The Mega Man games provided people with enjoyable action-platforming and Capcom was happy to keep producing more and more of them to be purchased and played. 1993 (at least in Japan) saw the release of the sixth NES game in the series, but also the start of something new. Following Virtual Console releases (and a compilation) of the NES games, New Nintendo 3DS owners can now enjoy Mega Man X, the first game in the X series that's set some years in the future of the original.
Originally appearing on the SNES, Mega Man X offered a noticeable visual upgrade over the NES titles with more detail and colour throughout the game. Despite now being viewed on the smaller screen of the New 3DS the cartoony action is clear and easy to follow. As always with these SNES re-releases on New 3DS a visit to the Virtual Console options menu allows you to switch to "original resolution" mode to give a sharper image that removes the distortion you get from the stretched default display.
Gameplay-wise this is a lot like the original series, with X handling similarly to Ye Olde Mega Man. There's an introductory level and then you are presented with eight stages that can be attempted in any order you wish. A fight with a "Maverick" boss character ends each stage and success in that battle rewards you with a new weapon. As you'd expect these weapons can be useful in other stages, so you must consider tackling them in an order that works best for you.
Additional powerups provide things like health extensions or a dash ability, but the big change to the gameplay is X's ability to wall jump. As well as simply hopping off the surface, the ability can also be used to scale walls or slide down them either to look cool or to avoid a projectile that is heading your way. The controls in the game to perform the various actions are responsive and work wonderfully, but if for some reason you are unhappy with the button assignment the game has an options menu where you can adjust them to your liking.
Broken up into stages, Mega Man X works well as a portable title. Exploring levels slows things down but the action is fast paced if you run through blasting the various enemies as you head towards the end-of-level Maverick. Although a play through of a stage can be quick the usual suspension and restore point functions are present should you need to interrupt your gaming.
There are a couple of negatives with this one, such as some horrendous slowdown should a lot be happening on screen. It's not a constant problem but it is quite distracting when it does occur. The other problem is that the game is quite easy – at least compared to the original series. It's no walk in the park and quick reflexes are often required, but with upgrades and a liberal sprinkling of health-restoring powerups around it doesn't provide the challenge you might expect.
The Mavericks can take a few attempts until you've figured out the best way to deal with them, however, and good level design is backed up by some rocking music as well as a variety of enemies to fight and obstacles to navigate; this ensures that the game still entertains throughout.
There's the occasional disappointment of slowdown, but Mega Man X provides the usual action-platforming fun whilst shaking up the formula somewhat; its design is well suited to the quick bursts of play often enjoyed on a portable system. Headphones are recommended if out and about to enjoy the music, and whilst it may lack the challenge of the original games there's still plenty of excitement to be found here.