At a time when most series were being held back for their 32-bit debut Capcom decided to give Mega Man X one last hurrah on the SNES. Mega Man X3 was released at the tail end of the system’s life in the US and is among its last major releases. As absurd as it sounds the original SNES release fetches a high price on Ebay because of its limited print run. But is it worth those prices?
Mega Man X3 was released in 1996 for the US and Europe. Following the events of Mega Man X2, Sigma has been defeated once again and Zero restored. Dr. Doppler has largely neutralized the Maverick threat supposedly with his technology but things aren’t going well when the former mavericks create Doppler Town in his honor. These suspicions prove true when they in turn attack Hunter HQ, with X and Zero sent to stop them along with Doppler.
Much like Mega Man X2 this installment is more focused on refining the series tropes rather than introducing new gameplay elements to the series formula. The sub tanks, heart tanks, and upgradeable pieces of armor all return. Unlike Mega Man x2 a large volume of new items have been added to the game to spice things up. The most notable among these are the 4 ride armors that can be assembled and later deployed at select points on every level. Previously these were only available for short periods but now you can choose which suit to use once gathered. 4 special chips will grant access to a major upgrade to one of your parts but only one can be accessed forcing a hard decision. Lastly this time around many of the boss’ special weapons have secondary functions necessary to find the upgrades adding an extra dimension to the proceedings.
This kitchen sink approach to the game’s design I imagine was to alleviate many of the criticisms lobbied at X2 and to a degree they work. However most fall flat. The multiple ride armors are a nice idea in theory but in practice are not worth it. It takes far too long to find the necessary pieces for a given suit and when you finally are able to use it on a particular stage the segments are usually short before you’ll have to leave it behind. I think giving the special weapons more uses was an awesome touch as it forced you to become familiar with the level layouts in order to find the secrets.
Completionists have their work cut out for them if they want to find everything, that’s for sure. You have the option to switch to Zero at given way-points in every stage but this is half assed at best. As Zero you cannot receive any armor upgrades or special weapons and you can’t even fight the end level bosses either. It’s too bad the option to use Zero is so half baked but Capcom more than made up for it in Mega Man X4.
A surprising amount of ports were made, most likely due to the game’s limited exposure so late on the SNES. The PlayStation, Saturn, PC and even at one point the 3DO (don’t laugh, the 3DO garnered decent Japanese support in preparation for the upcoming consoles from Sony and Sega) were all home to a version of X3. These ports added new music (and thank god for that, I hated the soundtrack), sound effects, and animated cut scenes to the game at the expense of increased load times. All of these versions were only released in Japan and Europe with the exception of the PC game which saw release in the US in 1998. While they aren’t necessarily vastly enhanced over the 16-bit edition these 32-bit games are the most feature complete and were included in the Mega Man X Collection for PlayStation 2 and GameCube.
As one last gasp for SNES owners Mega Man X3 isn’t the greatest in the series like Capcom probably hoped. Although its new features aren’t fully explored like they should be they do add to the overall experience. Whether it’s the SNES game or the X collection Mega Man X3 remains an excellent action game worth playing.
Join the Retro Game Age facebook group today