Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Classic Review - Mega Man X3

At the end of the SNES' lifetime, Capcom decided to send it off with one final big title; the follow up to Mega Man X2, "Mega Man X3." As they say, the third time is a charm, but is that really the case this time around? Mega Man X3 is the third main entry in the X series, but does it really do enough different to make it worth it? Or what about it's other versions? Although Mega Man X3 did debut on the SNES, it also had enhanced ports to the PlayStaiton, Sega Saturn, as well as PCs. Does title do the next generation justice as X1 before it had for the SNES? Well, let's find out.

The Story:

Once again, Mega Man X3 takes place directly after X2, and it continues the story where the game left off. In the world of Mega Man X, robots known as "reploids" have been created. Reploids have the ability to think on their own, and they also have emotions just as you would expect to a human; however they aren't perfect. After a virus takes control of some reploids, they went maverick and began causing destruction across the world. In order to fight back against these crazed robots, a group called the Maveirck Hunters was formed. Before the events of X1, the Maverick Hunter leader Sigma went maverick himself, and fellow hunters X and Zero set out to stop him. After killing Sigma, and after the loss of Zero, X continued to fight for the side of justice and work for a better tomorrow. In Mega Man X2, X tracked down the "X-Hunters," recovered his long lost friend Zero (who was rebuilt by "someone"), and put an end to the reborn Sigma's plans. Now the world enters a new tomorrow.

After a reploid scientist by the name of "Dr. Doppler" creates an anti virus for the maverick virus, everything seems to have finally returned to normal. Humans are able to live without fear, and the Maverick Hunters finally get their well deserved rest. The world is at peace, and everyone is happy once again. That is until the expected happens (at least the player will expect it). Dr. Doppler goes maverick, along with everyone who has taken the anti virus, and once again X and Zero are thrown back in action. The maverick war continues to rage on.

The Gameplay:

Mega Man X3 is, well, the third entry in the series. If you have played either Mega Man X1 or Mega Man X2, you already know what you should expect form this title. The game is a 2D platforming game which is based around faster moving gameplay, and weapons. The main character of the game is yet again a reploid named "X," and once again he has all of the same basic moves. He can move left and right, he can jump, he can dash (which can be combine with the jump to preform a dash jump), he can wall kick off of walls and climb them in the process, he can shoot his X-buster, and the longer you hold the X-buster's shot, the stronger its charge shot will become. Really, not much has changed in this basic area; however that doesn't mean there aren't some minor changes here and there.

Just as in the first two, in Mega Man X3 you start out the game in an intro stage, and once you complete it you can pick from any other 8 stages, and play them in any order. Each stage features a boss with a unique special weapon, and each special weapon is another boss' weakness. Although you can in fact play through any stage in any order, due to bosses having weaknesses; there is always at least one order that works better than others. When it comes down to it, the game is based on killing bosses, getting their weapon to use, and then turning around and using it on another. Still, this is only half of what Mega Man X3 has to offer.

Like in the past two games, stages feature a wide range of settings, and "gimmicks." Each location in the game is set in a different location, and that allows these features to be worked into the stages almost seamlessly. For example, one stage takes place completely underwater which slows down the gameplay and allows you to jump higher, while other stages are based around climbing to newer heights. This helps mix up the gameplay, but it really isn't any different from what the past games had to offer; then again, that really isn't a bad thing. Just like with X1, chances are X2 left you wanting more, and that is exactly what X3 will offer you. Still, there are three major changes.

The first major change is the fact that Zero is now semi-playable. By pausing the game and going into the menu, you can actually switch over to Zero. For the most part Zero plays just like X, but he does have a few minor differences. Unlike X, when Zero charges his charge shot he can actually shoot it twice, and Zero's final level of charge shot is actually his Z-Saber. While this Z-Saber does in fact one hit kill everything it touches, it is a single slash close range weapon, and it has only a few uses because of that. The other major differences play a large role in its limited uses as well.

Unlike X, Zero cannot enter doors, or fight bosses. He can only be called into play during basic areas of the level, and he is also a risk to use. The thing is, if Zero dies, he dies. He will be flat out killed, and he will not make a return for the rest of the game, and he will not even show up in the story; he is in fact dead. Because of this, Zero is really just a back up character for X. If X is low on health, you can switch Zero in to take over, but he really isn't a character you want to use if there are risks involved. In other words, despite him being there, he really doesn't add to much to the game in general.

The other main change to the game is the armor system, and Ride Armor system. In the past games X could find armor pieces (as well as other upgrades) around the levels, and these would give him new abilities. Well, just like before the armor system is in place, but this time around it can actually be upgraded even farther. While the leg parts once again allow you to air dash, they also allow you to dash higher up into the air as well; while this helps improve X's mobility even more, it can be taken a step farther. By finding a special leg upgrade chip, you can actually make it so X can dash twice in mid air. This can be extremely useful, but it may not be the power up you want to choose. The fact is, even though there's a chip for each body part of X's armor, you can only equip a limited number (unless you find the secret armor that is). Since you can only equip so many upgrades to your armor, in a way you can actually customize X to your linking, and mold him to fit your play style a little bit more. As for the new Ride Armor system, well, it is completely different.

In past games in the series, X could jump into giant mechs known as "Ride Armor." These mechs were normally only featured in specific levels and were only used for a specific reason, but this time around they have been changed up. Ride Armors are found just as X's armor and upgrades are found, and they are actually now summoned into the stages. By stepping on a special transporter, you can call in different Ride Armors (ones that are based around melee, ones that are based on swimming, etc), and you can use them in that section of the level. Since you can call a wide verity of Ride Armors in this time around, you can actually use this to your advantage to change up the level's gameplay as well. Different Ride Armors will give you access to different areas, so it can be fun to mess around with them, and see just where they will take you.

The Differences Between the Versions:

As I said above, Mega Man X3 was released to be both one of the last SNES games, and to be the first game to take Mega Man into the new generation, and because of that there are some differences.

Although all versions of the game are basically the same, there are a few minor changes that you would notice right away. First of all, instead of showing the story background like in the SNES version, the PlayStation/Sega Saturn/PC versions of the game feature an anime styled opening scene which someone recounts the events of X1-2, and leads up to the start of X3. The quality of the opening isn't bad, but near the end it does become blurry due to the last half of the scene being an FMV of sprites rather than true animation. The second major difference is that these anime scenes actually carry over into the game as well. While the SNES version features the standard "boss intro" which gives you a preview of the boss you are about to face, the 32-bit versions feature a mini anime scene to introduce them as well. Even though this isn't really a major change, it is nice to see a bit more animation.

The final difference between the versions of X3 is actually the one most may take notice of. The music is different. While some may consider the SNES music to be better, others may consider the 32-bit music to be the best; either way, both versions feature a different track, and that can turn some people off. If you're used to one version of the game, going over to the other version may be a bit funny because of this, but really it doesn't make that big of a difference on the gameplay.

The Good and the Bad:

Mega Man X3 is just as solid as its last entries in the series. If you liked X1 or X2, there really isn't any reason you shouldn't like X3; however that doesn't mean it is as good as them games either. Overall, the game really doesn't have any "bad" points, but the rest of the series does hold it back sadly.

While the game is a great send off title for the SNES, it really isn't an impressive 32-bit game. Its few 3D effects are very basic, the sprites haven't been touched up, and despite the additions of Zero and the new Ride Armor system, there really isn't any that makes this game stand out. It feels like yet another copy and paste, and that alone may turn some people off. Also, despite the mini boss system returning, it really doesn't help out the game either. While in X2 you could tell what mini bosses you could fight, and where you could fight them, in X3 you have to either get luck or very unlucky. At times you may want to fight the bosses, but other times you may be low on health and they will just show up out of nowhere. It's really not as good of a system as X2's, and some people may find it to be a bit annoying.

Another aspect of X3 that holds it back is its level design. While the levels are still fun to play through, there's a pretty good chance that you will prefer the level designs from X1 or X2 better. Not much truly stands out in X3 in this department, but at least they are pretty nice for what they are; however there is one drawback that is closely related to the stage design that truly might hold the game back for you. The enemy design in X3 has been cut back on greatly. While X1 and X2 featured a wide verity of enemies (each stage normally had their own set), X3 cuts back and only uses a handful of basic designs. A lot of the enemies you will come across actually stand still, and they all have the same basic dull looking design. While they still do their job, they really aren't as well designed as in past games, and chances are you will miss seeing your old foes pretty fast.

Other than that, Mega Man X3 is still a fun game, and worth playing. If you're a fan of the first two, you really have no reason to not pick this up, but if you were already burned out by the "copy and paste" X2 pulled, then you may want to skip over this one. Despite all this, I am going to give Mega Man X3 a 7/10. Fun, but it wasn't a true jump into the next generation like many had hoped for.