Gamecube Review: Mega Man X Collection

In the summer of 2004, CAPCOM’s Mega Man Anniversary Collection (MMAC) brought a tear to the eyes of many a gamer who reveled in the innovation and tight game play the Blue Bomber has brought to us since the earlier days of the NES. Not only did the compilation give us all eight games in the original series, but it added a bunch of extras such as segments of the animated series, extra artwork and bonus games. Now after much delay and speculation, the futuristic Mega Man X finds itself thrown into the collection treatment and the result is mediocre at best.

Originally, CAPCOM had no current plans to release a collection based off the X series, but after much demand, we now have the first six Mega Man X games on one disc. The rush to put the game on the market results in extremely bland menus to navigate - while it’s straightforward and quick to use, it lacks the substance and flash the interactive menus from MMAC featured. There was so little emphasis put on the menus, it seems the programmers forgot to add 2006 to the title screen instead of 2005, based on the original November release date.

Yeah, that’s mighty critical of me, but why did I notice this you ask? Because I sat staring at the title screen for about two minutes waiting for something to happen. No special intro video, no clever teasers into the game, nothing; and that’s the premise of this disc. Mega Man X Collection is nothing more than a collection - you get the six X games and pretty much nothing else. While most of the X series can hang on its own, the lack of any sort of shiny, decorative wrapping paper serves up as a real bummer to the tried-and-true fans who will be expecting an entire world of extras. Sure, you have the average-at-best Rockman Battle and Chase with flat game play and extremely outdated graphics, but aside from that, all you have is a bunch of artwork and no real incentives to unlock everything.

The emulation is handled extremely well as the X games have been shoveled over from the 16-bit and 32-bit originals in pixel-perfect form. Even Mega Man X2's C4 chip was faithfully rendered in, providing the wire framing and rotation effects shown throughout the game. As an added bonus, CAPCOM opted to go with the 32-bit version of X3, released at the advent of the Playstation and Saturn, which added anime cut scenes and cd-quality music to the series. The sound is just as spot-on and the extra power in the current-generation systems essentially cuts out all the slowdown experienced in the cartridge versions of the game and load times are virtually non-existent.

Since the collection depends on the games themselves, the dilemma of whether or not Mega Man X Collection is worth thirty dollars arises. At seven total games on the disc, after paying tax, the bottom line is you’re paying about five bucks a game, which isn’t half bad. But on the same token it isn’t half good either as, much like the original Mega Man series, the longer the series drags on, the stinkier it gets. The storylines become more and more incoherent as the series goes on and by X4, I swear the developers started getting robot master names by throwing darts at random pages in the dictionary - in fact, I hear Anorexic Anteater and Flammable Toaster just missed the cut in the series. Having X-X6 on the same disc gives us the good (X, X2, X3), the alright (X4, X5) and the “wtf?” (X6).

CAPCOM patched up the nagging control issues of MMAC for the Nintendo Gamecube by switching the default jump and shoot controls to their natural order. However, the options menus in the game will accommodate whatever control scheme you wish to implement. The extra options, while they are commonplace in just about any game, really fix the major fault of the previous collection. Being able to switch around the control scheme may come in handy as having the default jump, shoot and dash spread across three buttons on the same plane on the controller may provide to be a thumb-stretcher for some players.

Basically, what the decision to buy Mega Man X Collection comes down to is how much you enjoyed the X series. The collection gives players a faithful re-creation of the original six games, but not much else. It seems this disc was a means for CAPCOM to give yammering X fans a reason to quiet down, as not much effort was put into the collection aside from porting X’s first six adventures to the current-gen systems. The addition of the Battle and Chase game adds a little charm to the title, but not enough to make it shine like Anniversary Collection . While X Collection shows how great the series kicked off, it unfortunately also shows how stale the series has become. Providing a mix of good and bad, Mega Man X Collection will serve the true X-heads and collectors alike, but casual gamers may find the absurd plot lines and progressively difficult game play a little detouring.

Mega Man X Collection is a rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: Playstation 2. Games in this collection can also be found on: SNES, Playstation and Saturn.

(*** out of *****)

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