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  • Angst? What Angst?: When X confronts any of the former Maverick Hunters it basically boils down to "How could you do this? We were friends/allies!" then "You're a Maverick, now die!"
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Sigma's final form. Unlike in the first game where he was immune to the Hadoken, it works on him here. Alternatively, if you skipped the buster upgrade in the normal stages to get the Zero Buster in the fortress, it does four damage to Sigma, even more than his weakness, Rolling Shield, so it'll only take eight charge shots to put him down. Sigma's attacks also have more blatant tells thanks to being attached to his body instead of being floating platforms and glowing eyes, his hands can be wall-climbed up to if they're not against the walls, and his new Desperation Attack is insanely slow and leaves him helplessly open to taking damage. If you can beat the original version's fight, he's been so nerfed that it's more like a Curbstomp Battle here.
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    • Unlike in the original, where it's a borderline Goddamned Boss, the RT-55J mini-boss in Sting Chameleon's stage is complete pushover in this game and can be defeated with a measly two Storm Tornadoes.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • By the time Mega Man X8 came along, the motives of reploid evolution of the series Big Bad, Sigma, seemed to barely resemble the original Kill All Humans motives from the early games. This game, and the Continuity Reboot in general, were planned to bridge the early games to the later ones by solidifying the overall plot to Sigma's obsession with evolving reploidkind through X over trying to wipe out mankind.
    • Over the course of the X series, the focus of the series' lore and characterization shifted more towards Zero and away from X. While Zero himself was and still is a fan-favorite character within the franchise, several fans were becoming unhappy that the main protagonist had a shrinking role in the plot compared to Zero and that he was growing notorious for delivering "why must we fight?" speeches every game. This game and its accompanying Day of Sigma OVA put much more Character Focus on X, re-emphasizing his role as the template of all Reploids, showing how his "unlimited potential" inspired Sigma's plot to Take Over the World, and giving much more depth to his Martial Pacifist nature.
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  • Complete Monster (includes prologue OVA The Day of Σ): Sigma himself is the leader of the Maverick uprising, and a dangerous madman obsessed with unleashing Reploidkind's true potential. Once the respected commander of the Maverick Hunters, Sigma would orchestrate the hacking of enormous industrial robots and unleash them on cities, allowing them to kill plenty of humans and Reploids alike before mobilizing his Hunters to shut them down. When X and Zero expose him as a traitor, Sigma decides to test the pacifistic X's resolve by using Zero as a Human Shield and goading X into killing him by shooting through his friend. When X can't bring himself to fire, Sigma nearly kills Zero and goes on to annihilate the highly-populated Abel City with a missile bombardment. A merciless lunatic who's willing to abuse and kill his fellow Reploids in his bid to speed along their evolution, Sigma can only laugh maniacally over the bombed-out ruins of Abel City as he gleefully anticipates the coming battle against X.
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  • Evil Is Cool: Confirmed by Word of God to be the reason Vile was made playable instead of the more obvious choice of Zero.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Ever wondered why they gave Vile the ability to perform Rocket Punches and take off his arm to fire missiles from his elbow? Seems a bit random. Until you remember one of Vile's most iconic weapons is the knee bomb he drops by opening up his leg. Makes sense that he'd be able to open up other parts of his body to attack too. Like Zero said in X1, Vile truly is "designed to be a war machine."
  • Game-Breaker:
    • All of X's Game-Breakers from the original, such as Storm Tornado and charged Rolling Shield, are pretty much just as powerful here.
    • Vile's default Punch, Go-Getter Right, is one of his best Arm weapons. Distance Needler is also very powerful.
  • Good Bad Bugs: When Vile uses a shoulder-mounted or leg-mounted weapon while jumping in the air, it will cause him to hover in midair for a few moments. With careful timing with a low cost weapon, it's possible to make Vile continuously use his weapons and edge forward in the air, allowing him to move horizontally long distances without ever descending.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Dr. Cain appears to die at the end of The Day of ∑; however, since there was no actual death shown, and Dr. Cain used to have a role in the original release of Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3, which were originally intended to be made after this game, it's unknown what Dr. Cain's ultimate fate is.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Not a charge shot!?".
    • "Destroy the generator!"
    • "I WON'T LET YOU PUSH MY FRIENDS AROUND LIKE THAT!!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: Sigma officially crosses it when he launches a Macross Missile Massacre against Abel City, even after X disarmed himself and put himself at Sigma's mercy to stop it.
  • Narm:
    • The soulless boss refight version of Chill Penguin is hard to take seriously when all his Boss Banter is replaced with a lifeless "Waah." Unless he gets set on fire, in which case it breaks him out of his lifeless stupor just long enough to elicit his usual surprised "WAAH!"
    • The fact that Sting Chameleon's mocking banter mostly sounds like he's making cat noises at the player.
    • Instead of Bosspider just lowering to the ground each time it comes down, the animations here make it look like it suddenly trips and smashes into the ground when it reaches the end of its path, complete with a faceplant.
    • The scene where Sigma changes into his One-Winged Angel form seems to have been changed to remove the mystery aspect because Sigma fights having two phases would not be a surprise even to newcomers, but the way it was changed turns it into hilarity. In the original game, Sigma dies like a normal Maverick, but the end of the explosion animation shows that his head remains and then it floats up to the head of his new form. In the remake, Sigma does not explode so he can have more dialogue, and then his head just... detaches from his body, which explodes in a small spray of sparks.
      • To cement the silliness, we then get a close-up of Sigma's original head floating in liquid in the larger head, as he calls "it's not over yet, X! The battle! The angst! The destruction!"
    • The Day of Sigma OVA isn't exempt from this either. Chill Penguin barking out serious orders and complaining about X with his awkward high pitch is just plain hilarious, and when Sigma orders X to lay down his arms due to his lack of a will to fight, this results in X literally dropping the X-Buster arm off of his body.
  • Narm Charm: Vile acts like an edgy child for most of the game, whining about X getting all the attention and rudely dissing every other character he meets. But there's something about his voice actor's realistic frustration, his faceless helmet, and his hammy lines that make him a joy to watch despite all this.
  • Special Effects Failure: The boss deaths. Not only is the explosion effect itself less than impressive, the boss is clearly visible lying there for a few seconds after the explosion, and then just disappears.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Trying to get the Heart Tank in Spark Mandrill's level.
    • To a lesser extent, the Subtank in Boomerang Kuwanger's level as well, as you'll need his weapon to get it, so you can't take the weapon and beat him in one run.
    • Getting the Heart Tank in Storm Eagle's stage as Vile, which requires the player to be in a Ride Armor, obtained from the tower (the same tower where Vile gets his heart tank from the roofs) and explode the Ride Armor in the right place. This takes into account that Vile's ride armor has a time limit.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Making Vile a legitimate intro boss instead of a Hopeless Boss Fight, which many find ruins the emotional impact of the original scene (having the player lose to establish that they need to become stronger).
    • Some players weren't fans of the swapped Dr. Light capsule locations. In the original you could go to Chill Penguin's stage to get the dash and take out the easiest boss while you're at it, but now it's been moved to Flame Mammoth's stage, putting it out of the way. The other capsules also have a certain order in which you can get them (ex. you can't get the head upgrade without the leg upgrade), limiting some of your freedom of choice.
    • To a lesser extent, the fact that the player doesn't destroy the airship in Storm Eagle's stage before fighting Storm Eagle in freefall, instead simply fighting him atop the intact, still-operational airship.
  • Too Cool to Live: S-Rank Maverick Hunter Zero: subverted by this point in that it's a known fact that he doesn't stay dead.
  • Vindicated by History: Upon release, fans compared the game unfavorably towards X1. Over time, however, fans came to realize that it's one of the most solid X games released and can appreciate it for what it did right, such as the inclusion of a playable Vile, the new characterization of Sigma, and putting the spotlight back on X after it was stolen by Zero during the PSX era. With the great drought of Mega Man X titles, it also makes fans now wish that the Maverick Hunter X series had caught on, for the sake of remakes for the rest of the games.
  • What an Idiot!: It's implied that Zero figured out Sigma's treachery before he revealed his betrayal, but he never bothers to tell X; something which, frankly, costs him dearly.
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