Gamecube Review: Mega Man X Collection

If Capcom ever manages to enter an encyclopedia, the definition will be brief:

Classic video game company with a notorious reputation for milking franchises. Also see "Mega Man."

Used and abused, Mega Man is a staple of the industry, though sadly one whose stock is slowly sliding. The spin-offs are out of control, which makes these compilations all the more appealing to remember the days when the series was on top. The X series began on the Super NES, bringing with a darker, slightly harder edge to the series. It would work for four games, and then disaster hit.

It's easy to see the incredibly fast decline with this set. Mega Man X through X3 would appear on the Super NES, while X3 would also nab a Playstation port outside the US. X4 was an early 32-bit title, and X5 and X6 would come in late during around the period where the Playstation would begin a slow, painful death.

The first four games here are the ones you're buying this set for. These are classic action platformers, with superb boss fights, great secrets, and that undeniable "feel" that made these games memorable. Sadly, X5 isn't just a low point for the series; it's one of the worst in the history of Mega Man games. It's so damaging, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune doesn't acknowledge it. The idea of tossing randomly generated levels into a 2-D platformer is beyond terrible, and being stuck in countless situations where there's literally no way to succeed is infuriating. X6 would pick things back up with new characters, weapons, and back-to-basics level design.

It's hard to find fault in the emulation here. Aside from a few graphical glitches (which in no way affect the gameplay), you'll have a hard time telling the difference between these and the originals. All the passwords still work as you remember them (for games that used them). As an additional bonus, beating X through X3 unlocks Mega Man Battle Chase, a kart racer that stayed in Japan. It holds up nicely for its first US release, with some enjoyable -albeit basic- mechanics.

The critical flaw in this set is a total lack of extra features. Aside from a small art gallery and some extra music, there's nothing. A few brief interview segments go a long way to enhancing the experience, and who wouldn't want a personal apology for X5? It's also probably necessary to note that this is a not a complete set as X7 and X8 appeared on the PS2. You'll need to buy those separately to get the entire saga.

It's arguable that aside from ensuring the emulation feels right, there's little reason to dissect something like this. The rabid fans who continue to devour this series will be happy to have the entire set in one spot, either because they missed a few of these games or because they can finally ditch that complete copy of X3 on eBay for an exuberant sum (especially for a game not all that rare in the first place). Either way, you're getting what you pay for and nothing more.

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

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