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The Mega Man series we never got
Throughout its life, the PlayStation Portable has seen its fair share of remakes and ports. Two such remakes were that of the original Mega Man and Mega Man X. These weren’t just the same games with a slightly different look; these were re-imaginings. For both, the stories were largely intact with a few changes thrown in here there that worked really well with the new style. A surge of side scrolling games had ushered in the age of 2D.5 graphics which these new titles utilized. This allowed the game-play to remain the same but bring in new audiences with the updated looks. Unfortunately, like the PSP itself, many gamers over looked these titles and we are left again with a sense of what could have been.
Mega Man Powered Up was the retelling of the very first Mega Man game but with a few twists. The style had been changed to reflect the lighthearted yet sometimes serious nature of the game. The characters were portrayed in SD style which worked incredibly well. To bring the original title up to speed, two new robot masters were introduced. This rounded out the original six to match the standard eight. Familiar characters that weren’t revealed until later entries even had cameo appearances. Voice acting was included which animated the characters with more personality. One such instance that sticks out is the confrontation with Mega Man and Copy Mega Man. It’s really cool to hear how different the two can sound with extremely opposite attitudes.
Slight changes aside, brand new features were added too. A challenge mode was present for every single robot in the game; not to mention the ability to play through the story as any robot master. Two secret characters were included; Roll was available for download and Proto Man was unlock-able in game or available as dlc. What really sweetened the deal was an included level creator. The player had control over everything! What blocks to put where, devise any trap conceivable, even place any desired boss. This was a great feature that we almost saw return in the now cancelled Mega Man Universe.
All of these features made for an incredible upgrade for a twenty year old game. I was exceedingly eager to see what they would come up with for Mega Man 2; my dream being to play through the game as Air Man of course. Not only that but to see one of the best games in the series upgraded as well as they had upgraded the first would have been a treat for Mega Man fans everywhere. The level creator was something I wanted to see return also; maybe include the Wily bosses as possible choices. Either fans of the series did not have a PSP or just ultimately passed up this gem of a title because sales of this game and its partner tanked and nothing ever came of it. I still cross my fingers that we see this project resurrected. After seeing fan art of SD King and SD Dark Man, it’s hard not to keep hoping.
Maverick Hunter X did not feature a level creator but made up for this fact by including a prequel anime and an added mode to play as fan favorite maverick, Vile. Once again the style was updated but kept a more mature look than the SD style of Powered Up. Voice acting was featured once more which helped sum up the darker tone of the X saga.
The Mega Man X series left a lot of questions that fans to this day still debate over. It was interesting to see a reboot of this series and left many hopeful that these questions may finally be answered. This was not the case for several reasons. The prequel included, The Day of Sigma, seemed to make drastic changes to the established story. This wouldn’t have been so bad if we had seen where these changes led but, bringing me to the second reason, this didn’t happen because it became the only entry in this series reboot.
Vile’s added story, while really cool, only helped add to the mystery. Why was he fighting against his fellow mavericks? Who exactly was Vile? The previous X games had already brought this later question to air. There was always something about Vile that always seemed off. What was his true goal? Where did he come from? Was he a maverick or not? His uncanny ability to survive is dwarfed only by Zero who seems to die and be resurrected in every other X game.
As much as I would have loved to see Powered Up become a full flushed series, I really wanted Maverick Hunter X to take off in the hopes of having a bit more coherent story. Mega Man X5 is my favorite of the X series; I can only imagine what the Maverick Hunter equivalent would have been like. Perhaps we would have received a playable Dynamo mode. It really breaks my heart to see some of the better Mega Man ideas die and whither. I’m a fan but sometimes even I have to stop and say, “They chose THAT over THIS?”