Mega Man X3: Zero’s First Time

Mega Man December continues! Mega Man X3 was released in Japan on this day- December 1, 1995.

Rockman X3 Carddass cover, via Reploid Research Lavatory

Rockman X3 Carddass cover, via Reploid Research Lavatory

Mega Man X3 – Zero’s First Time

In Mega Man X3, Zero and X go after Dr. Doppler, a Reploid scientist who claims to have “cured” the Maverick Virus. That cure, however, is quickly proven a false hope. X and Zero engage the enemy in his territory, “Dopplertown”, and fight their way through 8 Mavericks to a final confrontation with series uberboss Sigma.

This third installment added a number of significant firsts to the series that would become staple elements. The most important of these firsts was that dark-horse favorite Zero graduated from NPC and plot device to playable character. With the game’s introduction of the Character Change functionality players were able to switch between X and Zero. Unfortunately Zero was also established in this game as a Glass Cannon (Warning: TV Tropes), with awful defense stats, and he could not be used to enter any boss rooms. In addition, he only had one life, couldn’t use any healing items, and if he died during that life, he was unavailable to use for the rest of the game. In reality, this wasn’t so bad, as X’s many upgrades and life extensions allowed him to vastly out-power Zero by the game’s midpoint anyway, but it ended up making Zero’s playability feel underwhelming.

X3 also further expanded the use of Ride Armors – special external suits of heavy military armor that could be used by X during a level – from one to three, each suit having a particular special ability. Additionally, this game introduces the concept of a desperation mode for the Mavericks – their attack patterns change once they drop below half health. X3 was also the first time the Mega Man X series went to Playstation.

X3 also has some significant lasts. It’s the last 16-bit entry of the series. It’s also the last time X is able to engage in battle with a Maverick without getting a long guilt trip dialogue sequence pre-fight. The following release, Mega Man X4, would amp up the tension between the Maverick Hunters and Mavericks by having the Mavericks question the morality of X and Zero’s actions before they battled (or worse) – which became a series staple from that point on.

Personally, I have a tough time with this game. I’ve beaten X1, MHX, X8, and MM 2, 3, and 5 any number of times, but most of the X-series is hard for me. I’m a stinky casual, and just terrible at working out Maverick attack patterns, so that has something to do with it too. Zero’s my favorite character, so I tend to pick him and then promptly get him killed off by playing like a fool! But at least the early SNES games don’t have Ride Chaser levels – on these, it’s embarrassing how quickly and how often I hurtle facefirst into a cliff in X4.


All through December, we’re holding a Mega Man celebration here and at the Queen of Robots Facebook page! Join in and let us know what your favorite Mega Man game is, or share your favorite memory of X3!

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2 thoughts on “Mega Man X3: Zero’s First Time

  1. When it was first released I enjoyed X3 quite a bit, with its branching paths and extra power ups. Later retrospection made me feel than many of its gameplay elements were probably missteps, and as a result I don’t revisit the game as often as I would X1 and X2. Also I still remember the first time I killed Zero and realized he wasn’t coming back. It was in Acid Seahorse’s stage near the end where you drop and if you don’t immediately bear left or wall cling you fall directly into spikes. I had already defeated 5 bosses, and I had full life too. Had to step back 2 stages because I hadn’t been recording the passwords properly, and hell if the first time I beat the game I was going to let Zero die. It was an emotional (or just plain frustrating) moment for my younger self.

    • I never got too far in X3 , so mostly these days, because the games are hard and I’m a filthy casual, I watch LPs or just refresh with YouTube videos. Really, Capcom has such a long history of dicking Zero players around. Command Mission, ugh, “haha, you don’t get to play Zero for half the game!” X4- “enjoy the guilt”, X7 nerfed to hell…

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