It’s the year 21XX, in a world where the human race now coexists with intelligent androids referred to as Reploids. The creation of Dr. Cain, who had painstakingly analysed Mega Man X, the sagely scientist had defied modern science by deconstructing the mysterious blue robot’s design to manufacture duplicates that were capable of displaying emotions as we do.
However, they were soon plagued by malfunctions with their electronic brains, seeing them become Mavericks that suddenly delve into a life of organised crime. That resulted in Mega Man X and Zero – self-declared Maverick Hunters – regularly called upon to quash such threat.
The world repeatedly knew peace, but that takes a turn for the worse in the opening to Mega Man Xtreme. This somewhat divisive Game Boy Color classic has recently blasted on to the Virtual Console service for Nintendo 3DS, seeing players respond to a new threat when the Hunter Base’s Mother Computer System is broken into – reproducing fighting data of the past. With the aid of computer genius Middy, Mega Man X works to replace the past data by zapping himself into cyberspace and journeying to the Mother Computer’s core – itself guarded by the past’s boss data.
It’s unadulterated fan service, whether you can get your head around the inane plot, with players choosing from any stage that each concludes with Mega Man X being pitted against boss characters from previous escapades. Whether that be journeying across icy climbs to defeat Chill Penguin, fleeing rising lava to face Flame Stag, survive an electricity-ridden factory to square off against Spark Mandrill, or dash across an airport in hot pursuit of Storm Eagle, Mega Man Xtreme is a well-varied even if it heavily relies on past glories.
Capcom’s tried and tested action-platform stylings come to the fore, although the conversion from SNES to Game Boy Color feels a restrictive one. That’s understandable considering the less-powered hardware, but the responsive controls that you’ve now become accustomed to are non-existent. Instead, it all feels rather muddy. Mega Man X doesn’t feel like the robotic crusader that he is known to be, and while upgrades steadily improve your abilities it never reaches the level of fluidity that is expected.
It is a mixture of weaponry that differentiates, with your trusty X-Buster soon thrown to one side. Shotgun Ice, Speed Burner, Electric Spark and Storm Tornado are eventually placed at your disposal, later joined by Rolling Shield, Silk Shot, Magnet Mine and Spin Wheel. Players will find their favourite and use it to obliterate their foes, and it is this variety that ignites the experience the most. Those that stick it out will be rewarded by unlocking Hard Mode, and later Xtreme Mode, which extends the adventure with additional Mavericks – even if the stages you’ve already trawled through are lazily reused.
It is in posed difficulty that Mega Man Xtreme upends itself, not clearly designating when stages are nearly impassable without required upgrades and seeing you face increasingly frustrating boss battles. Practice makes perfect, and strategy continues to lie in observing your destructive opponent’s attack patterns to deliver the killing blow, but you will often feel that you’re placed at a disadvantage.
Colourful visuals and a delectable chiptune soundtrack can’t save Mega Man Xtreme from being a disappointment, falling far below expectation for the illustrious lineage of Capcom’s blue bomber.