The Duck is a frequent latecomer to video games. Nevertheless, I have been trying with all due diligence to right this wrong by catching up on a lot of the games I had been missing out on, namely those on the SNES and PS1, with a bit of Sly Cooper thrown in. Future plans include the Crash Bandicoot trilogy on the PS4, along with hoping that the same will happen with the original Spyro games so I can find a more convenient way to play them, as well. The most recent series I have tried…Mega Man.
Though I had heard of plenty of people who enjoyed the old Mega Man games from the NES and SNES era (Mega Man is, after all, a recent addition to Super Smash Bros), I was not truly motivated to give the games a try until recently, when one of our most loyal viewers on Youtube, Ehrisaia O’Shannon, requested that I play Mega Man X for the Super Nintendo. Long story short, I did indeed record the game, the playlist for which can be found here. Now that I’ve played through my very first Mega Man game, I wanted to write up a quick post detailing my thoughts. But before we begin, allow me to explain that I knew next to nothing about the series starting out, aside from the fact that you could typically fight the bosses in any order and that the early games were quite difficult. With nothing else to go on, here are my impressions of Mega Man X.
First of all, it was clear from the very first level that this game was indeed as tough as everyone said, a fact that only grew all the more apparent once I progressed beyond that initial stage and had eight bosses to choose from. It was at this point that I spent hours trying out different levels and struggling against bosses that kicked my butt like a mouse in a boxing match with a lion. After countless failures, I began to have very real doubts that this was a game I would be able to complete, though I was pleased that my time with Mega Man X became a bit easier with each new weapon I acquired. Good, old-fashioned practice certainly helped, too.
Another major thing that stood out to me was how easy X is to control. (You may notice that during my entire playthrough, I refer to him as Mega Man. I guess this is inaccurate, but I didn’t know any better….) This game features both action-packed fighting and old-school platforming, but unlike a lot of games that incorporate frustrating platforming that only slows the game down (Kingdom Hearts…), this game has a great way to fix that. Basically, X is a pro at wall-jumping. This may sound like a small thing, but it made a big difference for me. Little mistakes would not result in death because you could often save yourself thanks to this simple, but useful ability. This means that you can focus first and foremost on fighting your enemies and don’t have to worry so much about suffering from a bunch of cheap deaths simply because you misjudged a jump and fell in a pit.
There is also a lot of variety in this game, and I mean this in several ways. First, and most obviously, X can eventually gain a decent plethora of weapons, such as Shotgun Ice, which can fire icy projectiles that can bounce, thus hitting enemies in front of you as well as behind, not to mention a flamethrower, homing missiles, boomerangs, etc. Once you gain the ability to charge all of these weapons, you are granted even more possibilities, such as a shield that can kill weak enemies on contact or the ability to go right through tougher enemies without taking damage.
In addition to a fun collection of weapons, gameplay is varied, as well. Not only do you have a variety of enemies to fight and the occasional bouts of challenging platforming, but you will face other obstacles, as well. One example includes Spark Mandrill’s stage, which has frequent blackouts, not to mention lightning-fast enemies that will zip across the screen with very little time to react until you learn when they will appear. (I think I enjoyed this level because it reminded me a little of Blackout Basement from Donkey Kong Country.) Another example involves blinking lasers that will trigger enemies to fire at you and a rather bothersome wall you must scale in one of the game’s final levels. These obstacles can be kind of annoying, unless you employ a little bit of strategy, in which case, these challenges are quite easy to overcome.
Boss battles are also tough, frantic affairs. I have never been very good at staying on my toes, but thanks to X’s wall jumping and dash abilities, this is one of the few games in which I have become semi-adept at moving about the screen and dodging enemy attacks with something that can almost be mistaken for skill. (You should’ve seen how I fought bosses in Super Metroid. I mainly planted myself in one spot out of sheer stubbornness or ran around with no rhyme or reason in the hopes that my foe would miss me.) For me, the fact that I was able to overcome my typical lack of reaction time made the game a lot more fun than it would have otherwise been.
My only criticisms include the following. One, I wish X could crouch or shoot in other directions than simply straight ahead. Two, the sub-tanks, bonus items that can store energy in order to recover your health at a later time, can potentially make the game too easy. These are truly a lifesaver in the Sigma Stages leading up to the final boss, but as far as the earlier stages go, I think they would have been really simple, provided I had been aware of what sub-tanks did at this point in the game. That’s right, it was not until I neared the game’s finale that it occurred to me that these optional power-ups actually did something. But boy, if I had known I could effectively sport a maximum of five health bars rather than just one, I would have had no trouble defeating bosses that otherwise caused me a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with Mega Man X. I am also quite proud to have finally played a game in the Mega Man series. Despite the absurd degree of challenge I faced early on when very few weapons were available to me, I enjoyed the game’s difficulty level and the strategy involved in the bosses and certain stages. Whether or not I play any more Mega Man games in the future…I believe there’s a good chance I might, and I think the Mega Man Legacy Collections on the PS4 might be the perfect way to catch up on the series. Perhaps come Christmas time, I will have the pleasure of playing through a bunch more Mega Man goodness. By the way, it was thanks to the review below that the Mega Man Legacy Collections were brought to my attention. Thanks, Mr. Panda!
Video by Youtube User: Mr. Panda
So, dear readers, who here has played the Mega Man games? What are your thoughts on the series? Which games are your favorites? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Screenshot taken by the Duck of Indeed