keskiviikko 23. tammikuuta 2013

REVIEW - Mega Man Xtreme | GBC | 2000

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: October 20, 2000

When I started doing the Mega Man series for the original Game Boy, I got an e-mail concerning Mega Man X. Since I've only done the first three games in the past, this anonymous sender asked me if I was going to review the other five games. That's not going to happen, at least not during this particular Mega Man marathon. I don't have access to the games at the moment, and I still have a lot more to go than I'm comfortable with already. I told 'em that, and that I am going to check out Mega Man Zero, which is the next series and continues the X storyline. After finishing my response, I realized Mega Man Xtreme exists. It's basically a cross between Mega Man X and Mega Man X2, and at the same time, a Game Boy Color-exclusive original installment in the Mega Man X series. So, it's got a little Wily Wars in it, and a lot of the earliest Game Boy games in it; now that I'm in the zone, I might as well get this over with and see how one of the best and most complex SNES platformers (and its slightly weaker sequel) translate into one limited Game Boy Color game. From the beginning, I just somehow knew I wasn't going to end this initially intriguing trip too happy.

Xtremely heavy on the hands

Nice to meet you too, Dipsy.
Three hackers calling themselves the Shadow Hunters manage to break into the Mother Computer and cause an outbreak of Mavericks. With the help of a computer genius assigned to aid the Maverick Hunters, X enters a virtual replication of the past to erase the battle data from his past and thus end the onslaught... What? How? Why? You figure it out.

The plot is definitely the weakest and most confusing in all the Mega Man franchise (Grade-A accomplishment), and obviously just something quick that the storyboard designers came up with in under a minute to disguise this remake as a fresh entry in the Mega Man X series. Mega Man X has always been one step forward from the rest of the franchise when it comes to the importance and effect of the plot, but Mega Man Xtreme is definitely a break in the strain. After the intro - which lasts forever - all that's left is to find out how the game plays out. Hopefully good, but remembering how dynamic and complex these games were in 16-bit format, and how great they looked and sounded, casts a shadow of reality on the game before it even starts.

X is looking kinda pale...
The original games looked and sounded very nice; they had lots of colours and graphical detail, and the soundtracks of the first two games were some of the best bundles of tunes in the whole franchise. Those same tunes appear here, and the quality of the ported music changes constantly. The top tunes from both games, Storm Eagle and Flame Stag, sound horrible. Spark Mandrill, the next best thing, sounds alright. The title tune of the first game, again, takes a turn to the shitter. You never know what to expect. On top of all, the audio glitches every time you charge the X-Buster or any weapon once you gain the necessary upgrade to do that. If you do what's recommended as far as smooth gameplay is concerned and set the X-Buster to charge automatically, the music fades and breaks all the time. When it comes to how the game looks, well, let's just say I'd wished for just a little more detail - can't be too rough on the graphics of an awesome-looking 16-bit game ported to the Game Boy Color as well as it's possible. X goes under no artificial changes at all after the upgrades, not even colour changes. That's my only true peeve; you can actually miss the upgrades even if you find the hidden upgrade capsules by forgetting to step into the machine. Not only because of this, but a distracting break-action cutscene every time you manage to find one. Overall, the game has a few too many cutscenes considering how crappy the plot is.

Not quite as pumped up about
this meeting as I originally was.
The badly ported theme and
bulky controls took care of that.
The team did a fine job in picking the cream of the crop from Mega Man X and X2 for the game for a change; all of Storm Eagle, Flame Stag, Spark Mandrill, Wheel Gator, Armored Armadillo and Magna Centipede are in, and that's good enough for me considering the bulk of source material available. The levels are pretty much edited or otherwise modified versions of the very same levels that appeared in the original Mega Man X games. Even the new levels are designed in some fashion of accordance to random originals.

So, Mega Man Xtreme progresses pretty much the same way as the Game Boy installments in the original Mega Man series. At first, there are four bosses from the past, then an original level, another set of four bosses, and then another original level. AND, finally, a boss survival, and the final level. But, there's a little twist, "little" being a term used loosely. The first set is the Normal Mode, the second a Hard Mode in which the levels are harder, but you get to keep all of your upgrades and enhancements. The boss survival and the final level make up for the Xtreme Mode, in which all of your upgrades and enhancements are - BADA-DA-DAM! - removed. And, it isn't just a boss survival, but you have to start the whole game over, with all levels accessible from the beginning. If you want the upgrades and enhancements, you'll have to get those again as well. And, you'll have to play hard versions of the final levels of the two previous modes. It's like the last two "modes" were demos, and this is the real game. Feels kinda vain, don't it? Oh, you have no idea how frustrating it is. You can't tell by just reading this, I swear - especially since you can't feel physical pain by just reading a review.

KYEE, you so bad!
I hurt my hand pretty bad a few days ago, but I've been able to play just fine, and I've also been able to be at 100% at work, so it got better pretty quick. After completing just a couple of levels in this game, the pain came back and my hand flared up so bad that I almost threw up. It's just impossible to translate a game like Mega Man X and its most important unique features (like the dash, dash jump and especially wall climb) for such a limited control scheme, but sometimes it feels like they didn't even try. Jumping from wall to wall with the leg upgrade is uncomfortably stiff, especially in Flame Stag's stage, where you have to do it quick in order to escape the magma erupting from the volcano. Charging up any weapon to use alt-fire such as the Speed Burner doesn't always work and your attempted flame dash will land you straight on spikes with not even a hint of an attempt from the game's behalf (any player who has went for the secret Street Fighter upgrades in the game know what I'm talking about). Generally, the level design is quite cramped and dodging the most basic attacks is not only uncomfortable but extremely hard in such narrow playfields. Although the Normal Mode is named as such, it's far from Normal. The Xtreme Mode, however, could be outright renamed the Evil Mode. I'm surprised if anyone can bear the game that far and won't rather just switch to the awesomeness which is the original Mega Man X.

It's a kind of cool, but a really bulky and uncomfortable port, which could've easily been pushed forward by just a year and be unleashed on the Game Boy Advance, if they necessarily wanted to make it. Just two extra buttons would've helped. But, even while the Game Boy Advance had been out for months, they followed up with a sequel to this game for the Game Boy Color in 2001. Let's not question the logic just yet, let's get that game out of the way while we're at it... first, I have to rest my right hand a bit, though.

+ The bosses are mostly cream of the available crop

- I would've breathed easier if it was a simple remake instead of a pseudo-sequel with a whack plot
- The break-action cutscenes are annoying and they come in numbers
- The quality of the audio changes constantly, while nothing really lives up to the original soundtrack as much as possible
- Advanced control is painful
- When the Xtreme Mode kicks in, everything you've already done feels less than pointless

< 6.5 >

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti