Friday, April 8, 2011

Mega Man X4: What Am I Writing FOOOOOOOOOOOORRR!?

I love Mega Man X4. There, the review-oriented readers don't have to read the rest of this post because you now know whether I give the game a plus or a minus. For those of you still with us, thank you for being the type of person that I write for. Anyway, I don't think I have to into detail on the basics of the game, everybody should know that X4 is Capcom's first Playstation game in the Mega Man X series. A lot of people didn't care for X4, but I have my reasons for loving it, and I will explain them.

This is the first game I installed on my "new" $25 poverty PC.
I got this copy of the PC version of X4 on clearance at some point in the past. Playing it on PC wasn't my first experience with the game, but it was the first version that I owned. When the game was new I had owned a copy of Mega Man 8, and my friend owned a copy of X4, so I ended up playing a lot of both. I still like 8, but X4 is the game that I constantly go back to. I've returned to it numerous times on Playstation, PC, PSP, and on PS2 as part of the Mega Man X Collection.

There is a lot of debate as to which Mega Man games are the best, and my theory is that most people just prefer the ones they've played when they were younger. The exception are the people that have played all of them, but I imagine that is a rather small group. So, I like 3, 6, 8, X, X4, and Legends because those are the games that I played as a child/teenager. I guess, contrary to my own point, the Zero games are my absolute favorite in the series, and I didn't play those or the ZX games, which I also really like, until later in life. But, I think I'd have a tough time objectively looking at the older games in the series because, even though 2 is widely considered the best, I didn't play it as a kid. Whatever. I shouldn't really care, because my whole thing is that I find judging game mostly in comparison to other, even without arbitrary scores, is silly. Guess I'm a hypocrite, or just wrong.

Anyway, about X4 itself. There are tons of things about the game that I love, but I have to admit there are low points. I like the art style. The art design of the characters and the levels are a natural progression of the look from the earlier games in the X series, and it all fits together to make a really vibrant world. The music has the same quality of bringing the classic Mega Man aesthetic into the CD quality audio era. If somebody were to ask you in the 80s what Mega Man music would sound like in 10 years, this would most likely be it. It has an electronic feel that is right at home in a game with so many robots.

The main thing I like about the game is that it controls so well. This is exactly what a Mega Man game and most 2D platformers should feel like. If you are skilled enough and know the patterns of the levels and bosses, you can go through the game without ever being hit. I would say that the controls are perfect, but I do have a tiny gripe. I do much better by changing the dash and secondary attack to shoulder buttons Mega Man Zero-style. The game just feels right, and that is something that must be pretty hard to achieve, because X5 felt a little wrong, and X6 felt really wrong. Also, you can choose to play as either X or Zero, and that's awesome.

Spoiler Warning: Zero failed at robot-love before he could figure out how to robot-sex.
There are two large failings in this game. One, the game is easy. Sure, most Mega Man games seem easy after having played the Zero series, but X4 was a Mega Man game that I could actually beat without cheating as a child, which means it was pretty damn easy. It does make it fun to go back to for me, because I can blow through the entire thing in a couple of hours. I actually went through the entire thing on a single 4 hour shift at the arcade, and that was with me doing my “job,” too.

This guy promptly destroys his giant, custom-built chair.

Two, the voice acting is atrocious. It was the completely flat delivery that Capcom pioneered in the 90's with Resident Evil just a year prior. I'm an apologist for this because, quite frankly, it's hilarious. The writing was decent but boring to begin with, so it's not like the bad acting ruined the game, it just added a level of camp. It mad the game more memorable. Would any American gamer really remember Iris or her death it wasn't for Zero's legendarily bad acting in reaction to it? At the very least, the anime cutscenes were pretty well animated and had some cool moments, like the fight between Sigma and the crazed Zero. Even the bad points of this game are charming in a way.

So yeah, I love Mega Man X4.

A credits screenshot, on my PGN?

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