Mega Man X Command Mission E3 2004 Hands-On Impressions

We get our hands on the quirky new Mega Man RPG.

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Mega Man X Command Mission is the upcoming RPG for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 from Capcom set in the futuristic world of the Mega Man X titles. The game, officially announced at last year's Tokyo Game Show, is a traditional RPG complete with a party- and turn-based combat system. We had the opportunity to try a brief demo of the GameCube game, and we have come away impressed by how it's coming together.

The demo begins in Giga City where you walk around a bit to get a feel for what to expect from the exploration segments of the game. The sequence plays much like it would in any other RPG. You will also talk to NPC's strewn about the area. Some will have interesting and useful information for you that will move the story along, while others will just offer up general pleasantries. The exploration mechanics felt fine and were pretty much what you would expect.

Combat, on the other hand, offers a unique turn-based system that really shines. When engaging an enemy, your heretofore-unseen party members Axl and Zero appear and stand next to you in formation. While the game uses a standard turn-based system, the actual mechanics feature some cool Mega Man-esque twists. Each character will have a basic set of attacks as well as special attacks that are unique to them. While the normal attacks are pretty standard, the special attacks are very slick assaults that dole out an impressive chunk of damage. You'll initiate the attacks by pressing the right trigger. Mega Man will fire off a charge shot that will draw on his weapon energy (which appears to work like mana in a traditional RPG). After you hit the right trigger you'll have to hold down the A button to fill up his power meter. If you have enough weapon energy the meter will fill to 100 percent, at which point you'll release the button and watch X fire off a massive blast of pain. Zero's special attack calls up a move list and a timer. The goal is to enter as many of the attacks displayed, which are basically Street Fighter-esque fireball and dragon-punch control strings, before the clock runs down. Once time is up Zero will perform all the attacks you entered in order to create some devastating damage. Axl's special attack calls up a massive tree of button inputs that lead to different attacks. So, for example, when you trigger the attack, you see a branching path of button-presses that you'll have a few seconds to enter before time runs out. If you manage to completely enter the string you'll be rewarded by a flashy and deadly attack. Once you finally whittle your enemy's health down you'll be asked to mash the A button so that your trio of fighters can proceed to put an old-school dog pile beat down on them.

The graphics in the game are cel-shaded and offer detailed and smoothly moving visuals. X and the gang look good and have moving elements to their attire, such as Zero's ponytail, that give them some personality. The city environment we saw is detailed and impressive, as are its residents. The assorted effects used in combat were flashy and eye-catching without affecting frame rate, which is always good to see.

The audio in the game is still a work in progress--it is a pleasing array of sound effects with Japanese speech. The game's music stood out thanks to its high-energy beats that called to mind some of the classic old-school Mega Man tunes.

From what we've seen so far, Mega Man X Command Mission is shaping up to be a strong RPG branch to the Mega Man franchise. The graphics are looking good and the gameplay, especially the combat, is fun and easy to pick up. If the brief demo is anything to go by, Mega Man X Command Mission will be one to watch for when the game ships this fall.

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