(Game Boy Color)

Mega Man Xtreme (Game Boy Color)

Game Review

Mega Man Xtreme Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Xtreme Mediocrity

Mega Man X is often touted as one of the best games the SNES had to offer, which is certainly saying something. Its first sequel is further from consensus, but it's still safe to say that it's a great followup to its predecessor.

If you've played either of these games — and, if you haven't, stop reading right now and do that — you'd probably be excited by the prospect of a portable title that combines elements of both, reinventing and revisiting two titles from the X series, just like Dr. Wily's Revenge did with the classic series.

Now put that excitement out of your mind, because in reality Mega Man Xtreme fumbles the opportunity. It's not a bad game at all, but it's also not that easy to recommend.

The story takes place sometime after the first two games. X, Zero and Dr. Cain are faced with another Maverick uprising, and it's X's job to face digitised recreations of the bosses and levels he's faced before. Zero's job, for what it's worth, is to take to the streets and defeat all of the new Mavericks that are threatening the future, which makes it more than a little disappointing that we're stuck guiding X through a lesser retread of stages we've already seen.

The feeling of deja vu might have an in-game explanation, but that doesn't make it any more fun. Unlike Dr. Wily's Revenge, Mega Man Xtreme does not provide any unique twists on the game elements. Every stage is exactly as you remember it, only smaller, less colourful, and stripped of its charm. Sounds great, right?

Dr. Wily's Revenge might not be held up as a shining example of great design, but it certainly gets credit for attempting to advance the source material. New hazards, new items and complete stage overhauls — as well as a handful of excellent new tracks — give it an identity of its own. Mega Man Xtreme seeks to copy the identity of the first two X games, without any kind of advancement whatsoever. In fact, it simply takes the stages, bosses, music and graphics of those games and downscales them, making it feel like a lesser — and unnecessary — port rather than a title with any merit of its own.

The changes are minimal. In terms of additions, we have a new good guy named Middy, who disappears halfway through the game having served his purpose, apparently. We also have two new bosses to fight, which is nice, but their designs are uninspired and their patterns of attack are almost identical. One of them has a sword and the other has a projectile, but as long as you've mastered the art of "not standing still while something slowly murders you," you won't have trouble with either of them.

There are also a string of completely unnecessary cut-scenes that feature the most poorly translated dialogue in any X game which, we guess, is a kind of accomplishment.

That about does it for the additions. The first half of the game features three Mavericks from the first X title and one from the second. Conquer that and you'll face "Hard Mode," which is actually the second half of the game. Here you'll find three Mavericks from the second X title and one from the first. Their stages are the same except that you'll find most of the interesting things missing, such as Morph Moth's gravity manipulation and Storm Eagle's glorious entrance.

The fact that Xtreme doesn't look as good as the SNES games is academic; the Game Boy Color didn't have anywhere near the capabilities of that system, and so allowances have to made. The fact that the game doesn't play as well is another story, and that's something that holds Xtreme back.

X's movement is slightly stiff, but the real problem comes with his dash. The lack of buttons on the GBC meant that dashing was mapped to Start. Capcom fortunately saw it fit to allow an alternate control scheme that allows you to dash by double-tapping a direction, or by pressing down and A (similar to the original Mega Man's slide). While this undoubtedly works better than counter-intuitively groping for the Start button in the heat of battle, it's not a perfect solution. The down and A approach doesn't allow a dash jump, and the double tap isn't responsive enough to rely on for quick reactions. This means that the best solution is to alternate your methods of triggering the dash depending upon your particular situation, and that's needlessly sloppy. It's also yet another example of why the ability to re-map controls would be such a welcome feature on the 3DS Virtual Console.

There's also a serious problem with repetition in this game, as the "fortress" stages are identical in all three play modes. Having to slog through the same rooms several times with no changes whatsoever is very dull. Even the final boss is relegated to getting a single new attack each time you face him, the deadliest of which still fails to make him as much of a threat as Chill Penguin.

One of the main delights of the X games was seeking out hidden items and upgrades. Here, everything is exactly where it was in the originals. With no attempt made to even shuffle these around and provide old-hands with something unique to seek out, Xtreme just feels lazy. Couple this with stage elements that are present in the game but not programmed (such as Flame Stag's gas canisters) and blind jumps that stand as evidence that these stages were not even optimised for the smaller screen, and laziness feels more and more like a legitimate explanation.

The best feature of the game, sadly, is one locked away until after you finish it. One pass of the game unlocks Hard mode. Complete that, and you'll be able to play a third mode that lets you select from all eight stages in any order you like. It would have been nice to have this open from the beginning, but we're just glad it's there.

One other nice feature is the fact that your items, subtanks and upgrades can carry forward into Hard mode; though, admittedly, the game offers very confusing instructions about how to do this, so lay down a restore point before you accidentally overwrite your file. If you do this, you can find some additional upgrades that allow you to summon Zero for temporary assistance. It's nothing that great, and they're never particularly useful but, again, we'll take what we can get.

Whereas Dr. Wily's Revenge took the time to establish itself as a unique title in its own right, Xtreme just looks for the easiest way out. Instead of taking the GBC's smaller, simpler limitations and building a game around that, Capcom hacked off just enough pieces of X and X2 to get them to fit. The result is an artless collision rather than a graceful blend, and that's Xtremely disappointing.

Conclusion

Mega Man Xtreme is an interesting curio, but its ambitions exceed its abilities. As fantastic as a portable Mega Man X game sounds on paper, in practice Xtreme is little more than a lesser imitation of the console originals. Little in the way of unique content, copious spelling errors, and inferior visuals and audio — as well as control issues, too-frequent loading screens and repetitious padding — mean that if you can download the first two X games to your Wii U or Wii instead, that's absolutely the way to go. This is a decently fun experience, but because it does almost nothing differently it's also more than a little pointless. Mega Man Xtreme contains a lot of big ideas, but none of them are new, and all of them are better handled elsewhere.

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User Comments (46)

Noboty

#2

Noboty said:

I should've waited for this review before buying it. I definitely wouldn't have bought it if I had read this (of knew what I know now after playing it). This was such a lazy port, but I guess that's to be expected of Capcom.

noctowl

#4

noctowl said:

This game is amazing. I spent so many hours playing this. At the time I was amazed that I was playing a Super Nintendo game on the go. I still have my copy. Terrible review!

TurboTEF

#5

TurboTEF said:

Game is pretty damn good IMO and the sequel is much better. I regret missing out on this back in 2001. Agree with the terrible review, there is nothing lazy about this game at all. The sprite work is fantastic for the GBC as well as the music.

Giygas_95

#9

Giygas_95 said:

Guys, don't just discard it because of a negative review. I bought it day one and haven't once regretted it. In fact, aside from the poorly translated text, I haven't had a problem with any of the other things he mentioned. I'd go so far as to say that this and its sequel are good technical showcases for what the GBC was capable of.

I think it controls very well personally, and as for the dash mechanic, I don't think they could have worked out any other solutions for it given the original hardware's limitations. I doubt Capcom can help it if Nintendo doesn't add a button re-map feature to the 3DS VC (which certainly would have been nice).

I respect Phil's opinion (because it must be pretty frustrating when people say your review, which is your own personal opinion, is terrible), but I still say that if you enjoyed X and X2 you'll enjoy having this on the go. I certainly do.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#12

Philip_J_Reed said:

I’m glad you’re enjoying it too! As a reminder, a 5 is not a negative score. It’s average. And for a game that offers decent fun but not much that isn’t already available in a vastly superior form, I think that’s pretty fair.

Regarding Xtreme 2, I’m looking forward to that one a lot. I’ve played it, but it’s been years, and I’m not sure I finished it. I’ve played through this one multiple times and know it pretty thoroughly, but I haven’t spent nearly as much time with the sequel. I do remember thinking it was a nice improvement, and I’ve read some very positive things about it, so I’m definitely looking forward to giving it a go.

FX29

#13

FX29 said:

Mega Man Xtreme is okay. I do agree with this review to some extent, however I wouldn't call the game mediocre. However Xtreme 2 is a much better game.

EpicMegaman64

#14

EpicMegaman64 said:

I've been loving Xtreme. The music and visuals are both top-notch (8-Bit Spark Mandrill, Wheel Gator, or Armored Armadillo, anyone?), and the sheer scope of the game is astounding considering the platform. There are so many unlockables and upgrades! If nothing else, it's your only chance to play some mega Man X on the go unless you own a PSP.

Giygas_95

#15

Giygas_95 said:

@Philip_J_Reed Yes, X and X2 are obviously better, but for those that don't have a Wii U or Wii but have a 3DS, I think this is a farily good alternative (though if you enjoy Xtreme you HAVE to play X and X2). Agreed, it doesn't offer much new, but I think it is fun. I also am really looking forward to Xtreme 2! I think some of the levels are remixed somewhat, plus you get to play Zero which is always a huge plus for me. One thing about these games that I think Capcom did a fantastic job with was in converting the music to a more 8-bit sounding form (Except for the iconic boss reveal theme that plays right after you select a boss. That one is horribly off-key). I'm also really looking forward to Mega Man V, which, if I remember, you said was possibly the best Game Boy Mega Man game.

TeeJay

#18

TeeJay said:

I bought this game the moment it went live and I do not regret it. I won't say this is a bad review as it is your opinion, but I will say I think you focused too much on its unoriginality. I thought this game was SUPPOSED to be just a mashup-remake of the first two games? As such I don't believe the creators were obligated to add original content. And of course it would be downgraded since it's the Game Boy. I know you acknowledged that fact but I still feel like you docked too much from the score because of it.

In any case, even if this review had gotten a 3 I would have still bought it, so maybe I'm just too much of a fanboy to ever possibly agree with your review, Phil.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#19

Philip_J_Reed said:

I thought this game was SUPPOSED to be just a mashup-remake of the first two games?

It was. So were the Game Boy games, and they managed to provide unique experiences.

Luffymcduck

#20

Luffymcduck said:

I've played trough Mega Man 1-10 and Bass, Game Boy Mega Man 1-5 and Mega Man X 1 and 2. I've had enough Mega Man for a long while and this never looked liked a game I´d add to my "play this Mega Man next"-list.

SparkOfSpirit

#21

SparkOfSpirit said:

No idea why people voted for this first. It doesn't stack up to IV, V, or Xtreme 2 at all. It's pretty average.

Patchouli

#23

Patchouli said:

Having never played X or X2, I thought this was a decent game. If there wasn't a more superior version of this to compare it to, it would have gotten a better score.

torotoid64

#25

torotoid64 said:

Nice review :3 I would put it in the same score, I played X1 and after that got Xtreme and thougt it was pretty meh I think it's just that Handhelds at the time never impressed me :)

MeloMan

#26

MeloMan said:

Bite sized X might be good to some, but it's way better to play the whole of X1 and X2, but to each their own.

EpicMegaman64

#27

EpicMegaman64 said:

One definite plus to the game is that there isn't much slowdown. That was my only real problem with the original Mega Man X. It wasn't terrible, but definitely noticeable.

Yomerodes

#32

Yomerodes said:

@Philip_J_Reed

But lets be fair, the other Mega Man game boy games were remixed from games that were completely different beasts than MMX and its sequel, after all the GB had some trump cards over the NES (just Zelda Link's Awakening even the non DX version leaves both NES Zeldas in the floor) to allow some incremental changes in those games.

ecco6t9

#33

ecco6t9 said:

$5 is a steal for this game. I think I would give it a 7 since I played it on the GBC and already use to this title's quirks.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#34

Philip_J_Reed said:

But lets be fair, the other Mega Man game boy games were remixed from games that were completely different beasts than MMX and its sequel

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. The classic series Game Boy games built experiences that suited the platform. This game just takes experiences that suited a different platform and hacked things off until it fit.

The classic series and the first two X games aren't all that different anyway. The main difference that X brought (admittedly a big one) was the item collection. So when the GBC version doesn't bother to so much as change the locations of those items, that's a problem, and that's why Xtreme doesn't amount to much more than a less impressive retread of the originals. The classic series Game Boy games (some great, some meh) all took the initiative to carve out identities of their own.

sleepinglion

#35

sleepinglion said:

Poor Mega Man... the Gameboy was pretty under-powered. As much as I love Capcom's support of the 3DS VC I'd like to see it continue on the Wii U VC. Mega Man 5 and 6 would be cool as well as The Wily Wars (from the Megadrive)... I've yet to see it get a US release.

OnionOverlord

#36

OnionOverlord said:

Even though I love Mega Man Xtreme, I agree with the review and felt the score was about right. Xtreme is the weaker of the two GBC X games, with Xtreme 2 doing more to stand out a bit (featuring a playable Zero and adding a neat parts system).

Zodiak13

#38

Zodiak13 said:

Based on the review itself your score seems fair. Although I sometimes wonder if expectations based on other games in a series cloud how we score things. If this game was Ted the Bullfrog Xtreme, one might say "It's no Mega Man X, but not a bad little platformer, I'll give it a 7." I always feel the text is what sways me on games that score 5-7 if its a genre I enjoy. I wont be trying this outing, but my skills have declined over the last decade as I have gone more RPG style. Mega Man titles usually have some good challenge, but I no longer care for the frustration they give me, since I game now to relax, not to get worked up.

Geonjaha

#39

Geonjaha said:

It'd be interesting to see someone else at Nintendolife review the retro Mega Man games for GB/GBC if only because we all know Phils opinion of them all anyway (No offense meant - Phil writes a good review). As always though - you'd be missing out if you rely on one persons opinion to make a purchasing decision.

I'll be looking forward to playing this once it decides to come to Europe.

Drac_Mazoku

#40

Drac_Mazoku said:

Thanks for giving me the motivation to FINALLY create an account here. I've been a long time reader, but first time poster now.

While I respect your opinion, I beg to differ GREATLY. While the second game beat it in every way (I would even dare to say that Xtreme 2 is amongst the top X games EVER), the first one is really a techninal marvel on its own. Sure the experience is in a way a copy&paste of stages from the first 2 games. BUT to achieve this on the GBC, I was totally amazed. The sprite works is great, the game runs FAST, crazy fast with no slowdown, which still impress me, and the chip thune arrangement of the music is really awesome. Having a COMPLETE MMX experience on an 8-bit handheld was something truly unexpected back then. And to achieve this to this level merits some praise, not calling it "Mediocre" like your title suggest. The game is a around a 7.5/10 to a 8/10 for me (the second one a 9/10) and while I own the Mega Man X games already, I also like to go back to this one often, maybe because of how fast-paced it feels.

Obito_Tennyson

#45

Obito_Tennyson said:

Thank you for the heads up. Now I don't have to spend money on a game in which I am already holding my breath for the superior version!

Magrane

#46

Magrane said:

Bought this on the original system but never really had a chance to play it. This may have been during my gamer phase of "buy game, play later", so it remains unopened I think along with Mega Man Xtreme 2! Anyway, glad I'm able to handily download it onto my 3DS and experience this retro game. It's a complete simplified version of Mega Man X, offering nothing new to level design, but I do agree it's an average game. I'm a little disappointed with some of the graphics but it's neat to play this game and imagine how it would have been like if Mega Man X was ported to the NES back in the day. :)

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