The Mega Man X Collection contains better-than-perfect ports of the first six entries of the series, three from the SNES and three from the PlayStation, along with Mega Man Battle and Chase as a bonus.
Clearly, this title is aimed at a niche market-and a devout one, at that-but that’s not to take away from the fact that this collection contains some of the best classic, two-dimensional action out there. And it’s all budget priced at $30.
The Mega Man series has always meant platforming and shooting in its robotic science fiction setting. Mega Man X could best be described as the older, classic series grown-up, as progressing and finding power-ups become a bit more complex. Of course, at the time, it also meant Mega Man reborn on the better-looking SNES.
More importantly, the series boasts a darker science fiction storyline, taking place after the old series in a world where reploids (or human-like robots) have trouble being at peace with mankind, as X and his partner Zero are part of a force that struggles to eliminate Mavericks, or anti-human reploids, who are led by the villain, Sigma. When fans reminisce, the remarkably intricate story is half of the discussion, which is amazing considering the genre.
The Mega Man X series always featured wonderfully snappy controls for its platforming and shooting (especially the PS entries) and the overall game design is generally top-notch and loaded with character. The graphics and music make lasting impressions on those who enjoy the series.
The original, X2 and X4 are decidedly the strongest, and are each absolute classics in the genre. Like the old series, the gameplay revolved around selecting eight stages ending with a boss character, and upon defeating him, X could steal his weapon-an amazingly fun concept unique to the Mega Man series. X4 hit the roof as it was the first to allow play as both X and Zero, his sword-wielding ally, and featured arguably the most impressive plot ever seen in this genre.
Now, suppose for a moment that George Lucas quit after Empire Strikes Back, right before the concluding episode, and left in the hands of someone else with a third of the budget. This is basically what happened with Mega Man X5 and 6. It is seldom argued to the contrary that these are the weakest sequels in the collection since the original game, the intricate story, ending the episodes on notes of foreshadowing, promised to conclude in amazing style (after the incredible X4).
Inafune (the series’ creator), it turns out, took off after X4, and so X5 concluded the story in the weakest way imaginable, while the game itself made all kinds of experiments that actually made a Mega Man game confusing to play, even for its fans.
X6 is generally considered to be a disgrace, and for sure, it is excruciating to play through with the sheer amount of unnecessary complications the new team (even worse than X5) put on the game systems. That, and the level design wasn’t exactly at its peak in either of these.
However, when replaying these games for the collection, I actually managed to have quite a bit of fun with these games once I understood how they worked (on my third time through or so), as the games are far from insincere efforts.
Battle and Chase, something of a bonus, could be called the equivalent of Mario Kart for Mega Man, but it would be good to keep in mind that the reason this PlayStation title was never before released in the United States, was because it couldn’t pass Sony of America’s “quality standards.”
The 3-D engine is primitive even by PS standards and is hard to swallow today, but still, for what it is, I find it passable fun. The PS definitely saw much, much worse.
Mega Man X Collection is one terrific retro-fix. What’s more, the emulations actually eliminate slowdown that ocurred during intense action in the SNES games, and the collection features some solid extras.
Old-school fans, or anyone remotely interested in the genre, should consider this a requirement for their collections.