Mega Man Xtreme
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy Color
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 10/20/2000
    • US 01/10/2001
    • UK 08/24/2001
Score: 70%

This review was published on 09/04/2016.

Mega Man Xtreme, titled Rockman X: Cyber Mission in Japan, is a side-scrolling platform video game published and developed by Capcom for the Game Boy Color. It was originally released in Japan on October 20, 2000, North America on January 10, 2001, and Europe on August 24, 2001. This is a spinoff from the Mega Man X series that originated on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid 1990s, which itself is a spiritual successor to the classic Mega Man games on the Nintendo Entertainment System from the late 1980s. Similar to how the classic Mega Man games on the Game Boy combined elements such as stages and bosses from two of the NES versions into a single portable package, Mega Man Xtreme does the same thing, but for the X series. In this case, Mega Man Xtreme recycles content from Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 on the SNES. While not terrible on its own, this game is a disgrace to the originals.

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Before the title screen shows up, you get a rather detailed recap of Mega Man X's origins. Long ago, a scientist named Dr. Light created a robot capable of freewill that he dubbed Mega Man X, or X for short. Light ran tests on X for many years, but he was unable to live long enough to finish the job. About a century later, an archeologist named Dr. Cain discovered X's capsule and released him. Afterwards, Cain analyzed X's body and was able to replicate his design, giving rise to other robots capable of freewill called "Reploids." However, some Reploids grew violent, and these became known as "Mavericks." Along with X, a team of Reploids called the Maverick Hunters were assembled to deal with this newfound threat. Not long after that, a powerful Maverick named Zero was discovered, but Sigma, the strongest Maverick Hunter, took him down. Eventually, Zero became tame and joined the Maverick Hunters. Sigma then defected, leading a revolt against all of humanity. Together, X and Zero fought against the Maverick menace, defeating Sigma over and over.

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Now, X suddenly awakens on the highway where his first adventure took place. After once again beating a Maverick from his past named Vile, who strangely goes by his Japanese name of Vava in this game, X meets up with Zero to find out what's going on. Zero informs X that he was in a cyberspace simulation of one of his previous missions, which was the result of a hack on the world's Mother Computer. Techno, a hacker from a group known as the "Shadow Hunters," breaks into the Mother Computer and destabilizes all the networks across the world. The Maverick Hunters enlist the aid of Middy, a computer genius Reploid, to help out with the confusing conundrum. With Middy's assistance, X is transported back into cyberspace to undo the damage. To take back control of the Mother Computer, X will have to confront digital recreations of Mavericks from his previous adventures. In other words, this game is filler.

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The Game Boy and NES are somewhat similar in specs, so the difference in quality between the Mega Man games released on those two platforms was small. The main difference was that the Game Boy lacked color and had a smaller resolution, but it was about on par with the NES in almost every other respect, as they're both still 8-bit systems. However, the difference in specs between an SNES and Game Boy Color is vast; you're going from a 16-bit home console to an 8-bit portable. As a result of that, the graphics and music in this game are a massive downgrade from the original titles. Sprites are tiny and lack detail, the animations are stiff, the color palette is garish, there's lots of flickering, and the music is tinny. The graphics aren't even that great for the standards of the Game Boy Color, considering games like Wario Land II, which was released on the portable a few years prior, look way better. This is far from the worst looking game on the handheld, but it's also far from the best.

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You'll be exclusively controlling X for this game. The directional pad is used to move, the A button to jump, and the B button to shoot. Holding down the B button will charge X's gun up, allowing him to fire a stronger shot. Automatic charging and rapid fire can be enabled in the options menu, if you're the lazy sort. Like in the other X games, X will slowly slide down walls if he touches them, and he can scale them by jumping onto them repeatedly. X also starts off with the dash ability, which was an early upgrade in the first Mega Man X, but an innate ability in all the future games. Most of the X games have a button entirely dedicated to dashing, but because the Game Boy Color has fewer buttons, that's not the case here. You can configure it so that the start button makes you dash, but that's awkward. It's also possible to dash by pressing down on the d-pad and the A button at the same time, or double tapping right or left on the d-pad, but neither of these is comfortable.

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One of the biggest things about this game is how it handles multiple difficulties. Instead of being harder or easier, there are actually entirely different stages and bosses depending on the difficulty you're playing on. You begin the game with only Normal Mode, but beating it will make Hard Mode available, and beating that will unlock Extreme Mode. Normal Mode and Hard Mode each have four different stages and bosses unique to them, and Extreme Mode simply consolidates all those stages and bosses into a single mode. If you want to see all the stages and bosses, then you'll have to beat the game at least twice. That's annoying, because certain stages are shared between all modes, meaning you'll have to play them multiple times. All your weapons and upgrades from Normal Mode can carry over into Hard Mode if you so choose, but that doesn't solve the issue. In fact, it creates new issues, because if you miss an upgrade from Normal Mode, then you won't be able to get it in Hard Mode. It's stupid that you can't simply play Extreme Mode from the beginning, since it has everything.

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If you've played X1 and X2, then you'll be familiar with most of the stages and bosses in this game. Normal Mode mostly takes stuff from X1 and Hard Mode primarily steals from X2. Just like the classic Mega Man games, the stages are linear, but they can be done in a nonlinear order. The stage layouts are more or less the same as they were in the original games, except with minor modifications to better fit the smaller resolution of the Game Boy Color's screen. Some things have also been moved around or straight up removed. For example, the iconic car enemies you could ride in the intro stage of X1 are totally absent here. Due to the arbitrary removal of sometimes crucial elements like that, these versions of the stages feel watered down. There are also absolutely no unique stages, so you'll be disappointed if you go in expecting new stuff.

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Each major stage has a Maverick boss at the end of it. Like classic Mega Man, X is able to absorb the power from the Maverick he beats, and each one is weak to another's weapon. The Mavericks have nearly the same attack patterns as they did in the original games, and they also give you the same weapons. However, some of their weaknesses are different, which is due to not all of the bosses from those games being present here. A few of the bosses have also been slightly tweaked to be more challenging, like how Armored Armadillo will actually block the weapon he's weak to now, or how Spark Mandrill has a greater invulnerability period after being hit. As for new bosses, there aren't many. The amount of new bosses can be counted on one hand, and they all mostly suck.

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As with most of the X series, there are various permanent upgrades in this game, the first of which are the Light capsules. Whenever X finds one of these hidden capsules, he'll receive a new armor piece after listening to a brief explanation by Light's hologram. The armor upgrades will enhance X's abilities, like increase his defensive and offensive power. Unlike the other X games, the armor pieces aren't visible on X's body until he has all of them, which is pretty lame. The Heart Tanks that permanently extend X's life meter also make a return, as do the Sub-Tanks that allow him to store life energy for later use. The only upgrades new to this game are the Zero capsules. These will allow you to call in Zero to unleash a single attack upon your enemies. It would have been cooler to play as Zero, but that's something they saved for the next game.

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Taking content from a powerful 16-bit console and putting it on a puny 8-bit portable is a bad idea. Part of what made the original Mega Man X games so good is the awesome graphics and incredible music, neither of which is properly represented here. It's not just the technical aspects that have been downgraded, though: the controls and game play have also taken a serious hit. The controls aren't as responsive, and the lack of a proper dedicated dash button is frustrating. The way the multiple difficulties have exclusive stages and bosses is also silly. If you already played X1 and X2, then you have no reason to play this garbage.

Word Count: 1,640

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