|Title||Mega Man X4|
|Release Date||September 25, 1997(NA), October 13, 1997(EU)|
|Platform||PS1, PS2, Sega Saturn, PC|
|Age Rating||K-A (Everyone)|
In every great game series there is a game that really tries to push an already excellent game series to new heights. Today’s game involves the fourth adventure in the X series – Mega Man X4.
A lot has been happening since the end of Mega Man X. For starters, Zero has been rebuilt with brand new shoulder pads! Also, Dr. Cain has mysteriously disappeared after Maverick HQ was invaded. However, before disappearing, he created a new militia known as Repliforce to continue Reploid research and assist the Maverick Hunters because they need the help. Iris and Double join the Maverick Hunters, and act as navigators to provide support to X and Zero directly. Iris’ brother, Colonel, is the attack leader of Repliforce and calls the shots over there. Between the two organizations you would think things are going to get under control, but…
The Sky Lagoon, a floating colony, is under attack by what appears to be the Repliforce, and X and Zero are called to investigate. They arrive to find the leader of the 14th unit of Repliforce, Magma Dragoon, informing them that a Maverick has destroyed a power reactor, causing the colony to fall. X and Zero are told to evacuate the area immediately if they want any chance of getting out alive. The colony crashes into a city below, killing many innocent citizens. While this is happening, Sigma lives on as a virus floating around looking for a new Reploid host, so he can reincarnate himself and cause more mayhem! That is the story of Mega Man X4, and it is not going to end well! I guarantee you there will be plenty of blood, love, betrayal and death in this game.
The game is another 32-bit platformer similar to Mega Man 8 on the PlayStation, except with X series’ traditions such as dashing, wall jumping and item collecting. This makes for a much more fast-paced experience closer to a run-and-gun game. When you begin the game, you are given a choice who you want to experience the story as. You can select either X or Zero, and, since both of them control so differently, it may as well be two different games!
X controls as per usual Mega Man standards. He does get some really cool upgrades in the form of armor parts. These allow him to hover or reduce his weapon energy usage to next to nothing. He does get an interesting buster upgrade where you can ‘store’ a charged shot and use it later, which is the opposite of how it has worked for the six years it was in use. Despite those enhancements, playing as X is actually sort of boring. There is nothing wrong with playing as him per se, but we have seen it before. Fortunately, Zero is a completely different story. For one, he only uses his Z-saber, meaning you have to hack and slash your way through enemies. Also, the weapons Zero gets from bosses are activated by simple button combinations. His abilities include a fire uppercut, a downward thrust, a spinning attack and a double jump among many other useful abilities. The story from his perspective is also much more interesting than X’s. Overall, Zero is just a much smoother and more enjoyable character to play as.
A lot of detail has been put in the bosses this time around. For example, the game seems to differentiate between which bosses are following the orders of Repliforce and which ones were just followers of Sigma. The emblem below their health meter indicates which faction they are a part of. This is further reinforced by the fact that some bosses do NOT have the traditional gate that Mega Man bosses typically have. There is also a brief back story on each of the Mavericks when you select their stage. The thing with X4‘s bosses is that most of these guys are not actually Mavericks, but unfortunately, due to some behind-the-scenes manipulations, are being labeled as such by the Maverick Hunters. As a result, X and Zero are out to eliminate them.
The Maverick designs this time around are really cool — my favorites being Magma Dragoon and Slash Beast. The boss battles are really fun, as the Mavericks each have a wide moveset. However, this is somehow ruined by the stunlocking. They handled it just fine in Mega Man 8, but in this game, some bosses get outright DOMINATED by their weakness, at least if you play as X. As Zero, the Mavericks seem to put up much more of a fight, and are much more fun to battle. One annoying aspect is that there is an awkward pause when the boss fight begins after the dialogue exchange is over. The reason for this was that in the Japanese version, they would say something before the fight, but this was cut out for the localized versions.
The levels are split up into two sections, with each one being really brief. Your health recovers in each part of the stage, making them relatively easy to navigate and get through. The Maverick Hunters find themselves in a variety of neat areas such as a jungle, a sea port where you are riding the chaser, an air force with giant UFOs destroying the area and a cyber laboratory that ranks you based on how quickly you complete a room. The overall difficulty as X is really easy, since you can attack enemies from a distance. However, Zero is considered to be the “harder” mode, so pick him if you want a good challenge.
Some people are not fans of the soundtrack for X4, but I felt it works really well. My favorite tracks are the ones that play in Slash Beast’s stage and the second part of Frost Walrus’s stage. It would have been nice if we could get Yukie Nakama’s “Makenai Ai Ga Kitto Aru”(in the trailer below) as the opening, but the one in the localized version works fine, as well.
Mega Man X4 is one of the more common PS1 games. You can get it for about $5-15 or get the X Collection on PS2 for about $20. The Sega Saturn version is once again more expensive and costs around $50-60. The only real difference I’ve noticed was an extra fire effect in the first level and a slightly different sounding theme for the first boss. Mega Man X4 takes about an hour and a half to complete with one character. I recommend playing through it at least three times. Once as X, Zero and Ultimate Armor X. That is right! This is the first game to introduce Ultimate Armor X. He is only accessible with a code, but this armor is so much fun to play with because of the Giga Attack in which X pulls a Dragon Ball Z and covers himself with an aura, at which point he charges forward at high speed, destroying everything in his path. It is incredibly broken, but fun to use. I know I said playing as X is boring earlier, but Ultimate Armor X is at least worth trying out.
Overall Mega Man X4 is a fantastic game. It took what was cool about previous games in the X series, gave it a more interesting plot, cooler weapons and secrets, and allows you to fully play as Zero. Just being able to have two characters that play completely differently from each other makes X4 stand out to me as one of the best games not only in the X series, but the Mega Man series in general. This game is highly recommended and easy to come by, so check it out as soon as you can. The trailer below might be slightly misleading since it is the Japanese version, but is still really cool.
Review Copy Purchased by author