Best Mega Man game ever. Fantastic level design, charming character design, fun boss fights, and brilliant soundtrack. The maverick weapon set is easily the most useful and balanced in the X series. Item and upgrade locations were well-thought out. The story is simple yet interesting, and Zero is a badass and a pimp. While the sequels don't deviate far from the formula, X1 manages to execute every aspect of the formula the most efficiently. Its main strength lies in its flawlessness.
Story - 8/10 - Though most of it is told behind the scenes (game manual), the story is an engaging one. It starts with a dream. A dream by Dr. Light. In this dream, robots and humans live and work side by side as equals in a peaceful utopia. In order to see to it that this dream became a reality, Light created a prototype for a new generation of robots that could think and feel emotion, like humans. 100 years later, Dr. Light's research and prototype, Mega Man x, are unearthed by geologist Dr. Cain, and similar robots are replicated and mass produced based on X's designs. Despite the potential for progress this new generation of self-aware robots present to the advancement of society, the game explores the negative ramifications of bestowing free will onto artificial intelligence. At the game's outset is a war waged on humanity and a robot uprising that Mega man X is tasked to quell. And quell he shall.
Gameplay - 10/10 - The X series adopts the classic series formula of fighting 8 robots, inheriting their weapons, and using the acquired weapons in a rock paper-scissors manner against their maverick brethren for an added advantage. The game is non-linear in that you can choose between any of the 8 maverick stages to tackle in any order. Unlike the classic series, X can dash and wall-kick, calling for a more fast-paced experience with tighter control and a greater emphasis on mobility.
Despite the game taking place well after his passing, Dr. Light wasn't going to let something as trivial as his death prevent him from supporting X's justice-serving endeavors on the battlefield. Hidden throughout the game are capsules housing holographic recordings of the good doctor, and armor upgrades that enhance X's fighting prowess and badass potential. The leg upgrade gives X the ability to dash, the chest upgrade reduces damage sustained by player hatin' mavericks, the buster upgrade improves his ability to raise hell with a powerful fourth level charged shot, and the helmet upgrade allows X to unleash Zinedine Zidane caliber headbutts onto unsuspecting blocks guarding secret rooms that may or may not be holding key items.
There are plenty of items to collect on top of armor upgrades. 8 hearts tanks are scattered about the stages, as well as 4 subtanks. Each heart tank adds a couple units to X's life bar, and the sub tanks can be used to replenish health in the middle of a stage if you're on the verge of death. This game is also home to one of the greatest easter eggs ever; the hadouken upgrade. At some point in his life, Dr. Light apparently trained under Ryu from Street Fighter and learned the hadouken fireball technique. Should you meet certain requirements in the game, X can also learn this technique and use it to completely dominate anything in one hit.
Sound - 10/10 - The soundtrack is just straight up audible chocolate that never spoils. Not a single track in the game is lacking, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better use of electric guitar in a 16-bit game. Sound effects are also impressive and sound fairly accurate.
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