Mega Man X is back! In grade 8 or 9, my brother and I sold our Nintendo 64 and switched it up for a Playstation. One of the first games that we rented after this change was Mega Man X4 – so I figured it would be a fun game to review as my first Playstation review for Retro Game Man!
In terms of story, the game takes place in the year 21XX and focuses on the main characters Mega Man X and Zero! Depending on which character you choose to play as, the story focuses on slightly different plot points. Overall, the plot centres on the Reploid Force (a group of robots) who want freedom from the humans! One thing leads to another and the Reploid Force starts attacking humans and X and Zero must save the day!
I liked how the story was presented though anime cutscenes – it brought some much needed depth to the characters and made them much more interesting. I also really liked how the Mavericks were more fleshed out – especially Dragoon – who appears in numerous scenes throughout the game! Although simple, the story was entertaining and provided a great setup for some awesome platforming action!
The gameplay is similar to other Mega Man games. You basically run and jump through levels, destroying enemies with either you blaster or energy saber. Each of the main levels (eight in total) contain a Mavericks to dispatch, and similar to past Mega Man games, a new weapon is obtained following their defeat! The stages are technically the same for both X or Zero, although the game feels wildly different depending on who is selected because each character has a different set of abilities.
Mega Man is like easy mode – players can shoot from a distance, find armour upgrade (that allow hovering, infinite weapon energy, super powered mega buster, super power attack) and has access to all boss abilities to simplify dispatching bosses (if you know the correct order of killing them)! Zero on the other hand is a lot more difficult to play as – there are no amour upgrade modules, Zero only obtains a few new attacks from killing bosses (which makes some bosses really hard as they don’t have a weakness), and is stuck with using a short-ranged sabre. On the bright side, Zero does get a double jump, he gets to use a short-ranged sabre, and learns new techniques from bosses that don’t require energy. Overall, having access to both X and Zero is awesome because each is a blast to play!
In terms of level designs – the developers did an awesome job! Each level feels unique and is filled with interesting enemies and hidden secrets throughout! The levels all feel so different with a variety of gameplay themes like vertically focused vs. horizontally focused, mechs vs. motor bikes, slippery environments vs. raining hellfire, and one level even has a time trial of sorts that rewards the player with awesome items!
There are a total of eight heart tanks, three energy tanks, and four armour modules (for X) for players to find. Finding them is really rewarding and fun because they have a dramatic effect on gameplay and are basically required to complete the game because the game is so darn hard (but in a good way)!
The bosses are also quite varied, but a few still fell into the archetypal elements (e.g., water, fire, ice). I was pleasantly surprised at how challenging the game bosses were – even with the proper weapons equipped, I died a number of times on bosses because I ran out of weapon energy. This was awesome because I needed to be more strategic in how I attacked! While a few of the bosses still fall victim to “Spark Mandrill” syndrome, it’s nothing like the original Mega Man X.
On a side note – a few of the bosses were WAY harder with Zero. I had to return to them after I collected all the energy tanks because they were just so hard and did not have any weaknesses.
In terms of graphics, the game is displayed in gorgeous 2D! The levels look exquisitely detailed with tons of animations in the background, like water flowing or ice shimmering, and still stands up to todays standards. Most of the characters look fantastic too – especially Mega Man and Zero, but also some of the Mavericks like the walrus (who is absolutely gigantic)! The anime cutscenes have not aged as well and look quite pixelated but still do a good job conveying the story.
Like most Mega Man games, the music and sound effects are stellar. Each destroyed enemy feels so satisfying and the music does a great job pumping the player up for some awesome action-packed platforming! Some of those tunes are still stuck in my head…
Overall, Mega Man X4 is an awesome action platform game that feels twice as big because it offers two awesome characters to play as! The graphics have aged surprisingly well, the music is still awesome, and the gameplay is timeless. This game is one of my favourite games on Playstation. Overall, I give this game a 9/10.
Final Score: 9/10