Mega Man Xtreme 2

Mega Man Xtreme 2 is a 2D platforming shooter for the Game Boy Color. It’s a sequel to the first Mega Man Xtreme so this review will assume you’ve either seen my review on that game or are familiar with it or at least the Mega Man X series in general. The plot is a bit different than the first game. This time our Maverick hunters X and Zero, upon hearing reports of the souls of Reploids vanishing, come across a mysterious island with a Reploid Research Laboratory. They are contacted by an unknown robot that has been stealing the DNA souls of Reploids to resurrect dead Mavericks. In order to face him, he challenges the two to first defeat the island’s guardians. The rest of the plot is sprinkled throughout as you progress.

The game plays very similarly to its predecessor by starting the player off on an introductory stage in order to get the basic gameplay mechanics down. After this level you are brought to a selection screen where you can pick between four levels, each with their own bosses at the end. You know the drill. You go through the stage, based on the corresponding stages from Mega Man X, X2, and X3 on the SNES, and then fight the boss at the end. If you win, you get a new weapon based on their power and you can defeat them in any order you choose. After defeating these four, you’ll be brought to a fixed set of stages with a few unique bosses to fight. The armor upgrades make a return, as do subtanks, hearts to extend your life meter, healing pickups, and ammo pickups. However, there are a few new things to note in this game’s gameplay.

One addition is the DNA souls. These appear from defeated enemies and depending on their color can be collected to regain health or ammo as well. Regardless of if they refill any meters, they count as currency. You need to get certain amounts collected in order to unlock new parts from the parts store on the selection screen. You then need to spend them to purchase upgrades. Some are exclusive to X, others to Zero, and some can be used by either. If one character is using a part, the other cannot also equip it at the same time. X can equip four parts at once until he gains all of his armor upgrades, and then he can only equip two while Zero can always equip three. These parts can boost recovery, increase damage, reduce ammo consumption, and more. This game also introduces the mid-air dash. With the leg upgrade, X can press jump again to dash in mid-air or even dash upwards a bit by holding up before doing so. Zero cannot to the upward dash but can dash through the air without any upgrades. The body upgrade for X will give him a new ability that builds up energy from damage taken which can later be unleashed on all enemies on the screen. Zero can also acquire a unique ability with his arm upgrade that is a very powerful attack which consumes much of his ammunition meter. Near the end of the game you will be given the opportunity to switch between the two characters at will and the character you didn’t play as will automatically have all of their armor upgrades but no weapons or health upgrades.

So as you might expect by all this Zero talk, there is a Zero campaign in this game that lets you play as Zero himself. The X mission plays out very similarly to the previous game, but the Zero mission has you playing the same introductory stage, taking a new path during it, and then moving on to a different set of four bosses. Zero’s playstyle is rather different from X. You still run, jump, and dash but Zero is a larger character and instead of using a projectile weapon he wields a saber. This is close range but does more damage than X’s buster. As mentioned, he also starts with the ability to dash in the air without any extra gear. His moves operate differently than those of X. Instead of picking them and then using them with the attack button, you generally will either trigger them by selecting them from your weapon menu or perform them by certain button inputs. They also differ in that they all run on one universal ammunition meter rather than their own separate ones, though some of the moves can be performed without consuming any of the meter. After the main stages you will similarly have a set of linear levels to go through, this time with Zero getting his own unique end boss.

By completing either of these missions you can continue your saved file as the other character. This character will start with four powers based on the previous character’s boss wins, but will still have no subtanks, armoer upgrades, or health upgrades. Beating this continued file will unlock Extreme Mode, which can otherwise be unlocked and purchased in the in-game part store. In Extreme Mode you play the same introductory stage, but you then get to choose your levels from all of the eight bosses before going into the linear set of final stages. This allows you to get two subtanks and eight hearts total as well as giving you the option to switch between the two characters at any time the entire time, barring only a few sections where the two split up. In these sections, you play as whatever character you were when the scene before the split comes up. The subtanks can be used by either character and their respective armor upgrade capsules remain in place, but the heart upgrades only count for the character that collects them. Likewise, the boss powers are only awarded to the character the landed the finishing blow. On top of this, there is an extra stage and final boss that require both characters to be used.

Completing Extreme Mode unlocks Boss Attack, which can alternatively be bought in the part store as well. You pick the left or right path and then fight against eight bosses with only two large health pickups between each fight. The goal is to beat them as fast as possible and compete for your personal best time. You can switch between X and Zero here, who have no armor upgrades or custom parts but do have all of their weapons and maximum health on each. Death with either character will result in failure. One path has you fighting against the bosses of this game, and the other path has you fighting against the eight bosses from Mega Man Xtreme. Each one has their own best time recorded. As far as other miscellaneous extras, you can turn on auto charge and rapid fire in this game as part of the controls from the start. You can input a code to get the armor upgrades in the Boss Attack mode if you need the help. You can also acquire the Shotokan moves in this game as well in a more hidden fashion, but they operate in the same way as before. Only X can obtain and use them, however. And of course, the sound test makes a return.

That’s a lot to take in, but I think a lot of it is pretty great. This has the same interesting 8-bit renditions of the SNES games while also being a bit of a mashup, yet it goes even further by spanning three games instead of two. It also adds a lot more unique twists to make it fresh. The custom parts and different character playstyles make for some new challenges. Plus, with the way Extreme Mode changes I think it adds a lot of strategy and planning to do things efficiently with who gets what upgrades, weapons, and parts. You have a lot of different ways to go about it to as far as boss order and how you decide to play. This adds to the replay value to the point where, even though I had played through both separate campaigns, I played through Extreme Mode twice. The first time I just maxed out X as much as possible and the second time I did the same for Zero instead. And fighting a boss with the other character can create some interesting new tactics challenges itself. So there’s just a lot of variance in how you play. I also think things like the parts shop and the two different, shortened campaigns are pretty good for easing you into the game. You have to learn the mechanics in the introductory stage, and then you slowly master those techniques as you play through the separate four-boss missions. The parts not only give you some extra capabilities but also become more useful the more souls you obtain. So if you are dying over and over, you might want to check back at the part shop and see the higher price items you unlocked to help you even more. It’s interesting. Plus, I think the Boss Attack mode is pretty nice for a bonus. It adds another set of interesting rules to overcome and reuses those old bosses, which you can tackle in a totally different way given this game’s weapons and the inclusion of Zero. Even the Shotokan moves are done in a slightly different way here. They are better hidden this time, but also more useful when you get them. So if you DO find them and get them, you can take out the boss rush near the end of the game with two hits per boss. It’s just a nice reward for your dedication and exploration. Not to mention that the visuals are pretty cool and the music kicks ass.

Of course I do have a few gripes. I could understand people not liking the 8-bit style, but I guess that’s more of a question of taste. There’s surprisingly not a lot of limitations from the hardware, but there are a few instances of slowdown, flickering, and often times music tracks will cut out in order to play sound effects. It’s a little annoying that you have to play through one campaign, save, then go to continue on that same file in order to go into a follow-up campaign to naturally unlock Extreme Mode. It’s not a very clear that you’ll unlock the mode by doing that, though you CAN just unlock it in the parts shop, which is also a gripe of mine. The concept is really nice, but the fact that you need to have a certain number of DNA souls on you in order to unlock the items isn’t very clear or explained either. So unless you know about that beforehand, you might not even check the shop again to realize more things are unlocked. Or if you are efficient at beating the game then you could very well just never accumulate enough to unlock the other parts, especially if you’ve been buying the ones that become available to you in the meantime. This could’ve been explained more clearly or perhaps just changed so that you unlocked more items as you progressed further, such as beating a stage unlocks an item or two. Maybe make it so that beating specific stages unlocks specific parts so each campaign would have you trying out different parts and then Extreme Mode would have you factoring in which stages to beat in what order based on that aspect as well. And speaking of that, I think that the main game maybe should’ve just been Extreme Mode. I don’t really get why the continued game gives you weapons based on bosses that character didn’t fight yet it doesn’t carry over the armor or health upgrades. At any rate, Extreme Mode is the only one where it actually feels like you’re playing with two characters. Being able to switch at any point is pretty much lost on the other singular missions because the character you get to switch to, by the time you can, is one that’s underpowered and you’re out of practice handling them. Plus, there’s enough replay value in Extreme Mode alone to negate the extension by the other two missions. I also think the eight bosses from the first game could’ve shown up in the end as well instead of repeating the same eight you already fought. They were programmed in anyway so why not change it up there? Then again, that would make the Shotokan moves overpowered if they killed the recurring bosses in two hits, so that would feel less balanced. And as much as I think Extreme Mode has lots of replay value with its variety, I do still get kind of bummed that I can’t max out BOTH characters in a single run. So… there are some things that I do question about this one.

All of that being said, I do think Mega Man Xtreme 2 becomes pretty enjoyable once you get comfortable with it, experiment with different strategies, and ultimately master it. It’s easier to recommend because not only does it have the solid elements from the Mega Man X games of the Super Nintendo, it has enough interesting new elements changing up the gameplay for even veterans of the series to find it appealing. It’s a great companion piece for the series and does a great job building on the framework of the first one. I think it’s easily worth 20 bucks, especially considering the replay value of it. It’s more Mega Man Xtreme. It’s more Mega Man X. It’s more 8-bit Mega Man. If none of that sells you on it, I don’t know what will. Maybe it’s just too extreme for you, man!

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