The Mega Man
games on the NES were really good action games that mixed platforming with shooting, and had tight level design, fun bosses, and clever enemy placement. But they were starting to all feel the same after a while, with only slight differences between each game, and the series needed an overhaul.
Mega Man X
is that overhaul.
I remember being blown away when I first played that game. The music was funky, the graphics were sharp and detailed, but the gameplay is where it shined through. Basically, the core of Mega Man
has been kept, but the mechanics were updated considerably.
The platforming benefited heavily from new abilities such as the dash and being able to slide down and jump off of walls. They add a bit more depth to the platforming, but even more to the fighting. Clinging to a wall to shoot at enemies, dash-jumping off a wall over an enemy, and jumping from wall to wall, only to stop to let an attack pass by, are all actions that are unheard of in the classic Mega Man
series, but which soon become second nature as the action in Mega Man X
What's more impressive is just how dynamic many of the levels are. In one level which scrolls in all directions, a submarine sits at the top of the water. If you jump on top of the submarine and destroy it, it'll not only fall to the bottom of the ocean, but actually tear a path through the ground, all in realtime. You can either ride the submarine through the path or cling to a wall and watch it go down, or just ignore it. No scripted events here; it all flows naturally. Other levels seem designed to take advantage of the greater abilities of the Super NES without feeling gimmicky. For example, one level has lights go on and off intermittently at one point, while enemies with lightbulbs attached fly by at points, leaving a streak of light behind them.
As both a sequel to a series, and a reboot, Mega Man X
does everything it should do: it takes what made the original so much fun in the first place and updates it in a way that feels like a natural extension. It's both a great game and a great sequel.