Megaman X6 is the 6th numerical installment of the mainline X series, and the 7th chronologically (yes Xtreme 2 is somehow canon, no I don’t know how Capcom’s silly plot writers will explain it :D) and with it comes a deviation away from the fast-paced action setting of previous X games to a more exploration based type of game.
Megaman X6 was a game released not long after X5 as a unexplained ending and a dispute on who actually was in charge (answer: Capcom) of the series. It overall is not a very long game and makes up for that by adding a lot more exploration to pad out the gameplay. How does Megaman X6 hold up? Let’s dive in to the review!
The story of Megaman X6 takes place not too long after the remaining pieces of the economy crashed to earth and Zero’s disappearance after the defeat of Sigma (whom will be revived by someone later in this same game) the earth has been dealt a series blow with the combination of the worldwide Sigma virus spread from the beginning of X5 (PSX, 2001), the haywire mavericks (infected reploids/machines), and the debris from the now destroyed gigantic space colony. Reploids have just set out along with humans (whom stopped appearing visually after X3?) to start recovery operations.
A scientist named gate finds a special device, one that can grant him data to create extremely powerful Reploids (Robots that act as humans), and becomes drunk with power. His new goal, to create a Utopia for only “top class” reploids.
Later on, the recovery operations become interrupted by a new phenomenon that’s making machines go haywire. The zero nightmare. The Zero nightmare is two things, a virus (that is in the shape of zero), and a creator of strange new Reploids called “nightmares” with long tentacles that can infect and control any Reploid they touch. Only few can resist the nightmares power, a Reploid must have an advanced build and be strong to resist. No one knows who created the nightmare… even though it should be obvious just by reading the last two paragraphs. Isaac, a new Reploid announces that he (or the government? himself? someone?) has agree to sent 8 “investigators” to highly effected areas, and find the cause of the nightmare.
After the Maverick Hunters send X (BTW, Lifesaver from X5 is gone now, but Dynamo is still here for some reason) an incident, he runs into one of the haywire machine Reploids, after damaging it, a purple Reploid in the shape of Zero teleport’s in and finishes off, vanishing moments later. Afterwards, X comes across High Max, a very powerful Reploid, whom X barely damages in a fight. X is under suspicion for being involved in the creation of the nightmare due to Zero being an Ex-hunter before his “disappearance” after Sigmas defeat.
The Maverick Hunters decide to go and follow these suspicious investigators, look more into high max, and save reploids that are vulnerable to the nightmares abilities.
One of the biggest changes in X6 from recent titles is the gameplay. From the stage select screen alone there is a new mechanic called the “Nightmare system” which has caused confusion due to how it’s vaguely explained but it’s really quite simple. Each stage can have areas within it, if not the whole area, change due to it being infected by the nightmare Virus (not the creatures they are in all the levels regardless) when a stage is infected by a nightmare, the level changes.
From random robot bugs flying around your character the whole time, to random placements of unbreakable blocks, to the stage being pitch black other than a spotlight in the middle of the screen, Viruses shaped like Zero flying around, etc. These change based on entering stages but the output is random. Stages can also change back to normal, with zero nightmare effects. When a portrait on the stage select is red, that means that the stage changed. if you leave a stage and come back out and that same portrait is still red that does not mean the same nightmare is there, that means the stage status has changed AGAIN. That could mean that a new nightmare effect happened or it changed back to normal. It adds a random element to the gameplay when you don’t know what you will get.
Second, from X5, Reploids that need saving are back but they actually give you parts this time along with help. These guys are found in the stages, sometimes hidden. The Nightmare creatures are also involved with trying to save them. While not all the time, in many places the Nightmare Creatures are near them, and they will slowly move toward them, once that Reploid is infected, or you kill them, the item or upgrade that had will also become lost forever (short of rebooting a save). One of the items they hold is key to give X a chance to get past a single area of one of the final stages. It is mandatory, however there are no Nightmare creatures in the vicinity of this Reploid. I wanted to point this out due to the confusion and frustration with the Nightmare Creatures and the Nightmare system. it’s actually pretty straight forward and encourages fast reflexes and exploration.
That’s another thing, the game is filled to the brim with secret areas. In every stage there is a blue portal, sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain view, that will teleport you to another part of the stage with a different boss. there are 3 secret bosses, the first unlocking a new character, the second, progressing the story immediately to the final stages, and the 4th for nightmare souls. After beating the first two, the third will permanently be the secret boss.
Nightmare souls, are orbs that come out of the Nightmare Creatures when you kill them. They build up your rank as well as unlock a very specific and hard to get ending that holds about a 5th of the games plot. While you likely would have already figured out what’s going on, it just seems off to add the extra bit of important plot elements to one of the hardest objectives i the game. You have to get enough nightmare souls to trigger the cut-scenes, which will take you right to the final stages. But you have to do it BEFORE beating all 8 “investigators” or beating the “2nd secret boss”.
X and Zero don’t play too differently than they did in X5, yes Zero is in this game, although I would like to point out Zeros third swing on the ground is further reaching which is good. X still has his armor, in this game he starts with the Falcon armor, though a bug prevents it from having full flight. In this game he has the additional Blade Armor (Air Attacks) and Shadow Armor (Immune to spikes), along with of course his cheat code based Ultimate Armor.
Zero is a bit faster in this game, his buster is back and is actually usable. He still gets techniques instead of weapons with a couple of exceptions.
Stage design is a bit mixed, since they aim for two goals, the traditional fast paced Megaman X stage design, the new more exploration based stage design, and stage designed around being able to quickly rescue Reploids from the Nightmare creatures. This sometimes integrates well, and oftens does not, making things a bit irritating.
Parts are back, and they can enhance your characters. You mostly get them from rescued Reploids. From taking less damage from a hit, JUMPING HIGHER, moving faster, life increases, etc.
Fun Fact: Mavrick Hunter HQ removed the Virus vaccine from X5 for some reason, so now when a Virus (now shaped like zero) flied into X or Zero they just get hurt now. HQ’s budget must be low.
The Music is one of the best in the series with the most variety from violins, to metal guitar, to piano. Sound is not too different from the X5 set, with a few new ones in the mix.
The graphics in this game are a bit more grainy than X4 and close to par with X5. But the actually artistry behind the backgrounds, and robot designs are actually pretty good. The music matches the areas quite well on top of that, bringing you into the atmosphere the game provides. With a couple of exceptions.
X6 is flawed with it’s Nightmare system, it’s stage design, and some hit and miss mechanics, but it’s a strong game and it encourages exploration, which X4 and X5 only did half-way. It brings new mechancis and features to the X6 series, and it’s a pretty solid entry overall/
“A solid title that is great fun, with a few hit or miss mechanics and odd stage design being it’s most powerful flaws. Otherwise, it’s a great action title with plenty of content and an amazing soundtrack.” – Verzu Chase