mega Man Anniversary Collection and Mega Man X Collection. I even have some fan-made art purchased at a convention on my wall, and some of the comics as well. Just in case you thought this was coming from someone who hasn’t played the games…
Anyways, the reason I enjoyed Mega Man X series more than the original Mega Man is the story. There wasn’t much of a plot in Mega Man except for Dr. Wily and evil robots. Mega Man 8 was the best well-rounded of them all in regards to story and character development, but still didn’t meet the standards of X.
X has a lot of character to him and so does Zero. You feel an attachment to both, even though Zero keeps on dying. The gameplay is deeper and honestly more challenging, even though I know some Mega Man games are brutal, but playing through the end of MMX4-6 is very tough. The last bosses have multiple forms and give you no mercy even if you have the best armor and items.
The animated scenes in MMX4 were very surprising, since there haven’t been any since Mega Man 8, and they helped flesh out the story more. You could connect more to the relationship between Iris and Zero and see their facial expressions over some pixels jumping around on a screen.
Mega Man X 7 and 8 were a disappointment, especially X7! The 3D concept completely changed the game, and many new mechanics were tried but they weren’t planned out enough in my opinion. If it works for over twenty games, I think it’s safe to stick with it. X8 did balance the game out more, but it was too late, X7 left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Overall, pick up the Mega Man X collection to truly experience what you’ve been missing. You will have a fun and memorable experience with one of the best series in all of gaming, over the sometimes boring and dull original Mega Man series.
If gamers want to be honest with themselves, the elation revolving around the digital release of Mega Man 9 in 2008 was attributed to the fact that Capcom had not released a “major” MM game in ten years.
We know and appreciate that Capcom has allowed Nintendo to borrow Mega Man in the latest Smash Bros. game, for all intents and purposes. But Capcom has bastardized their own franchise by failing to produce a Mega Man game worthy of the 128-bit era, let alone the HD era. Fans of the franchise have had to settle for two digital rather than full retail releases–the other being MM 10 in 2010–to satisfy their desire to play a “new” Mega Man game.
To be as plain as possible, the great irony is that MM9 and MM10 are neither major nor new. Capcom lured gamers into buying games that could have been built on something similar to what Nintendo is doing with Mario Maker, but with an inferior engine that lacks the “modern” aesthetics introduced in the Mega Man X games as well as Mega Man 8, for $10 each.
True, my Steam library reveals that I have dropped some serious cash on some indie retro games, but I purchase those games to both support indie developers and also because those games offer unique experiences. MM does not offer a unique formula at all, which is simultaneously its selling point: pure nostalgia.
The appeal of Mega Man is grounded precisely in the fact it remains unchanged from nearly twenty years ago. I would not agree that that is a positive characteristic. The appeal of “retro indie” games like Broforce, Hotline Miami, and The Legend of Grimlock is that they are not simply nostalgic but also, referential and celebratory of tradition while additionally offering features expected in contemporary games such as live patching.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed MM when I was a kid, and bought the Anniversary Collection to play the MM games I missed (MM, MM3, and MM6) and relive the ones I enjoyed.
But let’s face it, NES-era MM games were obsolete when MM7 hit the SNES, let alone any of the MMX games. MM marches sluggishly across the screen, jumps like he’s wearing cement shoes, and slides like he’s tethered to a bungee. Rather than developing a MM game with the MM7 or MM8 engines, Capcom decided to be cheap and hoisted upon obsolete tech that became a commercial success simply because gamers thirst for more MM.
If Mario and Sonic are still with us, why not a modern MM?
Now let’s shift paradigms. We are still, still, waiting for the so-called “next-gen” game that adequately demonstrates that we have indeed entered a new gaming generation. Some gamers are still picking up their jaws after seeing the first Gears of War commercial. Who can forget the visual quantum leap that Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast demonstrated?
Such was the caliber of gamers’ responses to Mega Man X in 1993. The vibrancy of the colors radiated from the screen, the scale and detail of the sprites were colossal and distinguished, and good lord the soundtrack. THE SOUNDTRACK! Not to say that the MM franchise did not possess its own timeless tunes, but on SNES, the guitar riffs and drum beats became distinguished from the other synthetic instruments.
MMX progressively expanded upon the MM formula. Originally bosses were distinguished by antecedent descriptors of their powers fused with minimalist suffixes of “man” were replaced. Now bosses featuring similar antecedents but bestial suffixes generated an individualistic feel to these bosses even if they actually were not completely unique, such as Storm Eagle (MMX) and Storm Owl (MMX4), who are both reminiscent of Tengu Man (MM8).
Discovering or exploiting the boss’s weaknesses remained an integral feature. Light Capsules replaced finding letters to spell “Rush,” “Beat,” or “Roll” to gain a unique power that nobody ever really used because those letters were hard to collect and they used a ton of special energy. MMX solidified these capsules as so-useful-they-really-are-not-optional by making it necessary for the player to pass through the boot upgrade to introduce the “dash” mechanic.
MMX introduces many other features such as wall climbing, X-Buster upgrades (besides boss weapons), and Easter eggs like the Hadoken, Dragon Punch, and Gold Armor. Despite all of these, the most distinguished feature of MMX, even beyond MM8‘s voice acting and silky-smooth animation is the dash. I say this even though all of my gaming screen names ever have “Zero” in them as a tribute to Zero from the MMX games. While it is fun watching Mega Man and Zero run across the screen in their nice animations–particularly those introduced in MMX4—the dash evolves the MM franchise into a sort of turbo mode.
Behold what at typical MMX veteran looks like as they dash across a stage:
I can’t go back to NES MM skulking around like he’s in quicksand across a limited color palette after the MMX series.
Cooper Daniel Barham
Despite my deep love for the Mega Man franchise as a whole, there’s not much I can say here that hasn’t been said already. While I do care about Mega Man classic, having owned a few of the games in my earlier years, and I’m absolutely thrilled that he’s in the new Super Smash Bros, I have to give it to Mega Man X.
The game has a deeper upgrade system, cooler characters (you can play as Zero in the later installments, which changes the gameplay completely), slightly more advanced story (albeit a little repetitive), and generally more thought-out and engaging gameplay. The addition of wall-jumping and dashing did wonders for the Mega Man series, allowing for greater stage design and exploration. The soundtrack is good too, especially the upgraded one they made for the PSP remake.
Each sequel in the X series managed to only add to the formula, usually for the better. At least, up to a point. Things started getting a little iffy on the tail-end of the series, but not altogether bad.
One of my favorite aspects is simply using Zero, particularly in X4 when he was introduced as a playable character. It’s definitely more difficult to use him, since it requires you to get up close and personal, making bosses a far greater threat, but the victories are more satisfying. Plus all of his attack names stay in the original Japanese, giving him a mild, samurai flavor to complement his various forms of swordplay.
However, Sigma, the recurring final boss in every X game, is consistently one of the most infuriating opponents I’ve ever faced in a video game. I wasn’t able to beat him in the original X game for almost fifteen years! Even then, I had to sit down, and in a very pointed and determined manner, aim to defeat Sigma. It took me three hours of memorizing his battle patterns, gathering the required health supplements, trying, failing, and mastering Mega Man’s mobility and speed before I finally toppled that evil, evil boss character.
Both series are so good yet … For me it comes down to the soundtrack. As trivial as that may seem to most of you, it makes all the difference to me.
Mega Man 2 and 3 alone outshine the soundtrack of any Mega Man X game. Also, I find the simplicity of the first six Mega Mans to be more inviting than Mega Man X. Call me what you want, but I prefer my 2D Mega Man games simple. I wish we had done Mega Man vs. Mega Man X vs. Mega Man EXE as the Battle Network series is by far my favorite.
Which series is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Wesley Wood is an aspiring film director. He would love to make GOOD films to help spread God's word and help Christians grow.
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