Megaman X is everything I hoped it would be. That is, it's everything I remember from the Super Nintendo. It's got enhanced graphics and sound, but the touch interface unfortunately makes for a slightly degraded control experience.
If you’re like me, you played a lot of video games as a kid growing up. My first console was that beautiful 8-bit Nintendo (we called it the “regular Nintendo” after the “Super Nintendo” came out). I unfortunately wasn’t born quite long enough ago to experience Atari in its prime, but I’m sure that was awesome for you old folks.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to play all sorts of games, and I began to lay certain expectations down into my head over time. Expectations like originality, traditional gameplay, mechanics, graphics, and the requirement for a certain level of sophistication which challenged a player to conquer the obstacles that stood in the way of victory. If the game was too difficult, people lose interest. If it’s too easy, it’s not fun (which causes us to again lose interest).
Among my favorite games, was Mega Man. From the very first version on the Gameboy (remember the days?) to the latest versions for the Super Nintendo, I watched the Mega Man series get better and better. Added were the abilities to jump up walls, give special charge abilities to special and more complicated weapons, and of course who can forget Mega Man’s faithful robotic Kanine friend Rush and his always-a-little-bit-more-powerful friend with long blond hair, Zero.
In the story behind the original series, “Rock” is an android created as a lab assistant by the scientist Dr. Light. Following treachery by Dr. Wily, Rock was then converted into a fighting robot to defend the world from Wily’s violent robotic threats. That’s when Rock becomes Mega Man, which is the character you’ll play as. As the game goes, you must fight through the levels using some variation of the “X-Buster” (a cannon attached to Mega Man’s arm) to shoot the robotic enemies inhabiting the various level environments that you’ll navigate through.
Mega Man X was amazing because it challenged me while simultaniously being really fun to play. I had a difficult time beating Sigma (the final boss you’d been waiting to fight all through the game). Sony Playstation got a hold of the Mega Man Series after Nintendo sold away its license for it, and since then I’ve slowly watched Mega Man go from getting better and better, to worse and worse.
Now, CAPCOM has ported Mega Man X to the iPhone, in an attempt to make the game as close as possible to the original Mega Man X for Super Nintendo. This is a game that was number 1 on my list to play when I heard about its release. I was so excited to buy it from the App Store, and get cranking on it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Megaman was one of the original games that allows you to pick the order of your battles. There isn’t really a reason (that they’ve explained anyways) as to why you need to face every enemy in order to get to Sigma, the ultimate evil in this version. However, it wouldn’t be fair to judge the iPhone version of this game for that since the original was exactly the same. It’s still just as fun as it was back then, except for how easy it is sometimes.
Difficulty isn’t really a problem, except that it’s not there. There are two settings for the story mode of the game: Easy, and Normal. Easy is ridiculously simple, and Normal is still too easy. On easy mode, I shot Chill Penguin 6 times with a full charge shot and killed him. In that time, Chill Penguin hit me 10 times. I was still alive, and he was dead. This is the first boss I went to. That should never happen. The fight was a bit more reasonable in normal mode, but not what I would have liked to have seen. I feel like I have far less control over Mega Man with the touch controls (and you really do, especially when trying to do wall jumps), but even with such differences in control, I was able to knock Chill Penguin out of the picture in under a minute on Normal mode (it was about 10-15 seconds on easy). If you have any respect for yourself as a player of video games on the planet Earth… you’ll begin at Normal. I’d only recommend playing on Easy if you’ve never played any touch-based games like this before, and even then, you should consider switching to Normal when you get a feel for the controls.
One thing I also found a bit annoying about the game was that the levels aren’t continuous. Throughout each level, Mega Man will have to walk off-screen to the right, and the game will need to load another section for him to work through. I don’t think this is a limitation of the device either, since many other games have extremely large levels and don’t have a problem (like Sonic CD for iPhone). It’s quite a disappointment that I have to be taken out of the gaming experience 4 or 5 times per level, and I really wish CAPCOM would have done continuous levels. The iPhone can handle it. We’ve seen it. Do it.
One aspect of the game that I was immediately upset about was the automatic charging of my weapon. I thought I was going to be upset about it the entire time playing through, but when viewing the settings of the game, there is a “cheats’ section where these things can be disabled and enabled at will. You don’t even have to exit a level if you’d like to change it, which is a plus indeed. Just as quickly as I started to get upset about the game, I forgave it and became happy once again to have complete control of my character again. Those that are also finding the game to be too easy for them should look to disable these new additions to the gameplay. You’ll get that challenge you’ve been wanting right back in no time.
One small glitch I noticed (it only happened one time) when going through Chameleon’s jungle-like scenery, was the frame-rate skipped up a bit. At first I thought perhaps I was low on battery power, or that the iPhone was having a small problem with having all those other apps on standby behind it (I had about 20 apps open). This wasn’t correct. In fact, the game itself was glitchy. Upon some further research I discovered the horrible truth: Mega Man X for iPhone runs at a lower frame rate than on the Super Nintendo!
I was in awe of this fact. Here we are in 2011 (okay, 2012 now) and the game that ran at a nice 25-30 frames per second on a machine that rocked a whopping 128kbs of RAM back in 1996, was only rendering at around 15-20 frames per second on my iPhone 4 with a 1Ghz (underclocked at 800Mhz) and 512GB of RAM. I don’t really understand what CAPCOM was thinking when they allowed this game to go up onto the store with such a low frame-rate. The processor of the Super Nintendo was putting along at 24.5Mhz back in the day. I know the iPhone can handle a lot, and they should have done better with this. Granted, this is version 1.0, so perhaps these bugs are something that will be addressed later on.
Overall, I’m going to rate Mega Man X for iPhone pretty well. It has great replay value to it later on, and whether or not you are familiar with the Mega Man series or not. you will enjoy what it has to offer. The minor areas of concern will hopefully get better with updates, and the challenge factor that’s opened up in the third difficulty stage really does put your touch-based gaming skills to a test. There are also quite a bit of Game Center achievements that have been added that you may or may not want to grab as you go along as well. Some will come naturally, as you practically get achievements just for shooting or moving sometimes (not entirely an exaggeration, but there are harder ones to get too).
You can check out this game for yourself by DOWNLOADING IT from the App Store.
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