Being an avid Mega Man fan, I wanted to take the opportunity to start with my favorite ever title in the series. I hope to start at the beginning sometime soon, but I want this title to stand out from the crowd as it went by somewhat unnoticed. With the 3D craze in the late 90s, the old school games were getting the back seat in a hurry. Thankfully, Mega Man seems to put up a fight, much like how he did on the original NES before putting himself on the much more powerful Super Nintendo.
So why X4? For starters, it is a brutal return to form to the original Mega Man X title. Gone are the Mavericks from two and three. They did add a cool twist to the series, as you have to search them out to get improved endings (or different Sigma stages as in the thirds case) but this is the only Mega Man title that truly feels like an arcade experience for me. With the large characters, beautiful animation, and tons of large on-screen sprites flying around with no slowdown, it reminds me of a NeoGeo game. It’s noisy, rockin’, and it feels as if it’s an upright next to a greasy Metal Slug cabinet in a dark and seedy old-school arcade. Once the game starts you are treated to the best graphics, sound and perhaps some of the best music in the whole series. The overall look is the darker anime style that the X series is known for. The first prelude stage features incredible industrial stage, ending with a confrontation with a large robotic dragon. Most of the backgrounds in the game feature heavy perspective, such as the detailed mountains that greet you near the beginning of Frost Walrus’s stage.
If there’s anything that didn’t quite fit in the older Mega Man X titles, it was the spoken cinemas that cannot be skipped. Mega Man does have a cool story, but I like to be able to skip them eventually as I like to play games more than once. For example, I didn’t like the operatic moments in the original X game where you had to “try to die” in certain spots to trigger a cinema. In this game, you can speed the dialogue ahead and skip the cut scenes. And you don’t have to try to die!
BUT, the game has incredible animated cut scenes that you will probably not want to skip. The U.S. translation isn’t awesome in the voice department, but the video is quite detailed and has decent animation. This was done in the same way that the NEC CD games were done, with hand drawn cinematics rather than the computerized, polygon-based cut scenes of today. I prefer the former.
One seeming drawback is that the stages you select are very formulaic. I’ve hardly ever seen the classic settings look so amazing, even still. They include a train, ice, water, and a fire stage. But it also has a bio-lab, air stage and the best forest stage Mega Man has ever been to.
Now for the coolest part of the experience: you can play as Mega Man or Zero. Now this isn’t just a color swap, or simply changing the jump heights. Depending on who you choose, the game will feel completely like a new game. Mega Man shoots far, but Zero gets up close and personal with his sword. Mega Man picks up more projectiles (which are cool, fun to use, and useful) and Zero gets new jumps and sword attacks. With Zero, there is no need to scroll through his acquired attacks as you can use his moves anytime by holding different directions on the controller as you swing. He can also do combos. Oh, and the secret order of stages, after figuring out what weapons work on who, like all Mega Man games, is changed for Zero’s game.
At first, you will probably agree that Zero’s game seems tougher. But I find that once you have Zero’s nuances under control, you will find that Zero makes things easier than Megaman in the end!
As for the robotic foes?
Sigma was definitely going off the rocker in this one. Not since Wire Sponge (X2), and Toad Man (MM 4) have there been such a wacky motley crew of robots; including a robotic walrus, mushroom, bee hive, Grim Reaper, and a pea cock to name a few.
It is challenging, but never frustrating. Just like the originals, once you beat the standard 8 stages, you go through the final four till you reach Sigma. Many claim that the Sigma fight in this one is very tough. But with careful strategy, he can be beat without using an energy tank.
It remains still, one of my favorite games of all time.
My favorite Mega Man games (in order)..
Mega Man X4 Megaman X: incredible music, graphics and gameplay Megaman 4-Eight Wily stages instead of 4, great music…and weird, creative bosses Mega Man 2: Almost perfect. Best music in the series. Feels naked without the slide though Mega Man 3: This is so close to two, that It’s hard to pick! Second best Megaman soundtrack and fun levels Mega Man X3: Very tough. Incredible gameplay Mega Man III (Game Boy): Very challenging but great addicting levels. It ranks along with the best of them
Mega Man 7: Feels like a pumped up Game Boy version. The dialogue moves slow though Mega Man 5: Neat searching for secret letters. Hints at what’s to come in the X series
Megaman 8: Great graphics. A bit slow paced, especially with the maze parts
Megaman 6: Fun new moves for Megaman-Pausing the game to transform him slows the game down though