If you were a gamer growing up in the 80s and 90s like I was, you would definitely recognize the name Mega Man. The little Blue Bomber has been in countless different games starting out with the original series in 1987, on to the X series, redone in 3D on the Playstation and even played out on the portables with the Battle Network series of games. Personally the newer releases, especially the 3D ones had left a sour taste in my mouth. To me Mega Man will always be a 2D sidescroller, anything else is just blasphemous. It was with great anticipation that I waited for Maverick Hunter.
If you listened to Cara’s preview in the PSP Podcast #35, you’ll know that this game retains its roots. This game is actually a remake of the 1997 Super Nintendo classic, Mega Man X. It ups the ante, and adds in a little bit of graphic flair by keeping this a sidescroller, but this time with a redone 3D engine.
I’ll have to be honest and say that I was a little bit skeptical of how a 3D sidescroller engine could stay true to its 2D roots. After slapping in this UMD, and upgrading to firmware 2.5 so I could start the game, all doubts quickly evaporated. This game plays like the Mega Man games of old, and that is really the biggest compliment I could give it. I’ve played some other games that have tried to do a 2D engine inside a 3D one and the control was always a little muddy or just off. Capcom hit a homerun with this conversion though; all the character movements feel spot on and tight. There are times in this game where you have to quickly dodge a bullet, or make a series of timed jumps, and it all just works and feels natural while doing it. I quickly found myself forgetting that I was playing a 3D game, which I previously would have thought was impossible. Kudos to Capcom, they’ve succeeded in a proper port where others have failed.
The Maverick Hunter game starts out with a great looking anime intro detailing the first bit of story line, and then presents you with the main menu where you can start your battle. Like all of the early Mega Man games your mission is to destroy all the level bosses, taking their weapons when you do. Once they are all defeated you can then go after the big bad guy to save the world and beat the game. If you are familiar with the series you’ll know that the order you beat the initial bosses in will affect the difficulty, due to each level boss having a weakness to one of the other boss’ weapons. To keep things interesting however, Capcom has remixed the locations of some of the other powerups like the Energy Tanks and Armor upgrades. The levels themselves remain largely the same as the SNES version.
Ok I’ve talked enough about the 2D engine conversion, let’s talk about how the game looks on the PSP. The effects of the 3D engine are subtle. The backgrounds all are highly detailed without becoming distracting. Things like explosions and some of the weapon effects are well done in 3D without looking gaudy. Cut scenes on the other hand are all done in a pleasing anime style with full voiceovers. You can really tell the attention to detail Capcom had with this conversion.
One major departure this version takes from the original is in the soundtrack; nearly all the tunes have been redone and remixed, adding in a new school flavor to the already classic tunes. For the most part I am quite impressed with these soundtrack changes. They retain the original feel, but add in a little bit of fun. I do have a place in my heart for old midi and chiptunes though, so I would have loved it if the original midi tunes were included as an option setting. That is a small complaint though, and did not affect my final score of this game.
If there is one place where Maverick Hunter is lacking, it would have to be the lack of Multiplayer support. But truthfully I can’t really consider this too highly in my final score seeing as the SNES original was single player only. I would have loved it if Capcom threw in a multiplayer co-op mode, or even a fighting game based on the Mega Man arcade game, but made using elements of this release would have been nice. Again, the original didn’t have it, so I shouldn’t complain. Instead Capcom threw in a couple cool bonuses for beating the game.
Firstly, once the game has been beaten you can replay the game as the Maverick Vile. The cool thing is that this game is totally different. Vile has different abilities including shoulder and leg canons, and you’ll have to use different strategies when making your way through the levels and while fighting the boss battles. It’s always cool to see the developers provide a mashed-up version of their game as a completion bonus.
Also unlocked when the game is beat the first time is a short Mega Man X Anime Movie. This movie delves into some more of the story line presented in the game, and is a nice little addition as a freebee.
Finally, this game also includes a playable demo of Mega Man Powered Up, the remake of the first Mega Man game being released later this month. You can play through one level of the original in remix or original mode, and wirelessly share the demo with your friends using the Game Share features. Powered up is a little cartoony for my tastes, but the demo gave me a nice little break from the intense action in Maverick Hunter.
All in all Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is a great game. If you are a fan of the original or just the series as a whole you should definitely pick this one up. Even if you are new to the series, you will still probably enjoy this outing. There is a reason why the Mega Man games have been around so long; Capcom has found the perfect balance of strategy, action and exploration that keeps the gamers coming back for more.
Now who said that 2D games were dead?
The 3d engin is gorgeous and detailed.
All the old midi tunes have been redone and sound great.
There is a reason why all the old Mega Man games were so popular. This game plays like a dream.
Capcom threw a second game into the mix. Going back and replaying the game as Vile is just brilliant.