I was never hugely interested in the Mega Man franchise to begin with, but as of recently, I've grown incredibly fond of the franchise, and so could not resist trying out Maverick Hunter X, a PSP remake of the original 1993 SNES game, Mega Man X. Mega Man X was a top-notch game in every way possible; it was a challenging and addictive 2D action-platformer game with solid controls, beautiful graphics and amazing music. This remake carries over everything that made the original so special, while also adding great new content.
The tale follows X, a Reploid (a robot) created by Dr. Thomas Light, whom is capable of making decisions for himself and feeling emotion, thus making him drastically different to other robots at the time of his creation. However, Dr. Light feared he may turn to the side of evil and thus sealed him away. Several years after, X awakened and joined the Maverick Hunters; a group of Reploids who are dedicated to removing uncontrollable, dangerous Reploids known as Mavericks. The leader of the Mavericks is the former Maverick Hunter leader, Sigma. It's up to X to take out the 8 Mavericks on Sigma's side and then Sigma himself.
The gameplay bears many similarities to the classic Mega Man series; there are 8 stages to work your way through with a Maverick boss to fight at the end of each stage, and you have a choice of which order to do the stages in. After defeating each Maverick, you'll gain their weapon which can be used against other Mavericks, making their battles much easier. As a result, choosing the order in which to battle Mavericks becomes quite important and this injects an interesting level of strategy into the game.
Like the classic Mega Man, X can jump, often needing to be precise in order to make it over tough gaps, and he can also shoot using his X Buster. In spite of the similarities, it's worth noting that X is a lot more agile than the classic NES Mega Man ever was; he can kick himself off of walls in order to ascend them and can charge his weapon. He also learns a few other neat moves and upgrades as you proceed through the game, including a dash and the ability to break through walls into secret paths.
As you proceed through levels, you can find hidden capsules with an upgrade for you left behind by Dr. Light, as well as other power ups which increase your health bar and refill your health when needed. These power ups are incredibly useful and certainly work well in encouraging the player to explore the 8 stages available to them as opposed to simply travelling from beginning to end. However, it's worth noting that the locations in which these upgrades are hidden have changed completely from their locations in Mega Man X, which some purists may find annoying. The stages themselves were very well-designed and this hasn't changed in Maverick Hunter X, with each stage having its own gimmick, such as an underwater stage in which X can jump higher, a lava-filled factory plagued by conveyer belts or an electricity power plant that occasionally loses all of its light. It's worth noting that stages can also have a change in design depending on if you have defeated certain Mavericks; for example beating the ice Maverick Chill Penguin will enable the lava in the factory's stage to freeze over, meaning that there is one less thing out there that can kill you. This is a great little feature of the X series, helping to add a bit more strategy into choosing the order in which to take out the Mavericks.
The Mavericks themselves can get pretty challenging, and do not necessarily attack in a pattern, requiring the player to react to what they see when battling them. These bosses can also deal quite a lot of damage, thus it is worthwhile to use weapons gained by other Mavericks in order to make things easier. Each of the weapons earned are unique and each of them serve to be a weakness to at least one of the bosses you can fight in the game.
Maverick Hunter X also offers the option of playing as Vile (one of the foes which X will come across in his story) once you have unlocked him via beating X's story. Vile plays drastically differently to X in that he can obtain upgrades exclusively for him, and he can attack in various different ways, including guns, bombs and missiles. He is unable to take the Maverick's weapons, and he cannot dash like X can, but he can be customized so that players can choose which weapons Vile will carry.
Graphically, Maverick Hunter X is a gorgeous game, using 3D graphics while still maintaining the 2D gameplay found in the original. As well as this, there are also anime cutscenes which tell the story and add to the game's graphical appeal. The sound is excellent for the most part, though I will admit that I found some music tracks to be better in the SNES Mega Man X game. However, the game primarily sounds good musically, and the voice-acting is also pretty good, if a little on the cheesy side.
I won't deny that the game is tough; there are a few moments in the game that will initially seem cheap but these moments can be easily overcome, and there are a few irritating moments where you may die after completing a particular tricky segment, meaning you will have to do these segments again. However in spite of these issues, Maverick Hunter X is an excellent game that's well worth trying out if you still have a PSP or have a Vita, especially if you are a fan of the series or enjoy challenging old-school games.