Shame on you Capcom. Mega Man X5 wrapped up the X saga more or less completely and should have lead into the Mega Man Zero series like planned. But you had to get greedy. The first question is: Why? It’s not as though gamers were begging for another game in the X series on the PS One of all systems so close to 2002. So I’m calling it like I see it, 100 % greediness. And it more or less bit them in the ass.
Mega Man X6 was released near the end of 2001 for the PlayStation, less than a year after X5. Continuing the plot 3 weeks after the disappearance of Zero a new virus is ravaging the near inhospitable surface of the planet dubbed the Zero Nightmare. Taking up Zero’s Z-Saber X sets out to clear his late friend’s name. As the sixth installment in the series Mega Man X6 brings nothing new to the table and survives by merely being a competent entry in the series for the most part. The accelerated development schedule would unfortunately rear its head in many ugly ways that bring down the experience however.
If you’re familiar with any game in the series than you already know what to expect. The sub tanks are here, the heart tanks, the boss weapons all return. Like X5 you start out with a number of armors so you aren’t stuck with gimpy regular X. Now equipped with the Z-Saber your offense is truly complete since you have the tools to deal with any threat, close or long range. After defeating the Zero Nightmare early on you can then select Zero who plays exactly the same as he did before.
There are 2 additions to the game that do somewhat increase its longevity. The nightmare system influences a few facets of the levels as you progress. Defeating a boss will sometimes cause a random level to turn red and fall under the influence of the Nightmare, causing a variety of effects. Some of these range from the mundane, such as changing the layout of boxes to the more severe, such as an increase in damage from enemies or changing the layout completely.
These also have an effect on the Nightmare Soul system. Throughout the game are friendly reploids that need to be saved, much like X5. However in this case if you are too slow the Nightmare enemies will permanently convert them into Mavericks who have to be destroyed. These reploids have optional upgrades that you can equip, with the number determined by your rank. Once a reploid has been converted they are gone for good so if that guy had a particular power up you wanted you are screwed.
So why is Mega Man X6 so divisive in reviews? There’s a severe lack of polish to the whole package. The game’s graphics are strictly average and at times sub-par. The quick turnaround from X5 really shows in how simplistic most of the enemies and backgrounds are, with this extending even to the bosses. The game’s character designer admitted to keeping the design’s simple due to a lack of time which sucks as the bosses are the highlight of any Mega Man game and here they border on generic.
I also question whether the game was play tested thoroughly because of the insane number of unavoidable cheap hits and how overpowered the enemies are compared to you right from the start. In addition, there are sections of the game that are near impossible to progress unless you are using the right character or suit of armor and don’t even get me started on High Max. About the only bright spot would be the amazing soundtrack; seriously, it’s incredible. I’ve been listening to it for almost 10 years now and I’m still not tired of it.
The basic action is still well executed for the most part and if you can overlook the massive flaws I suppose you can still have fun. I mean, it is still a Mega Man game, and no matter how tired the formula gets it does still make for a good time. It doesn’t change the fact that the only reason this game exists is to milk a few more dollars out of the audience and they did so by cutting as many corners as possible.
Join the Retro Game Age facebook group today