"When I began playing, I started out by heading to Chill Penguinís stage. Partway through, I reached a chamber where I anticipated an upgrade that would allow X to dash. The familiar capsule never appeared. I beat the level without any boost to my armor. The same proved true of other locations, and it became obvious that not all was the same. Armor tweaks are still available, but now you have to work harder to find them."
People are sick of remakes. They sit around, complaining about every new port. Thereís no reason to spend money on a recycled product when they can illegally emulate the games of old without paying a cent, they say. The notion that publishers and developers are anxious to bring familiar experiences to the new generation of gamers offends them. So when someone mentions Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, you can bet the whining will start all over again. Before you join in and look silly, though, make sure that you understand a few important details.
First, youíll want to know that Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is not just a remake. Sure, itís got that going for it. This is Mega Man X like you played it on the Super NintendoÖ only not. The 16-bit sprites have been replaced by 3D models without any sacrifices to the 2D gameplay. Backgrounds now feature parallax scrolling and have more detail in general. These are all just cosmetic differences, though. Do they justify a $30 price tag for those who have played Mega Man X? Of course they donít.
Capcom realized this and added some cool features. Ever wonder how Sigma turned bad and convinced maverick robots to join his cause? Beat the game once and youíll get to watch a video that shows the whole story, like an episode of a television show. Thereís a new focus on Vile, too, the character you may recall from the introductory stage of the original release. You get an idea of his background and, more importantly, you get to play through the game as the purple rogue.
Iím getting ahead of myself, though, because I havenít even mentioned some of the twists to the original game. Besides the tweaks to graphics and sound (donít worry; the music hasnít changed much), there are some level modifications. When I began playing, I started out by heading to Chill Penguinís stage. Partway through, I reached a chamber where I anticipated an upgrade that would allow X to dash. The familiar capsule never appeared. I beat the level without any boost to my armor. The same proved true of other locations, and it became obvious that not all was the same. Armor tweaks are still available, but now you have to work harder to find them. Some levels also had a few alterations that threw me for a loop, like an added room or two that surprised me and forced me to tread cautiously.
Armor locations arenít the only change. When you conquer the first eight robots, youíll venture into Sigmaís castle. The first area feels much the same as it always has. You run and blast your way past hulking behemoths that fire heat-seeking missiles your way, while returning fire with the flamethrower upgrade so that they disappear amidst exploding shrapnel. Then you arrive at the area where the huge pit should be. You remember it clearly, how you had to climb floating platforms to a tower in the distance, how flying sentries knocked you from your perch and into a bottomless pit. Only thatís not here now. Instead, you dive into some water and work your way past aquatic wildlife to an encounter with a familiar octopus.
The first three stages of Sigmaís Castle have been changed around almost completely. You never know quite what to expect, and it keeps you on your toes. Then you defeat the gameís boss himself (he has a new attack) and you think to yourself ďHmm, that was a pretty good remake.Ē
Like I said before, though, itís not over. Take a moment to watch the video, then start playing as Vile. Youíll find that the game takes on a new dimension. Heís a lot more than a palette swap. Where X had an arm cannon capable of acquiring new abilities once robot masters fell to his destructive tour of Sigmaís stomping grounds, Vile takes a less flashy approach. He has a shoulder-mounted weapon that can fire horizontal bursts or diagonal ones, and he even carries around grenades that he can chuck at his adversaries. Youíll also have to choose from various upgrades you obtain, to customize his abilities to your liking.
Itís important to make excellent use of these new abilities, because Vileís game is tough. X might have been able to run and jump his way through the stages, guns blazing and eyes directed ever-forward, but the alternate character has to move cautiously. Bats are fond of swooping down and making his life miserable, especially because his frontal attacks canít be charged. You have to compensate with peripheral strikes, and it definitely adds new depth to the same familiar stages. Sometimes, it goes beyond that. Not every level Vile journeys through is a repeat; some stages are all his own.
Even so, half the time you spend with Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is retread. That leaves you to consider the source material, and how much you liked it. If youíve always been a fan of running, jumping and blasting your way through futuristic cities and wildlife, that all remains as much fun as it ever was. However, some people just never really cared for this sort of game. For them, nothing of any significance has changed. At the end of the day, this is a game for anyone who wants an action-packed romp through 13 stages of mayhem. If you hate remakes and you want to complain, save your breath for the games that deserve to be ridiculed. This one doesnít.
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Staff review by Jason Venter (March 25, 2006)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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