Sunday, September 11, 2011

Megaman X4

The next generation of Megaman X!

All three of the Mega Man X games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System were massive hits, and Capcom had become an established name in the gaming industry at this point. The Mega Man fan base was as strong as ever and demanding more. Capcom would soon deliver us Mega Man X4, much to our surprise, on the Sony PlayStation. Mega Man X4 would be the first in the series to delve into the characters' back stories, notably Sigma and Zero, but I won't spoil that stuff for you guys, you'll have to play it for yourself!

THE STORY: Depending on which character you play as, you'll get a few different cut scenes and additions to the plot. You'll have to play as both characters to get the whole package, so to speak. But there is an all-encompassing plot to go along with it. After the events of Mega Man X3, Dr. Cain builds a military force for reploids to aid the Maverick Hunters, called the Repliforce. Repliforce is constantly putting pressure on Mavericks and suspect Mavericks, but Dr. Cain starts to finds their actions a little questionable, so he sends X and Zero to investigate. The floating city known as Sky Lagoon is attacked, and X and Zero are dispatched to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, they arrive to late and Sky Lagoon is destroyed, falling into a major populated city and killing millions. X and Zero meet with Repliforce's Colonel, and ask him to lay down his and the Repliforce's weapons. The Colonel refuses, and The Maverick Hunters brand the Repliforce as Mavericks. Meanwhile, the General of Repliforce is conducting meetings with a cloaked figure who claims that the Maverick Hunters are a threat to Repliforce, and that X and Zero must be destroyed. Thus, the battle against the Repliforce begins, while Zero has taken a liking to the Colonel's sister, and soon becomes his love interest.

THE GAMEPLAY: Mega Man X4 is the first in the series to allow you to pick who you wanna play as at the start of the game. You can choose to play either as Mega Man X, or his long-time partner, Zero. Mega Man X plays as he always has, having the ability to dash by double-tapping forward on the directional pad, or by pressing Circle. He can also still cling to and slide down walls. The game starts off with an intro stage, as the past three Mega Man X games have. It's to get new players used to the game and give them a feel for it. After that, you have 8 stages to choose from, each with it's own Maverick boss. Throughout a stage, you can find heart tanks, which increases X's or Zero's (depending who you play as) maximum health bar. Four of the stages also contain upgrades for X's armor that will make him take less damage, shoot more powerful charged shots, air dash, etc. Also, within the game you can find what are known as Sub Tanks. There used to be four of them in each game, but the number as dwindled to just two for whatever reason. Once you have a Sub Tank, you can fill it with excess health energy by picking up health when X and Zero's life bars are full. Once at the end of that stage, you face off against a Maverick boss. Once you defeat it, you gain their special weapon. X typically shoots them out like projectiles, whereas Zero obtains new skills for his lightsaber. 

Also, each Maverick boss is weak to another Maverick's weapon, meaning they take tons more damage if you hit them with the right one. After a couple of play throughs, this can make the game go much faster once you know the order of weaknesses. Zero plays a lot like X, in that he can dash, get new abilities from bosses, and cling to walls. However, he also gets no armor upgrades in this game unless you use a cheat code, which is an homage to Mega Man X2. After defeating all eight bosses, you'll get to go through the final stages of the game, which you can't save between. And also remember, as is par for the course in this franchise, spikes will kill you instantly.

THE GRAPHICS: Thankfully with this game, they got the graphics transition right again, unlike when the classic series made it to the Super Nintendo. The graphics have gotten a nice upgrade since the SNES generation, and the character models are 3-D rendered. X and Zero aren't massive sprites on a crowded screen. Also, there are several anime style, fully animated cut scenes. These look fantastic and almost straight out of a real anime. They also had a clever trick in this game to seemingly decrease the amount of loading screens. 

Normally there would be a loading screen before a boss fight, but instead they make the word "WARNING" flash across the screen while the boss data is loading. All of the bosses look fantastic in this game too, great character design. All of the backgrounds and environments look fantastic too. You can tell they were working on this game some time before it's released, because you can really see all of the effort they put into the game.

THE SOUND: The music in this game most assuredly sounds appropriate for this generation of Mega Man X. It's fairly dark and atmospheric, and it's good without having to be catchy like some of the games in the classic series. The voice acting is pretty good too, it would've been nice if they had included it in the actual game with the dialogue, instead of just cut scenes. Though you will hear some grunts and stuff like "TIME TO GET SERIOUS!", and the bosses will often say something before you fight them as well.
This clip is also really catchy! 

OVERALL: Mega Man X4 is a fantastic game that changed the series forever in a few small but good ways, most notably being able to play as Zero for the entire game. Being brought down to two Sub Tanks isn't a problem, and gives the game a slightly higher challenge than the older ones. It's a must play and a must have for any fan of the Mega Man X series.


SYSTEM: Play Station, Sega Saturn, PC



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