Maybe wait for a flash sale.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 came out at the same time as the first back in July. We have a traditional review of it already. My own legacy with this series goes back years though, so I might have some particular thoughts.
That sounds cool! So Zach, tell me about this Mega Man X Collection.
Happy to, disembodied voice! I already reviewed Volume 1 so maybe start there.
Cool, cool, that sounds like a good game. But what about Volume 2?
Volume 2 contains the second half of the Mega Man X series, that is X5 – X8, and a second helping of the X Challenge. What’s unfortunate is that while X1 – X4 are all varying levels of good, X5 – X8 are…not. In general, you could say that the entire X series is a slow downward trend of quality (though it bottoms out at X7 then recovers slightly).
So you’re saying these games are bad.
Basically, yeah. Did you like X4?
Kind of. It didn’t grab me.
Did you like it enough to play it two more times?
I ask because X5 and X6 are essentially reskins of X4 with a few new gameplay mechanics. I mean, the stage layouts and bosses are different, but they all look the same and pretty much play the same as X4.
That’s not encouraging. What are the new gameplay mechanics?
Well, in X5 (and eventually X6) you can freely switch between X and Zero.
That’s cool, Zero rules. Anything else new?
Well, in X5 you can find and equip multiple armor sets for X which is…something, I guess. All the Mavericks got their original names back. The plot is just abysmally terrible, though it does center largely on the implication that Zero was built by Dr. Wily specifically to infect Reploids with the Maverick virus. Or something. This story thread is abandoned completely in X6. I guess X5 isn’t bad; it’s just not especially memorable, like X4. Oh, and there’s a training mode.
Like, a “How to Play” thing?
Yes! Making its debut in the fifth entry of this series for all the people who waited to jump on board until now.
So what’s this about the Mavericks?
Oh, you didn’t know? In the original American localization of X5, somebody thought it would be really cool to name the Mavericks after Guns ‘n’ Roses band members, so you get such memorable bosses as Grizzly Slash, Duff McWhalen, and The Skiver.
“Duff McWhalen?” Somebody thought this was a good idea?
I agree, these names are unforgivably bad.
But now they’re normal?
Yes, thank Arceus. Now we have Crescent Grizzly, Tidal Whale, and Spiral Pegasus.
You know it strikes me that animal and plant-based Reploids always go Maverick.
It seems to be a problem.
Is “Maverick” a virus or a conscious choice? Like, did Storm Eagle decide to join Sigma because he believed in Sigma’s cause or was it because he was infected with the Maverick virus?
Are Reploids just labeled “Maverick” if they start doing things that threaten humans and other Reploids? Are Mavericks just criminals? How in control of their own actions are they?
Would you call the original Mega Man Robot Masters Mavericks? They were all allegedly built for normal jobs, like Cut Man was supposed to cut lumber or something and Pharaoh Man gave tours at some Egyptian museum. Did Dr. Wily just flip a switch and suddenly they turn evil?
And that makes me wonder about Transformers.
Are Decepticons just Autobots who went all Magneto? Can an Autobot decide to side with the Decepticons, change his insignia, and then later realize the error of his ways and go BACK to being an Autobot?
I have things to do.
So anyway, X6 has some terrible level design and forces you to rescue NPC Reploids in order to get “Parts” that X and Zero can equip that modify their abilities. While this sounds good in theory, it’s actually really annoying because some of the “Parts” are fairly critical to getting through the game and since there are no save states, your only option upon failing to rescue an NPC is to reset. Then there’s the story, which kind of glosses over the ending of X5 and there’s a new Big Bad but Sigma shows up anyway because you apparently can’t have a Mega Man X game without Sigma.
Okay, okay, X5 and X6 aren’t great. How about X7 and X8? Weren’t they PS2 games?
Yes, and only one of them is worth writing home about!
Now, I will say that they look really good. Like, way better than I thought they would. They have crisp polygonal models and colorful sets, the whole deal. X7 looks cell-shaded (remember that?).
X7 can’t decide whether it wants to be a sidescroller like every other X game or an overhead 3D-movement based game. So it tries to do both but it doesn’t do either of them well. You initially can only play as Zero or Axl…
Axl is an annoying new character. Remember when everyone got up in arms about the fact that Kojima pulled a fast one on us and made Raiden the playable character in MGS2 instead of Snake? This is kind of like that. Anyway, you can freely switch between Axl and Zero but X is back at HQ flirting with Alia until you beat all the Mavericks. Axl’s gameplay is hampered by a broken auto-targeting system and Zero is strictly melee. They’re both slow-moving, and Axl has a “copy ability” that is functionally useless. Also, this game has a Maverick called Tornado Tonion. He’s a giant orange onion. Like, props to Capcom for trying something new, but without something like Z-Targeting, it’s more frustrating than fun.
So avoid X7.
Right. Now, X8 is actually pretty interesting and really does move the gameplay forward in ways that I maybe wish they’d experimented with a lot sooner. Every stage—even the intro stage—has multiple paths and they have very nice 2.5D layouts. Axl is still awful but at least he gets different kinds of guns from Mavericks that don’t use weapon energy. You have access to all three characters from the start (though you choose two per stage). There’s a whole host of chips you can build to (somewhat) customize the difficulty, and one of the Mavericks is called Bamboo Pandamonium. He’s a robotic panda.
Well that all sounds great. Any downsides?
If you’re going for 100% of the upgrades, you’ll be revisiting each stage multiple times. The game also suffers from the same problem that Mega Man 7 did—the character models are large and detailed, but the aspect ratio hasn’t changed, so your field of view is always a little too narrow. There are occasions where the camera zooms out, which is great when it happens, but there are just as many times where the camera is a little too close to see where you’re going (especially if dropping down a vertical shaft).
But overall you like it?
Yeah, I do. It harkens back to the first three games in a big way. They even brought Vile back.
How’s the story?
Let’s not talk about the story or the ridiculous multi-stage final boss fight.
Okay, so X5 and X8 are good, X6 and X7 are bad. And X Challenge is the same?
And all the overlay bells and whistles are same as in Volume 1?
Yessir. Overall, none of these games are anywhere near as good as X1 and X2, and to a lesser extent X3. X5 is on par with X4, X6 is a step down, X7 is just unfortunate, and X8 picks back up. There’s a reason Capcom included Volume 2 with physical copies of Volume 1, because otherwise nobody would buy it separately. On the download front, I’d say buy Volume 1 but if you absolutely have to have all the X games on your Switch, wait until Volume 2 goes on sale.
Anything else worth mentioning?
One thing. In my review of Volume 1, I said there was one more “extracurricular” X game they could, or should, have included in Volume 2: Command Mission. It’s a PS2 & GameCube sequel to X8 and it’s an RPG. The battles are turn-based, characters have equipment, fights feature status effects and—for the first time in the series—Sigma never shows up. The GameCube version had an interesting bit of GBA connectivity where the GBA player could scan an area for hidden items. I remember it being received pretty well, so it’s a shame it’s not included here since it’s part of the X series canon.
I guess I’ll track it down on GameCube. Thanks, this was fun.
It was! Let’s do it again sometime unless our readers hate it.