Review by Pinlander

"A gross display of ineptitude"

Just looking at production history of Mega Man X6 screams "inept". Just look at all these patently stupid ideas regarding this game:

- The decision to make this game without the series creator Keiji Inafune.
- The decision to rush this game in to the market under year from prior Mega Man X release.
- The decision to not hire competent localisation team, but rather run the game through Babelfish and not proof-reading the result.
- Letting the marketing department publish untrue pre-release hype.

It is like the entire Capcom HQ was suddenly infected with T-virus born in a Resident Evil master disk, turning the entire personnel in to a pack of brain dead zombies.

OVERVIEW:

Like every other Mega Man X game, X goes after 8 bosses (This time, investigators, not mavericks). These investigators reside in 8 "nightmare zones", and player can choose the order in which he defeats them. Player will be awarded with a weapon and technique copied from the investigator upon victory. Also, strange stuff appears in two other Nightmare Zones for no logical reason.

THE CATCH:

Mega Man X6 features the Nightmare System (the name is very truthful, actually). If you listen to Capcom's marketing buzz, Nightmare System is a "huge advance in random stage design" or something like that. That is not true, but more about the Nightmare System on the gameplay section.

GRAPHICS:

X6 uses the same graphic engine than X4 and X5, so the graphics are mostly good. Unfortunately, the rest of the graphics are bad. For instance, some investigators are made of two or so colours and have about four frames of animation.

For some reason the "Warning" text shown prior fighting a boss and most of Zero's animation are redesigned. How in the name of loving god the developers had the time to alter such small details with such an tight schedule? I want so hard to believe that this game was designed by a team of newbies who have not yet learned to prioritize.

SOUND:

Some of the sound effects have been redesigned as well. While the new sound effects are not necessarily worse, this is an another example of twisted prioritizing.

The music of this game a mixed bag and is actually the best aspect of this disaster. Some of the songs, especially the amazon area and recycle center themes, are excellent. Then there is some corny, yet oddly listenable guilty pleasure (e.g. volcano area and the weapon centre). But there is also some of the most unbelievably corny songs ever committed to optic medium, especially the amazingly cheesy opening J-pop (I'd be rather caught listening to David Hasselhoff than this godawful song).

Because Capcom had such an hurry to cram X6 to western market, the japanese voice acting is left intact. This is not necessarily just a bad thing. While I can't understand the word they are saying, it is easy to hear that they make much more competent job than the (presumably) British voice actors in X4. Of course, in the same time it says Capcom does not care enough to hire competent western voice actors like Cam Clarke or Clancy Brown.

GAMEPLAY:

The major selling point and the most hyped feature of Mega Man X6 is the nightmare system, so let's see how it works: let's pretend that i'm going to beat the bolts and screws out of Metal Shark Player just for having such an stupid name. I select Recycle Center, get through the trash compactor and retire the Metal Shark Player. When I'm back at the stage selection screen, I notice that the Central Museum and Weapon Central are red. I go to either one of them and lo: flying metal slabs have became out of nowhere to make my life harder.

So, the Nightmare system basically reinvents similar elements from X1 and X3 and makes it illogical and frustrating. Some of the effects include almost total darkness and raining fireballs.

Lets go back to X3 and see how the system worked back then: Let's say that I decide to kick Blast Hornet's sorry bee-hind. Defeating him will reduce the amount of crates in Gravity Beetle's stage, since Gravity Beetle's plane transport supplies from Blast Hornet's armoury to Gravity Beetle's stage. Also, because modified Head Gunners are no longer transported from the armoury, all stages (except Doppler's lab) will have to suffice with substantially worse massproduced Head Gunners. This is way more logical and intuitive than the mess that is Nightmare System.

Oh yeah, about the "random stage design", only one stage in the game actually is generated randomly. However, it is done with most unbelievably stupid way possible: the stage basically is straightforward route, that has totem poles, that teleport the player in to randomly generated part. This is repeated 4 times. Not exactly intuitive, is it?

The other stages are also pretty bad, and totally frustating. One of the worst is the Volcano Area (what's the deal with volcanoes, Capcom? No body likes volcanoes. They are dangerous and ugly, and like to erupt when least expected).
Not only the magma there is purple, it is filled with annoying, huge, red donuts.
Not far behind comes the Recycle Center. Thrash compactors and conveyor belts are okay elements, but making the entire stage from them is not going to work. Also, the North Pole is very annoying: full of stupid looking avalanches and falling ice cubes. Add slippery floor and walls you can't climb, and you get instant frustration. Also, some of the stages are shortest I've ever seen.

The nightmare stuff is not just limited to stage design, however. There is a new type of enemy called Nightmare. These things can fly and shoot through walls, making this game even more frustrating. Dead nightmares leave soul orbs behind them. If not collected fast enough, these orbs will revive the nightmare. Collecting soul orbs raises your rank and allows you equip more parts.

These parts are got from rescuing Reploids. While this idea sounds nice, it is executed with most idiotic way possible. Some of this Reploids float on freaking thin air, and sometimes you just can't save a Reploid with out losing a life (though rescuing a Reploid awards player with a extra life). Also, nightmare prey on Reploids and turn them to Mavericks. Maverick can not be saved and if you, god forbid, kill an Maverick, s/he never comes back and you will never get the part s/he had.

X6 carries over lots of features from X5, most with out any thought. For example , X starts out with Falcon Armour. The problem is that in X5, X started out with the 4th armour only if you chose X, which resulted as Zero not getting a Z-buster. But since you can only start as X in X6 there is no choice or penalty involved with the Falcon Armour.

Also, you can skip straight to the final levels in X6, but unlike X5, not by meeting your objective, but by looking for a secret area, defeat hidden boss, and get to go in to final levels through a plot device best described as "open invitation from your enemy". Pure genius at work.

Also the armour system returns. X can now get the Blade Armour and Shadow Armour. Blade Armour is basically a Max Armour Lite, as it allows X to air dash vertically and fling waves with the Z-Saber. Shadow Armour is basically Gaia Armour made ninja. However, unlike X5, some armours are required to beat certain stages, so bad choice with a armour means inevitable Game Over.

At least they took the plot of X5 partially to consideration, as X can now use the Z-Saber he got from Zero. It is very limited, however. However, note that I said "partially" as X6 brings Zero back in a way, that could be best described "taking a piss on X5's entire storyline".

As much I want to lambast X6 about bringing Zero back, I must admit the developers hit the head of the nail with Zero's gameplay. Zero can access any weapon and technique at his disposal (except Guard Shell) with simple and easy to remember button combinations. Zero is also more agile than ever and his Z-Buster is actually useful this time.

CHALLENGE:

This game is very frustrating, thanks to the substandard level design. Strangely enough, most bosses of this game require no skill or strategy. There is exceptions, however. Infinity Mijinion is really hard, not because his attacks would be any danger, but because he can produces four clones from himself and his weakness is trash. Gate is also very hard, since he can only be damaged by his own weapons. Imagine a fight from Crash Bandicoot and replace three required hits with 9-14 hits, and you should get the idea. Sigma is really easy for some reason.

THE STORY:

A scientist called Gate blah blah blah researches Eurasia's ruins blah blah blah He goes crazy blah blah blah X kicks maverick ass blah blah blah Zero Nightmare blah blah blah High Max blah blah blah Isoc gives press conference blah blah blah 8 Investigators blah blah blah Nightmare Effect blah blah blah X misses Zero blah blah blah Rescue Reploids blah blah blah Alia rambles about her past blah blah blah Sigma returns for no reason and so on.

From the above paragraph you might get the picture I'm too lazy to explain the plot. That couldn't be farther from the truth. That is my best effort, but the plot is incoherent, convoluted, badly translated and full of plot holes and continuity errors, that I simply can't do better.

The translation is really bad, and actually gets worse as the game progresses. The plot would be completely impenetrable even with correct translation anyway, I reckon.

Not only the plot sucks, the characters really stink, too. For some reason, the developers thought they should develop Alia's character. This results as Alia rambling incoherently about her past, which mainly consist of belonging to a cabal of some sort and actually killing all the 8 investigators with her co-conspirators. Not only that this makes Alia unlikable, it does not even work, since there is hardly any personal connection between her and X. Anything she says does not affect how much X trusts her or how he thinks about her. She just talks to herself, hoping somebody pays attention.

The new characters are probably even worse. The leader of the 8 investigators, High Max, actually does not have an coherent personality. Some person might say that e.g. X-hunters, Nightmare Police and similar characters from past games has no personalities either, but they do, even if they are pretty one-dimensional. For example, Agile is an smug french bastard (Agile, Sagesse (Serges) and Violen are french terms for character traits) while Byte is a formal and honourable warrior type. High Max, however, just is some black guy with a jet pack.

His underlings are the most confusing bunch of incoherent lunatics I've ever met. Commander Yammark is obviously schizophrenic and attacks X when he made few totally reasonable questions, raving about not being betrayed. What an ass. Blaze Heatnix obviously suffers from thought disorder, making incoherent, nonsensical statements such as "Brainwashing reploids is boring. Let's fight". And Infinity Mijinion is an antisocial creep. The characters of Metal Gear Solid suddenly look very balanced and stable compared to them.

I probably never have seen character so inconsequential to a story as Isoc. He just is a lackey for Gate who just suddenly is found dead for no reason. Or at least when playing as X. With Zero, he shows lots of interest towards Zero. This have made some people to argue that Isoc is Dr. Wily's incarnation, and this certainly is far more plausible than the ridiculous "Serges is Wily"-theory (C'mon, why would a scientist of (presumably) german descent who is so evil, that he uses a freaking skull as his insignia, would turn in to a (again, presumably) french geezer rambling about prophecies and universal good? Also, Wily probably wouldn't condescend to work with a ex-spy and a guy who's shoe size is bigger than his IQ. And besides, Sigma and Dr. Wily first met during X5, long after X2).
But he still is so utterly inconsequential that removing him completely wouldn't change the story by any way.

Gate himself is not a half-bad character. His expression and glare just scream "insane" and he constantly talks about how his colleagues are jealous bastards, who just can't appreciate his creations. He might a stereotypical "mad scientist", but let's face it, most of the video game characters are stereotypes. He isn't too stellar either, so he really does not save this game's nonsensical plot.

LONGEVITY:

While this game has 3 different endings, most people probably give up half way through the game.

CONCLUSION:

Mega Man X6 is a very rushed game filled with bad ideas and substandard design. While certainly far from the worst platformer ever made, it is still an very unpleasant experience and should only be bought as example of bad game development.

With Mega Man X6, the franchise (quite literally) jumped the shark, and has very little chances of recovery. thankfully, after MMX6 also came Mega Man Zero, while not an excellent game, was followed with better and more thought out sequels.







Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/06


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