The whole 3-D revolution never
really swept me along; the 2-D games always proved more entertaining. 2-D sprites have
come a long way since Pong. In fact, Capcoms Street Fighter variants look like an
interactive anime with fluid, colorful characters and vivid backgrounds, not to mention
the lightening fast action. To get to my point, Capcoms newest edition to its oldest
franchise, Mega Man X5, is a disappointment. Its one of the most complex games
Ive ever played on the PlayStation with intense gameplay and lots of action.
Unfortunately, the graphics are blurry and very dated, lacking the crispness of Capcom vs.
SNK and the sound has the quality of an 8-bit system.
Mega Man X5 was my first serious
foray into the world of Mega Man. This is the 20th game of the franchise that
has graced six consoles. Five games have been made on the PlayStation so far. The Mega Man
legacy is spread over three different series: the "original" Mega Man, Mega Man
X, and Mega Man Legends. This current incarnation takes place in the Mega man X series. To
summarize the expansive story line, a certain Dr. Cain discovers X, a robot put into cold
storage a long time ago by the venerable Dr. Light (creator of the "original"
Mega Man). X, who looks coincidentally like Mega Man, has no memory of his past but is
capable of emotion and independent-thought. Dr. Cain starts making robots by the
bakers dozen and, needless to say, a bunch of the robots go bad. Dr. Cain then
creates the Maverick Hunters to track down and destroy these rogue robots. Throughout the
Mega Man X games, X fights alongside Zero, the sword-wielding leader of the Maverick
Hunters. In Mega Man X5, the worlds newest threat is the Sigma Virus, which can
infect machines and turn them into "Mavericks", rogue robots. The virus has
infected a space colony and is causing it to head into the Earth. The Maverick Hunters
have two choices: go and collect parts to assemble a giant laser to blow up the threat or
go and collect parts to repair a space shuttle to send to the space colony. Either way,
youll have to fight four out of eight bosses to discharge either weapon.
Man X5 is simple in concept. With only four buttons to worry about, anybody can master the
controls. Theres the standard "fire" and "jump" button along
with a button to dash and fire special weapons. X and Zero can run, jump, and, yes, even
crouch, all of which are skills you will be using.
might as well get the negative stuff out of the way: Mega Man X5 disappoints me with its
graphics. Capcom was obviously going for an old school feel, but theyve done a lot
of innovative things with other 2-D franchises that shouldve been applied to X5.
And, while some cool effects are used sparingly (like the weapon effects), X5 looks very
much like its Super Nintendo predecessors. Granted, any Capcom fan will tell you that the
PlayStation isnt the greatest 2-D machine, but the blurry sprites offered on X5 were
clearly Capcoms intentions and it was a bad decision. There was another Capcom game
that was released only in Japan called Rockman and Forte (Rockman is Mega Mans
Japanese alias). It was designed for the Super Nintendo, but the graphics and animation
were absolutely beautiful. The sprites moved with such fluidity and beauty that I simply
cant understand why such a style couldnt be implemented to the PlayStation.
Its Capcoms prerogative, but they should realize Mega Man badly needs an
style of cut-scenes used is really annoying. A series of still pictures and monochrome
text that cant be fast-forwarded through is unnecessary. Really, its not the
style that gets to me, but the fact that I have to muddle through it at the snails
pace the game provides. An animated cut-scene would have been a much better choice.
last bad detail Ive found is their choice in music. Capcoms never been known
for its game scores (the Resident Evil franchise exempted), so I wasnt
expecting much, but when I have to mute the TV just so I can finish the game, I figure the
sound is worth a mention. Once again, Capcom thinks old is better and sticks with the
annoying boops and beeps of classic Nintendo-rock. Sure, the bass line might thump a
little more (thanks to the PlayStations sound chip) but its still dated. Once
again, this is a programmers decision and a bad one at that. The sound effects are
average. This is a 2-D action game, so laser-type devices are everywhere, along with their
signature "pssshuu" sound. Zero makes cool light-saber noises when he attacks,
but nothing special really stands out.
whining and moaning: its all about the gameplay, right? Mega Man X5 delivers fast,
button-mashin action that requires good hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and
the patience of a saint. Its enough to make a Quake 3 Arena veteran quiver.
are two playable characters, X and Zero, who both have their own unique fighting style and
abilities. X, like the traditional Mega Man, has a semi-automatic gun arm; the gun arm can
also be charge to fire a more powerful shot. X can be equipped with three different
armors, also with their special abilities. The Force Armor, which you receive at the
beginning, provides you with a hovering ability, a powerful gun, and the ability to charge
special weapons (more on that later). The other armors are found throughout the levels.
There are four parts per armor, so theres a lot of searching involved. The Falcon
Armor provides limited flight ability and the Gaia Armor provides the most protection.
Zero uses a sword-like device that makes him more of a close-range attacker and better
suited for more advance players. Inspired by Street Fighter, Zero can pull off multi-hit
combos and perform special moves. While he doesnt have any armor, he is more
resilient than X and deals more damage.
game starts out with an introductory level that explains the basic plot of the game. From
there, you are brought to the boss menu. Just like the classic Mega Man games, you get to
choose which boss level you want to explore first. There is no particular order in which
to explore the level, but some levels are better visited later in the game.
thing Mega Man X5 truly excels in is its level design. Obstacles befall your chosen hero
at every turn as you hop, dash, and fly by the seat of your pants towards your goal.
Its standard 2-D platforming, so theres nothing really innovative, but the old
Mega Man formula still works. The levels are designed in such a way that they use all the
abilities innate in your character to get through certain spots. Youll find yourself
in situations where you have to jump, hover in place, dash to the nearest wall, and kick
yourself to a different area, all the time zapping away nosy enemies. Its frantic
Just like in any Mega Man game, its all about the bosses and the special weapons
they donate to you once you kill them. Interestingly enough, the localization team from
Capcoms American division decided to rename the bosses after the rock band Guns
n Roses. Cant say Im a big fan, but it was an honor nonetheless to do
battle with the likes of "Grizzly Slash" or "Axl the Red." Anyway,
each boss "gives" you a unique weapon. You can select these weapons at anytime
though they have varying uses. For instance, some obstacles and hidden areas cannot be
thwarted without a particular weapon that freezes/burns/smashes through. In the Force
Armor, all special weapons can be charged so that they are more powerful. Some special
weapons are very effective against other bosses, so experimentation is key.
The main problem with Mega Man X5 is that its a little too old school. Capcom
needs to bring Mega Man into the realm of Street Fighter III: super sharp graphics and
decent music. That said, Mega Man is a hard game not to enjoy. All Mega Man fans will love
this game, but, unfortunately, Mega Man may die a slow death if Capcom doesnt give
the series the jolt it needs.