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Mega Man X4 (PlayStation) artwork

Mega Man X4 (PlayStation) review

"Rise of the Reploid Army"

Megaman X 4 was one of many PSX titles I got to try on my days as a Blockbuster employee in the 90s, a time when the 32-Bit revolution was rising and Sony seemingly was leading the way with its great assortment of titles launched since its debut. I had played Megaman X on the SNES in the past (coincidentally enough, renting it from a Blockbuster as well,) and it gave me a great experience on what the game could do in a 16-Bit system, along with intense action and a different setting than the original MegaMan titles on the NES. However when I played X4, said experience only increased tenfold, everything I enjoyed on the few MegaMan games I played simply grew on this title and the fact that it came out for a new system simply intensified said feeling. Megaman X 4 was quite simply, a step into greatness for me.

The plot is yet another feature which increased the same way as with the game itself. In the fourth installment of the X saga, The Reploid Army rises up to try and take independence from what they consider is enslavement by their human overseers. As such, the army is seen as rogue Mavericks by the populace, therefore X and Zero are dispatched to deal with the situation before it ends up in a possible violent uprising. Upon said rebellion a shadowy figure stalks the darkness manipulating events unseen. This is another theme that makes X4 a great game, not only must the heroes fight off Mavericks for the sake of humanity, but they also must question whether they are doing the right thing this time when Reploids only seek independence.

Jumping to another theme is the character selection. Just as with X3, you are able to select between X and Zero, but this time, each have their own route in the game's plot to follow and also deal with confrontations from their own point of view without ever crossing paths. Zero has also ditched his arm cannon in favor of using his enigmatic saber to deal with enemies in a more direct way. Each of the Maverick bosses' weapon differ on whoever you chosen to play as well, giving this game a high value of replaybility to come back to. Simply put, you can finish the game with X and then start a new one with Zero, turning it into an almost different game altogether. This trope was also used in the likes of Sonic and Knuckles for the Genesis, where you could choose to play as the feisty echidna that would take different paths within that game and use his own set of skills.

Difficulty varies depending on who you choose to play as. As stated, with Zero you can only confront enemies at close range while wit h X you can deal with such from a distance with his buster. The AI also changes a bit depending on who you use and it just feels that the game gets a bit challenging when using Zero with short range of attack being one of such themes. As with previous titles, X is the sole character that can acquire the extra armor parts left by Dr. Light hidden around stages. While these themes are what separate the dynamic duo, they both can dash and hang on walls momentarily, which can be a difference between being safe or galling into a pit full of lethal spikes.

X and Zero must confront a whole new set of Maverick bosses all around the game, including Magma Dragoon who can mimic Ryu and Ken's Street Fighter moves and Split Mushroom who can divide itself as Gemini Man did on MegaMan 3. Each encounter follows the familiar formula of Rock, Paper, Scissors strategy and it makes the game quite easier when choosing the right weapon to shorten the fight. I have found however, that some bosses seem to be just as easy by using X's arm canon than having to guess what sub-weapon he must use. To each their own.

The music is loud, intense, and quite addictive. You probably will find yourself nodding your head to a stage's track while surviving its perils. Characters now are able to speak lines during Japanese animated-like cutscenes and during gameplay. This was yet another gratifying experience as I watched Zero's entrance to the game, where he keeps having recurring nightmares of violence and a strange figure commanding him to fight his enemy. To MegaMan fans this is quite familiar as to what it all means.

Perhaps MegaMan X 4's strongest suit is its story, which develops in a fantastic form of lore adding much to the entire saga. Both X and Zero are tragic pieces in a game of survival and the fight to preserve humankind, all the while questioning their own place within a world they protect. Even after the day is won both characters feel conflicted on everything, making the ending a bitter sweet victory.

While there have been quite a number of MegaMan X games that came along before and after, I consider X4 to be the saga's finest. Perhaps it is because it was the first title to give its 32-Bit overhaul and countless additions since its SNES days, or maybe because the story is much deeper than other games. I cannot deny that this is indeed, a fine title within said saga, one perhaps as big as the first game that debuted during the SNES days.


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (February 28, 2019)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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