The Blue Bomb.
There is a great divide between formulaic gameplay and innovation. The NES Mega
series stuck to its guns a little too long, and with each tired iteration,
cries of "been there, done that" rang louder and louder. Arguably, the best Mega
games among that lot were 2
Then Capcom tried something new with the first Mega Man X."Suddenly,
Mega Man was exciting all over again!"The spiffy new dash move,
animal bosses and futuristic gloss shined on the SNES."
fast-forward several years and look where innovation has brought us: X,
Legend, Battle Network, Zero,
and let's not forget, Soccer."Over
the past 15 years, Mega Man has repeatedly suffered from an
incurable case of sequelitis. After wearing out his welcome in one series, he
jumps ship into a new one."Mega Man should slow it down and come out with one
sweet high-quality release or just retire from the game.
Ironically enough, the storyline of Mega Man X7 starts out
with Mega Man in retirement." In the future, Mega Man's name is just X."Zero,
his long-haired, sword-wielding buddy, still hunts Mavericks, masochistic robots
out to make life miserable for everyone." This story has become so weighed down
in its convoluted mishmash that you'll long for the days when it was just wacky
old Wily at the helm.
There's a new ally here called Axl."He looks like Zero and X's secret love
child, and sports the whiny, chirpy voice X usually has."Axl's arsenal includes
lock-on guns best suited for the 3D areas."During the game, you can swap between
any members of your team and take advantage of their different abilities. It's
perhaps the one clever idea amidst the many failed ones.
After an initial action sequence, there are the classic eight levels to choose
from, each guarded by a different robotic creature."These are a sad and pathetic
lot of bottom-of-the-barrel design concepts."When an Onion is one of the end-level
bosses, you know they're reaching (it's not a cool rapping onion like Chop Chop
Master Onion, either)."As always, beat the boss, get their souped-up weapons,
and ever onwards.
The game mixes 2D and 3D gameplay, mainly playing as a pseudo-3D scrolling
thing while occasionally moving into a full 3D affair. Unfortunately, the controls
simply don't have the tight feel and snappy reaction rate necessary for a solid
action game." It's the same old variety of controls that the X
series has developed (dash, charge, swords, etc), but it misses the mark - unacceptable
for what ought to be the foundation of the game.
the game switches into 3D mode, the camera shifts backwards to an awkwardly
close behind-the-character point of view."You then maneuver yourself forward,
much like Crash Bandicoot."It's goofy and out of place. Boss
fights are also sometimes done in 3D, yet there's a noticeable lack of the patterns
on which all the great Mega Man bosses are founded.
Influenced by the RPG stylings of the GBA Battle Network
games, MM X7 features a chip system that allows you to upgrade
your characters."When you rescue a Reploid, a helpful but lost NPC littered
throughout the levels, you earn bonuses to crank up weaponry and stats."Reploids
can be killed before you make the rescue, so it pays to be quick."What's nice
about this system is that it allows you to build up characters, which is especially
handy as you try over and over again to get through a difficult level.
The three-dimensional cel-shaded character modeling is fine, but doesn't suit
the gameplay as much as the old sprite-based graphics."Little artistic details
and animations are lost in the transition."Some of the environments, on the
other hand, gain from the added depth an extra dimension offers, like the lush
green backdrop of the jungle level."
The music and sound dip into the same tired pool of Mega Man
effects and techno tunes."After so many years, why not try something completely
new with the music?" How about some country tunes or pump up the blue bizzle
with some pimpin' musizzle?" Seriously, after 15 years, something different
couldn't hurt, including some actual talent for the voices.
Mega Man X7 falls into the same sad pit as the recent Mega
Man Network Transmission on the Gamecube. The Zero series
on the GBA trumps X7 with its tightened classic feel." The
Mega Man Legend series (including Tron
Bonne) worked the 3D controls much better. I'm all for change, but it has
to come with improvement." The Blue Bomber has bombed out.