In honor of today’s 30th birthday stream for Mega Man, and the news that we’ll be getting not only a new Mega Man game in 2018 but Mega Man X 1-8 as a collection on all current generation systems, I wanted to take a look back at the Mega Man X series. One of my more unpopular opinions is that I love the X series waaaaaay more than the original series. I’ve played all of the Mega Man X games, and still frequently replay a lot of them to this day. I’m not ashamed to say I dusted off my GameCube yesterday to play the current X collection, either. Enough of that, it’s time to get down to business. Time to celebrate the Mega Man X series by ranking them from Worst to First!
Trust me when I tell you that Mega Man X7 is the worst of the entire series. This is an unapologetic opinion that I will likely carry with me to my grave. It’s probably easier for me to list what I didn’t hate about the game rather than what makes it a god awful abomination.
Let’s start with the thing that stands out as bounds and leaps terrible ahead of everything else: the voice acting. This is not hyperbole when I say this is the top-tier worst voice acting I’ve ever heard. IF you want an example (and I’m going to strongly emphasis if), you can check out this video from the fight against one of X7’s bosses: Flame Hyenard.
This boss literally jumps around and screams BURN TO THE GROUND, BURN TO THE GROUND, BURN TO THE GROUND in the most terribly thought out voice line & pitch combo I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine actually doing this fight again, because combined with the actual difficulty of this boss and the voice acting, I’d actually go insane. That’s not to say anything about the rest of the bosses, who have equally difficult encounters and terrible voice acting as well.
Overall, this is a decidedly and unanimously terrible game in the series and easily the black sheep of the group. Ask any fan what the worst Mega Man X game is, and X7 is likely their candidate.
For all of the faults that X7 has, you would only assume that X6 is a very flawed and unplayable game. That’s not entirely true, but it’s also not entirely false. One of the biggest issues with X6 is the stage design and the degree of difficulty. Out of every game in the X series, X6 features the most unforgiving stage in a platformer in recent memory.
Metal Shark Player (which is a god awful name, for the record) has an absolutely terrible stage design in which for 80% of the stage, you’re forced to deal with an overhead instant death mechanic. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the conveyor belt that runs you through the stage, as well as the spike pits and about seventy five other obstacles combined with it. It’s the single most infuriating stage I’ve ever had to deal with, and it comes with almost no warning either.
If you take out the fact that some stages are absolute jokes when it comes to difficulty and then you have stages scattered throughout like Metal Shark Player’s which is the equivilant of being kicked in the nuts with a steel toe boot, X6 is actually a very good game with one of the strongest soundtracks of the series. There’s a track that absolutely shreds from Blaze Heatnix’s stage, which sounds like an odd sentence to use for describing a Mega Man X game.
Mega Man X8 isn’t actually a bad game at all. After the blunder of X7 (and by blunder, I mean going 3D) X8 returned to it’s root and went back to what brought it to the dance. X8 goes back to the 2D side scrolling that brought the Mega Man series as a whole into the limelight.
Unlike the past games, there really isn’t much to say about X8. It’s obviously one of the better looking games, based on the fact that it was the last game to come out on the PS2 when the PS2 was nearing the end of it’s life span.
The only issue I can take up with it is that the game isn’t easily accessible and it’s more for hardcore fans only. If you’re a casual fan of the Mega Man X series, you’re not going to know where to find the game or that it even existed. More people should have gotten the chance to see and play this game, but that’s just how it goes, unfortunately.
Aside from the original in the series, X2 is an incredibly strong game and a great follow up to the original X game. One of it’s strengths is the cast of Mavericks, in that the Mavericks in that game are actually memorable. I’m not saying that the rest of the games had a weaker line-up, but it’s just something I can vividly recall even to this day.
The only problem I’ve got is that the soundtrack and the overall gameplay just feels weak and maybe a little bit unoriginal. That’s not to say that the game should have re-invented the wheel after the original game, but it should have added in some way, shape or form. If you’re someone who goes after every piece of upgrade equipment too, good luck. Without some sort of guide, map, or what have you’re going to have a pretty difficult time knowing where to go and look.
X3 improves on a lot of the shortcomings of X2. It has a very fun list of Mavericks that all have very unique abilities too. The stage design really took a step up here, and the game features the first time in the series that Zero is a playable character.
Power-ups are more easily accessible in this game, and there’s some real bonuses to completing the full set of armor for X, including the ability to use Zero’s Saber in the later stages of the game. Ride armor also makes it’s appearance for the first time in the series, which adds a whole new level of creativity to the game not before seen in X & X2.
X4 was the first of the Mega Man X games to appear on a console other than the SNES, and benefited in a huge way from being on the PS1. X4 also made an appearance on the PC, too. You’re essentially getting two games in one here, too. Zero is a fully playable character who has his own unique story in the game. If you’re looking for a good, challenging platformer, you can pick Zero. Casual fans who just want to experience the game may find themselves going with Mega Man X.
X4 has a great soundtrack too, which always helps when talking about how great a game is. Everything in X4 clicks very well and aside from Sigma, you’re not going to run into any controller-shatteringly difficult bosses either. It’s one of the ones I would recommend to anyone who’s experiencing the series for the first time.
Fun fact about X5: it was actually supposed to be the last game in the entire series. Upon playing it, the storyline of X5 makes that insanely clear. X5 features the best storyline out of all of the games in the series and really delivers some tear-jerking moments. At one point, there’s a suicide mission where you can essentially choose whether or not you’re sacrificing X or Zero for the good of the world. Heavy stuff for a Mega Man game, but if that was meant to be the finale of the series, it certainly fit.
For the first time, too, bosses will scale to the players difficulty. Not only that, the addition of the Virus system in which you can be infected and gradually lose health adds for a new layer of challenge. There’s more power-ups and optional armor than ever before, with Zero having one and X having four. The soundtrack is excellent and the gameplay feels crisp and fluid, just like it should be.
The original in the series, Mega Man X reinvented what a Mega Man game could be. The original Mega Man games had the Blue Bomber portrayed in a lighter, more cartoon like tone, while the X series brings along a more dark and foreboding sense of adventure to the platforming giant.
Gone were the Robot Masters who provided laughable difficulties and instead we were treated to the Mavericks who actually posed some sort of threat to us and our livelihood. We swapped out Dr. Willy for the nefarious Sigma, and added a whole host of new abilities and power-up armor to be collected along the way. The soundtrack is incredible and really sets the tone in the game, featuring some classic pieces that help to really absorb the player in the action. The graphics, while not anything to write home about now, were groundbreaking for the time. If you’re wanting to get the feel for the series, there’s no better place to start than the original X game.