Why Mega Man X Needs to Come Back
One of Capcom's many dormant franchises, Mega Man X has not seen a new entry in the series since 2005's X8. With the recent announcement of Mega Man 11, I started to wonder if X could ever make a comeback as well. I've always been fond of the X series. It takes the original Mega Man formula and mixes it up with an edgier story and vastly superior gameplay mechanics.
In the same way that Mega Man went back to its 8-bit roots with the ninth and tenth entries in the series, the same could be done for Mega Man X. Having a ninth entry made in a 16-bit style would be a huge comeback for X and Zero, especially in today's market, where throwbacks to retro graphics are becoming more and more popular and appreciated. The X series did okay on the PlayStation, with X4 being the best of the bunch. It retained the feel of the SNES games while adding new features such as rescuing reploids (the name given to androids modeled after X) and changing the flow of the story depending on certain tasks you accomplished. X then took a rocky shift into the PlayStation 2 with the seventh and eighth games. X7 went for a half-2D, half-3D approach, and it just didn't work. The controls were clunky, they introduced a new throwaway character named Axl, and it didn't feel very much like an X game. X8 ditched the 3D aspect for a 2.5D sidescrolling design, but again, it felt like a departure from the fast-paced action of the first six games.
The first X game reinvigorated a dying series by giving it an edgier story, a rocking soundtrack, and new moves like dashing and wall-jumping. These new moves added so much more depth to the Mega Man formula and made gameplay a lot more strategic, especially during boss fights. These changes were just what Mega Man needed to become relevant again, and with new games that give off an X vibe, such as Azure Gunvolt Striker and 20XX, it's a crime that we haven't seen a new retro-style X game. Rather than waste development resources on collections of old games, why don't they focus on something new instead? Sure, Mega Man 11 is on its way, but Mega Man Legends 3 was slated to be released on the 3DS but was scrapped for no reason. The severe lack of new Mega Man content led its original creator, Keiji Inafune, to Kickstart a terrible game, Mighty No. 9, which looks like Mega Man but is in reality a disappointing clone with awful voice acting and even a typo or two in its in-game text.
Though it's nice to see the original Mega Man returning this year, that series died off a long time ago. Its controls are simple, dated, and just not all that fun to play. X is the series that perfected the Mega Man formula in ways that make it memorable to so many people. The original Mega Man games had simple plot points of good versus evil, whereas X's story brought in more mature story elements such as humans co-existing with reploids and the controversy of whether machines should have free will or not. There's also the dynamic relationship between X and Zero. It's interesting to see them fight so close together against the Mavericks even though Zero's creation is what started the entire conflict. It would be neat to explore the Sigma virus and the many forms it's taken over the years in one last X game. Considering X8 ended on a cliff hanger, with Axl being infected by something placed in his helmet by the game's antagonist, Lumine, that could absolutely play into the plot of a potential X9.
It's a shame that X and Zero have only seen cameos and appearances in Marvel Vs. Capcom games since their last adventure over a decade ago. If the characters are still being used to this day, why not bring them back to their roots like so many other games are doing? Not only would die-hard fans appreciate a new 16-bit X game, but new generations of gamers could be turned onto such a memorable series. Here's to hoping Capcom will attempt to revive one of its best series and give X a proper sendoff. One can hope.