Maverick Hunter X

Maverick Hunter X was released in Japan on this date, December 15, 2005. It’s 9 years old today!

MHXMaverick Hunter X: Incomplete Series Reboot

The release of Maverick Hunter X in 2005 was series creator Capcom’s initial attempt to reboot and restart the Mega Man X series on modern era consoles. As a result, the 16-bit game play of X1 was upgraded into 3D platforming on the Playstation Portable. Apart from the locations of the capsules being swapped around, there’s very little loss of fidelity in regards to actual game play, stage mapping or player control, making Maverick Hunter X a very strong contender and much more fun to play than either Mega Man X7 or X8, the other 3D X games. Of course, the fact that it was only available on the PSP for a number of years crippled broad adoption, and the game underperformed on sales. The reboot of the series was cancelled, and no further remakes were slotted.

This is particularly frustrating as Maverick Hunter X made major adjustments to the series canon, including killing off an important support character three games early, which makes the game incongruous with later entries. Maverick Hunter X also appears to have begun a process of severely retconning or at least significantly altering the back story between Zero, Sigma, and the Maverick Virus- only further releases would have clarified Capcom’s intentions.

What Happens?

As in Mega Man X1, Maverick Hunter X concerns itself with the events of the rebellion of former Maverick Hunter commander Sigma, and his squadron of 8 “Mavericks”. Rookie Hunter X must deal with the betrayal of his former commander, and work together with his partner, the more experienced Hunter Zero, to take down the Maverick rebellion. Anyone familiar with the game-play of X1 will have no trouble picking up Maverick Hunter X.

What Was New Or Different About This Game?

Day of Sigma – The most significant addition to the X series canon is this 24 minute unlockable OAV embedded in the game – you can access it after beating the game once as X. While it plays fast and loose with the previous history of the series, including major alterations to support characters and the motivations of primary characters like Sigma, it’s also really well animated, and voice-acted by the same troupe that did X8 and Command Mission – Blue Water at Ocean. You can watch this online on Youtube in a number of versions including a subtitled Japanese original and the full English dub.

Vile Mode – Play as a fan favorite X series villain by finishing X’s game and unlocking Vile Mode. Levels don’t change, but the cutscenes are significantly altered, the game flow leads to a very different (and fun!) boss encounter with a paired X and Zero as your final obstacle, and Vile has his own storyline and reactions throughout, including custom animated cutscenes that appear to have been snipped from the larger whole of Day of Sigma, and his own unique ending.

New Dialogue and Story Elements – In keeping with the late entries in the X series, Maverick Hunter X now allows dialogue trees between Vile, X, and the Mavericks before battles. The original X1 was very sparse on this material in-game, so each of the Mavericks have now been given additional character depth and motivation. It does however mean that game play does slow down before each boss fight. There are actually three sets of Maverick dialogues – what you get on X’s first run, a new set of altered dialogues if you replay a finished game, and conversations with Vile. Sigma’s ultimate motivations for his rebellion now mirror those of Lumine from Mega Man X8 (released in the same year).

Additionally, all the animated cutscenes and talking heads for all the characters look great, with clean, optimized linework and updated designs.

Where Can I Find It?

The original PSP version of the game can be found on eBay and sometimes in second-hand stores. A port of MHX has been released on PSN and can be downloaded for play on a PS Vita or PSP. You can not play it directly on the Playstation 3, unfortunately.

Mega Man December is an ongoing celebration all month of the Mega Man series. You can contribute too! Join the Queen of Robots Facebook Page or post to QoR on Twitter and let us know your favorite game, series or memory of Mega Man!


Review: Appleseed Alpha (2014)


I picked up a rental of Appleseed Alpha last night. I was on the fence about this movie to begin with after seeing the trailer online and not liking the character design for Deunan.

The apple(seed)s are falling very far from the tree these days. It seems to me that every incarnation of the Appleseed concept after the original animated OAV conversion in 1988 has gotten it wrong in some significant way. Appleseed Ex Machina (2007, also dir. Aramaki) suffered from an excess of attention given to invented characters that did not exist in the original manga and a lack of respect for the primary partnership of its central characters or the original manga’s world-building; these are both problems shared by Appleseed Alpha.

Head over to QoR‘s sister blog, Nerd Like a Girl, for the rest of the review of 2014’s Appleseed Alpha!  QoR updates tomorrow with more Mega Man December.

Mega Man X8: The Light At The End of the Tunnel is a Train(Wreck)

Mega Man X8 was released in Japan on this date, December 7, 2004. Happy 10th anniversary!

X8Mega Man X8: Paradise Lost

MMX8 was Capcom’s attempt to steer the ailing X franchise back into some new waters after the poor reception of both the confused Mega Man X6 and nerfed, clunky-feeling 3d conversion of Mega Man X7. X8 is a return to tighter controls and better modeling, with the characters redesigned to be sleeker and more compact. However, the game suffers from having no less than four on-rails stages while the remaining levels are kind of gimmicky. Mega Man X8 gives the Hunter characters some progression, even setting up new characters and relationships, but their dialogue scenes don’t really hold up to close examination. X8 ends on a cliffhanger that remains unresolved to this day, similar to the fate of Mega Man Legends 2.

What Happens?

After investigating a crash at a work site of an orbital elevator, intended to allow humans to get the heck off Earth and away from the constant Reploid infighting, X discovers a white Reploid with the same shape-shifting powers as Axl. This Reploid calls itself Lumine. Lumine is promptly kidnapped by Vile, and the rest of the game is spent chasing down various Mavericks, trying to find Lumine and stop the latest rebellion. Of course, as is common in the latter half of the X series, nothing turns out to be quite that simple.

What Was New Or Different About This Game?

New enemies – for the first time the series tried something different, introducing a new villain intended to replace or at least complement Sigma. As Sigma had suffered severe villain degeneration and characterization decay over the course of the series, having a new enemy with a different objective was a real breath of fresh air. At least temporarily, the series seemed committed to a new direction of finally retiring Sigma as the final boss.

Currency system – the series continues its slight fusion with RPG elements established in the earlier release of Command Mission by incorporating a new prize system based around monetary objects called “Metals”. Although the Light Capsules remain in play, and X gets no less than three seperate sets of armor (Zero and Axl both get a set through completing the game or cheat coding), all other upgrades to the characters are done through collecting metals and spending them in the Hunter Base R&D Lab. Health-ups and weapon refill items can still be found on the field occasionally.

Voice Acting – X8 was localized by Blue Water and the Ocean Group, better known for anime dubbing, and as a result the voice performances are pretty much the best in the series, being the same actors that also did the voices for Command Mission, Maverick Hunter X and Day of Sigma. Finally, the characters sound like they’re supposed to, and with a few exceptions are pretty easy on the ears – if a little bit Canadian.

Playable and Updated Navis – Alia has been a series regular since X5, but in X8 we get two new Navigators to complement her – Layer, Zero’s counterpart and boss specialist, and Palette – Axl’s counterpart and weapons designer. You can actually play as the three girls in this game after completing it in Normal or Hard. They perform the same attacks and movesets as the guys they are meant to shadow, though Alia is unable to access X’s armor functions, and they get no special cutscenes. The final boss cutscenes and conversations are also eliminated. The game disc holds unused Japanese voice samples of the guys playing Navigator, but the final version elected not to include this.

Removed was the extremely frustrating ‘rescue the Reploids’ functionalities of Mega Man X6 and X7. You can also amuse yourself digging up treasures with Earthrock Trilobyte’s weapon as X, Zero has a boatload of new weapons beyond just the Saber to try out, and there are a couple of levels where Axl’s Copy Shot ability is strategically useful for reaching rare powerups.

Where Can I Find It?

Mega Man X8 was released for the PS2 and for PC. Copies can be found on eBay, Amazon, or sometimes in second-hand resellers.

Mega Man December is an ongoing celebration all month of the Mega Man series. You can contribute too! Join the Queen of Robots Facebook Page or post to QoR on Twitter and let us know your favorite game, series or memory of Mega Man!

Mega Man 4: The One With The Russians

Mega Man 4 was released in Japan on this date, December 6, 1991.


Mega Man 4 (The One With The Russians)

Mega Man 4 is, very mildly, a Cold War artifact. The game’s heavy focus on Russian backgrounds and a Russian villain is interesting, given its release coincided with the end of Communist Russia and Gorbachev opening up relations with Japan and the West. In 1991, Gorbachev even visited Japan!

At this point, the series is beginning to grow in complexity and adding new features, building on the solid success of Mega Man 2 and 3. However, Mega Man 4 is dark and moody, with wintry background palettes and darker colors where its predecessor was more airy. It’s also got a soundtrack loaded with uneasy minor chords and heavy “Russian” flavor. You could also argue the increasing amount of plotting enters the series to distract from a lack of variation on the established gameplay formula.

What Happens?

A crazy Russian scientist named Dr. Cossack, jealous of Dr. Light, sends 8 robots out to defeat Mega Man! But there’s a twist. Of course, it turns out that Dr. Wily was behind it all as usual, having kidnapped Kalinka, Cossack’s daughter, to get Cossack to play along with his scheme.

What Was New Or Different About This Game?

Mega Man 4 has a great opening cutscene! Mega Man 2 gave a very terse explanation of the universe in its establishing sequence (Mega Man 1 just launches right to the boss selection screen), and we don’t get to see Rock’s conversion to Mega Man. This time we do!

This is the first time Rock gets the Mega Buster, a feature that becomes standard and even critical to success in every other game that would follow, including the Mega Man X spinoff series. Charging weapons allows Mega to deal critical damage fast. It’s also the first time you can charge captured enemy weapons in the series. Pharoah Man’s charged weapon in particular makes short work of a lot of game enemies.

Where Can I Find It?

The original MM4 came out on the NES platform and is widely available in emulation. You can sometimes buy the original cartridge on eBay or in second-hand shops. For modern systems, you can find Mega Man 4 on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for GameCube, Playstation 2 and Xbox or on the Virtual Console for Nintendo systems.

Mega Man December is an ongoing celebration all month of the Mega Man series. You can contribute too! Join the Queen of Robots Facebook Page or post to QoR on Twitter and let us know your favorite game, series or memory of Mega Man!

Mega Man 5

Mega Man December continues!

Mega Man 5 was originally released in Japan on this date, December 4, 1992.

Mega Man 5: Proto Man Goes Bad? (Quelle Surprise!)

An underappreciated game in the tail end of the Classic Mega Man era – there would be only one more game before the series jumped to the SNES – Mega Man 5 features an interesting character development, focusing on Mega’s estranged and unpredictable brother Proto Man (Blues). Convinced by some planted evidence that his prototype has gone over to the dark side and started attacking humans, Mega heads out to do battle and rescue his creator, Doctor Light!

MM5 has some pretty interesting stuff for a late series entry, including a brain-twisting level where gravity works backward and upside down – a pretty fun if challenging level – and also introduces a support character, the robotic bird Beat, who can rescue Mega if he accidentally tumbles into a pit.

The game has some of the best level music in the whole of the Classic series, beginning with Mari Yamaguchi’s vividly poignant and regretful theme and carrying on strong throughout. It feels a lot smoother than Capcom’s usual tunes, pleasant and balanced. It’s more of a Sunsoft than a Capcom soundtrack. Check it out in the video below!

Why this game’s music isn’t as celebrated and widely appreciated as that of MM2 is kind of a mystery to me – I think it’s actually a lot stronger, and a lot less worn out from endless copies and covers.

Happy 22nd anniversary, Mega Man 5!

Stick around for more of Mega Man December, and drop by the Queen of Robots Facebook page or Twitter to share your memories of the series!

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!

Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X6

Mega Man X5 was released in Japan on November 30, 2000.

Mega Man X6 was released one year later on November 29, 2001.

There couldn’t be a greater difference between them as far as how they are remembered by fans.

Mega Man X5 – Peak X

“Hunters and Mavericks are very similar. We all simply…exist.”

X5 is generally considered as the pinnacle of series producer Keiji Inafune’s intentions for the series, fulfilling many ominous plot threads set up throughout the early part of the X series, delivering not only the long-promised battle between best friends X and Zero but wiping out about 98% of all life on the planet in the course of the game. It also kills off Zero for the second time and finally confirms in canon his origins as a creation of Dr. Wily.


Mega Man X5 promo art

X5, continuing almost directly from X4, is a moody game designed in part as a farewell to the X series as a whole. Levels in the final stages of X5 are designed to throw back to levels in Mega Man 2, the previous series’ best-remembered and best-received installment, and all throughout the plot the player feels a sense of finality that borders on existential despair. The pre-battle cutscenes have a grim undertone. The enemy Maverick characters continue their thread of lamentation and guilt-tripping the heroes for their actions that really became a distinctive thread of the series after the brutal X4 – That One Where Zero Kills His Girlfriend.

As with a lot of the X series, the plot of the game really doesn’t hold up if you look at it very closely – it involves a variant of the lethal Sigma Virus spreading across the planet within seconds of being released, for example – and the controls of the late X games tend to feel a little sluggish and nerfy. It’s mostly remembered for its epic cutscenes – the drifting memories of Zero as he dies, the iconic shot where both X and Zero are speared through the chests by a single blast fired by Sigma.

In X5, Zero dies (again), X moves on to thinking about the future world he’ll create, and that was supposed to be the end of it.

It wasn’t.

Mega Man X6 – What The Hell Happened?

One year later, under a production rush, Capcom hurried out a confused sequel to X5 that is considered one of the weakest games in the X series franchise. A significant low point in the series and not well regarded, X6 is riddled with a number of problems, including a borderline incoherent plot (which, for the X series, is really saying something). Further problematic is a garbled localization that reduces already vague and confusing plot points from the original to incomprehensible statements like “I hid myself while I repaired myself”.


Mega Man X6 promo art

On top of this are added some incredibly frustrating game play elements like the poorly executed “Nightmare Effect”, which causes a game level to change in difficulty as the player enters it. For example, acid rain falls during a Nightmare Effect level that reduces player health, mobility and visibility in the stage. A punishing ‘rescue’ layer is added, where the player needs to grab and recover endangered civilian Reploids – and if they’re killed, they disappear for the rest of the game. Worse yet, these civilians hold objects critical to player power progression and development.

Because of its rushed and incoherent feel, and its poor handling of canon timeline issues, X6 has become broadly disliked. By this point, fans of the series were beginning to feel the series had gone into a sharp decline, and resented the game for continuing the X timeline after Inafune had already moved on to creating the Mega Man Zero series with IntiCreates. Because of X6, some fans feel that nothing after X5 “counts”, and that the successive games (X7 and X8) represent an alternative timeline.

X6 just isn’t all that fun to play. The Mavericks are tough and the game is artificially challenging without being rewarding – too far off that fine edge of game balance where you feel motivated to keep trying. While some of the ideas within the game are potentially interesting, they’re scattered and poorly presented, and the game doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Join us for more Mega Man throughout December! Leave a comment here or Like the new Queen of Robots Facebook page to discuss X5 or X6!