Mega Man Maverick Hunter X

Platform(s): PSP
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom


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PSP Review - 'Mega Man Maverick Hunter X'

by Agustin on March 18, 2006 @ 2:24 a.m. PST

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is a remake of the original Mega Man X title building upon the Mega Man engine and adds totally new characters, environments and gameplay features to raise the bar for side-scrollingplatforms. As with previous Mega Man titles, a stage select system lets players tackle levels in any order and replay them limitless times. By defeating bosses, X acquires weapons which can be used to unlock new paths through other stages. Armor partsare also hidden throughout the game and provide players with abilities that can be used to access additional areas and items. With combinations of jumps, dodges, wall jumps and a high speed dash ability, the action reaches frantic heights which the X series has become known for.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: January 31, 2006


I’d bet the kind folks at Capcom are the sort that help old ladies cross streets, sweep toddlers away from oncoming cement trucks, help deliver babies in taxis stuck in the middle of traffic… you know, really, really kind things. The sorts of things you look at and say, “these guys didn’t have to do that, but they did, and that makes me very happy.”

Let’s sweep the bet aside; of course they would! These are the guys who saw an ailing Dreamcast and gave it Resident Evil: Code Veronica with ports of two prequels soon after. They bothered to localize Mars Matrix, Gunbird, Project Justice. They gave us home versions of every Street Fighter III revision, despite the apathetic response the games received in arcades.

The list goes on: The infamous Capcom Five announcement, giving Nintendo five limited exclusives -- including Resident Evil 4, which many see as the best in the series – during a time when wary developers hesitated to support the Gamecube after the Nintendo 64 debacle. They also remade the first RE, released a Gamecube-only prequel, and ported Resident Evil 2, 3, and Code Veronica. Between all this, another exclusive, Mega Man: Network Transmission, wriggled its way onto the console.

You’d have to be a pretty damn good person to see any of these releases as good ideas when the Playstation 2 was tearing apart the NPD charts like it was. True, they bailed on Nintendo a little early once investors cried foul, but they had to pull back at some point. Regardless, they stuck with the Dreamcast until the bitter end.

If you can bear just a little more aggrandizement, I’ll hop over to the point: They’re doing it again with the PSP. A quick look at the latest NPD numbers shows the PSP trailing the DS in total numbers, while worldwide sales reveal a healthy gap between the two. The PSP is officially a console in need, and Capcom, faced with the choice between two viable handhelds for the first time in over a decade, are going the meritorious route. PSP overlord Ken Kutaragi is about to get hit by a Nintendogs-emblazoned Buick, and Capcom will try their best to pull him out of the way.

The recent announcements say it all: The first new Ghouls ‘n Ghosts game since the 16-bit era. Ports of Dreamcast favorites Powerstone 1 and 2 (showing exactly what kind of platform Capcom sees in the PSP). A puzzle collection featuring Buster Bros., Block Block, and (!) Super Puzzle Fighter, which is probably the most-wanted puzzle-port next to Tetris DS (Nintendo for the win again). Oh, all that and proposed remakes of every single main series Mega Man and Mega Man X game, including X7 and X8.

Uh. Thanks, Capcom! And that’s it for the aggrandizement. Most of it. I promise.

You’re fully aware of the first remake to release, as you clicked a hyperlink bearing its title hoping to read about it, which you will now do: Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter was fully localized and released in the U.S. in a matter of weeks, crappy English voiceovers and all.

Aside from those newfangled 3D graphics, it’s those voiceovers and other “negligible” additions that make this such a meaty release. The gameplay is mostly a point-for-point remake – SNES-specific slowdown and all -- with a number of key items switched around to throw off series veterans. For those unfamiliar, Mega Man X takes place in the distant future, after the events of Megaman and Bass. The evil Sigma must be stopped, and it’s up to Vile, X and Zero to do just that. It’s classic Mega Man without the simplistic constraints of the main series: X can dash, bash his head through bricks and cling to vertical surfaces as well as culling the usual special weapons from bosses. Think Mega Man without being mired in tradition; a forward thinking take on the series.

The PSP version plays almost exactly like the SNES game before it. Almost too much so: The slowdown from the original version, seen as an annoyance to some, is preserved for the sake of properly reinterpreting the experience of the first game. Such attention to detail seems strange when something as simple as the placement of key items is switched around, probably to befuddle players of the original at least slightly during their time with the game.

Otherwise, everything is the same. Enemies have the same patterns, levels are planned almost identically, special moves have the same effects… all of this represented with fully 3D polygons in a two-dimensional world. Things bode well for Goku Makimura (the Japanese name for the new Ghouls “n Ghosts game, which has yet to be titled for release outside of Japan), at least when it comes to control; Capcom has proved they are able to handle 2D gaming without the meticulous process of drawing animated sprites. Of course, 2D games are still to come from the company, the new series Megaman ZX for the Nintendo DS among them, but its nice to see this type of gameplay surviving with or without drawing sprites.

Other new features have been added to keep the game fresh after a quick run (and inevitably quick it will be for series veterans with experience with the boss order; the game can probably be conquered in a good hour and a half). The most notable is Vile as a playable character – yes, that means you fight X at the beginning – after finishing the game on normal, as well as added difficulty modes, which mostly limit player health but provide a proper challenge nonetheless. The Vile experience is slightly changed version, but isn’t as radical as the remixed stages in Megaman Powered-Up -- from what I could tell during the demo. The difficulty gets extremely tough in the harder difficulties, though, so there is quite a bit of mileage for even the best Megaman players. This is the definitive Megaman X game.

Remakes are difficult to rate; repackagings even harder. Irregular Hunter falls into both categories, being such an exact remake in so many ways that it almost feels like a repackaged version of the original. And how can a repackaging be justified? The answer here is the PSP itself, being in such dire need of a solid release as this, the technology it makes available that the SNES obviously didn’t: high-resolution character portraits and of course the 3D graphics. As a $50 PS2 release, this would have been nearly unacceptable. But 30 for a portable version, that plays as well as this one does, is wonderful. Hopefully the rest of the X games follow.

Score: 8.5/10

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