Review by neothe0ne

"A crushing finale..."

You can use Zero now
Much more challenging and fighting strategies now matter
Lots more upgrades to find
More charge levels for the X-buster than before (and after)
New Ride Armor system

Zero is slow, has one life, gets no upgrades, gets no boss weapons, and can't fight bosses
Mini-bosses have no health meter
Much more challenging and fighting strategies now matter
Most of the music is terrible
Enemies reappear when you scroll their position offscreen very slightly
Stages need to be repeated several times to get all upgrades

The third installment of the X series on the Super Nintendo left players with many mixed remarks. Some say it's the best Mega Man X yet, others say X1 is still the best. It is true that Mega Man X3 features the most new things, and it's also true that X3 leaves a lot to be desired.

The year is still 21XX, and Dr. Cain is still around at Maverick Hunter headquarters. Dr. Doppler, a Reploid scientist, has been killing off Mavericks with his virus, but he himself has turned evil and is building an army in his name. He is also building a body for an unknown person. Care to take a guess?

The graphics of X3 are generally a lot better than before, mainly due to the prescence of the C4 chip. The backgrounds are generally more detailed, the stages look appropriate and are well designed, and character designs are a bit better. It's notable that this is the game where Zero gets his slight lean-back stance. (In X1 and X2, he stood straight up.) However, when you pause the game and look at the energy bars, they look terrible. The energy bars in X2 look much better and more 3D than the new flat-looking fake bars.

Crush Crawfish, your music is crushing my ears! The music is the biggest diappointment in this game. The style of music in X3 has little in common with X1 and X2's styles, despite what others say. Instead of the lively, fast, and high pitched tunes from before, X3's music is slower-paced than before and features a new "crushing" sound. Maybe in the beginning that crushing sound was guitar, but the quality the SNES could take was not enough, because many songs sound like low-quality WMAs. That's not to say that there aren't any good songs, such as the Opening Stage, Blast Hornet's stage, and the first Doppler stage, to name a few, but the music has changed dramatically. I can't be sure, but when I played, I felt that even the sound effects had been changed, and not for the better. They sound muffled and low-quality now, and no longer seem to accurately convey the shots and explosions. This added to the crushing, grinding sound apparent in almost all the music is more than enough reason to turn the sound completely off.

A topic almost more controversial about Mega Man X3 than music is the gameplay. The controls of the game have stayed the same, but some people say that the responsiveness of the game has dropped. I didn't notice any problems with responsiveness, but I DID notice that Mega Man X3 is a lot harder than the previous titles. The enemies throughout the stages have new and useful attacks, especially the little purple guy with the cannon, who appears throughout most of the stages, and can be a quick shortcut to death if you're careless. This wouldn't be such a problem for veteran Mega Man X players if the game didn't have such a merciless respawn code. If you scroll the location of a dead enemy offscreen just a little bit, and go back a little bit, the enemy you just destroyed just reappeared. This can seriously affect your next move, and often ends up as a huge life drop. The stages are otherwise all well-laid out, and fit well with what they're supposed to be. Each stage generally has a gated-off room in the middle, either for a mini-boss, a special boss, or just an empty room. The secrets in each stage have increased, with one heart tank, one Dr. Light capsule (yes, there are actually NINE capsules in this game), and one sub tank or a Ride Armor unlock. The new feature, the Ride Armors, are not entirely new, because ride armors have shown up in previous games. Now, there are big platforms throughout the stages that you can step on and choose what ride armor you want to ride in. Some of these are vital to getting other upgrades, but none of them seriously effect gameplay, and they don't show up in the Doppler stages.The bosses have also been revamped. The charged X-buster is no longer a very effective weapon against the bosses. It's almost essential to use the weapon that is most effective, or you'll probably die quickly. The bosses also change their style of fighting when their health hits the halfway mark, so be prepared for a harder time at the end.

Now, Zero IS playable now, but he has serious limitations. To use Zero, press start, press R, and call him in. Zero only has one life, so if he dies, he's gone forever. In the beginning of the game, Zero is superior to X because he has an almost-fully maxed health meter and already has 4 levels of charges. On the last level charge, Zero fires 2 charged shots and slashes his Beam Saber forward. However, the problem with Zero from the start is that he's sluggish and harder to use than X. Once X gets all the heart tanks, his health meter surpasses Zero's by quite a bit. Once X gets the Dr. Light enhancements, he too gets 4 levels of charges, fires quicker than Zero, gets an air dash, and various other enhancements. Zero can't enter any gates (except in the opening stage and a very special gate in a final stage), so he can't fight any bosses except for two, once of which is the forced mini-boss fight with Mac in the Opening Stage. The other is an optional fight with "the Bug" and makes you sacrifice Zero to give X a Beam Saber Shot, which is much more useful than the close-range attack the Saber normally does. Therefore, Zero is nearly useless in Mega Man X3, except to die.

Mega Man X3 is a mixed bag of good and bad, and the last game of the series on the SNES. Many people were expecting more from Capcom than what they delivered, and with good reason. However, Mega Man X3 does offer a lot of new and unique features, some never to be seen again. The game has much to offer, but you may not be getting what you expect.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/05/05

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