Since all of the X games play in a similar manner, the Game Hints deal with only general hints on where to find items and accomplish tasks in that particular game. I have compacted all of my general strategies, tidbits, and tips into this file, along with some other details that may be helpful to people.
Note that in some of the descriptions I use just “X” to denote the player’s character. If you’re playing as Zero the text still applies unless otherwise stated.
The X games are side-scrolling action games, A.K.A platform games. The biggest difference between Mega Man and any other platform game is the fact that you can choose the order in which you tackle the main levels of the game, and you also usually acquire one or more weapons in each of these levels, which adds some strategy to the order in which you choose. Note that in all Mega Man X games, all of the initial stages can be completed without any items or weapons (unless that item is given to you at the start of the game). Because of this, you can complete the stages in literally any order, although many cannot be fully explored without certain items, and some are more difficult to complete without certain items—though never impossible.
The player takes control of a robot by the name of Mega Man X (natch) or, in later titles, Zero or Axl.
On the stage select screen, you choose a stage by selecting the robot boss (called a “Maverick”) that ends the stage. At this point, X or Zero is teleported to a predetermined spot, and the level begins.
Most levels travel from left to right. X must move through obstacles—jumping pits, avoiding spikes, climbing ladders, and fending off foes—to find the boss which closes the level. There, he must face off in a one-to-one battle in an enclosed room, where the battle does not end until one of the two combatants is destroyed.
Should X perish along the way, and he has an extra life to spare, he will be teleported back to the nearest “continue point” and can attempt the stage again. Should he be defeated when his lives are at 0, the game is over. At this point the player can usually choose to retry that stage, or pick a new one.
Once you have collected all of the weapons from the Mavericks, the game usually advances to “fortress” stages which are initiated by selecting a new entry which will appear on the stage select screen. There are usually four levels of this and they must be played in a predetermined order. After you finish one section, you will usually be returned to the stage select screen where you advance to the next fortress stage by selecting the same spot on the grid again (this means that you cannot revisit older fortress stages, since they all share the same spot on the grid). Alternately you could choose to revisit other stages first to refill Sub-Tanks and find any items you may have missed before continuing on with the fortress.
Usually the Mavericks of the previous levels must be fought again in the fortress, along with other unique bosses. Then, the game ends when the player wins the final battle against Sigma.
The Mega Man X games are applauded for their superior play control, detailed graphics, and techno music. The play mechanics are simple but polished. X doesn’t have a whole lot of moves, but what he has suffices. Below is a list.
- X doesn’t need much to stand on—usually one foot on firm ground is all he needs to remain standing, though exactly how far off a ledge you can go and still remain standing depends on the game. Experiment with each new game you get to learn his limits in that particular one.
- X runs at a decent clip; though it’s not especially fast, he can run continuously hours on the end without tiring. In his games X runs at only one speed, although the dash can speed him up (see below).
- X’s jumps are usually enhanced by finding Dr. Light’s capsules; at first, he has a simple jump, but in certain games he can also double-jump, air-dash, and/or hover in midair.
- Wall Climb
- X can climb walls in a unique manner—jump into them while pressing the directional pad toward the wall in question. X will latch onto the wall and begin to slide downward. Keep pressing jump while holding that direction and you can bounce your way up the wall. To stop climbing, merely let go of the direction on the control pad, or press jump and hold the opposite direction to leap away from the wall. Also if you have the ability to dash, you can perform a dash-jump off the wall if timed correctly, which allows you to gain a lot more distance to your jump.
- Twin cannons are X’s principle method of attack. He is equipped to be able to turn either arm into a cannon and fire spheres of energy at his foes. The type of plasma he uses normally emits a yellow-white light, though sometimes it turns blue or even pink depending on its strength. X can fire at any time, even while climbing a ladder or wall. Usually he can have three shots on the screen at any one time. Shots that are busy hitting a target do not count.
- X can “charge” up energy before firing in order to increase the size and strength of his shot. Hold down the fire button to begin accumulating energy in X’s system. Watch his colors change until you have reached the desired level, then release the button to fire. At the beginning of the game, X can usually reach only three levels of charge. The first level is his normal arm cannon shots. The second level is a slightly larger sphere of plasma that sometimes doesn’t do any additional damage, it’s just bigger. The third level is the “super-shot” which is both larger and more powerful. However once X gets his X-Buster upgrades, he is usually capable of charging even farther, sometimes to five or six levels. What his shots are like then depends on the game. Note that in all games, X can get an enhancement which allows him to charge Master Weapons in addition to his native cannon. Also note that Zero cannot charge up in most of the games where he is a player character.
- X can climb ladders, ropes, and certain other structures by pressing Up on the controller with X positioned so that he’s standing in front of the ladder. If you press the jump button while clinging to a ladder, X will let go and begin to fall. Press Up while falling over a ladder to grab on again. Press Up to climb up, Down to climb down, Left and Right to control which way X aims when you press the fire button. Also in some games X can grab onto horizontal things such as ropes. These operate in a similar manner; press Left or Right to move in that direction.
- Dashing increases X’s speed for a brief duration. This can be used to lengthen the distance of his jumps, or to quickly get him out of the way of an attack. In some cases this can also be used to duck obstacles, but because the dash does not get him very low to the ground, there are very few cases where this works. In some games, X can also dash in mid-air. Note that in these cases, X can only dash once per jump—if you dash on the ground, and then jump while still dashing, you are not able to dash in the air during that jump.
- In some games, X and Zero can duck. This allows you to avoid shots and can also be used to hit small enemies on the ground, since X can fire while ducking and his shots are thus lower to the ground. The duck is extremely useful, so never forget to take advantage of it.
In some games, Zero is not only a player character but plays in a significantly different style from X. Here are some of the differences (reference the X section above for the simularities).
Using the Saber
- Use leaping attacks a lot. Zero’s a sitting duck on the ground.
- Press the fire button three times rapidly for a special combination attack. (For lack of a better term, I call this Zero’s “triple-slash.”) The final slash seems to be more powerful than normal ones (and also has better range), so use it.
- Bosses tend to be immune for several seconds after you hit them. So to hit one with the final slash of the triple-slash explained above, come in high and take a pop shot before you hit the ground. Then, while the boss is still flashing, start the triple-slash. If you time it right, the bossís immunity will run out just as you are executing that precious final slash.
- The Saber can often hit multiple times per slash. It also can do damage by just hitting with its very tip, so even when you think you can’t reach an enemy, you can still strike it.
- There is often a delay when Zero hits something with his Saber that might throw you off, so beware.
- Zero can slash his Saber at almost any time, including while climbing ladders and clinging to walls. Note, however, that if you slash while dashing, Zero will discontinue his dash.
- Zero’s Saber isn’t long range, but it has a great short range. It can destroy things on the ground or even the ground itself. It can reach over Zero’s head and knock enemies out of the air. It can even hit things behind him. Experiment.
Zero typically does not gain Master Weapons from his foes, as X does. Instead, he gains Techniques. Most of these are activated using specific button combinations, usually by pressing a direction on the control pad along with one of the two fire buttons. Usually the game will tell you how to use the move when you get it, or you might find it in the manual. If you can’t find the move’s combination, just experiment or check the relevant Game Hints Data Base page.
- This refills X’s “energy meter” which is the yellow/white bar at the top left of the screen. An “energy unit” is a single bar in his meter. Energy capsules are the large yellow spheres you often find during the game. Energy pellets are the smaller ones. Capsules give you more energy than pellets. Colored capsules or pellets are weapon energy, which refill X’s current weapon, or the one which needs it the most if he’s not equipped with a weapon or if his current weapon is full.
- X can grab weapons from certain enemies. (Zero can sometimes as well.) They appear on his weapons screen (also known as a subscreen) and each has its own energy meter. Think of this as ammunition. When a weapon’s meter runs out of energy, X can no longer fire that weapon, although he still has it. Refill weapons with weapon energy. X changes colors when he equips a weapon so you can tell what weapon you are currently using. When he gets his X-Buster upgrade, he can also charge weapons the same as his native X-Buster. (Zero can’t do this as he never gets X-Buster upgrades.)
- Sub-Tanks are extra stores of energy that X can carry around until needed. When obtained they are empty; to fill one, pick up an energy pellet or capsule when X’s energy meter is full, and the energy will go to the tank instead. Use Sub-Tanks to refill X’s energy when you’re in a jam. You can use a tank at any time, even if it’s not completely full, but you will get less effect if it’s not full.
- Heart Tanks
- These instantly increase the size of your energy meter by two units. This is an increase to your maximum health, and you get to keep it for the rest of the game. You will generally find one Heart Tank in every Maverick stage.
- Extra lives. In the game they look like helmets sitting on the ground. Collect these to earn extra chances at completing a level. When you lose a life, you go back to the farthest continue point that you had passed. Most levels have three continue points—one at the very beginning of the stage, one somewhere around halfway, and one between the gates that lead to the stage boss. In most games, continue points are placed in empty rooms where you will not be blown away as soon as you reappear.
- Dr. Light’s Capsules
- In certain stages you will come across capsules with images of Dr. Light, X’s creator. These will give you certain enhancements to specific parts of X’s body. Enhancements are almost always useful so search for them high and low.
- Ride Armor
- These are large two-legged mechas which you can hop into and ride. Different armors have different capabilities. Most are slow but have powerful attacks to make up for it. The ride armor also protects you from attack; when you receive damage while in a ride armor, the armor takes the hit rather than your character. After suffering enough damage the armor will be destroyed and your character will pop out. If you want to eject early, hold up and press jump. You can even do this in midair. While in a ride armor, you cannot use special weapons, but you can use the attack buttons to have the armor attack, and sometimes you can dash and even hover (double-tap or hold down the jump button) depending on the armor.
- Don’t think you have to destroy every enemy on the screen in order to pass. Often times it is much quicker and easier to simply run by any robots that aren’t directly in your way. You’ll end up with more energy to spend on the boss in this way.
- Use caution in new areas. Don’t jump blindly over pits or down ladders unless you know what’s below you. Capcom loves putting deadly things at the bottoms of ladders, and loves placing little robots that shoot out of pits when you try to jump them, thereby knocking you right into the pit. Until you know the level, always climb down ladders, and always stop at the very edge of any suspicious-looking pit. (This will trigger any robot that might be lurking below). Impatience can be deadly, after all.
- X can be hit several times before perishing, and there is no penalty to his performance even if he has only one unit of energy. Don’t fear taking hits, for as long as your goal is accomplished, it doesn’t matter how much energy you have left.
- Also don’t fear dying. If this were real life, you couldn’t take half the chances you do in a game. But it’s not, and extra lives are plentiful and continues are infinite. Sometimes it is better to sacrifice a life in order to get ahead. For instance, you might grab a Heart Tank over spikes and die, but at least you permanently have those two extra units to your meter. In such cases, you are literally committing suicide to get the item, but you get to keep the item even if you Continue, so you end up ahead. (Note: Suicide 1-Ups are ineffective.)
- If you get to a boss with little energy, and you have lives to spare, don’t use any weapons on the boss. Let him kill you off if he will, then when you come back you will have a full energy meter—and a full weapon!
- If you are fighting a boss with your last life, you can go ahead and blow all your weapon energy on him, but don’t necessarily waste your Sub-Tanks. The game will remember that you’d used the tanks and they’ll be empty even when you Continue.
- If you are having troubles beating Mavericks, take a break and hunt for Heart Tanks, Sub-Tanks, and enhancements (Dr. Light capsules). Enter stages, gather items, and even fight the boss at the end for practice; when you lose all your lives, you can pick a new stage. You will discover that a few items and some practice makes a world of difference.
- When searching for items, slide down the wall of every pit you come to. Many such pits are actually passages. If X begins to go off the bottom of the screen and the screen does not scroll, start jumping your way back up. It’s just a bottomless pit.
- Keep an eye out for places where you can quickly gather energy and 1-Ups from defeating enemies. This can be any place where enemies pour in continuously while you stand still, or where you can pace back and forth in a relatively small space scrolling enemies back onto the screen.
- In most games, passwords to the end of the game take you to the first station of the first fortress in that game. Therefore, don’t bother writing down any of the passwords you might get once in the fortress(es) unless you pick up some nifty items. In later games (mostly ones which save), this is no longer the case, and you can actually save your progress through the fortress.
- X is invincible for a short period of time after he is hit. In most games, he can even safely touch deadly things such as spikes or lava without dying. Take advantage of this. Sometimes it is better to purposely take a hit and run across spikes than risk losing a life.
- X can climb spikes on walls in most games if he is invincible, either by taking a hit or by using a weapon like the Chameleon Sting.
- Everyone knows that weapons can be used for more than just fighting bosses. Well guess what: they can also be used for more than just fighting, period. Try using them to open new paths or to otherwise fool with your surroundings.
- Even though you can charge up, don’t always think you must. Sometimes it’s much easier and more effective to use a turbo controller instead. (Some people call this cheating, but if you have it, flaunt it!) Charging up takes time, whereas you can usually much more easily simply pump enemies with rapid-fire shots and destroy them faster.
- Charge up before entering the gate that leads to a boss battle. It’s always nice to get in a good first shot!
- If you’re slipping on ice, jump. This will stop your movement instantly.
- When facing teleporting hatches where you must battle a group of Mavericks a second time through, fight the hard ones when you have full energy, and the easier ones if you are missing some energy. When you defeat a foe you gain some energy capsules, so taking on easier enemies while you are lower on energy not only increases your chance of winning (without using a life or a Sub-Tank) but also means you may come out of the battle with more energy than when you went in!
- In most games, items such as energy capsules, pellets, and tanks that are placed in a level (as opposed to items dropped by enemies) will not come back if you take them and then die. You must leave the level to get them back. So don’t take stuff that you don’t need at the time because you might need it later!