Preview: Megaman X Collection (PS2, GCN)

Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom / Genre: Action/Platformer / Release Date: 01-10-06

Megaman is a word, that when uttered, brings up memories of some of the best platform and action games of all time. The Blue Bomber has always stood as a stalwart of the video game industry and has in every incarnation garnered success in the gaming community. In recent years Megaman had evolved to the point where the most old school of Megaman fans may not have even recognized the series anymore. But that was quickly fixed with the new trend of nostalgic gaming that has been pumped into the Megaman franchise. With the release of the Megaman Anniversary Collection, which chronicled the entire NES days along with some Japanese only arcade games, it was evident that there was a market for the old school Megaman games in today’s economy. So now we see a new retro compilation in front of us. The Megaman X Collection is the next logical step and Capcom has made sure to deliver with all six Megaman X titles and the interesting inclusion of the oft-forgotten (and for good reason I’m told) Megaman Japanese racing title. For those of you counting at home that will make a grand total of 17 Megaman games that Capcom has re-released for our gaming pleasure, which to me speaks of not only of their ability to think of the fans, but also they are paying tribute to a series that has always been one of the very best. But, while that is all well and good, just because Capcom has re-released them doesn’t mean much without some facts to back this portjob up. So let’s see what we know about the specifics of this newest compilation.

The X series was very well received by fans back in the 1990’s. It introduces tons of new characters and of course lays the groundwork for the mind-numbingly hard Zero series that we see on the GBA today. The plots get a bit deeper, and the series really comes into it’s own adding layers to the already rich gameplay that was in place from the NES days. The true selling points of the Megaman X Collection; however, do not rest in the history. They rest in the value of such old school games that appeal to a more hardcore section of the audience that remember the 16-bit and early 32-bit days. In terms of what purists will want, the sound, graphics, and style of the games will remain faithful to their original forms. Indeed, Capcom seems to be going to a complete port, even right down to including the password system in the games that had it available. Certainly it will be interested to see how the Megaman X series evolved since the compilation will span from 1-6 in the series. Gaming enthusiasts will definitely be curious to see how things change as you go through each game. Remember the first three X games all appeared on the Super Nintendo, with it’s 16-bit graphics. The rest of the series would see the upgrade on either the PSX of Sega Saturn, so there will definitely be a noticeable graphic difference from game to game. Thankfully Capcom has done little to tinker with a winning formula. Not too much has changed, right down to the anime cutscenes in the latter offerings that have some of that horrendous voice acting I first encountered when playing Megaman VIII on the Megaman Anniversary Collection. If you are thinking about buying this game, then don’t expect too many surprises, because the same basic formula that most Megaman games have still applies: Progress through the levels one by one, using the weapons you gain to dispatch the bosses. Of course it’s a winning formula, so there is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken. One aspect of gameplay that will change is the control scheme, at least from the way it was designed in the Megaman Anniversary Collection. Many people complained last time about changing the buttons around on us from the NES days in terms of firing your weapon and jumping. Well, apparently Capcom heard those moans and groans, because they have righted the ship. This collection returns to the roots of Megaman games with the B button serving for shooting and the A button used in jumping. It’s a nice little touch for those of us who did have a slight period of adjustment to make when playing all the NES classics over again.

In terms of special features, the usual suspects are here. Unlockable games? Check. Art galleries? You betcha. Music? Of course. Purists will; once again, enjoy the stroll down memory lane their getting and also like seeing some of the concepts that were used for the games creation. The inclusion of the Megaman Racing game is especially novel. While from everything I have read (it was never released stateside) says that it was horrific, it still should provide those of us who clamor to play Megaman in a new context something to do. My question is where is that damn soccer game that Liquidcross told us about in his history of Megaman? I really, really want to just try that one out for myself since it seems like it would at least be worth some time. Regardless, the extras are a nice bonus, but the real reason people will be clamoring for this release is of course the nostalgia value that comes with it. Retro gamers around the world will be transported back to simpler times when these graphics were all we needed. I won’t lie: I find it refreshing. In a day an age where every company is seemingly at war to top the other in terms of visuals, I miss the days of gameplay first and graphics second.

Ultimately, what we are going to see here is another great package deal. The going price is set atthirty bucks, which for six complete X games and a couple of extras thrown into the mix seems more than worth it. The best thing is that is will span multiple platforms as well, with the release on January the 10th seeing both the PS2 and Gamecube versions hitting shelves. For those of you who missed out on the SNES and beyond days, then this may be something to look into. For those of you already familiar with the series (or rabid in the case of some of the IP staff), then this game seems to make logical sense. Be sure to keep with Inside Pulse game for all the latest in the X collection.