As long as I can remember there has been a Megaman game done for every Nintendo console since the late 1980's.
Known as Rockman in Japan, the familiar Blue robot slowly and steadily built a cult following, coming out in lots
of games for the Famicom (NES) and Super Famicom (SNES), as well as other consoles, including the recent 3-D games
for the Sony PlayStation.
Megaman's history is a bit convoluted due to his numerous incarnations throughout the years, but for the purposes
of this review we'll take the history as presented in this Game Boy game.
In the year 21XX, humans peacefully co-exist with robots called Reploids. Megaman X, or "X" as he's simply
called, was a mysterious blue robot found years ago by Dr. Cain. Based on his analysis of X, the doctor created
the Reploids, sophisticated robots that could think like humans.
Eventually, some Reploids malfunctioned due to defects--these became known as the Mavericks, while the Reploids
who were tasked to hunt them were called "Maverick Hunters", and X himself joined the Hunters in order
to help the humans.
Sometime during these events, a red robot known as "ZERO" was found; at first out of control, he was
later trained by Sigma, most powerful of the Reploids, and ZERO then joined the Hunters.
Sigma, however, revolted against the humans, and with the Mavericks by his side, tried to destroy everything. With
X and ZERO's help, the Hunters were able to restore order, until now...
As the game begins, Megaman X is transported to a ruined highway. Traversing this disturbingly familiar landscape,
X soon encounters Vava, an old foe that he remembers defeating in the past, yet here he's alive and well. Disposing
of Vava, X is soon transported from his current location and into the truth.
It seems someone or something has hacked into the Mother Computer System at Hunter Base, accessing past battle
data to cause chaos everywhere. To stop this threat, Megaman X must travel to the virtual world of the Mother Computer
and fix its core. But the core is "protected", in the form of X's previous foes--so to reach the core,
X must relive his past battles by defeating these bosses once again.
Megaman Xtreme, like most Megaman games, is a side-scrolling action game. X moves from left to right as he makes
his way to his goal, eliminating all sorts of enemies along the way. X has his primary weapon equipped--the X-Buster,
to shoot at anything in his path, as well as the ability to jump, dash, and climb various walls and obstacles.
Scattered and hidden throughout the levels are Heart Tanks and Sub Tanks, which increase your energy capacity or
refill your energy bar. There are also special Capsules that give you important armor upgrades--these result in
new abilities, like dash jumping walls or breaking open blocks.
A trademark of the Megaman games are the Boss battles--you'll face 4 Bosses initially: Chill Penguin, Spark Mandrill,
Storm Eagle and Flame Stag. As you defeat each Boss you'll gain their ultimate weapon and add it to your growing
arsenal. While you can select each Boss' level in no particular order, it pays to defeat them in a certain order,
as some of them are weak against weapons from the other Bosses.
You move X with the direction pad, and jump with the A button. X can also
scale walls by holding the direction pad towards a wall and pressing the Jump button. The B button fires his weapon,
and holding it before it's released will charge up his weapon to fire a more powerful shot.
Megaman X can also dash--a sudden zooming motion--by pressing the Down pad and the A button, or by quickly tapping
the left or right buttons twice. In addition, Dash can be used together with the Jump button to perform a tricky
move called the Dash Jump. I haven't quite gotten the hang of doing dash jumps--I find them difficult to do and
most of my attempts result in either failure or death, not to mention extremely sore thumbs.
Select goes to a separate menu that shows your weapons and sub tanks, as well as other accessible options, such
as setting the Start button to perform an auto Dash and turning on Auto-Charge and Rapid Fire, which are both useful
and highly recommended options. There's also a Soundtest option where you can listen to the 24 tracks of
background music and 95 assorted sound effects used in the game.
Graphics & Sound
There's no doubt about the graphics in Megaman Xtreme; this is by far the most beautiful-looking
Megaman game on a handheld--everything is brightly-colored, from the backgrounds to the superbly animated sprites,
with lots of little details here and there, like X's eyes blinking, Middy's hands typing on the keyboard, and the
door locks rotating before they open.
The graphics look good on the monochrome Game Boy Pocket as well, but nothing beats playing this game on a Game
Boy Color. Cut scenes are well done, but the captions used leave much to be desired though. Sound and music are
equally good, capturing the 80's techno feel of the SNES games.
Once you beat the game the first time, a new "Hard" mode will
be unlocked, giving you 4 additional bosses to battle while retaining the weapons, tanks, and upgrades you've earned
in the previous levels. And once you've beaten this mode, an Xtreme mode is unlocked, where you have to battle
all 8 Bosses!
X's pal ZERO can also be summoned in Hard Mode to help you out, provided you find the right Capsule, and there's
a super-secret item that you can get (if you've managed to complete the requirements) which gives X the ability
to do the powerful moves from Capcom's other famous game, Street Fighter II.
Capcom has done an excellent job in converting the levels and Bosses from the SNES games of Megaman X and Megaman
X2 into this Game Boy version--in most cases the level layout and item locations are identical to the SNES versions,
so if you've played those games previously then you'll be in familiar territory here.
My only gripe is that the tanks and upgrades are hard to find, and will result in lots of trial and error, not
to mention tedious repetition of the levels before you find all of them. X dies easily, with some moves difficult
to accomplish, so newer players might have a frustrating time trying to clear the level. But an all-important
Save function makes it a bit easier to backtrack, and you get three save slots to boot--no fumbling around for
passwords to type in this game.
Whatever gripes I have, however, are minor and does not detract from what Megaman Xtreme is--a superb rendition
of the Megaman games of old, ready to take along wherever you go in portable form. This is the definitive version
of Megaman on the Game Boy so far, and it's as good as it gets. Let's hope that Capcom doesn't take too long to
give us another one on the much more powerful Game Boy Advance.