Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mega Man X3 (Super NES, 1995)

The end of the Super NES trilogy arrives with a bang. This is by far my least favorite of the three as it fixes a lot of what wasn't broken to begin with (while breaking the boss AI). Join me as I slog through it for your amusement.




The story for this one is actually pretty interesting. The mysterious Dr. Doppler, a reploid, has brought peace to the world by finding a way to suppress Maverick rampages. This weird, scary mind control is horrifying, but I'm sure it's A-Okay to the maverick-hating X.

In any case, after subduing the population by controlling their brains, Doppler founds a city for reploids, then... turns them all into his evil subjects and sends them out on a rampage. Wait, so he ended the war so that he could get all the reploids under his wing, then he turned around and unleashed them again? What?

It does make some sense, though. Maybe Doppler really was benevolent when he ended the conflict, but then Sigma (or Wily) infected him and turned everything back around again by unleashing Doppler's army.

X and Zero are swingin' into action! I don't know if we needed to see Zero's penis though.

These weird insect-mechs are descending upon the Maverick Hunter Base, and our heroes bring them down en route to liberating the city from Doppler's assault.

The music for this first stage is, unsurprisingly, very good. It has a hint of sadness and desperation while being the usual fast-paced tune we get to kick off these games.

Zero goes on one of his adventures. I wish there were side-DLC for these games where you play Zero's levels. In each of the first three X games, he frequently goes off on his own tangents. In Mega Man X he "keeps the main defense force busy" and in Mega Man X2 he "takes out the main computer", among many other things. In future titles you can just play through the whole game as Zero.

X's charged shot looks a little different from the previous two games. I think I like this one more. The super-charged shot later looks great too.

Here's Mac, a maverick hunter who has - get this - turned to the side of evil. He proceeds to trap the super-naive X in an energy net and haul him off to Gitmo. The worst part? Mac is probably a higher hunter rank than X too.

The good news is that now we get to play as Zero for the first time in the series, complete with a very cool theme. His beam saber isn't yet the awesomeness it'd be in Mega Man X4 and beyond, but it exists and it's badass. You can summon Zero throughout the game and play as him temporarily, but the effect is nullified somewhat by the fact that he can't go through doors (which stages usually have several of).

Zero Vs. Mac in the battle of the century! ...well, not so much, as Mac is defeated in a few shots. Look at X helplessly hanging there. X defeated Zero in the previous game and yet they still aren't equal because X inexplicably loses all his upgrades between games (except the dash).

X is okay...on the outside. His pride won't recover any time soon.

The end of the first stage features a fight with a giant Maverick. It...sorta looks like Wily, as the Wily dogwhistles continue. What does a robot need with a mustache?

We arrive at the stage select, which has a great tune accompanying it as usual.

I used to usually go with Toxic Seahorse first, but this time around I'm tackling Blizzard Buffalo first. This stage has the dash boots and a Sub-Tank that can both be acquired right from the get-go. The music here is pretty good, though it depressed me a bit the first time I played this. Probably because the game was a letdown all around, so this apocalyptic snow level just added to the doldrums. Now it strikes me as a decent level.

Towards the end of the stage, a long jump leads to... the boots. Much like Mega Man X2, these give you a sweet air-dash. Not a lot of newness in this game; they reused most of the assets from the previous two.

But wait! There's some newness after all, as you can now dash straight upwards. It's almost like a double jump, but not really...the upward dash has little momentum compared to the horizontal dashes.

After nabbing the Sub-Tank, it's time to fight Blizzard Buffalo. He's a big boy with a big room, much like Flame Mammoth. The good news is that he...dashes back and forth for most of the fight, which is a recurring boss trend in this game as the AI isn't very good.

Yep...lots of dashing back and forth. Sometimes he'll throw ice at you too though. I found that firing a charged shot at him before he starts committing to a move will cause him to retaliate with a dash. It's a little harder to exploit than most of the dash-happy bosses, but it's possible.

I wonder who would win in a fight between Flame Mammoth and Blizzard Buffalo. They'd probably just circle each other while hopping aggressively, like Pokemon.

Next I go after Toxic Seahorse. His level is a sewer...and not a terribly interesting one. While the graphics are great in this game, the art direction is bland at best. The stage layouts don't have much to them and the stages tend to be way too long.

Miniboss time! The minibosses in this game tend to have their own rooms, and they also tend to have very low health pools compared to previous games for some reason.

Toxic Seahorse is easily dispatched by hitting him with icicles and dashing under him as he leaps back and forth aimlessly.

Yep. Lots of dashing back and forth. Well, at least he jumps instead of just sliding across the ground. The AI has gone from suck to blow!

After beating the first two bosses, the X-Hunters Doppler and his gang are unveiled. Bit and Byte are a couple of badasses with stupid names, while Doppler has nefarious plans for reprogramming X to do evil. Also, they're totally Violen, Agile, and Serges respectively.

Oh, and there's a shadowy figure in the room. Who could that be? ...yeah, it's Vile. He's back, and he's looking beefier than before. Apparently he was re-assembled by Dr. Doppler.

And then...he totally gives away that Sigma is back again. They make it so obvious every time that they might as well come out and say his name rather than being all coy and mysterious. Anyone over age 5 has this figured out already.

Tunnel Rhino is the next one I take on. I'd say that this guy, Toxic Seahorse, and Blizzard Buffalo are all reasonable candidates for first boss, making this one of the easier Mega Man games to break into the boss weakness circle on. According to Nintendo Power, Neon Tiger is a good call for first, but I find him a bit tougher.

Another easy Sub-Tank is mine for the taking here. Two down, two to go! I'm not the biggest fan of cave levels, but this one is actually one of the more appealing stages.

Aw shit, here comes Bit. He usually harasses you on whichever third stage you pick, and good luck avoiding him by choosing another. He can somehow be in a bunch of stages at once, you can't see where he is (unlike Mega Man X2), and you can't avoid fighting him (again, unlike Mega Man X2). The good news is that he isn't terribly difficult once you figure him out, but he's definitely a step above the normal bosses. I hate these forced battles because they sap my resources and I'm not prepared for them this early.

Bit is in disbelief. I kinda like his design, very sharp-looking.

Moving on, there's another boss door with a miniboss behind it, and this one is a pain. Luckily it tends to do the same thing over and over again. You could probably jump over it while it dashes back and forth, but it can't turn right and there's no appreciable wall over there anyway.

Tunnel Rhino is the boss of this illustrious stage, and he - get this - dashes back and forth endlessly. Super-easy fight, especially if you have Toxic Seahorse's acid burst.

Time for...uh...I don't know which stage this is. So many of them are generic-looking, and...

...okay, I looked ahead, it's Volt Catfish.

I was terrified when I got to this boss door since I fear Byte, but thankfully he isn't showing up yet.

Volt Catfish is one of the tougher bosses, even with his weakness. Second only to Crush Crawfish out of the eight. In other news...this game has THREE marine creature bosses and yet no water stages.

In any case, Volt Catfish attacks by pretending to be a woman on the internet to fool X.

This stage is...uh... ::looks ahead:: ...Crush Crawfish, the other really tough boss.

Wait, what's this? A capsule? Could it be a teleporter?

Indeed, and it brings you to the filthy sub-world of Vile. This area has super-cool music. It's one of my favorite tracks in the game, maybe even #1.

X is shocked to see his old nemesis return. When everyone's mechanical, a character coming back from the dead isn't quite as amazing.

In any case, what follows is a fight where Vile...you guessed it, dashes back and forth the whole time. Yep.

But wait! He has a second form, and this one actually has good AI! He has multiple attacks and varies up his tactics and everything! What is this sorcery? Well, it isn't sorcery at all...they just cut and pasted his Mega Man X AI.

What follows is a Metroid-style escape sequence.

...it's hard. I think I had one foot on the exit teleporter.

Anyway, back to...uh... ::holds earpiece:: ...Crush Crawfish's very non-aquatic level. Defeating Vile didn't really benefit me in any notable way; it's purely optional. If you defeat him with the weapon he's weak against, you can kill him permanently and not have to fight him in the fortress stages. Same goes for Bit and Byte. Kill one of them for good and you face the other in the fortress stages; kill neither and you face their fusion form; kill both and you fight a substitute boss. Same goes for Vile. Have to use weaknesses to strike the final blow on all counts.

Crush Crawfish is quite a thorn in my side, and even with his weakness it took me multiple runs at this stage to finally take him down. I just had a ton of trouble with him for some reason. Triad Thunder dishes out punishment, but it also requires getting close to him and risking heavy damage from his giant claws.

Next I take on the domain of Neon Tiger, which is probably the prettiest stage in the game. Very nice art here.

It pays to visit this stage much earlier and get the X-Buster upgrade, which lets you fire a super-shot AND charge special weapons.

Miniboss for this stage is a fearsome centipede, again with a fairly weak life pool. I'd like to take a moment to point out the creepy eye in the background; this game is full of background-eyes that seem to be watching everything as it happens. Not sure if all of this surveillance is

A) Sigma infesting the system and being omnipresent
B) Dr. Wily watching things unfold
C) Dr. Doppler watching things unfold
D) The Trump Muslim Registry keping a lookout for neer-do-wells

I dish out the new super-shot against Neon Tiger, who has some badass Vega claws.

Ooh, another very pretty stage. Gravity Beetle is sorta this game's answer to Storm Eagle, an airport level.

Well crap, I knew I couldn't evade Byte forever. He's a total pain to deal with because he launches mines that prevent you from clinging to the walls, and even if you manage to stay on a wall, his charge will knock you down. That's a new mechanic introduced to this game to nerf wall-climbing a bit, and I don't like it one bit.

The good news is that he spends most of the fight...yeah...dashing back and forth. With the Air Dash, it's possible to dart back onto the walls even when his mines are preventing you from jumping to them; the dash supercedes the gravity shift in a way that normal momentum can't. So you have to alter things up a bit to stay on the walls, then just do the same thing over and over as he dashes around like a moron.

After that ordeal with the super-nasty, unavoidable side-boss (which was very late in the stage when I had the most to lose, great game design there), I squeak by to face the actual boss. Gravity Beetle could be interesting, but the Ray Splasher nerfs him into oblivion by interrupting literally all of his attacks.

Now equipped with the special weapon charger, I can get a lot of items that I missed in earlier stages; Tunnel Rhino's stage is a trove once you can charge up the Triad Thunder. Mega Man dishes out a Roman Reigns ground punch and boulders fall from the ceiling. It's awesome.

The helmet upgrade in this game is significantly better than the first two. It tells you which items you have and haven't obtained from each stage AND shows you where they are. Aside from the four pink capsules, which should be avoided at all costs (more on that later), this makes the Whirlwind Item Tour a snap.

Capcom's expensive special FX chip gets utilized here for a wireframe boss; worth every penny, that chip.

After all of that, it's time for the final stage of the eight: Blast Hornet. I like the track for this one a lot, especially the electric guitar slamming.

This stage is some sort of military base, and you find your very own ride armor here. Once you get this, you can summon it at any ride armor platform. Nice. Also, any other ride armors you've found are now selectable at said platforms.

There's the Mega Man X version seen here, a Mega Man X2 version with spikes, a flying version that fires missiles, and a super-unwieldy aquatic version. The aquatic version controls just like the Frog Suit in Super Mario Bros 3, which is funny because it's called Frog Armor in this.

Blast Hornet is a real bastard, and if he stings you, his goons will follow your pheromone trail everywhere.

Gravity Beetle's weapon turns this into a joke, as is tradition. It basically stunlocks him. At least he doesn't dash back and forth.

We get a short but very cool tune as our heroes talk to Dr. Cain about the problems at hand.

But first, time to finish the whirlwind tour of item-grabbing. The armor upgrade is a big passive boost and it's weird that I usually get it so late in these games. It just isn't much of a priority to me for some reason; I prefer to try not to get hit by bosses to begin with (as opposed to stage-traversing where I sometimes plow through everything).

Here's a pink capsule. These increase the potency of various armor parts (head, armor, weapon, boots) and give you awesome new abilities. DON'T TAKE THEM, EVER. If you do, you're stuck with one upgrade forever (though you can switch to another if you want, you can't ever have more than one).

Get to the first fortress stage without any pink capsule pickups and you can get all of them.

Quick shot of the Mega Man X2 variety of ride armor. I used to like this one a lot, now I think I like the traditional variety more.

Before I go to the fortress, it's worth taking a quick look at the Zero summon. It's hidden on page two of the weapon select screen where people (like me the first few hours that I played this) might never find it, but it's there.

Zero is an unmitigated badass, with dual charged shots and a beam saber to slash things with.

He decimates everything in his path and I think any energy you acquire goes to X's Sub-Tanks, which can be helpful. Otherwise, this is an extremely limited boon, since Zero can only be controlled until the next miniboss/boss door (so one third of one stage at a time...outstanding).

Finally, the fortress stage begins. I didn't get a shot of the stage select once the fortress appears, but it's quite underwhelming. It's basically a hole in the ground. Compared to the massive north pole fortress of X2 or the giant Sigma head of X1, this is...mehhh. The stage itself is underwhelming too. Looks like some kind of scrap-collecting facility.

Midway through the stage, our hero encounters a...er...dinosaur head thing? Zero makes an appearance to stop the roof from coming down while X blasts the "boss" a few times. Man, the minibosses in this game are so underpowered.

Zero then leaves to do...whatever it is that Zero does when the cameras aren't rolling.

Late in the stage there's a hidden pink capsule...if you get there with full health. It's important to not take any hits in this last section of the stage, lest the capsule not appear. This is the one you want.

And by "the situation", he means "this game". The Gold Chip, as I call it, gives you the power of all four pink capsules, and it's a complete game-changer.

Here's a quick rundown of what the Gold Chip gives you:

-Helmet: Now you regen health when standing still, which means filling your Sub-Tanks easily
-Armor: Damage reduction goes from 50% to 75%
-Boots: You can now dash TWICE while in midair, which means two Air Dashes, a Dash Jump into an Air Dash, a Wall Dash-Jump into an Air Dash, two Upward Air Dashes in a row, or any number of other maneuvers that would make Tony Hawk do a double-take.
-Weapon: You now have a weapon meter for charged shots specifically that fills as you take damage; once it's full, you can unleash charged shots without charging until you run out of weapon energy, and this usually means ten or so fully charged shots.

If I had to play the game sans Gold Chip and only get one of these...eh, probably the Helmet, though the Boots are the most fun. Filling Sub-Tanks is extremely tedious in this game without the regen ability.

These two jag-offs show up to harass our hero at the end of the level. Joke's on them, as I'm now equipped with THE GOLD CHIP.

...oh shit. They perform the Fusion Dance and become Godkarmachine O' Inary, an oddly-named Egyptian death god mech. It's quite powerful but it isn't terribly mobile. This fight is the debut of the fortress boss theme, which is one of the tunes I like from this game. It's an appropriate theme for fighting bulldoze-y bosses like this one. Unfortunately it's just as repetitive as most of the music in this game.

The second stage is nearly as uninteresting as the first, though it does have some annoying vertical spike-lined hallways. If you play the game a certain way, this stage is the end of the line for Zero. Yep, he can actually die, which nets you the Beam Saber. It's a fun tool to play around with and does massive damage to bosses. I don't like to let Zero die, though, so I generally go without it.

Fun Fact: Mega Man X6, the conclusion of the second trilogy (and weakest link, again), also gives X the Beam Saber. Interesting. I guess it's a go-to idea when they run out of other ideas.

Side Note: I wish we'd gotten a trilogy-cap for the PS2 games too. Where Mega Man X9 at?

The boss of Fortress Stage 2 is Vile, and he's equipped with Hulkbuster ride armor. The good news is that all he does is... dash back and forth.

Yeah.

Defeat him in the mech and you fight him outside of it, yet again. He's much more difficult without the mech, and again it's because of that copied-over AI from the original Mega Man X.

After that, it's time for the boss rush. Weird, usually you get this right before the final boss; this game does it right before the penultimate boss instead.

Defeat the eight bosses again (and marvel at how much stronger your character is now after a whirlwind tour and a Gold Chip installation) and you're face-to-face with Dr. Doppler. This guy still isn't significant at all to the series and I still wish he were Dr. Wily instead.

So, if he's been watching my battles, does that mean he's behind all the stage-eyes? If so...why is there a stage eye in this room too? WHO WATCHES THE WATCHERS?

Whoa, that's...scary.

Dr. Doppler is a bit of a badass, which is to be expected since earlier he told Vile that he could obliterate him at will. He does this cool fire-dash attack and possesses the ability to regenerate health if you hit him while his shield is up. He's an annoying boss; Acid Burst does a ton of damage to him though.

Once defeated, he goes from being an evil mastermind who says vicious things to...being a super-nice guy who just wants to help. Yeah.

In any case, he's never seen again (unless you let Zero die, in which case Doppler sacrifices himself to help X at the end). Onward to the final stage, which is a creepy little stage. We can see Sigma's new body floating in the background.

Zero goes off on another generator-destroying mission, like the previous game. Godspeed, Zero-sama. I'll just go fight Sigma by myself, AS USUAL.

Sigma challenges X to what is essentially a duel. He's got a shield this time, which is a little odd. We've gone from lightsaber to Vega claws to...shield. His other hand is now a fireball-launcher, so he's basically a wizard class.

This fight has a great tune...very intense. Also very repetitive.

Victory is a matter of double-dashing over his head to the far wall, where he can't easily attack. From here, fire at him with charged shots or Spinning Blades. If you don't know this tactic, the fight is insanely hard; his attacks are super-fast and do a massive amount of damage.

Defeat Sigma yet again and he becomes Kaiser Sigma, his own Hulkbuster form. Aside from a devastating half-screen laser and generally OP attacks, Kaiser Sigma isn't TOO bad. Just aim a little above the head with charged shots (aim for the goofy WoW shoulderpads).

After beating THAT form, Sigma despairs at his inability to defeat X in any of his bodies. At that point he goes to Plan Ginyu, becoming the Bishop of Battle and attempting to possess our hero. There's also lava. I used to hate this part as I furiously tried to stay ahead of the lava, but now I know how easy it actually is. Turns out the lava barely hurts you (as opposed to being insta-death, which it appears to be at first). So you can just stand in it and ride out the "fight", making this the equivalent of Sephiroth's shirtless final form in Final Fantasy VII. Just need to stay in the middle of the screen so those ceiling edges on the sides don't crush you.

After climbing the passage, X is cornered. Sigma is really losing it now. I wish we got more of Wireframe Sigma in the later games, since this seems to be his true form.

Zero shows up with a "saber upgrade from Doppler" (who will never be seen again) and uses it to incapacitate Sigma. He disintegrates, and that's it for him...as well as the Super NES era of this series.

The credits roll, and we get a super-ominous portent of the story to come. They never actually followed through with this fated battle, much like most of the story promise this series had early on.

Annnnd that does it for now. I'm not a fan of this game, but I tried to keep the complaining to a minimum. It breaks what didn't need fixing. The good news is that Mega Man X4 is awesome, so tune in for that next.






4 comments:

  1. This game had more stuff in it then the previous games but it indeed wasn't as classical as the two first game. I'd compare Megaman X 3 with Paladin's quest and Lennus 2. On paper the first two games have less stuff in them but they are more fun and just overall better than their last games.

    Like Lennus 2 was fantastic but it just didn't have the same feels as the first game had. MMX3 even went away with the cool Street Fighter cameos and gave us the saber instead. At least we could play as Zero, Vile came back and other cool stuff happened but man indeed the stages were fairly generic.

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  2. So many good posts! When are we getting X4?

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    1. Whenever time permits. Before that I'll be posting some MMX1-3 videos. Keep tuning in!

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  3. That's an excellent description of the intro stage track.

    I really like the Ray Splasher. Oh, and the World Shaking.

    I hate how these games are all "yay Zero" while you're playing them, then in the ending it's always either "Zero is dead" or "you have to kill Zero, it is FATE"... X5 has the possibility of giving us that battle (with insanely good music) at least.

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