“Red Alert” is a new group of Reploids, similar to the Repliforce, only consisting more of vigilantes. They claim to hunt Mavericks, like the Maverick Hunters, but apparently they do far more than that. One of their members, Axl, decides he’s had enough of their “murdering” and so he tries to leave the group. Unfortunately, the group’s leader, Red, doesn’t take very kindly to this and goes on a mad tear to get Axl back.
When Axl finds his way to the Maverick Hunter base after stumbling across Zero, Red decides this means war and issues a challenge to the Hunters—he will release some Mavericks that Red Alert has in captivity, and whichever group can defeat the Mavericks first will win Axl. (I guess this is sort of like releasing wild animals, letting them rampage, and then racing to see who can kill them first. Um, right.) So anyway, Axl wants to join up with the Maverick Hunters, and although X doesn’t grant this wish right away, the Hunters do allow Axl to fight with them against the Mavericks. (“The prize is joining the fight!”)
So it’s off to defeat the Mavericks, who have already taken root in various parts of the world...
As you can tell from the screen shots, the X series moves 3-D. Actually, this game is almost more of a “2.5-D” game, because it lacks the completely free 3-D movement of, say, Legends (even in the “free range” mode, you can’t tilt the camera and such). Still, the graphics are completely in 3-D and, unlike Network Transmission, not all of the stages are on a side-scrolling track (in fact, very few are).
Game Play Notes
- You can duck, but only in the side-scrolling view. Otherwise, pressing Down just moves you in that direction.
- When you’re in a diagonal-facing view, Left and Right move you forward and back. Down is still duck, and Up does nada.
- When Alia tells you that there is a “DNA Core” detected in an enemy, it means Axl can use his Copy Shot (“A-Trance”) on it.
- Axl’s Copy Shot is on his special weapon button when he’s not equipped with a special weapon. You have to charge it up first, and it does pretty pitiful damage. When you defeat many enemies with this, they will drop a special power-up item that Axl can use to either transform (large) or gain a temporary power-up (small). Transformations wear off after a few seconds.
- X and Axl (and any other situation where you are using a long-range weapon) have a lock-on which is a yellow icon indicating what they are aiming at. You can fire upward and downward and in various angles using this, so you’re not stuck with just shooting horizontally. It’s just too bad the lock-on isn’t anywhere near as good as in Legends 2. For one, the character has a hard time targeting enemies behind him, above him, or to either side. For another, the lock-on doesn’t stick very well; your character loses it if he so much as flinches. Finally, it’s difficult to fire and dodge at the same time, because moving usually loses the lock-on, so your character goes back to firing into empty space.
- Note that your range is actually a little farther than your lock-on, which means sometimes you can hit something even if you’re too far away to lock onto it. Of course this means you have to aim manually then.
- Zero doesn’t have a Buster, but his Saber in this game is able to reflect shots back at enemies. You don’t need an upgrade or a special item for this.
- Unfortunately Zero’s midair Saber swipe is completely useless in this game, and thus his range truly stinks. He has to be on the ground to really hit anything, which makes the leaping attacks that were his saving grace in Mega Man X4+ worthless.
- Enemies appear out of nowhere as you get close to them. You can often watch them regenerate right before your eyes. Be warned that rescuable Reploids have a bad habit of getting themselves killed by enemies and bombs and things that “scroll in” (appear) before you even reach the area where they are. This means they sometimes die far sooner than it is physically possible for you to reach them (lots of times they are dead before you ever are able to see them, in fact).
If you get a dead Reploid on the results screen and can’t remember ever seeing one die, he probably died while he was off camera, before you even reached him.
- Sadly, you have to use Chips when you get them, and Life-Up and Weapon-Up parts are applied automatically to the character who picked them up. This means you can’t really build characters as you would like, and X gets a serious shaft because you can’t even use him at the beginning at all, and by the time you do get him, you’ve already rescued a lot of Reploids and used up their power-ups. (Then again, X probably doesn’t need them as much as the others anyway.) In all fairness, the clear game save alleviates this problem to some degree, as long as you don’t mind beating the game and then playing through it again.
- The death animation isn’t a spiral or anything, the character just hovers and then disappears into a sphere.
- The forward facing view needs a sidestep. Pressing Left or Right + dash can suffice, but a sidestep on L1/R1 (which are useless anyway since there are no functional camera controls) would have been better.
- The “free range” view could use a sidestep too for that matter.
- You start the game as Axl, though you don’t know where he’s going or why, just that apparently wherever he wants to be is not here. I want that gun he used during the opening, though. I mean, he “killed” Aluce and that other guy with it with one shot, and that was such a minor injury. For crying out loud, X and Zero have survived far worse...
- Some of the plot points repeat every time you die, with all the voice acting, and you can’t skip or speed up any of it. (Except for the actual FMV cinemas.)
- A lot of attacks completely butcher your character’s response rate by making him fall flat on his back and lay there for a couple of seconds before finally getting back up. Good luck if you get hit by one of these while you’re trying to make a jump...
- Like the classic X games, X gets his armor in pieces rather than full suits this time. It’s kind of cool to watch his polygon model change as you pick up more pieces. (I also tend to prefer this system because it means you can start gaining the benefit of each piece even before you gather the entire suit.)
- Oddly enough, after you get all of the pieces to X’s suit of armor (called the Glide Armor in this game), you can actually...take it off. I have no idea why you would want to do this, unless you just think the game is too easy, but then why pick them up to begin with?
- It might just be my bad luck, but energy capsules/pellets seem to be extremely rare in this game. Enemies drop weapon energy with some frequency, but I only saw about two life energy drops in my entire first two hours of playing. This not only increases the overall difficulty of the game, but it also makes filling your Sub-Tanks a pain in the behind. (Ironically, this is one aspect of the game that you can improve using data chips.)
- Energy pellets that enemies drop are magnetic. All you have to do is get close to them, and they self-levitate and zoom into your character.
- Sub-Tanks are called Energy Tanks on the subscreen.
- The manual says X has vanished—actually, he hasn’t gone anywhere at all; he’s just in a command position at the Maverick Hunters headquarters instead of fighting in the field.
- Play Control:
- The control is fairly good for a 3-D game, although Axl’s hover tends to activate when I don’t want it to (linking it to a double-jump would have been a better idea if you ask me), and climbing up walls can sometimes be challenging depending on the camera angle (or when your character decides to get stuck on a corner...).
- The backgrounds are pretty well done, with the main downside being that many of them are way too dark. “Dark” as in, lack of light, so you can’t see where you are going. Many 3-D games and most movies suffer from this...
- I love the cell shading in this game, because it looks almost hand-drawn. Curiously, the sprites used during the actual game are lacking most of their black outlines, but I think they did this on purpose since outlines tend to get muddled when viewed from more of a distance (the way you are viewing the sprites during most of the actual game play). Overall, the characters are modeled very well and their animations aren’t bad either, and I like how certain parts of them glow, such as the gems and such on the characters—it makes for a neat effect.
- Most of the tunes didn’t really stand out for me as being either really good or really bad (though the second stage select screen is quite nice), but the music is of decent quality. Just as a side note, I believe this is the first X game which does not change the music when you activate one of Dr. Light’s capsules. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just curious.
- Sound Effects:
- Capcom translated the voices in this game, and at least they aren’t as bad as Mega Man 8’s (although admittedly that level of hideousness is extremely hard to top). I am amused that the voice actors managed to change the meaning of entire sentences with just their dictation... Otherwise, the sound effects in the game are as expected, although I get tired of hearing Zero say “umph ah oh” all the time with every swipe he performs. (X and Axl don’t do this, probably because that would just get too extreme. Although X says “Stop it!” occasionally when he shoots off fully-powered shots...okay, now that’s pretty funny.)
Axl is really the only character who really comes across as being...well, real. X’s complaints against fighting become so repetitive you just want to bonk him over the head, and Zero sounds like he doesn’t care about anything most of the time. But I do I like how there are plenty of plot scenes, and the translation doesn’t seem very bad in this one, so considering Mega Man X6, you have to give them credit for that.
- Difficulty: (normal to hard)
- The actual difficulty is about average for the X series, but the moronic camera in many of the areas will leave you pounding on stages that should have been rather simple. The good side is you have effectively unlimited 1-Ups, even when fighting bosses, so you can just keep banging your head on them until you succeed. The bad side is, if you miss rescuing a critical Reploid, even infinite lives won’t help you out once he’s dead.
- Replay Value:
- They added a clear game save to help in this department, although there are a couple of places I was glad to just be done with and don’t really want to go back and do all over again. Still, like many of the recent X titles, the game does get more entertaining after you’ve played it for a while.
- The character switch from Xtreme 2 is quite appreciated here; it’s just too bad you can only take two of your three characters to any given stage, since there are times when you could use all three. Speaking of which, this game really does seem almost like a combination game, containing aspects from Mega Man X5/Mega Man X6 as expected, but also borrowing some things as far back as Mega Man X2 (like some of X’s armor pieces). It’s almost nostalgic.
- Overall: 79%
- Translating the classic X series engine into an “almost full 3-D” environment is an interesting exercise, but I’m not sure I really like the end result. Graphically, Capcom made the transition extremely well, but as far as the game play is concerned, enemies spend way too much time in your numerous blind spots. (How often have I fired blindly in the direction that I hope the Maverick is standing, because it would take far too long to spin the camera around to actually see him? And that’s assuming it’s a battle where the camera can be moved at all...) Between the lousy camera and the fact that many of the levels are extremely dark, you spend half of the game fighting blind...which isn’t really all that fun, when you get right down to it.
- + Plus:
- Every time you beat a stage, you get a cut scene, which allows the plot to unfold more gradually.
- - Minus:
- Rescuing Reploids is a pain in the neck in this game, which can really be aggrivating because most of them are a one-shot deal.
You have to rescue at least 64 Reploids before you can play as X, so if you want to get him right away, you could just visit stages at random and gather Reploids and items without defeating the Maverick at the end. However, even if you do clear a stage, X will still have the weapon when you get him later, so there is no harm in doing so.
If you are having troubles with the game, pick up X and his armor pieces, then use him to fight the bosses. Ironically, X is the easiest character to use against most bosses, particularly once you have his body armor to reduce damage done to him.
What’s weird is that most of the “weaknesses” in this game aren’t actually weaknesses. Most weapons do pathetic damage to the Mavericks, even the one they are supposed to be weak against. There are a couple of exceptions, but you may depend on just blasting the Maverick with your native weapon in a lot of cases.
I found Tonion to be the easiest to defeat without special weapons; however, the forest stage is the natural one to begin with—it’s a rather traditional stage, the end boss isn’t that tough, and the game puts you there to start with. Still, since this is me, I’m going to be completely untraditional here, and suggest an order based on the overall difficulty of the stages and bosses, rather than by the order of the weapons.
The energy capsule you receive after every battle completely refills your health and one of your Sub-Tanks, but it will only help one character at a time. This makes for an interesting situation where you can only refill each character every other battle. (Or, you could just die—that’ll take care of both.)
This image was pieced together from multiple screen shots, so the overall perspective is wrong, but this should give you the idea.
- Welcome to the most irritating battle in the entire game. No joke. Most of the time I get him down to about 50% health and then get promptly knocked into the water and die. Repeat ad nauseam. Anyway, Red appears and disappears throughout the entire battle, reappearing on random platforms. (Never stand in the center of a platform because otherwise he might appear right on top of you.) He also has two “ghosts” of himself which attack you; you can’t hurt these, so just jump to another platform to avoid them.
There are two main strategies here—one is to wait until Red appears, then quickly jump over onto his platform (try to approach him from behind; he won’t notice you as quickly then) and hit him with the Explosion/Hadangeki weapon, then immediately leap off onto another platform. Red will freeze for a moment, then produce a tornado and disappear. Rinse, repeat. This technique really works best for Zero, because X and Axl will run out of weapon energy long before he’s through. The other strategy is to use X/Axl and hit Red from a distance. He counter-attacks every time you hit him, so either jump to another platform to avoid it, or dodge where you are. (Jumping onto another platform is easier, but you risk getting knocked into the drink.) With X, hit him with fully-powered shots. For Axl, try the rifle he gets while equipped with the Explosion weapon. Notice that sometimes Red appears and immediately begins forming tornadoes on some of the platforms around him; he can’t be harmed when he’s doing this and he disappears immediately after, so just concentrate on finding a safe haven. Note: Turns out the Volt Tornado can actually take a good chunk off his life, so you can mix that in with your other attacks as well.
- Sigma 1st time:
- Sigma has a few varied attacks: a laser which extends across the screen (hang out on a wall to avoid this); a gatling gun with horrible aim (just keep moving and he’ll miss you with every shot); and a rifle which is easier to deal with if you stay over him rather than on the floor. If you hit him with the Wind Cutter you will knock him over; however, for sheer damage I find the Volt Tornado to be the fastest and easiest way to wipe him out.
- Sigma 2nd time:
- As expected, this Sigma is huge. The only weapon which will even reach him from the default platform is the Sniper Missile, but it doesn’t do wonderful damage. Best to find another vantage point while Sigma’s energy meter is filling (since you can’t hurt him then anyway); although it’s tricky since the depth perception is kind of shoddy in this stage, so be careful about not falling off. Anyway, I found the easiest place to be is to head all the way to the far left, which is also the highest vantage point.
Then drop down to the block just below, and stand right against the leftmost block. This will protect you from many of Sigma’s attacks (although sometimes his fist will still hit you here, depending on what angle he comes in on, so be careful). Standing in this corner, you can basically blast away at Sigma with X/Axl, and switch to Zero when Sigma charges with his fist, so that you can swipe the fist and get a little bit more damage in that way. Also, when Sigma comes into close range and bombards you with fireballs, swipe rapidly using Zero and you can bounce them back at him, or just rapid-fire with X/Axl to destroy them. The green spheres you can bounce back at him with the Gaea Shield, but you don’t necessarily want to do this if he’s within range of your buster, because you can do more overall damage by rapid-firing him since he sticks around longer (if you reflect the spheres, he disappears immediately after the first green sphere hits him). The laser you’ll need to jump—take two small hops. Overall, Sigma is, like in Mega Man X6, not that difficult in this game, provided you use your characters wisely.
Note that, breaking all X series trends, if you die to the Sigma 2 battle, you don’t have to fight Sigma 1 over again. On the other hand, you have basically no opportunity to refill Sub-Tanks after you die, so better be sure of yourself before you empty one. Then again, you hopefully shouldn’t need them, particularly if you have X (in armor) with you.
You can find capsules even if you are using another character, but the capsules will only activate for X. Inactive capsules look like blue pods sitting on the ground. If you don’t have X with you when you stumble over one, simply note the capsule’s location, then come back later for it.
- Heart Tank: I am pretty sure I saw this one briefly before I landed on it. I believe you destroy one of the ape-head rocks to reveal it. (You can destroy the ones that fire boulders by shooting their mouths.)
- EX Tank: It’s above one of the rising ape heads later in the stage, almost hidden in the tree foliage. Zero’s double-jump can reach it.
- Boots Capsule: It’s on a branch high up just a little bit past the spikes section. You will see two ape-head statues stacked one on top of the other. Don’t destroy them! Climb up them and then jump-dash left, onto the branch over there.
- Heart Tank: In the second section of the stage, on a narrow pipe extending out over the lava, connecting two larger platforms.
- X-Buster Capsule: In the first section of the stage, it’s after the second fire serpent snake, underneath the ledge. Drop down and you will see there’s a 1-Up on one side and the capsule on the other.
- Heart Tank: It’s in the big room where you have to defeat a certain number of enemy Ride Armors. Look for it on top of a high column that you can climb.
- Sub-Tank: It’s on another of the tall columns, like where the Heart Tank is.
- Heart Tank: It’s behind some crates like the Sub-Tank. Just keep walking around crates (so they turn transparent) and you shouldn’t miss it.
- Sub-Tank: It’s on the second battle ship (the second section of the stage). After you destroy the wall that has cannons on it, there are some crates. It’s hiding behind one of the crates. You can see it if you walk behind the creates so they turn transparent.
- Heart Tank: It’s hard to explain, but there is a section with two gravity-reversing orange panels right next to each other, with a wall between them. The Heart Tank is found on the right-side-up area.
- Helmet Capsule: It’s that blue thing sitting there on the large orange platform that you will probably spot long before you find the way to it. It’s on the right-side-up side.
- Heart Tank: This one is clever. It’s inside an appearing/disappearing block. You might be able to get it and still continue onward by using a double-jump or hover, but if you have to, just fall down (snagging the heart on the way of course). You won’t die, you just land lower in the stage and have to walk back up again.
- Heart Tank: It’s near the end of the loop by some exploding crates. If you’re not going too fast you should see it.
- Weapon Tank: I know it’s in this stage, but I ran over it before I even saw it. I think it’s either behind or inside one of the exploding crates.
- Heart Tank: It flies by a red ship that you have to reach along the right side of one of the paths. The red ship is destroyed a few seconds after you land on it (or maybe it’s just a few seconds after it is generated). There is a rescuable Reploid there too.
- Armor Capsule: Inside the mothership (in the area with the absolutely hideous camera), you will go through a large room with ledges over a big gaping hole in the floor, then end up in a narrow hallway again. The hallway will almost immediately branch three ways. Go down the left branch all the way to the dead-end.
You are able to save up to 5 different slots on one card. When you beat the game, you will be offered a chance to save; this save will be for the beginning of the game, not the end, so don’t save over your end-of-game file (unless you don’t want it anymore).
Also note that while the game allows you to save during the fortress stages, there is no reason to do so once you enter the Crimson Palace stage (the last place where you see the stage select screen), since the save will always bring you back to that point. (I wish they’d let you save after the Red battle...)
- As with a few of the previous games, choosing “Retry” (Continue) places you where you would have been if you’d had a 1-Up. So using Retry can be quite a shortcut.
- If you run out of lives, you get the results screen, along with any items you obtained from rescued Reploids and such, just as if you’d cleared the stage. Then you can choose to retry or save or whatnot. So even if you failed to clear a stage, you can actually power up your characters a bit with the items you obtained from Reploids, then jump right back into the section of the stage you died in, and continue on as if you’d never stopped.
- One technique to use with X and Axl is to rapidly tap R2 while firing away. This changes your target repeatedly which enables you to really spread your fire all over the place. This can destroy enemy missiles heading your way in an eye blink and really decimate a crowd even when you are being swarmed.
- Zero can slash several times rapidly in a row, but he has a bit of a recovery time after he stops. This is a good reason to upgrade the maximum number of slashes he gets—this leaves him vulnerable less. This is mostly an issue when rebounding shots from enemies.
- Large energy capsules that you find lying around stages not only refill your health/weapon entirely, but one will also completely fill a Sub-Tank. Yes, completely. Whee.
- If you really care about your rank, there is a way to cheat it. Enter a stage you have already completed, run back and forth defeating a bunch of enemies without getting hit much, then exit out. Your rank should skyrocket.
- When you beat the game, you are able to save “clear game” data. Loading the result of this will act as if you’d just started the game from the beginning, except that you keep all of the Chip power-ups that you’d applied to your characters (yet you can still rescue those same Reploids again, and get even more Chips). You also begin the game with X unlocked, and his armor if you had that.
- Deep Forest: Probably the most “standard” of all of the stages, although they throw in a few diagonal-facing views and such just to mess you up. At the end is a mini-boss where you must hit the stone heads until they turn light gray. Turn them all light gray to win.
- Lava Factory: Welcome to the most irritating stage in the game. If you want to rescue any Reploids, don’t stop to fight anything on your first pass through the first half—otherwise nearly all of the rescuable Reploids will become dead Reploids before you can reach them.
- Tunnel Base: If you are in a Ride Armor when you meet your kills quota and trigger the Maverick battle, the Ride Armor you were using will be sitting on the battle field during the actual Maverick battle, all ready for you to run over and jump in. That’s right, fight the Maverick in the Ride Armor!
- Battleship: (Let’s hear it for invisible walls!) This stage consists of jumping from battleship to battleship, although you can’t really tell, because your character just jumps off into empty water right before the load screen.
- Cyber Field: In the second portion of the stage, you can flip yourself around using the orange platforms and walk on the underside of the floor. It’s just a shame the developers felt the need to turn the camera upside-down too; the controls are very awkward under there.
- Radio Tower: This entire stage is on a circular track—it behaves like a 2-D stage, except that you are spiraling the entire way. If you fall though a hole, you land further down the stage rather than dying.
- Central Circuit: I was kind of dreading the Ride Chaser stage at first, but it’s honestly not so bad. This unique stage is a race track with bombs spread around it. You can loop the track as often as you want, but you have a time limit to gather all the bombs. This is the shortest stage in the game; once you get all the bombs, you face off with the Maverick, and that’s the entire stage. Anyway, speed isn’t really an issue; it’s better to go slowly because otherwise you will never hit the bombs or the rescuables for that matter. You’re not allowed to turn around and go back if you pass something, so you’d have to loop all the way around again just to get back to it.
Also, though you can fire a buster, you’re better off just dodging most things instead of trying to destroy them all. Finally, you can’t mow over enemies with your bike; it ought to hurt them, but it only ends up hurting you. Note that you can character-switch while in the Ride Chaser (unlike the Ride Armors) and you can thus determine who rescues Reploids and such. (Too bad you can’t get out of the stupid thing and run the track on foot...)
- Air Forces: Surprisingly, the wind from the forward motion of the planes has no effect on you here, but cross-winds on the red and green planes can be enough to fling you right off sideways. I have no idea how these planes are managing to stay airborne with air currents like that... (Side note: Shouldn’t Zero’s ponytail blow around?)
In a rather cool cinema scene, X, Zero, and Axl have defeated Sigma, but he suddenly reappears and blasts Axl through a wall. Sigma is rather battered, but threatens to come back again in a stronger form. But before he can attack X and Zero, “Red” suddenly jumps down and assaults the Hunters, knocking them away. Sigma gloats then that he’ll take Red’s form; however, as he tries to do so, Red reveals himself to be Axl, and he shoots Sigma in the head so well that the single shot blows Sigma clean out of the tower (he’s using that gun again...). With Sigma taken care of (for the time being, anyway), the trio heads home.
- X’s Ending
- Back at HQ, Signas and Alia go through some reports of various Maverick “incidents” that Axl has stopped. (There were a few casualties though.) Anyway, Signas asks X if he will allow Axl to train to become a Maverick Hunter. X refuses, saying Axl could never become a hunter like him. Signas says that if X doesn’t fight, somebody else has to. I guess Zero needs a partner, but it’s kind of a shame—I rather liked X before he turned into a hyper-pacifist. Is Capcom going to make Axl and Zero partners now and have X just sit on the sidelines? Ugh...
- Zero’s Ending
- Zero has a dream of X pointing his arm cannon at him saying “Eliminate the Mavericks” over and over in a monotone. As Zero tries to ask what X is doing, X fires at him...and Zero wakes up. Alia is currently calling Zero for a mission, and Zero heads out murmuring, “At least, I hope that was just a dream...”
- Axl’s Ending
- Axl wants to become a Maverick Hunter, but X still refuses. Axl says he was just doing what X was doing, but X says what he himself did was a mistake. Alia calls in a notice about a new Maverick incident, and Axl runs off, saying he’ll take care of it and that X will make him into a Hunter yet. Alia asks X why not just let Axl do what he wants this time. X says that Axl will make the same mistake they did. But Axl is already gone.
Incidentally, if you watch carefully, you can see some pretty nice fighting in the demos shown during the credits. Too bad the screens are so small though.