“Red Alert” is a new group of Reploids, similar to the Repliforce, only consisting more of vigilantes. They claim to hunt Mavericks, like the Maverick Hunters, but apparently they do far more than that. One of their members, Axl, decides he’s had enough of their “murdering” and so he tries to leave the group. Unfortunately, the group’s leader, Red, doesn’t take very kindly to this and goes on a mad tear to get Axl back.

When Axl finds his way to the Maverick Hunter base after stumbling across Zero, Red decides this means war and issues a challenge to the Hunters—he will release some Mavericks that Red Alert has in captivity, and whichever group can defeat the Mavericks first will win Axl. (I guess this is sort of like releasing wild animals, letting them rampage, and then racing to see who can kill them first. Um, right.) So anyway, Axl wants to join up with the Maverick Hunters, and although X doesn’t grant this wish right away, the Hunters do allow Axl to fight with them against the Mavericks. (“The prize is joining the fight!”)

So it’s off to defeat the Mavericks, who have already taken root in various parts of the world...

As you can tell from the screen shots, the X series moves 3-D. Actually, this game is almost more of a “2.5-D” game, because it lacks the completely free 3-D movement of, say, Legends (even in the “free range” mode, you can’t tilt the camera and such). Still, the graphics are completely in 3-D and, unlike Network Transmission, not all of the stages are on a side-scrolling track (in fact, very few are).

Game Play Notes

Random Tidbits
[Image of a Maverick saying, ’So, they sent an S-Class Hunter to stop me, huh?’]
Actually, I’m D class, but thanks for the compliment.
Play Control: 3
The control is fairly good for a 3-D game, although Axl’s hover tends to activate when I don’t want it to (linking it to a double-jump would have been a better idea if you ask me), and climbing up walls can sometimes be challenging depending on the camera angle (or when your character decides to get stuck on a corner...).
Graphics: 4
The backgrounds are pretty well done, with the main downside being that many of them are way too dark. “Dark” as in, lack of light, so you can’t see where you are going. Many 3-D games and most movies suffer from this...
Animation: 5
I love the cell shading in this game, because it looks almost hand-drawn. Curiously, the sprites used during the actual game are lacking most of their black outlines, but I think they did this on purpose since outlines tend to get muddled when viewed from more of a distance (the way you are viewing the sprites during most of the actual game play). Overall, the characters are modeled very well and their animations aren’t bad either, and I like how certain parts of them glow, such as the gems and such on the characters—it makes for a neat effect.
Music: 3
Most of the tunes didn’t really stand out for me as being either really good or really bad (though the second stage select screen is quite nice), but the music is of decent quality. Just as a side note, I believe this is the first X game which does not change the music when you activate one of Dr. Light’s capsules. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just curious.
Sound Effects: 2
Capcom translated the voices in this game, and at least they aren’t as bad as Mega Man 8’s (although admittedly that level of hideousness is extremely hard to top). I am amused that the voice actors managed to change the meaning of entire sentences with just their dictation... Otherwise, the sound effects in the game are as expected, although I get tired of hearing Zero say “umph ah oh” all the time with every swipe he performs. (X and Axl don’t do this, probably because that would just get too extreme. Although X says “Stop it!” occasionally when he shoots off fully-powered shots...okay, now that’s pretty funny.)
[Image of Dr. Light telling X, ’But you must use them only to do good!’]
Like X wouldn’t?
Plot: 3
Axl is really the only character who really comes across as being...well, real. X’s complaints against fighting become so repetitive you just want to bonk him over the head, and Zero sounds like he doesn’t care about anything most of the time. But I do I like how there are plenty of plot scenes, and the translation doesn’t seem very bad in this one, so considering Mega Man X6, you have to give them credit for that.
Difficulty: 3 (normal to hard)
The actual difficulty is about average for the X series, but the moronic camera in many of the areas will leave you pounding on stages that should have been rather simple. The good side is you have effectively unlimited 1-Ups, even when fighting bosses, so you can just keep banging your head on them until you succeed. The bad side is, if you miss rescuing a critical Reploid, even infinite lives won’t help you out once he’s dead.
Replay Value: 3
They added a clear game save to help in this department, although there are a couple of places I was glad to just be done with and don’t really want to go back and do all over again. Still, like many of the recent X titles, the game does get more entertaining after you’ve played it for a while.
Polish: 3
The character switch from Xtreme 2 is quite appreciated here; it’s just too bad you can only take two of your three characters to any given stage, since there are times when you could use all three. Speaking of which, this game really does seem almost like a combination game, containing aspects from Mega Man X5/Mega Man X6 as expected, but also borrowing some things as far back as Mega Man X2 (like some of X’s armor pieces). It’s almost nostalgic.
[Image of a report saying, ’A virus has escaped through a crack in the electrosphere!’]
Just what is an electrosphere?
Overall: 79%
Translating the classic X series engine into an “almost full 3-D” environment is an interesting exercise, but I’m not sure I really like the end result. Graphically, Capcom made the transition extremely well, but as far as the game play is concerned, enemies spend way too much time in your numerous blind spots. (How often have I fired blindly in the direction that I hope the Maverick is standing, because it would take far too long to spin the camera around to actually see him? And that’s assuming it’s a battle where the camera can be moved at all...) Between the lousy camera and the fact that many of the levels are extremely dark, you spend half of the game fighting blind...which isn’t really all that fun, when you get right down to it.

+ Plus:
Every time you beat a stage, you get a cut scene, which allows the plot to unfold more gradually.
- Minus:
Rescuing Reploids is a pain in the neck in this game, which can really be aggrivating because most of them are a one-shot deal.
You have to rescue at least 64 Reploids before you can play as X, so if you want to get him right away, you could just visit stages at random and gather Reploids and items without defeating the Maverick at the end. However, even if you do clear a stage, X will still have the weapon when you get him later, so there is no harm in doing so.

If you are having troubles with the game, pick up X and his armor pieces, then use him to fight the bosses. Ironically, X is the easiest character to use against most bosses, particularly once you have his body armor to reduce damage done to him.

What’s weird is that most of the “weaknesses” in this game aren’t actually weaknesses. Most weapons do pathetic damage to the Mavericks, even the one they are supposed to be weak against. There are a couple of exceptions, but you may depend on just blasting the Maverick with your native weapon in a lot of cases.

I found Tonion to be the easiest to defeat without special weapons; however, the forest stage is the natural one to begin with—it’s a rather traditional stage, the end boss isn’t that tough, and the game puts you there to start with. Still, since this is me, I’m going to be completely untraditional here, and suggest an order based on the overall difficulty of the stages and bosses, rather than by the order of the weapons.

The energy capsule you receive after every battle completely refills your health and one of your Sub-Tanks, but it will only help one character at a time. This makes for an interesting situation where you can only refill each character every other battle. (Or, you could just die—that’ll take care of both.)

This image was pieced together from multiple screen shots, so the overall perspective is wrong, but this should give you the idea.

Welcome to the most irritating battle in the entire game. No joke. Most of the time I get him down to about 50% health and then get promptly knocked into the water and die. Repeat ad nauseam. Anyway, Red appears and disappears throughout the entire battle, reappearing on random platforms. (Never stand in the center of a platform because otherwise he might appear right on top of you.) He also has two “ghosts” of himself which attack you; you can’t hurt these, so just jump to another platform to avoid them.
[Image of Red saying, ’I know you didn’t come here just to talk...’]
Actually, I’m fine with just talking...
There are two main strategies here—one is to wait until Red appears, then quickly jump over onto his platform (try to approach him from behind; he won’t notice you as quickly then) and hit him with the Explosion/Hadangeki weapon, then immediately leap off onto another platform. Red will freeze for a moment, then produce a tornado and disappear. Rinse, repeat. This technique really works best for Zero, because X and Axl will run out of weapon energy long before he’s through. The other strategy is to use X/Axl and hit Red from a distance. He counter-attacks every time you hit him, so either jump to another platform to avoid it, or dodge where you are. (Jumping onto another platform is easier, but you risk getting knocked into the drink.) With X, hit him with fully-powered shots. For Axl, try the rifle he gets while equipped with the Explosion weapon. Notice that sometimes Red appears and immediately begins forming tornadoes on some of the platforms around him; he can’t be harmed when he’s doing this and he disappears immediately after, so just concentrate on finding a safe haven. Note: Turns out the Volt Tornado can actually take a good chunk off his life, so you can mix that in with your other attacks as well.
Sigma 1st time:
Sigma has a few varied attacks: a laser which extends across the screen (hang out on a wall to avoid this); a gatling gun with horrible aim (just keep moving and he’ll miss you with every shot); and a rifle which is easier to deal with if you stay over him rather than on the floor. If you hit him with the Wind Cutter you will knock him over; however, for sheer damage I find the Volt Tornado to be the fastest and easiest way to wipe him out.
Sigma 2nd time:
As expected, this Sigma is huge. The only weapon which will even reach him from the default platform is the Sniper Missile, but it doesn’t do wonderful damage. Best to find another vantage point while Sigma’s energy meter is filling (since you can’t hurt him then anyway); although it’s tricky since the depth perception is kind of shoddy in this stage, so be careful about not falling off. Anyway, I found the easiest place to be is to head all the way to the far left, which is also the highest vantage point.
Then drop down to the block just below, and stand right against the leftmost block. This will protect you from many of Sigma’s attacks (although sometimes his fist will still hit you here, depending on what angle he comes in on, so be careful). Standing in this corner, you can basically blast away at Sigma with X/Axl, and switch to Zero when Sigma charges with his fist, so that you can swipe the fist and get a little bit more damage in that way. Also, when Sigma comes into close range and bombards you with fireballs, swipe rapidly using Zero and you can bounce them back at him, or just rapid-fire with X/Axl to destroy them. The green spheres you can bounce back at him with the Gaea Shield, but you don’t necessarily want to do this if he’s within range of your buster, because you can do more overall damage by rapid-firing him since he sticks around longer (if you reflect the spheres, he disappears immediately after the first green sphere hits him). The laser you’ll need to jump—take two small hops. Overall, Sigma is, like in Mega Man X6, not that difficult in this game, provided you use your characters wisely.

Note that, breaking all X series trends, if you die to the Sigma 2 battle, you don’t have to fight Sigma 1 over again. On the other hand, you have basically no opportunity to refill Sub-Tanks after you die, so better be sure of yourself before you empty one. Then again, you hopefully shouldn’t need them, particularly if you have X (in armor) with you.

You can find capsules even if you are using another character, but the capsules will only activate for X. Inactive capsules look like blue pods sitting on the ground. If you don’t have X with you when you stumble over one, simply note the capsule’s location, then come back later for it.

Deep Forest:

Lava Factory:
Tunnel Base: Battleship: Cyber Field:
Radio Tower: Central Circuit: Air Forces:

The duck isn’t as significant in this game, but it’s still good for some things...
You are able to save up to 5 different slots on one card. When you beat the game, you will be offered a chance to save; this save will be for the beginning of the game, not the end, so don’t save over your end-of-game file (unless you don’t want it anymore).

Also note that while the game allows you to save during the fortress stages, there is no reason to do so once you enter the Crimson Palace stage (the last place where you see the stage select screen), since the save will always bring you back to that point. (I wish they’d let you save after the Red battle...)

General Hints Stage Hints
[Image of Sigma saying, ’I will make X and Zero mine!’]
In a rather cool cinema scene, X, Zero, and Axl have defeated Sigma, but he suddenly reappears and blasts Axl through a wall. Sigma is rather battered, but threatens to come back again in a stronger form. But before he can attack X and Zero, “Red” suddenly jumps down and assaults the Hunters, knocking them away. Sigma gloats then that he’ll take Red’s form; however, as he tries to do so, Red reveals himself to be Axl, and he shoots Sigma in the head so well that the single shot blows Sigma clean out of the tower (he’s using that gun again...). With Sigma taken care of (for the time being, anyway), the trio heads home.

X’s Ending
Back at HQ, Signas and Alia go through some reports of various Maverick “incidents” that Axl has stopped. (There were a few casualties though.) Anyway, Signas asks X if he will allow Axl to train to become a Maverick Hunter. X refuses, saying Axl could never become a hunter like him. Signas says that if X doesn’t fight, somebody else has to. I guess Zero needs a partner, but it’s kind of a shame—I rather liked X before he turned into a hyper-pacifist. Is Capcom going to make Axl and Zero partners now and have X just sit on the sidelines? Ugh...
Zero’s Ending
Zero has a dream of X pointing his arm cannon at him saying “Eliminate the Mavericks” over and over in a monotone. As Zero tries to ask what X is doing, X fires at him...and Zero wakes up. Alia is currently calling Zero for a mission, and Zero heads out murmuring, “At least, I hope that was just a dream...”
Axl’s Ending
Axl wants to become a Maverick Hunter, but X still refuses. Axl says he was just doing what X was doing, but X says what he himself did was a mistake. Alia calls in a notice about a new Maverick incident, and Axl runs off, saying he’ll take care of it and that X will make him into a Hunter yet. Alia asks X why not just let Axl do what he wants this time. X says that Axl will make the same mistake they did. But Axl is already gone.

Incidentally, if you watch carefully, you can see some pretty nice fighting in the demos shown during the credits. Too bad the screens are so small though.

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Last update: August 6, 2010