I think there should be a rest home for old, miserly video game characters. How else can you combat the plague of sequelitis? What will happen when Sonic can't run, but has a case of the runs? Do you want to be there when Lara starts sagging? Hope they have plastic surgeons in video game land.
If there's one game character that needs some time off, it's Mega Man. The Blue Bomber started his adventures when he was but a mere robot boy fighting the nefarious Dr. Wily. Later, Mega Man was rediscovered and added an X to his name, ala Malcolm and Final Fantasy. In some alternate reality, he was also a treasure hunter with a monkey pal. Don't forget his brief soccer outing. Mega Man could teach Russell Crowe a thing or two about schizophrenia.
Despite a good fan base and general video game love, the recent past has demonstrated that Mega Man stagnates with each new iteration. The gameplay manages to stay intact, but the recyling of the same formula over and over again has beaten the magic out of the series. Mega Man X6 proves the honeymoon is over.
The plot is forgettable, filled with trite, reused plot points. Gate, a robot inventor and a nice enough guy, has been twisted into a prop of evil. Your red armored buddy Zero is dead, but at least he's left you his sword. There's also some Nightmare virus running rampant that seems to attack "Reploids" instead of Microsoft Outlook.
Rescuing Reploids just so happens to be one of Mega Man's new duties. Reploids are scattered about the level, but so are the octopus-like Nightmare viruses that seek to reach the Reploids ahead of you. By saving Reploids before the Nightmares grab hold of them, you can gain extras like more energy or weapon power. The game keeps a running track of which Reploids you've saved and uses the data to randomize the levels.
Yes, randomized levels are indeed another touted addition to this Mega Man, but don't get too excited because it isn't truly random. Each area is compiled from a pool of several smaller sections. If you shoot for one level first, you might get sections A, C, and F, but if you undertake the level at a different point in the game, you might get A, B, and D. It's a mix and match of parts to form a full level that will provide variety sans true imagination.
Mega Man X6 is also one of (if not the) most difficult of the X series. This one weighs heavily on the cheap side of the scale. Cheap shots and plenty of unavoidable forced hits show the lack of balance. The game starts you off with an extra-low amount of health and pushes you to earn more health under harsh conditions. In a half-minded attempt to fix the overbearing challenge, you get an extra life for every Reploid saved.
I remember when the X series first came out on the SNES. The major bosses were towering behemoths of the animal kingdom. Boy, have things changed. Capcom is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to fill out the rogue's gallery. All the choice creatures have been used up in older games; everything from lions to tigers to yes, even bears. What do we get this time? A clam! A CLAM! Oh my.
How are you supposed to be afraid of a clam? Maybe someone at Capcom had a bad seafood dinner or something. Plus, all the enemies have insipid, stupid names, even worse than before. Beware the dreaded Shield Sheldon or the diabolical Infinity Mijimion! Spare me.
Graphically, the game looks the same as any of the Playstation Mega Man games. Nothing remarkable or show-stopping. I'd like to see some improvements in the animation department, but instead it's old hat.
Instead of re-dubbed voices, you get Japanese voices with subtitles. It feels like another way to cut corners rather than an artistic decision. At the very least, the Japanese eliminates the chirpy, girly-girl English-speaking Mega Man we've been forced to listen to. The flipside of the coin is some Sonic Adventure J-Pop.
Other than the out of place J-Pop, the upbeat rock music fits the flow of a Mega Man game, but does little to differentiate itself from previous Mega Man tunes.
The robot that tried to become a real boy has grown old and forgotten the point of his journey. Mega Man X6 is a game rusted stiff by recycling and repetition. The gameplay is still there and the challenge has taken some steroids, but there's no heart. I still love the little guy and it's nice to see some games come out on the Playstation, but sometimes, enough is enough. It's off to see the retirement home...