Remakes are a touchy subject, especially when the subject matter involves one of gaming’s most beloved characters. So when I heard Capcom was releasing two new MegaMan titles, and both were re-makes, I had my doubts. Maverick Hunter X is essentially the original MegaMan X with a lot of added flare, remixed music, and anime cut-scenes to progress the storyline, but it is also one of the finest 2D games in recent memory, and it’s not just because it’s based on a modern day classic. Read on and find out why the first 2D side-scroller on the PSP is quite possibly the best MegaMan game in the past five years.
Long time fans of the blue bomber have a sort of love/hate relationship with the X series. Some find the slightly darker overtones refreshing when compared to the kid-friendly original and others feel it strays too far from the formula. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall there is plenty to like about this classic update including the fact that PSP owners now have another outstanding title that isn’t simply a port of a PS2 game.
The most notable difference in Maverick Hunter X is obviously the overall presentation of the game. The developers have completely revamped the levels by replacing the flat 2D background with lush and vibrant polygonal scenery. The level structure has also been re-tooled, but unless you played the original religiously you would be hard pressed to notice. In addition to the new coat of visual paint Capcom has gone the extra mile and added in cut-scenes to progress the story, the voice acting is also nicely done although some of the voices could have benefited from just a bit more emotion.
As far as the game play is concerned Capcom has opted for the “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. You still journey through levels attempting to reach the boss, which after defeat, grants you a new weapon power that will aid you with the next encounter. Just like every other MegaMan game in existence every adversary has a weakness, use the Ice Shotgun to take out Spike Mandrill and the Flame Cannon to take out Chill Penguin and so on. There are also several power-ups and items scattered throughout the levels that may require a re-visit after obtaining certain weapons to acquire. For long-time fans of the series this is simply known as “going through the motions”, every MM game since the beginning of time has followed this formula and MHX is certainly no different.
Thankfully Capcom has done an amazing job of crafting the control scheme onto the PSP. Maneuvering X with either the d-pad or analog stick is ridiculously fluid and performing some of the moves that require pin-point accuracy is not hindered by wrestling with sloppy controls. MHX is also not for the feint of heart, just like previous titles in the franchise you will be required to make split second decisions that can easily be the difference between completing the level and starting it all over again from scratch. This type of tedious repetition may turn off some gamers, but fans of masochistic 2D games of old will certainly be in heaven.
Another nice addition that Capcom has thrown into the mix is the addition of Vile, a brand new playable character with separate abilities from X. You unlock this mode after completing the regular story mode once. Vile has access to new weapons including leg and shoulder cannons, a vehicle with on-board weapons, and even super moves that our favorite blue bomber cannot obtain. Vile mode is also a bit more challenging than the already hard-as-nails X mission. The best part is that neither quest is ever frustrating and regardless of how much you perish you will continue to come back for seconds, now that is great design.
While the PSP is certainly not a stranger to remakes and ports Maverick Hunter X is simply more than just your average cut-and-paste job. Capcom has taken an extra step in ensuring that this is more than a quick remake with flashier graphics. Throw in a demo of the upcoming MegaMan Powered Up complete with game sharing abilities so you can send the demo to friends and you have a MegaMan package more than worthy of its $30 price tag. If this is the level of quality we can expect from Capcom on the PSP, then I can say nothing more than bring on the games. Easily the best 2D side scroller to reach a handheld since Castlevania for the DS, a must buy for PSP owners.