Some ideas on how to make a true Mega Man X game in 3D
Mega Man X was a wonderful series. It was original, action-packed, and a great sequel to the classic Mega Man. However, Capcom has decided to take the series away from people, claiming there’s not a large enough fan base to make any more sequels. If you consider the games from Mega Man X6 on, it’s not hard to tell why Capcom made this decision. People weren’t happy with the end result of these video games. X6’s level design was difficult to navigate, X7’s gameplay style and visuals were frustrating and annoying, and Command Mission was…a turn-based RPG, which goes against everything that made the series’ gameplay great (even though I personally love the game). I leave X8 out because that actually had ideas that could make this series work. It was the side-scrolling and the confusing level navigation that led me to think that something more was needed in this series.
I’ve always wanted Mega Man X to be a 3D action platform game like its cousin series Mega Man Legends. Although the game’s side-scrolling nature brings a nostalgic feeling towards fans of the series, I feel that bringing a 3D perspective to the game – as per the example of Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – will give the Mega Man X series a fresh breath of much needed air.
My ideas for making such a game possible are as follows. Please understand I’m not a game designer, so most of my ideas are personal theories on how to improve the gameplay and story of Mega Man X. So here they are:
- A Brand New Villain
- Sigma was a staple of the X series since its inception. However, his ability to stay alive even after X blasted his head off on more than one occasion has left me feeling weary. What they did with Mega Man X8 was *SPOILER* introduce a new villain into the mix, even if it was near the end (a frustrating move that only films seem capable of doing right). Command Mission actually did one thing right by adding a new villain into the mix that doesn’t somehow relate to Sigma at the end. This formula could be a possible tie-in to a story set after the events of the Sigma Wars (as I call them).
- If Sigma does manage to stay the villain, put more emphasis on his vague backstory. Give us audio, text, or video logs (or anything similar) depicting the events surrounding Sigma’s turn from hunter to maverick. Give us more of a reason to respect this highly persistent foe.
- 3D Exploration
- The world of Mega Man X is a great use of sci-fi backdrops and motifs, such as the Laws of Robotics. However, not enough of it is seen or experienced. It suffers from the “it happened off-screen” syndrome, which hinders a deeper connection with the world and its characters. Give players the option to explore the Maverick Hunter’s HQ, the unnamed cities that X and his partners explore all the time or even just towns to have people talk and give more background into this world.
- Bring in some deeper themes, such as discrimination against reploids (the freethinking human-like robots built after X), politics involving robotic rights, and even the effects of overpopulation due to the increased number of free-willed people and machines. These would be welcome changes to the Mega Man X fans know and love, I feel.
- Have Hunter HQ be the primary starting point for every mission, save for the ever present intro stage. You can roam around the area and the surrounding city, but boss stages have to be accessed through the command center. Shops around HQ will be available, as well as training arenas to enhance your abilities. Completing training challenges will also yield bonuses.
- Use a mini-map to navigate the various levels in the game. You can bring up the actual map by pressing on one of the D-pad buttons. This feature makes things less frustrating that way when navigating a new area without a map.
- Navigation should be simple enough for the main characters to get through with jumps, wall climbing and dashes, but include challenges for whatever ability is unique to the character. For instance, Zero is the strongest of the group, so using him to take down barriers and tougher enemies might be useful. Axl can hover for a short time, so he can be used to cross large gaps. His copy ability can also be used to perform stealth missions. X has the largest arsenal (weapons and armor included) and longest range, so he can be used to take out annoying swarms of enemies, such as flying types and armored foes.
- 3D Gameplay
- Controls should be the same as the previous side-scrolling installments on the PlayStation consoles – using X to jump, O to dash,  to fire, all that good stuff – with similar mapping on the Xbox. The L2 button can be used as a targeting function similar to The Legend of Zelda, where the characters can strafe around enemies while firing and maintaining a safe distance (Zero can use a hack-and-slash style, but targeting keeps his focus on one enemy at a time if needed). Weapon upgrades for the three main characters X, Zero, and Axl should not be so hard to navigate through and should not have to take seven centuries to find. What I propose is the following: a weapon wheel for X and Axl’s guns (that pauses gameplay as you make a selection), and a moves list for Zero’s saber. This allows for quicker selection of weapons when in the heat of battle.
- Players should have the ability to switch between all three characters. Limiting people to just two characters every time you go into a new level just holds back chances for exploration and getting through tougher obstacles. Use them as either a party of three or as solo missions where you can switch at any moment in the level. A simple button press (the Select button, for instance) can switch instantly between characters. If one should fall in combat, take them to a recharge station (save points) found across the map, or collect specific energy pellets that replenishes team members.
- X controls much like Mega Man from the Legends series does, only with better targeting and jumping abilities, along with smoother animations. He and the others can climb walls as well. His targeting can be done at a certain distance, which will vary with each weapon he obtains from bosses. Due to his armor capabilities and his massive arsenal, X would be the best choice for taking out numerous enemies if the group is being overwhelmed, since his arsenal and high level of defense make up for his low physical strength.
- X Upgrades: armor upgrades for X can be found in various areas of the levels. X can also switch between armor sets he’s completed with a press of the Triangle button (which is almost never used outside of being a secondary fire button). Each armor upgrade can use a different super attack, which can be accessed by collecting certain rare power up that fills something called the LP (Limitless Potential) meter. When activated, a timer shows up that gives the player about ten to fifteen seconds to execute the attack. For X’s normal armor suit (which is obtained through story elements), there are two main power attacks. The Nova Strike allows X to input similar commands as Zero to execute powerful melee attacks. The Giga Attack is an energy-firing frenzy, using the action buttons to fire off different forms of energy blasts while X moves in a strafing pattern. Or it can give X an overall significant power boost at the expense of being unusable for a brief period of time afterwards.
- Zero can input commands similar to hack-and-slash games like God of War or Devil May Cry. Defeating bosses gives him new moves like in previous installments. He can also guard if the L1 or R1 (take your pick) is held down while targeting. His high level of strength allows him to pick up certain items (and enemies) and toss them towards targeted foes or obstacles, though at the price of speed. Zero can also obtain various weapons as in Mega Man X8, such as a bladed lance, Sigma’s blade (unlock), and many others. These weapons will go on Zero’s weapon wheel or be selected via the D-pad with a customizable loadout.
- Axl will play similarly to X, with hovering and copying certain enemies being the exceptions. He’ll be the fastest of the bunch due to his lighter and smaller frame. His agility allows him to climb higher and faster, as well as dash faster, though at a shorter distance. His defense will suffer greatly for this, but the other elements make up for it. His copy ability will only work if enough info is collected on his copy target. After that, he will be able to transform any time after the initial transformation and usage (some story missions could require it) but will have limited capabilities and usage. Weapons will be similar to X, but limited to bullet abilities. Weapon wheel reserved more for copy ability than anything else.
- Additional Content
- Side quests would be invasive in Mega Man X. Instead, have there be challenges for each character, such as combo strings, killing certain types of enemies, and so on. These not only give the player more money, but it will also allow them to unlock hidden armor sets and add-ons.
- Implement the X8 formula of using money to buy perks, such as more HP, buying weapons, and special abilities, like auto-charge for X, extra combos for Zero, and more copy possibilities for Axl. Things like Sub Tanks (for additional health and weapon energy) and Heart Containers (increases overall HP) still have to be found throughout the levels of the game.
- Training simulators must include platforming challenges (time attack, for instance), combat training (combo breaking, time attack, survival), and stealth training for Axl (time attack, shortest route).
- Game logs can be accessed at any time at HQ to review mission status, story, and codex of the world.
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