Friday, September 15, 2017

Mega Man X6 (Playstation, 2001)

 Hoo boy. Finally got to this one.


 First, let's take a quick look inside the game case. TAKE IT TO THE EDGE! THE CAPCOM EDGE!

 This...is pretty dramatic, and the game doesn't do anything to back that drama up. Also, "Missing"? Isn't he very very dead?

 We get some intro exposition about the space colony crashing into the planet way back in Mega Man X5. This game follows right after that one, which is kinda fitting considering both games came out in 2001. X5 was in February and X6 was in December. Kinda awesome to get two new Mega Man X games in the same year. ...until you realize how rushed the second one was.

 In any case, Mega Man X5 was supposed to be the end of the X saga, with Zero going on a suicide mission to save the world. He'd be seen again in a hundred years for Mega Man Zero. ...unless you're following the NEW timeline set by this game where different stuff happens. Welcome to Mega Man X6: The Quest For More Money.

 The canon ending of Mega Man X5 is what we're going by here. The colony was successfully destroyed, but it still rained some destruction onto the Earth. Sigma was destroyed, Zero was destroyed, and X...

 ...inherited Zero's saber. On one hand it seems like a terrible call to remove Zero from the series after a mere two games, but on the other hand, this was a golden opportunity to give X some Zero moves with the saber and essentially turn him into a two-in-one character running around with Zero's quickening.

...instead he can't really do anything with the Z-Saber aside from big, slow, single swings, and only while standing still.

 Gate is some sort of reploid scientist who is gradually turning evil. Because...Maverick Virus I guess. He's also hanging out in the irradiated debris from Eurasia, which is probably a dangerous place to stand around. Truly a BRILLIANT SCIENTIST.

 We get our first dose of the completely nonsensical dialogue of this game, as Gate doesn't know why he's finding pieces of robots in the wreckage of a satellite. "DID SOMETHING HAPPEN?" he wonders aloud while nuclear explosions go off around him.

 Zero's Ghost appears to X in a dream and lets him know that he's the only one left to stop...whoever. I don't know what's going on now. Mavericks are still around and doing stuff, and whatnot. I dunno.

The first track of the game is one of the best. It shifts between relaxing and foreboding.

 IT'S BEEN LIKE ONE DAY SINCE THE LAST GAME

 In this one X starts out with his full Falcon Armor, which means air dashing and whatnot right off the bat. He can also acquire a few other armors by collecting parts for them. I still prefer the early games in the series simply having you collect parts for a single upgraded armor set, with each part giving you a new power. In this one, acquiring parts does nothing until you finish a set. Regardless, check out X's fully charged shot. For some reason it has gone from being a big blast to being a thin zippy shot. Seems like a step back.

 Speaking of steps back, the Z-Saber is so slow and clunky in this game that it's barely worth using. This is the best shot I could get of it, as the game throws giant blocks in your way to make sure you get stuck until you figure out how to swing the saber.

 The first boss is this weirdo with an orb hovering around. What's the point of the orb? Is it powering the big mech? Is it the big mech's owner and is walking it?

Time to try something new. For this game, I recorded all of the boss fights so you can actually follow along and see me fight these things. It could be a fun time.

 After defeating the first boss, we meet (yawn) High Max, seen here holding up his own portrait.

 High Max is completely invincible here and defeats X. I wonder if this is supposed to be a callback to Vile early in Mega Man X. High Max is made of the same materials as X and Zero, only more advanced. This is a cool idea. Too bad he's so damn boring.

ALSO, how come he's totally invincible here and isn't later? I'm using the same weapon! At least in the first game it kinda made sense because Vile was only invincible in the ride armor.

 After the intro stage, we meet Isoc, who I think is supposed to be Dr. Wily. He's got a big brain-case like Serges, he acts like Dr. Wily, and he has Dr. Wily's voice actor from Mega Man 8. Yeah, that's enough evidence for me. Unfortunately the game never really confirms it, because Capcom is still terrified of being sued by itself.

Also: Isoc...Isaac Newton. Goes well with Albert (Einstein) Wily and Thomas (Edison) Light.

So yeah, it looks like this game will have the Wily-as-villain that Mega Man X5 teased so hard and didn't deliver on! I can't wait to fight this guy!

 This is what I say during every dialogue cutscene.

 The eight stages. This is another weird game where you don't actually have to beat all eight stages to move on to the fortress. There are a few different objectives you can meet to unlock the fortress early, possibly only a couple of stages in.

However, the fortress is structured in such a way that you can't get past the first room unless you've beaten most of the game anyway.

 The terrible naming scheme didn't end with the previous game. At least then they were poorly thought-out Guns N' Roses references. Now they're just stupid on purpose!

 This is a pretty cool stage, at least, with Mayan temples. Great music too:

Yeah, very peaceful track here. I like it. The music is Mega Man X6's strong point. Overall I don't like it as much as the soundtracks of four of the previous five games (exception being X3) but this soundtrack feels like more effort went into it. Which is great in a game that otherwise feels kinda bereft of effort in a lot of areas.

 Wait, what? Two moons? The weird thing is that this is supposed to be Earth, so...

Maybe X is hallucinating because of all the Nightmare Virus everywhere post colony-explosion. Or something. I can't follow this "story".

 Alia's interruptions are kept to a minimum in this game, which gives it one element that it does better than X5. Usually when she interrupts, you'll get an exclamation point on screen and can choose whether or not to hear her warble on about something in hard-to-decipher language.

Commander Yammark is the first boss, and...yeah, here's the fight. Because boss HP scales in this game, the first boss isn't going to be too bad no matter who you choose. The weird thing is that boss HP seems to only have three levels in this game (as opposed to 20 in X5). That means that when bosses level up it's a substantial jump in power.

 It looks like Gate and Isoc are working together. The eight bosses are the "investigators" that they've dispatched to...I'm not sure what. Investigate sightings of Zero, I think.

 Gate wants to rule over all Reploids, while Isoc is obsessed with finding the body of Zero and reviving him. Yeah, definitely Wily. As for Gate...doesn't he look like a sleek future version of Mega Man X? Like the Excelsior to X's Enterprise.

 The next stage I take on is the Central Museum. One way only, quiet please, follow the route, and ABSOLUTELY NO bevis or vibes.

 This place is kinda interesting due to the background visuals, but it's hard to imagine this being a regular museum where people could hang out once upon a time. How were kids supposed to climb these six foot tall steps?

 I find a blue portal, which takes me to an alternate final segment of the level. Most levels have this, and it'll result in fighting an optional boss instead of the area boss. Sometimes, going the normal route seems to result in the optional boss too, which means lots of fighting Dynamo when you're trying to finish the eight bosses up. In any case, this leads to...

 ...OH MY GOD IT'S A T-REX! KIDS GET BACK IN THE CAR!

.......er, a fight with Nightmare Zero, some sort of Maverick Virus clone of Zero. Or so I thought at first, but it turns out that it's actually Zero. What? Why's he all pink? Why are we fighting?

 What follows is more completely nonsensical dialogue where Zero does NOTHING to explain how he's back from the dead. He died like...yesterday, and now he's back and fully repaired. At least tell us that Isoc found him and rebuilt him and leave open the possibility that Isoc/Wily may have possessed Zero's body directly as the theme from John Carpenter's The Thing plays. Give us something!

 In short: We watched Zero die horribly, but he's back! Disney's Doug!

 So...the Nightmare is what we're calling the Maverick Virus in this one? I thought the Nightmare was that weird "Zero Virus" thing from the previous game, but that can't be the case since Zero is alive and back to normal. Ah, whatever.

Zero is playable from here on out, but it pays to stick to one character or the other due to the fact that rescuing reploids in these stages beefs up the stats of your played character and he alone. So if you divide your playing between the two characters, they'll both end up underpowered. I think X4 had the right idea making you simply choose one at the beginning and stick with it.

 I head back into the Central Museum to actually fight the boss this time. Great view of the Earth here.

Ground Scaravich...is a dung beetle. Yep. Here he is rollin' dung.

 The next boss is actually pretty awesome-looking. I feel like this name is a reference to some famed pot-smoker. I'm not gonna say it's Jimi Hendrix, but...LET ME STANNND NEXT TO YO FIYAH!

 This stage isn't anywhere near as fun as the name/boss implies. It's basically a cave where you fight this boring miniboss over and over again.

 "Move ovah Rovah!" says Blaze Heatnix. "And let Jimi take ovah!"

The fight itself isn't much to write home about, and involves flinging giant dung balls. I don't wanna talk about it.

 After the fire stage comes the ice stage, of course. The exclamation point on the right is what you see when Alia calls.

 This stage is full of landslides, but that isn't the worst part...

 Nope, that'd be this sliding block "puzzle" where you can't climb the sides of the blocks, can't jump over more than one, and if one falls on you, it's insta-death.

 Here's Blizzard Wolfang, who has a fairly cool design. He also wants to DELETE! our hero.

Unfortunately, it is he who is obsolete. OBSOLETE!

 Rainy Turtloid is next, and possibly the only stage from this game that I remember/like. It has a great atmosphere.

 Look at that storm! Unfortunately the game finds a way to ruin this stage too, as most of it consists of you tediously hunting down all of these little orb things that you have to break to unlock the next room.

 The boss here is one of the more interesting X series bosses. Pretty sure it's the first time we've gotten a turtle boss in any Mega Man game.

This fight actually gave me a little bit of grief. It's rough how he essentially has a shield against damage for a large portion of the fight. But hey, it's something new. And speaking of new...

 Metal Shark Player: "Your mom says hi!"

 This...is the single most poorly-conceived level in the game. The ceiling is constantly trying to crush you, and the game gradually adds conveyor belts, blocks, and spikes to make things as harsh as possible.

 The checkpoints are also few and far between, and the slow speed of the level makes repeating portions of it even more tedious. Factor all of this together and I'd rather do Mega Man 8's Wily Castle 1 stage twice in a row than have to do this stage again. As for this shot here...if you stand up from ducking when the ceiling is low, you insta-die. I guess it's true that bumping your head can be pretty unpleasant.

 The poor design woes continue, as one part of the stage is actually un-passable without the right items. You can get around ending up here, but if you do end up here, there's no escape. Even a game over will put you right back at this spot with no way across. Yep. Back in my day this would have had disappearing blocks or something. It's just silly to have an inescapable area that you can't cross without certain items.

 Just when you think the Metal Shark Madness is over, there's another long hallway with the ceiling trying to kill you. This one is even worse, and goes on and on. It's the opposite of fun. Also, here we can see one of the multitude of rescue-able reploids in the game. They frequently give you permanent powerups for rescuing you, as they did in the previous game.

 This miniboss looks like I did while playing this game. I probably spent more time on this stage than I did on the rest of the game, especially considering I had to revisit it for items.

 X encounters Metal Shark Player and immediately accuses him of being up to something. Also, what kind of a name is Metal Shark Player?

 What the hell! He wants to analyze X's DNA!

 Man, he's really obsessed with getting some of X's DNA. I'm just going to back away slowly.

Here's the actual fight. All things considered, his design is pretty good. It's weird to see any stage break single digits on minutes spent (some are as short as 3 minutes), but you can see the timer at nearly 40 minutes at the bottom there.

 Next up is Shield Sheldon. Missed getting many shots of this level, but suffice to say it's full of lasers that you have to bounce off of mirrors to open doors. Kinda interesting...the first time you do it.

In other news, Metal Shark Player's weapon is kinda cool. It's a metal anchor that X throws as if it were a Hammer Bros hammer.

 Shield Sheldon is a good guy and a friend of X. Or something. Gate and Isoc helped him out so he owes them one. This means... X must fight his friend.

NO! SHIELD SHELDON! COME TO YOUR SENSES, MAN! NO!!! SHIELD SHELDON!!! WHYYYYY!!!

......

....WHYYYY!!

 Next up is...I don't even know what. Is this the worst-named boss in Mega Man history?

 This is the shortest stage, and can be finished in a couple minutes. Basically all you have to do is defeat Illumina, the giant miniboss here, while running to the right.

 Weird, I played through the stage normally, but instead of getting Infinity...Infinity... the boss, I got High Max.

This High Max is the same as the one you fought at the beginning, for the most part. The main difference is that now your charged shots inexplicably work on him... at least, in a stunning capacity. After that you switch weapons and hit him with something else while he's stunned.

 Isoc is super-startled at this turn of events.

 He really hates X, too. It's awesome to see X and Wily verbally sparring like this, finally! The story has come full circle!

 Gate appears in a Time Displacement Bubble to sass our hero. Maybe he IS future X!

 X is all "YOU MAVERICK SON OF A BITCH!" at the top of his robo-lungs.

 With High Max defeated, I now have access to the final fortress. Turns out that's one of the things that'll get you access. I still have one more robot master to beat, so I might as well go and take him out.

 But first! I need to take a second to point out that when you charge up Metal Shark Player's weapon, it unleashes a barrage of Storm Eagles!

 Infinity...uh...Infinity...er...the boss is one of the tougher ones because he pretty much dominates the screen space while he splits into multiple images. He's weak to Shield Sheldon's weapon, supposedly, but it barely seemed to do anything when I used it in powered-up form.

As you can see, I used a lot of powered-up Shield here and it did very little damage. Wondering what the deal is, because I definitely did the bosses in the right order.

 With the eight bosses defeated, my next objective is to find all of the armor capsules for the Blade and Shadow armors. Blade is more agile and can dash upwards in midair, while Shadow is slow but has ninja-like abilities like ceiling-grabbing and spike-immunity. Shadow seems like it'd be amazing, but it doesn't have a strong range attack (charged shot only swings the Z-Saber), can't dash in midair, and can't use special weapons.

 Dynamo shows up as an optional boss of sorts when you replay stages. At first I was happy to see my old foe from X5, but I quickly got pretty sick of seeing him every time I replayed an area. I've also noticed that, for some unknown reason, sometimes he appears instead of the boss when you play an area for the first time.

Dynamo follows the same attack pattern as the previous game, but he's waaaay outgunned. His appearance here used to be a cool cameo for me, but now his presence seems fairly pointless.

 Finishing a stage, whether you've finished it already or not, rewards you with the loots of whatever reploids you rescued as you progressed. This is one of the things the game really does right, and I always felt compelled to save as many of the rescue targets as possible.

 Moving onto the Gate Fortress. Afterimages never get old.

 But wait! The first room of the fortress has a wall of spikes that you can't get past. The Ultimate Armor and the Shadow Armor can both get you past it, as can the Blade Armor if you're super-careful. Regardless, it turns out that I can't get any further than this as I am now. Was this first room really necessary? You never need any specialized armors to get through the rest of the fortress. And what the hell is that thing in the background? Holy shit, it's horrifying.

 At this point I go back and punch in the Ultimate Armor code, which gives me this rad black armor. Now I can...

 ...Nova Strike to completely wreck everything in my path. This move never ceases to be awesome in the X games on PlayStation. It's gotten a bit weirder-looking, though.

 The Ultimate Armor also has a HUGE charged shot (on the left here) that makes the standard Falcon Armor charged shot look puny.

So, why am I going with the Ultimate Armor? Because the game just pushed me too damn far. I went back to try and finish collecting the Shadow Armor parts, only to find that there was one part I couldn't get to for whatever reason. There was also a Sub-Tank that I couldn't reach, and at that point switching to the Ultimate Armor just to get this damn thing done made a lot of sense.

 The game likes to do this thing where it'll make some levels pitch-black outside of a center area onscreen that is barely-illuminated. This effect happens pretty randomly, from what I can tell. Considering how bad the level design already is, with vertical passageways that drop you onto spikes that you can't see yet, adding this shadow element on top of all of that just makes things obnoxious.

 There are only two Sub-Tanks in this game, and they're both pretty easy to get to if you know where to look. It might seem like a paltry number compared to the earlier games with four tanks and the original series games with 9 tanks, but it turns out that two is more than enough for this game. There's also a Life Recover ability that you can obtain from a particular rescue NPC; this functions as a third Sub-Tank that can be used once per stage. It can't be refilled inside of a stage, but it also refills itself between stages. It's just a matter of figuring out the best time to use either.

 Finished the Shadow Armor thanks to having the Ultimate Armor's super-dash ability. This is one of the more interesting armors in the Mega Man verse, but the detrimental aspects of the armor reduce the usefulness.

 Thanks to the Ultimate Armor and the freeze weapon's step-creating ability, I can get to the top of this stupid passageway now and finally continue the game. Are these creepy demonic machines in the background really necessary?

 The boss here seems to be a tribute to the Rock Monster of olde...sort of. It's a pair of cubes that move around the room and occasionally stop to show you their eyeball-thing. I know this same boss appeared in another Mega Man game, but which one it was is escaping me right now.

This fight is a great chance to show off...at least until the blob-things start moving faster than I can possibly dodge them.

 Turns out now that Gate has some sort of history with Alia.

 I think the game is suggesting that they were lovers, because this story still isn't sure whether or not the characters are robots. Gate was the top, and Alia was the bottom.

 Gate raves about this DNA he found on the ground. He'd be THRILLED walking down 9th Avenue at night.

 Gate Stage 2 is more of this weirdass spiky zone. It's worth noting that it remixes the third X-Hunter stage theme from Mega Man X2. I liked the original more. And speaking of remixes, here's High Max again to hold up his own portrait.

 No video for this fight because it's exactly like the earlier fight.

 Gate Stage 3 is, again, more of the same, only now it adds the component of a huge storm. This all feels so out of place. Still don't know why Gate's Lab looks like the ninth circle either.

 Gate is a fairly cool adversary with a compelling design. The lab coat is an interesting touch, as well. One of the more badass X series sub-villains, nearly up there with Vile and the X-Hunters.

 The fight with Gate is hands-down the most difficult fight in the game: You can only damage him by attacking the projectiles he materializes, and the designers for some reason chose to put a giant pit in the room that you're constantly in danger of falling into.

This fight was a serious struggle and took me a few tries. The Nova Strike isn't gonna save you here either, since you're at the mercy of Gate supplying you with the means to do damage.

 Gate collapses and has the last laugh, because he revived Sigma. Well, that was dumb.

SIDE NOTE: Notice how Gate's battle form is gold, even though his regular dialogue form was blue? There's another Mega Man character who goes through the exact same change in color scheme: Evil X from 100 years later in Mega Man Zero. This actually gives me more reason to wonder if Gate is intended to represent some kind of alternate version of X. Maybe he's this timeline's version of Evil Future X.

(I refuse to call him Copy X because that was a cop-out and not part of the initial intentions)

 Sigma now appears (big surprise) and lets Gate know that he's accomplished NOTHING.

 And now for the most intriguing (and anti-climactic) scene in the entire game. Our heroes find the body of Isoc, but it appears to now be nothing more than an empty shell. No fight, no nothing.

 Also, Alia says something cryptic here that seems to allude to this having something in common with Mega Man X5's finale. Like she's sensing the same force at work or something like that. Either way, it appears that Wily's essence has left Isoc's body...never to be seen again.

On one hand, this thickens the Wily plot and makes me want to see where it goes. On the other hand, since it goes nowhere, it's entirely possible that this scene only existed to give them an excuse for not making an Isoc boss fight. Wouldn't be surprised if Isoc was supposed to be in the second fortress stage (that they gave to the redundant High Max fight instead).

The final stage theme is this extremely creepy tune. I feel like this should have started playing a lot earlier in the fortress, given how creepy this fortress has been in general.

 This last area is full of something the designers of this game loved: Vertical passageways where you have to drop down and can't see where spikes are until you land on them.

 Here's the obligatory pod room, complete with a boss rush. This means you get to listen to that extremely annoying "WARNING" buzz eight times in a row! How did that thing last past Mega Man X4?

Here's the full boss rush, for your perusal. Nova Strike makes these fights trivial, but there are still some cases where charging up the weakness is the most effective avenue to victory.

 Finally...here's Sigma. He's in a very incomplete body this time, unlike the previous game, and thumps into the room like a corpse.

 X is all "DELETE!" while swinging his arm to the side. Man, Sigma is creepy as hell here. He feels very tacked-on, though. Gate and Isoc were kinda interesting, but the game renders them non-factors at the last minute in favor of another Sigma form. An X game without Sigma would be weird, though.

 Alright, we get it. You're gonna DELETE! him again. I guess Capcom can't legally say "die".

 Defeat his extremely easy first form (footage imminent) and he completely loses his mind. This kinda reminds me of the end of Mega Man X4 where he masquerades as the Grim Reaper before turning into something even creepier.

 That something creepier, you ask? A GIGANTIC TERMINATOR. Harlan Ellison should sue!

Nova Strike works on this thing too. It's the second-hardest fight in the game (behind Gate) because his attacks do so much damage, but overall it's a fairly simple battle. When it comes to boss fights, this game is easy. The stages, however, are probably the most difficult in the entire X series.

 "USELESSSSSS!" screeches Sigma as he falls apart.

Well.

That happened. No mention of Wily this time around and Isoc is just sorta gone. The next (and final) two X games won't even touch on any of that, either. Instead they give us AXL! Super badass and keww!

 Gate, who meant well-a, is saved by our heroes as they hang out in front of a sunset.

 This feels like a concluding chapter to Mega Man X5 that the game didn't really need. It also messes with the Mega Man Zero timeline quite a bit. I think when it comes down to it, the main word that describes this game is "unnecessary". I'm all for having more Mega Man games, but only when they're...good.

 As usual, the credits are weird. Why is there a question mark there? Are they unsure if AKITERU was behind the planning? It's like the credit-makers don't know what to put there. "Who was the planner?" "Uh...AKITERU maybe?"

Don't be deceived by the 10 hour+ clear time. I left the game running unpaused a few times because the PS3 I played this on doesn't seem to want to give me a virtual memory card. I'd say the time spent on that latest run was probably more like 3 hours, but I also played the game twice (due to giving up and switching to Ultimate Armor after my initial arrival at the fortress) and the first run was about 3 hours spent as well. So around 6 hours altogether between the two. I think a normal run would probably be around 6 hours total while an Ultimate Armor run is about half that.

Finally, I stumbled upon the EGM review of this game from 2001. Keep in mind that these numbers are OUT OF TEN. I can't say I disagree.

This game is just poorly-designed on all levels, and it wasn't fun suffering through it. Was expecting to like it more than I did in the past, too, given how much I liked my recent playthroughs of Mega Man X4 and Mega Man X5. Oh well. Let's see if I can suffer through the possibly even worse Mega Man X7 next.



2 comments:

  1. It's a shame how Capcom decided to not give a proper closure to the series in hopes that they will produce more games. And look at it now: just 2 awful games where they killed off Sigma forma good, and countless alternate series where they denied Amy connection between the series, and, to Rubber Salt ok the wound: the whole megaman series has been in hiatus for Years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Man, X6 is such a mess.

    High Max is just one of many dumb names in this game. Like Gate.

    The soundtrack is just fine. That's about all I can give it.

    I really don't like the saving reploids mechanic. If they die, that's it, they're gone forever.

    The EGM dude is right about the game sucking but the shade on Mega Man X in general and even 6 is uncalled for!

    ReplyDelete