Review by Kaleb Grace

"The X series has sunk to a new low. Capcom has dishonored itself."

INTRODUCTION:

It's a shame; I was looking forward to this game so much. Every bit of information I could gather about it from video game websites kept me believing that this would be an improvement over X5 and maybe even over X4. I rented this game as soon as I could (I rarely buy games before I've tried them first), and couldn't wait to play it.

Well, I've played it; and boy, does it blow. I mean, it seems as this game didn't even spend more than a few months in development. Capcom must have not even cared how this game would turn out, as long as it got finished so people would buy it. I can't believe how anyone can say this is a good game, or more specifically, a fun game. I’ll go into full detail on why this game is not even worth your time.

GRAPHICS:

One would think that a game made in 2001 for the PlayStation would be able to harness the full potential of the system, but X6 remains graphically unimproved from the previous installments. The worst part in my mind is that the backgrounds look dull, and feature minimal parallax. People have complained that the bosses feature too few frames of animation, which I agree with, but they (at least the Mavericks) are well designed, and look great for a series that has become so corrupted. I also think that Capcom deserves marginal props for keeping the animations and designs for Zero and X (and X’s new armors) so smooth and great looking. Still, X6 is an example of a graphical rush-job.

MUSIC:

Despite people bashing the soundtrack, I actually liked the music in this game. My favorite being Commander Yammark’s, with Rainy Turtloid’s as the runner-up. My explanation for this bashing (other than to further disgrace this game) is that the musical style is more varied from the last two X games, and now takes on some different themes. Perhaps another reason may be that the songs are fairly short (each Maverick stage song lasts only about one minute per verse), but this shouldn’t be accounted for. I don’t care what anybody says; the X6 composers deserve mad props for their music. As far as sound effects goes, it’s standard Mega Man stuff; nothing annoying that I can think of, so I can’t say anything bad here.

CUTSCENES (& STORY):

This oddity is a combination of video and audio, so I have listed it separately for this game.

The cutscenes are still the slide-show style crap from X5, featuring pictures that don’t stand out in any way. It’s totally screwed how the cool anime cutscenes from X4 didn’t make it into either of the sequels. Back to X6’s cutscenes, they don’t seem improved in any way from X5. They now feature Japanese voice-overs, which are all right, but I can’t speak Japanese anyway, so what do I care? In the end, the cutscenes are just a freakin’ waste of time…which is also good description of the storyline as well.

What can I say about the story? It’s just something some Japanese guy though up during his lunch break. It’s junk; don’t even waste your time reading it. Mega Man games were never popular for their storylines, and this proves it.

GAMEPLAY:

This is what a game is truly about. If a company can make this really good, other attributes can be overlooked. However, if a company gets this wrong, they had better hope they did a damn fine job in the other areas.

Mega Man X6 seemed to go with the latter choice, except for the part about the damn fine job in the other areas. X6 is frustrating, cheap, boring, and (as usual) short.

The controls in X6 seem fine to me. I know that others have had difficulties, but I never seemed to have any problems that weren’t in the previous X games. The response time may glitch up occasionally, but I never outright noticed it. I guess it’s just a matter of how you use the buttons.

One thing that I have really liked about the PlayStation Mega Man X games are the neat variety of moves and weapons gained through special power-ups (such as Maverick DNA, parts, and armor) for both X and Zero. While X6 doesn’t bring anything radical to the table, it does provide the cream-of-the-crop in this department. By this, I mean that it has the best collection amongst the PlayStation Mega Man X games. After all, X is just damn cool in his Shadow Armor, and Zero has never had so much acrobatic ability. It’s one of the few good things about this game.

One really important gameplay element in my book is stage design, and X6 manages to screw this one up big time. As if PlayStation Mega Man X stages weren’t bad enough with their short length and narrow paths (as opposed to the Super NES Mega Man X stages), X6 manages to make them unbearable. These stages have bland/idiotic design, cheap-bastard obstacles and traps, difficult to kill enemies/minibosses (they’re too shielded), and the Nightmare System (more on that later), in addition to the short length and narrow paths. The stages are far too difficult, and many times, you’ll find that you need special power-ups just to stand a chance at beating them (especially in Sigma’s fortress, where I couldn’t even beat it without using the Ultimate Armor code). Another thing worth mentioning is the lack of decent secrets, as many of the useful power-ups just seem to be left out in the open, which I deem as unacceptable. The combined effect is that the stages have been plucked of any possible fun, and require too many power-ups to progress through them (which is just a bad attempt to add more longevity to the dinky stages).

At the end, there are always the bosses. In X6, rather than go with the rock-paper-scissors strategy which has been a Mega Man staple ever since the original game on the NES, X6 mixes things up by making different weapons do varying damage to specific bosses. Past the mumbo-jumbo, this means that some bosses are susceptible against many weapons, while others are practically invulnerable to all but a couple (which still do little damage). It just makes things too unbalanced (however, I secretly feel as if every Mega Man game has had an imbalance of some type between its bosses). When you can beat Rainy Turtloid without any power-ups, but can’t stand a chance against the Twin Cells even after obtaining all of the power-ups, it just seems as if the point of ridiculousness has been reached.

OTHER FEATURES:

New to X6 is the Nightmare System, which I feel is an accurate description. Notice how it’s not the “challenge system”, or the “replay system”, instead, it’s the “Nightmare System”. Here’s what it does: Whenever you enter a stage, it will cause a specific effect (depending on the stage you’re currently in) to occur on a couple other stages. These effects consist of cheap and frustrating obstacles that make things even more difficult for you as you traverse the stages. For example, the worst one makes the entire stage dark, and your vision is restricted to a couple beams of light moving back and forth across the screen. To add more annoyance, the game even saves the effect for each stage in memory, and a stage effect can only be cancelled by creating a different effect.

Similar to X5, there are helpless Reploids that you can rescue in every stage. These usually ugly looking robots are placed in hard to reach locations, and are even usually floating in thin air over a hole or spikes or some other danger which you will probably fall into for the rescue. The benefit gained from rescuing these many Reploids are the parts they give you to power up X or Zero. These parts are essential if you even want to attempt to beat this game, so you can’t afford not to rescue them. Of course, in keeping with the tradition of having to be a bastard in regards to gameplay, X6 has these enemies called “Nightmares” (in X6 “nightmare” = “bastard”). The Nightmares are actually quite easy to dispatch, and even leave Nightmare Souls (more on that later), but the problem is their ability to possess Reploids, thus rendering you unable to rescue them. When a Reploid becomes possessed, you are unable to collect their part, and this remains in memory for the rest of the game (unless you reload your save). The game is difficult enough, but having your power-ups permanently taken away from you is a true pain in the ass.

While rank in X5 meant nothing, X6 gives it a use. Both X and Zero start out at the lowest rank, and increase rank by collecting Nightmare Souls, much like an experience system. By going up in rank, X or Zero is allowed to equip more parts at the same time. You will need to go up at least a few ranks in order to equip the standard number of parts. This is actually a pretty cool idea, but as Nightmares are only in certain areas of certain stages, you actually have to stop and spend time fighting them, as you won’t get many Souls simply playing straight through. This seems mainly as an attempt to add replay value, but doesn’t work so well. In my opinion, Capcom should have made it so that every enemy drops Souls.

“Crouching Zero, Hidden Exit”: In X6, you can play as Zero only once you have beaten two hidden battles (which are difficult to do without already being well powered up). A hidden battle can be fought at a hidden exit, which is at the end of an alternate path, which can be found on each and every stage. Don’t be fooled into thinking these hidden exits are anything special, as the alternate paths are usually simple to find, and none of them lead to any secret stages. These buggers force you to travel through stages multiple times, and lead to unavoidable and unimportant boss battles (except to rescue Zero). By the time you are even able to get Zero, you may not want to use him, as X will be much stronger. For the record, even without new parts/armor, X’s Falcon Armor gives him double the amount of defense as Zero. Zero’s inferiority does fit in well with the progressing story (from the X series to the Zero series), but it’s not fun when you worked hard to get him, and you can’t even use him efficiently.

REPLAY VALUE:

There is no need to replay this game. If you’ve beaten it, you either already found all of the secret power-ups, or cheated; it’s too damn hard to do so otherwise. Perhaps you may want to rescue Zero if you haven’t done so already, so you can check out his moves…but that’s it. Mega Man X6 is an irritating and poorly made game, plain and simple. As any proof, you can tell that the game sucks, simply from the fact that this review has grown less interesting over its length (shoot, I’m about to fall asleep here soon if I keep writing this thing).

CONCLUSION:

Now that this review is over with, maybe I can stop thinking about how horrible this game is. I sure hope to God that Capcom can make things right (and return the series to its former glory) with Mega Man Zero for the Game Boy Advance. I’m a true Mega Man fanatic, and I don’t want to see the legacy end on such a sour note as Mega Man X6.

As I stated before, gameplay makes the game, and X6 has some crappy gameplay. Despite the few positives (character designs, awesome music, cool moves/weapons/armor…that’s about it), this game remains disappointing.

My final verdict (a Mega terrible score for a Mega terrible game): 3/10


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/02, Updated 02/14/02


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