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Mega Man X5 should have been the last X
If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know that Mega Man X5 was intended to be the last in the series. While playing through the game there is a sense of grandeur, a sense of dread almost. Sure the premise of the game is to stop Sigma from dropping a space colony on the Earth (Hail Zeon! Am I right Gundam fans?), but there is something else… Something lurking in the shadows. Even though the series continues; from beginning to end, you can easily see how this title was supposed to close this chapter in Mega Man history.
The opening video for the game puts an eerie remix of classic Mega Man X music set to images recapping crucial moments in X’s history. The idea that Zero may have been created by Dr. Wily, X’s first encounter with Sigma, they’re all there. The music chosen is a fantastic choice as the first time we’ve heard it was when X tells Zero after Vile’s first defeat how he believes he will never be strong like Zero. Here we are in the fifth installment in the series and X has grown considerably since it all began. I just want to take the time to mention that this title easily has the best soundtrack out of the whole Mega Man X series. From the remixes to the original score, the music certainly creates a great atmosphere for this epic title.
As I said earlier, the main threat in this game is that Sigma, the maverick leader, has taken control of a space colony and set it on a collision course for Earth. In the previous Mega Man X games, Sigma has merely wanted control under the guise of creating a world for reploids (humanoid machines). Something has obviously changed though. He aims to eradicate mankind from the world completely in one of the most extreme manners possible. It is up to X and Zero in a race against time to assemble pieces of a giant cannon able to shoot the colony out of the sky. Just in the first few minutes of the game, not only do we have this drastically dire situation but now it’s compounded by a time limit. If matters weren’t bad enough Sigma spreads his maverick virus all over the surface of the Earth and reveals that the colony itself is filled to the brim with his virus. The situation represented in this game in the very beginning is the stuff nightmares are made of. We’re talking end game scenario here people. Usually you don’t find out stuff like this till the end of the story. Here it is though, all out in the open.
The game play of this title is superbly done. Depending on how the game is played and what character is played as, not only will dialogue change but the events of the game will do so as well. If I recall correctly, only once was I able to shoot down the colony successfully within the first two levels of the game. A canonical play through would have the colony damaged but not destroyed. This would lead the hunters to plan a very Michael Bay esque expedition to blow up the colony (How cool would it have been to have Bruce Willis in this game?) with a rickety old rocket that barely flies, someone is going to steer it right into the colony hopefully destroying the remaining parts. So once more X and Zero set off to collect parts to help ensure the mission’s success.
Once more, depending on certain conditions, the game can go several ways and it is here that we glimpse the ending that might have been. The worst case scenario is that the shuttle fails, and Zero, who pilots the shuttle, disappears. The viruses that have been unleashed upon the world merge and mutate to form what is dubbed the Zero Virus because of its similarity to Zero. From the dust and ash, Zero emerges, glowing with new found power. Sigma later reveals that this was the whole plan all along. He states how he met someone with vast amounts of knowledge on Zero’s systems and was told how to reawaken his true maverick self. X refuses to give up on his friend and rushes to save him.
In the ending to Mega Man X4, fans were promised the fight that everyone had been waiting for, X vs. Zero. Why would they fight though? X has fought repeatedly to help Zero and on several occasions was able to resurrect him. We didn’t know the situation; we just knew that it was coming. Now normally when two best friends fight, it is because of something big and usually spells the end of the friendship. Back in Mega Man X5, there we were; right smack in the middle of a situation so big and so catastrophic that its end result would be the clash of two of Earth’s greatest heroes.
Now everyone pretty much knows that Dr. Wily from the classic era of Mega Man built Zero just as Dr. Light built X. When Mega Man X5 came around, fans were only “pretty sure”. The final levels of the game and some of Sigma’s speeches made it clear though. Through some means, he had indeed not only spoken to Wily, but also worked with him. The Yellow Devil reemerges with an upgrade in the form of the Shadow Devil and reprises its classic morphing ability. Sigma’s newest and final form in the game was based heavily on Gamma from the end of Mega Man 3. Add to that the blatant and giant “W’s” seen in the background and it’s pretty obvious who Sigma has been working with.
Cross overs like this only happen in the end or on some pivotal turning point, and based on how you look at it, that exactly what Mega Man X5 is. After their fight, Zero awakens as his normal self and helps X defeat Sigma but at the cost of his own life. Now Zero has died so many times by now that it really loses just how special it is this time. The ending shows X pick up Zero’s sword and vows to keep protecting the world and to make it habitable for mankind once more. In another scenario of this ending, X and Zero fight but for different reasons and both are able to stop Sigma. The world is in ruins but not as bad as when Zero goes maverick. It is now that Zero realizes just how dangerous he is to the world and asks that he be sealed away for some time in the hopes of future scientists being able to keep such an event from happening. This ending seems the most canonical as it opens the door for not only the Zero series which picks up one hundred years later and Mega Man X6 which is basically part two of this situation and touches on the subject of Zero’s virus once more.
Keiji Inafune, the father of Mega Man, had indeed planned for this to be the final chapter in the X series and had to change the Mega Man Zero project accordingly. Mega Man has been a staple for gamers for years and taking into mind just how successful the X series was, it’s easy to see how it would have been hard to stop it then. If you look at what I’ve written and then play the game again, you can see the ending we almost received to this majestic series. I myself, feel it would have been best to end the series here and move on the Zero series. When there is something I love as passionately as Mega Man, I never wish to see it go down the path as a certain blue hedgehog. I’d much rather see it end and remember it fondly than know it went on and became something it wasn’t. The X series has been lucky. I enjoyed Mega Man X6, I liked some things about X7, and again enjoyed X8. I’ve never been able to enjoy any of them as much as I have since Mega Man X5 though