Mega Man X Command Mission Preview

Mega Man steps outside the platforming box for a new adventure on the GameCube and PlayStation 2.

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Mega Man X Command Mission is the latest adventure for Capcom's blue-clad hero Mega Man. Since his NES debut in 1987, the veteran character has starred in a successful string of games that have seen him made-over about as many times as Madonna, which may have something to do with the franchise's longevity. While Mega Man's console adventures have run the gamut from various platformers to a soccer game, to a fighting game, and even to an aborted racing game, his latest title role finds him dabbling in the RPG genre again. However, this time out, "the tiny blue one" is rolling with a posse in a new turn-based RPG that's looking good. The game was originally shown on video at a Capcom press event held at this year's Tokyo Game Show. At an event in Las Vegas today, the publisher shed more light on what the forthcoming game is shaping up to be.

Mega Man is back, and this time he's in RPG form.
Mega Man is back, and this time he's in RPG form.

Mega Man X Command Mission is set in the Mega Man X universe, which is an offshoot of the Mega Man games for the NES. The Mega Man X games began on Nintendo's Super Nintendo platform in '93 and featured their own spin on the Mega Man mythos. The seven installments of the series (the last of which--Mega Man X7--recently shipped for the PlayStation 2) have followed the adventures of Mega Man X, who is a future incarnation of the original Mega Man. One of the hallmarks of the series has been its darker tone and deeper story. The X games have revolved around Mega Man X's battles against rogue robots, known as reploids, who have been patterned after his design. Mega Man X Command Mission's story finds Mega Man X on a mission (believe it or not) to infiltrate Giga City Island in an attempt to thwart the evil plans of the Liberion Army, which has just initiated a riot there.

While this may sound like a pretty typical setup for a platformer, Mega Man X Command Mission uses RPG-style gameplay mechanics and a pretty standard structure. Your time in the game is divided into character interaction, exploration, and, of course, battle. You'll come to meet and gain a selection of seven different playable characters that you'll use to construct a three-member attack force. In addition to familiar faces, like Mega Man, Zero, and Axl, you'll find four original characters in Cinnamon, Marino, Masimo, and Spider. Furthermore, each has unique abilities thrown into the mix. Character-building represents an integral aspect of the game that lets you buff up your team. You'll discover that using super-energy metals, called "Force Metals," on weapons, abilities, and attack moves will actually upgrade them. This, in turn, improves the overall performance of the characters.

Mega Man X Command Mission lets you roll with a posse that's three-deep.
Mega Man X Command Mission lets you roll with a posse that's three-deep.

The game features RPG-style combat, including a Final Fantasy-like battle order list, which changes as the engagement plays out. Dubbed the "cross order system," it displays the battle turn order and the health of the involved characters. Additionally, it lets you steal your enemies' energies so that you can finish them with "final strike" attack combos. The game also incorporates more tactile elements into its combat to keep the experience fresh. For instance, you'll have to stop a golf swing-like meter or enter a series of button commands to maximize your damage.

The overall presentation of the game appears to follow the style used for Mega Man X7. You'll see cel-shaded graphics and expansive environments, and you'll hear catchy tunes and decent voice. The visuals "pop" thanks to the over-the-top effects used for combat, which include massive explosions and attacks. While still early, Mega Man X Command Mission is looking pretty sharp. The visuals are solid, much like the gameplay, and they go a long way toward selling the look of the massive environments.

From what we've seen so far, Mega Man X Command Mission is coming along rather well. The game is currently slated to ship this summer for the GameCube and PlayStation 2. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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