X and Zero are partners once again, doing their job as Maverick Hunters. By now the Hunters have their own headquarters, apparently headed by Dr. Cain. The two Hunters discover that the attacks and raids by the Maverick robots are getting worse. Plus, more robots are going Maverick by the minute—even ones that had apparently been stable! Things really heat up, though, when the robotic scientist Dr. Doppler goes Maverick along with the others. Are the rumors of a deadly robot virus true? And if so, what would the world do if X and Zero were to fall to the virus too?

This game adds some nifty features to the X series, although for some reason the music and play control kinda went down a little for this one. Mega Man X3 is also much more difficult than the other two, although with some practice it’s not too bad.

One nice thing to see is that Zero is now a player character (try pressing L or R on the subscreen; it’s too bad the game is still only one player!) although his usefulness is limited to simply being a spare energy meter.
He cannot use any of X’s weapons or new enhancements (although his Beam Saber attack is well animated and thus a must-see), and he also cannot go through gates (which means he can’t fight bosses—well, except one). This means that he will be better than X at first, but as soon as X gets all of his enhancements, Zero is greatly inferior. In fact, if you want a challenge, try taking Zero into Doppler’s fortress! (You’ll find that because Zero is bigger and slower and is lacking an air-dash, he is much more difficult to play.)

Remember that Zero has only one life. (Yes, X has infinite continues, but Zero can’t even carry a single solitary 1-Up.) If you cause Zero to die, he will not appear again for the rest of the game. Also, because there are three gates in every stage (through which Zero is not allowed to pass), and because you can only use Zero once per stage, Capcom effectively prevents you from using him for more than a third of any given level.

Each stage of the game has two enclosed rooms (again, the majority of which Zero can’t enter). Some contain mini-bosses, but most are usually empty. After defeating two Mavericks, however, Doppler will deploy Bit and Byte. You will first meet Bit in the empty rooms, and after defeating another three Mavericks, Byte will start appearing, barring your way. Also, after the first two Mavericks, the paths to Vile will open up, though this is one fight you can avoid if you know where not to go. See the Tricks section below if you want to take the side trip.

X starts the game with the ground dash and an X-Buster that can obtain three levels of power (typical to most Mega Man games). However, I’ve found that a turbo controller is far superior to charging up. Try putting the fire button on turbo, and you’ll defeat most of the minor robots with just a quick spray from X’s arm cannon, whereas to charge up you’d first have to wait around. If you have turbo, take this advice and use it, for it really helps.

Oh, and other interesting note: Most major bosses in this game change their fighting style when their energy reaches the halfway mark. So remember this if you’ve found a nice pattern of attack—the bosses’ new attacks are usually more deadly (and harder to avoid) than the initial ones!

PC Version

I haven’t played the PC version, so I can’t comment much on it. However, Satoshi Kunsai reports a bug regarding the game which may affect only certain systems. It seems that if you do a minimal install, you may get glitchy graphics in Dr. Doppler’s lab. If this happens to you, try a normal or full install instead, and that should fix the problem.

Play Control: 4
The play control is basically the same. Zero is a tad sluggish though.
Graphics: 4
About the same high quality as the previous games.
Animation: 4
Nothing much has changed.
Music: 2
Mostly horrible. The tunes are repetitious and the instruments grate on your ears. You’re almost better off playing the game with the volume turned off. However the ending tunes are pretty nice, and a couple of the other songs aren’t bad.
Sound Effects: 4
Essentially unchanged.
Plot: 3
Nothing terribly good or bad. Zero pops in to help you which is cool. Enemies keep repeating their speeches every time you die to them which is not so cool.
Difficulty: 3 (normal to hard)
While generally not a terribly difficult game, some of the bosses will leave a mark.
Replay Value: 3
I go back to this one even less than the previous two games. However the new enhancements and Zero add some entertainment value.
Polish: 3
Nothing overly caught my eye, although they added some nifty things such as Zero and the Beam Saber.
Overall: 79%
There is nothing really wrong with the game, but some of the bosses make you want to tear your hair out, and I still like the first title better.

+ Plus:
You can skip the Maverick intro screen that plays after you select a stage (press fire).
- Minus:
The music.
It’s hard to suggest an order, because if you go in an order that allows you to fight the Mavericks with the right weapons, you won’t be able to get most of the items without major backtracking. And if you pick stages because of their items, you won’t have the right weapon to defeat the Maverick. So I actually suggest visiting some stages early to get their item(s), then killing yourself off (at the hands of the Maverick is usually a good place!). Good stages to do this with include Blizzard Buffalo’s (get the air-dash and Sub-Tank), and eventually Blast Hornet’s (to get the Ride Armor). Remember that in this game every stage has three important items. Each stage has a Heart tank, a capsule from Dr. Light (four normal and four super (the pink ones)), and either a Sub-Tank or a Ride Armor. (You have to get the main Ride Armor unit from Blast Hornet’s stage before any of the other units will activate.) Keep this in mind as you explore stages. Until you get the helmet, it’s a good idea to write down what you found where so you’ll know what you still need to get. Or you can use my list below (in the Items section).

Also, the pattern of “Use this weapon on this robot then use that robot’s weapon on the next robot” goes in a complete loop. So it doesn’t really matter who you beat can always go on from there to the next robot.

Here is one of the easier ways. (I’d ended up starting with Neon Tiger the first time I played and he’s fairly easy to defeat without extra weapons, but I’ve since found that Toxic Seahorse is easier.)

A lot of teleportation seen throughout the X series is pretty hilarious because the character splits in two. (Why? Who knows.) When X teleports into a stage, he teleports like normal. But bosses and teleporting hatches do the weird split-screen effect. Anyway, the layout of these hatches is also very odd, but at least unique. After every battle X will land on a strange object. Shoot it for power-ups. If you alternate shooting it from either side, it will usually yield more power-ups before being destroyed. (Hit this power-up pillar with the Beam Saber for a guaranteed 1-Up.)

Counter-clockwise: Buffalo, Hornet, Catfish, Beetle, Rhino, Crawfish, Tiger, Seahorse
Centipede (Neon Tiger’s stage):
You gotta hit the head. Either powered-up X-Buster shots or rapid-fire will do the job.
Octopus (Toxic Seahorse’s stage):
This guy is a piece of cake with a turbo controller. The tentacles below it are harmless, so ignore them. You want to hit the main unit.
Tank (Tunnel Rhino’s stage):
If this thing is being nice to you, all it’ll do is charge, which you can easily dodge by climbing up the wall. If it’s being not-so-nice, it will literally go to pieces and attack from high and low. Hopefully it’ll be nice and you can cream it easily.
C4 Wheel (Blast Hornet’s stage):
Stay left-center of the screen, jumping it when it rolls toward you and pumping it with plasma shots. If it starts into its bounce-around-the-room routine, it is difficult to dodge, but by that point you should have it near death anyway.
Bit (anybody’s stage):
This guy is fast but he has a flaw. When he dashes across the screen he tries to go at whatever level you are on. Lesson: Don’t stay on the ground! When he jumps and hits the peak of his leap, jump. He will soar right over X’s head. After a few tries you will get the hang of the pattern, and Bit will have to admit defeat. (Finish him off with the Frost Shield to destroy him for good. Zajber reports the Triad Thunder will also work.)
Byte (anybody’s stage):
Now this guy can be a major pain. Ray Splasher or the Tornado Fang seemed to work best, although it’s almost easier to put your turbo button on auto so you have your hands free to jump and dash. Climbing the wall and air-dashing over him is about the only way to avoid contact, although his reverse-polarity magnet makes this more than difficult. There is a pattern to it, though, and if you get your timing down, you’ll have him. The key is to stand by a wall and continuously push into it while Byte is tossing the anti-magnet. (The magnet won’t directly hurt you, so you don’t have to worry about coming into contact with it.) Pause for one full second, then make one jump onto the wall and immediately jump off and use a horizontal air-dash to soar over Byte. You’ll find this pattern is on a steady “one, two, three” count. If you get the timing down, you probably won’t need any Sub-Tanks, but try to have as many full ones as possible to be safe! (Hit him with the Ray Splasher for the last hit, and Byte will be destroyed instead of fleeing.)
Vile 1st time (his own stage and/or Doppler’s fortress):
When Vile is in his Ride Armor, he’s actually fairly easy to avoid. Climb the wall, wait until he is close to it (but don’t give him time to slam the wall!), then jump and do an air-dash over him, firing all the time. Remember that he will dash to your location, so you can control where he goes by careful maneuvering.
Vile 2nd time (his own stage and/or Doppler’s fortress):
Once you get Vile on the ground, use the Ray Splasher (for its range) and stay near the center of the screen. His fire wave can be jumped (though it’s difficult) or dodged by climbing a wall and air-dashing before the fire reaches you. His bullets will converge on your current location—so move! (Hit Vile’s second form with the Ray Splasher for the final blow to destroy him.)
Ceiling Crusher (Doppler’s fortress):
If Zero is still operable he will hold up the spiked ceiling here; otherwise you’ll have to race it. For best results, use a turbo controller. The robot should go down in a matter of seconds. (If you aren’t quick enough the ceiling will finish it off for you. Then you just have to get out of the room before it finishes you off!)
Bit and Byte 2nd time (Doppler’s fortress):
Talk about remodeling! Looks like someone got out some crazy glue. Anyway, I found that the Parasitic Bomb seemed to be the best choice, though the Ray Splasher will also take decent damage. An air-dash is about the only way to avoid his fists. Also, remember that with a double air-dash you can actually jump over him and stand behind him! He will change his attack if you do, and personally I think this attack is harder to avoid, but you might want to give it a try and decide for yourself.
Elephant (Doppler’s fortress):
If you’ve destroyed both Bit and Byte already, you will get this terror instead of the Bit/Byte combo. This machine stays on the wall and does some really nasty stuff. The Ray Splasher, the Frost Shield, the Tornado Fang, and the Spinning Blade seemed to do the best damage. Try not to hit the creature’s trunk because if you destroy the trunk, the elephant will hit you with something even worse...
Bug (Doppler’s fortress):
This only appears if you have destroyed Vile. Since he is a mini-boss, he has no energy meter, which means you can’t really tell if a weapon is doing good damage. Therefore, I recommend simply using a turbo controller. Dash when he swoops to avoid getting your energy sucked dry. (Since he swoops to your location, you can actually control which colors he absorbs; however, I have yet to find a way you can use this to your advantage.)
Squid (Doppler’s fortress):
Again, you’ll get this thing instead of Vile if you destroy Vile before coming here. Actually I think it might be easier to just fight Vile here, instead of Vile before and this guy (and the bug!) now. (Unless you want the Beam Saber, in which case you need the bug to appear and hence must destroy Vile.) Anyway, stand underneath it and use the Triad Thunder.
Doppler (fortress):
Use a turbo controller, powered-up X-Buster shots, or the Acid Burst. Try not to hit him when he puts up that green force field, for your shots will give him energy instead of taking it. He will attempt to use the shield the moment you fire, so instead of firing directly at him, wait him out until he goes on to doing something else. You can dodge his fire-dash the same way you dodge Bit. All in all, this is a pretty easy battle. Too bad it’s not the final battle....
Yes, Sigma is back (you expected otherwise?). If you have the super boots, the easiest way to defeat him is to stay on the wall over his head—almost none of his attacks reach there. When he switches to the other side of the room, climb to the top of the wall and double-Air-Dash your way over. You can hit him while on the wall using Spinning Blades—they boomerang. You just have to slide down the wall a bit. If you can’t get onto the wall over his head, you’ll have to just fight him toe-to-toe. Either way, unless he’s firing you have to hit him in the head or else his shield will block your shots.
Kaiser Sigma:
Only powered-up X-Buster shots will harm him (the Hyper Cannon is a nice thing to have here), and you have to hit his tiny head. However, aim high—at the red things poking up from his shoulders—or your shots will bounce off. Remember that Sigma follows a very repetitious pattern. Use it to your advantage. First climb the left wall to gain the height needed to hit his head, and when he starts flying left, drop down, dash under him, and climb the right wall. Repeat. With some luck and a few Sub-Tanks, you should get him. (Note: To hit Kaiser Sigma with the Beam Saber, you must climb a wall to its very top, jump off, turn around, and fire immediately. (X cannot fire the Beam Saber while holding onto a wall.) This may take you several tries.)
Sigma Virus:
Yes, there’s more! Once you defeat his Kaiser body, Sigma will flood the tunnel with lava. You must climb the wall and race the lava while dodging a wire-frame head. However, the lava does not kill you instantly, and if you have all the armor enhancements and there are at least seven or so energy units left in X’s energy meter, you can actually just sit in the lava and ride it up the shaft without dying. (Though you’re better off attempting to climb the walls....) However you do it, make it up this tunnel and you beat the game (finally).

Note: like the other games, if you die to any of these three last bosses, you have to start over again with the first Sigma. However, if you have the Super Helmet enhancement, you don’t have to worry about using your Sub-Tanks. When you reach that vertical tunnel that leads to Sigma, stand there without hitting any buttons and X’s helmet will refill his energy meter and all of his Sub-Tanks! This takes a while (especially if you have four empty Sub-Tanks) but it’s much easier and more reliable than trying to destroy robots for power-ups.

All of the following passwords give you all the items except for any of the super capsules (so that you can pick one at your leisure or, even better, grab the one out of the Doppler fortress). However, there are several other things that change the storyline. Depending on what weapons you use, sometimes Bit and Byte will be destroyed the first time you beat them, and sometimes they will flee. (If you defeat only one, this changes the conversation with the Bit/Byte combo when you meet up with him/them in the fortress, though it will not change the actual battle. Only if you defeat them both do you fight a different boss.) Also, depending on whether you’ve defeated Vile, you also fight different bosses in Doppler’s fortress. And depending on whether or not you have killed off Zero, you will get a different ending!

8 3 1 7 | 1 1 5 3 | 6 7 7 2 | 3 7 2 7 Vile defeated: No
Bit defeated: No
Byte defeated: Yes
Zero defeated: No

7 3 7 7 | 5 1 6 3 | 6 4 6 2 | 7 8 4 1 Vile defeated: Yes
Bit defeated: No
Byte defeated: No
Zero defeated: No

3 3 1 7 | 1 3 5 3 | 6 7 7 2 | 3 8 2 1 Vile defeated: Yes
Bit defeated: Yes
Byte defeated: Yes
Zero defeated: No

1 4 5 4 | 3 5 3 5 | 6 1 6 2 | 7 1 6 2 Vile defeated: Yes
Byte defeated: No
Bit defeated: No
Zero defeated: Yes
(Enter this password and charge up X’s Buster for a pleasant surprise)

Create any other password combinations you desire using the password crack. Or for an easier time, try the JavaScript password generator!

Here’s a lowdown of what items you find where. Remember that you can only take one of the items from the four pink capsules (and that you need the matching normal enhancement before you can get the super). My advice: take none of them, and you’ll receive them all when you go to Doppler’s fortress. If you really want one early, though, your best bet is the Super Helmet, which refills not only your life meter, but (surprise!) also any Sub-Tanks you might have. Second best are the Super Boots, which allow you to air-dash twice with each jump, which can be a lifesaver in a lot of situations. Or the Hyper Cannon, which is like a permanently-charged X-Buster. (Its energy meter gets refilled as you take damage—but only from certain robots.) The Super Armor doesn’t provide anything new and thus gets put last on my list.

Toxic Seahorse
  • Heart Tank: Climb up the wall before the first gate. (The wall with the green water falling down it.)
  • Kangaroo robot changer: You need the Frog Ride Armor. (Any others will short out when you take them into the water.) Use the Ride Armor to reach the giant fans to the right of the underwater area (you can destroy them if you want), then jump up to the surface. Head left, jumping across the water (and air-dashing over the turtle shells if necessary), to reach the K part. Alternately try destroying the fans and charging up the Frost Shield while underwater.
  • Super Boots: This pink capsule is only accessible with the Frog Ride Armor. Go past the fans and to the surface again, and head right.
Tunnel Rhino
  • Heart Tank: Use a powered-up Triad Thunder blast to knock down one of the boulders you come to (the ones that are strapped to the ceiling and that reflect all your shots).
  • Sub-Tank: This one’s a piece of cake. It’s right out in plain view at the top of a tunnel, as long as you go far enough to the right.
  • Helmet: This is behind the other boulder. Since you need both the X-Buster enhancement as well as the Triad Thunder weapon, don’t count on getting it right away!
Volt Catfish
  • Heart Tank: You need the air-dash to get this’s over a bed of spikes. Ride the second lift all the way up instead of jumping off at the first tunnel you come to.
  • Sub-Tank: You’ll need a Ride Armor to snag this item. Head right from the Ride Armor platform, and simply fall down the tunnel. Your Ride Armor will crash right through the floor when it reaches the bottom.
  • Armor: You will find a spike-lined vertical tunnel with a strange device at the bottom. To get the device to lift you to the capsule, use a powered-up Gravity Well to reverse gravity.
Crush Crawfish
  • Heart Tank: It’s through a wall on the right side of the vertical tunnel where the mace robot falls through. You need a Ride Armor to break in.
  • Hawk robot changer: Use a powered-up Triad Thunder shot to blast through the small gray platform near the beginning of the stage. It’s a few blocks to the right of the Ride Armor platform.
  • Super Armor: There is a tunnel in the floor that looks like a bottomless pit, but is actually more of the level. Drop down in a Ride Armor, and use the Ride Armor to bust the wall down there.
Neon Tiger
  • Heart Tank: Climb the wall at the end of the stage (before going through the gates that lead to the Maverick).
  • Sub-Tank: It’s on the right side of the big room full of mace robots and insects. You can either use the air-dash or hitch a ride on one of the insects.
  • “Dust Buster:” (Well, that’s what his new arm cannon looks like!) You need the Tornado Fang to drill through a wall. Look for a wall with cracks (your normal arm cannon shots will bounce off. This is usually a big clue that the wall can be broken).
Gravity Beetle
  • Heart Tank: This is behind some blocks that cannot be broken. However, after some time, they will go away. I think the trigger is defeating Blast Hornet.
  • Frog robot changer: The air-dash is about the only way to reach it. It’s high on the left wall once you climb outside.
  • Hyper Cannon: This is the super enhancement for the Dust Buster (uh, I mean, X-Buster). Get it by utilizing a Ride Armor to break through some blocks. (Again, your shots will bounce off.)
Blast Hornet
  • Heart Tank: It’s to the right of the huge open area. You need the air-dash.
  • Chimera Ride Armor (N): This is the critical piece, for you need this one before you can use any of the others. However, you need the Tornado Fang to get there. When you are crossing the garages, blast all the blocks and a hole will be produced in one of the ledges. Drop down and break into one of the garages to find the Ride Armor.
  • Super Helmet: You have to do a dash-jump with a Ride Armor (preferably not the Frog one!) over a big pit. You’ll know the area when you see it.
Blizzard Buffalo
  • Heart Tank: You need a Ride Armor to break through the big blue ice blocks. The manual shows a picture of this. A reader reports you can also use the Tornado Fang.
  • Sub-Tank: You need the air-dash to get this. It’s on the left side of the room where you find the air-dash.
  • Air Dash Boots: When you get to where snow is falling, stay up! If you can do this, you can make a big dash-jump off the third platform, and grab onto the ledge protruding from the wall. Jump up and head into the tunnel.
Locations of Vile:

Using the X-Buster

Without any enhancements, X can obtain three levels of power. With the X-Buster upgrade, his cannons can reach five levels. Normal, white (one small super shot), yellow (one large super shot), pink (two-handed small shots), and red (two-handed with fully-powered shots). If you get Zero’s Beam Saber, X can no longer obtain the red level. Instead he goes to a green level which is (finally) a triple shot! The first two shots are identical to the pink level (small super shots), and the third is the Beam Saber. (Note: If you get the Beam Saber when you don’t have the X-Buster enhancement, you’ll still have your normal level of charge, but you’ll end up with the green level charge after firing off your super-shot. X doesn’t shoot the Saber in this case, however; he only slashes with it. Thanks to Danny for pointing this out to me.)

The 9th Capsule (otherwise known as the Golden Armor)

This capsule will give you all of the super enhancements (who says you can’t have it all?), but only if you have not chosen one of the pink capsules’ enhancements previously.

I have found that while you need to possess all of the other items in the game (besides the pink capsule enhancements) and have a full energy meter for the capsule to appear, you do not need full Sub-Tanks. The key is that you must have a full energy meter before getting too close to the location of the super capsule. And I’m not sure where the trigger is. So to get the capsule 100% of the time, don’t bother filling up your Sub-Tanks but do attempt to get to the capsule’s location with full energy. One way to do this is to use the Ride Armor so that it absorbs any damage you might take. Basically this means that the moment you reach the Ride Armor platform, you should have a full energy meter. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds; however, you only get one free energy capsule, so if you are low on energy from fighting the ceiling crusher, use a Sub-Tank to fill yourself up, use Zero to avoid taking more damage, or kill yourself off and come back with a full meter.

Partway through the first station of Doppler’s fortress you will find a wide open room (and the screen will scroll over automatically as you enter). If you want to hop into a Ride Armor, do a dash-jump across the wide room to the wall on the opposite side. You’ll probably hit the enemy there, but don’t worry about it; just concern yourself with not falling off! Climb up, over the enemy, and head up and right to the Ride Armor platform. (There is an energy capsule up there to power you back up.) Choose a Ride Armor (doesn’t matter which one) and head down, then right. After a short walk you will come to a pit in the floor, and across the pit a machine is dropping spiked balls. If you must, wait for a lull in the spike balls, then jump out of the Ride Armor and start sliding down the left wall of the shaft in the floor. The screen will scroll down, and eventually you will drop into a hidden passage. The capsule is just to your left.

X with Zero’s Beam Saber

Screenshot from Pixelboy

Procyon Lotor gets credit for finding this one. It turns out there is one door through which Zero can pass: the one that leads to the battle with the “bug”—the mini-boss of the second station of Doppler’s fortress. If you have Zero defeat this bug, it will fall on him and explode, seriously damaging him. X will teleport in, and since Zero is too damaged to fight, he will pass off his Beam Saber to X. (This means, of course, that in order to get the Saber you must forfeit Zero—and this means you’ll end up with what I consider to be the worst of the two possible endings.) The Beam Saber is a powerful weapon, however; it will axe away half of the energy meter of any of the bosses—including Sigma and Kaiser Sigma!

This game has two endings depending on whether you’ve killed off Zero or not. If Zero is still around, he will save X from Sigma. (An anti-virus on a Beam Saber? This I gotta see...) If Zero has been destroyed, Dr. Doppler will come to X’s rescue, blowing himself up and taking Sigma with him. Either way, the fortress still blows sky high, and the words you get are still the same. The game still mentions how “X must destroy Zero” even if Zero has already been destroyed. (’Course, someone will rebuild him; that’s a given...) Anyway, like its predecessors, this game’s ending shows X (and Zero if he’s around) standing on the cliff watching the fortress go up in smoke. Then he or they are running on the highway, under the credits and stuff.

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Last update: February 11, 2012