Mega Man X is a nasty case of a mobile port gone wrong
It’s certainly not unusual for the App Store to see ports of older games put on the service, from the original Sonic games to Final Fantasies aplenty. The difference between these games and Mega Man X however, is that they knew when to leave well enough alone if they couldn’t improve upon a classic.
For those not familiar with Mega Man X, it’s a side-scrolling platformer/shooter in which you have to fight multiple bosses to complete the game. You can choose to fight any of the available bosses in any order, although that may affect the difficulty of each boss. For example, if I decided to fight Vile before Chill Penguin, it makes that fight much easier than if I hadn’t. Before you fight each boss, you do have to complete a level beforehand with scenery that’s representative of the boss’ name.
Owning the original Super Nintendo classic, I came into the iPhone version expecting just a simple cut and paste port with nothing or little changed at all. What actually happened though, is far from that. It’s as if Capcom gave the game to George Lucas’ editors and told them to go to town. Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but it’s close. Let’s go over some of the changes here.
One of the first off-putting changes to come to mind are the in-app purchases. I’m not one to usually complain about price, but they are plentiful here, and it’s important to note that Mega Man X is not free to begin with. Power-ups that would be considered normal cheats are available at a buck or two a pop. Not only am I morally opposed to these being available, but they would also hinder the experience by making the game entirely too easy. What’s the point of collecting all the different power-ups after completing each boss level if you can just buy them all beforehand?
Secondly, the levels are cut up into sections, which is jarring to say the least. You could literally be playing and all of a sudden you have to walk off the screen to enter the next section. For a newcomer, this may not be much of a problem, but for a veteran like myself, the end of a screen in Mega Man usually means you would be walking to your death. I doubt this was done for any technical reason, because the graphics are certainly not much to look at, so this was just a poor design choice.
My last big issue with this port of Mega Man X is the controls. I knew going in that the controls may not be ideal considering they would likely have to plaster a virtual d-pad on screen, but I’ve seen implementations where it worked well. Most of the time in Mega Man X, the buttons are very unresponsive and tend to perform the opposite task when pressed. Control is 90% of Mega Man games, and the controls are just not up to par.
The graphics have been enhanced a touch from the original. The sprites do look re-done, and animate well from what I could tell. The original soundtrack also seems to have survived the transition.
Mega Man X definitely deserved a more faithful transition to iOS than what Capcom has delivered this time. If you want an excellent example of how to bring a classic game to modern platforms, check out Sonic CD, because it’s exactly what should have been done here. I wouldn’t call this port lazy, just a misguided attempt at upgrading a game that didn’t need it.