Uh-oh! The gravy train have started to move!

megaman x6

Mega Man X6 (2002)

A lot of people, when you ask them how their day in work was, tell you that they did “nothing”. Actually, they’ll say the same thing when you ask them what they did last night or what they’re doing for their upcoming 37th birthday. But “nothing” is always something, even if that just entails sitting there, faffing about like a pudgy potato and watching Netflix. And would you believe me if I told you that I once had a job where I was paid full whack for doing absolutely nothing, besides watching whatever I wanted?

It’s true, and you’re gonna love this. I don’t even watch much Netflix usually, so I had to borrow an account to fill my days. I was a temporary replacement for a guy who was out sick, and my role would be to playtest a new Wii U game that was being localised for the European market. Bit of a snag though – the game hadn’t arrived to our office yet, and seemingly there wasn’t even a need for any of us to sweep up or make the tea.

So we were openly allowed to just doss on our computers as much as we wanted, and I assure you that I wasn’t the only one looking at HBK Sweet Chin Music compilations. The guy I was replacing eventually came back, probably cacking it that I’d take his handy number for good. The gravy train was coming to a screeching halt for me, but I still got three weeks’ worth of pay for contributing absolutely nowt. How plum is that?

The company in question didn’t do the translation or localisation job for Mega Man X6 on PS1, but given their incredible laissez-faire attitude you’d be forgiven for thinking they did because this is among the worst translated games I’ve ever played. Certainly it’s the worst I’ve seen past the year 2000. After all, it was open season on the English language in the 80s and early 90s.

That’s when sentences like “Main Screen Turn On” got the go-ahead – one Japanese guy would have to assume the role of not only the programmer, but the graphic designer, composer and janitor as well. In among these duties, he did a bit of Japanese-to-English translation using an old copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps a souvenir from the very first series of Countdown. Something that wasn’t quite up to date. But that’s no cause to get on his back – just you try translating “Get you the hot bullets of shotgun to die” back into Japanese and let me know how you get on.

I played Mega Man X6 on the PS4 Legacy Collection, which gives you a choice of versions to play. It offered me either US English or Japanese. I must have somehow pressed both options, but the ‘US English’ bit is patently false ayway, because this ain’t English. Not when space colonies are described as “furious” or one of the character screams “I’m going mad and it is so… liberating!” to himself.

Once again it’s far too wordy for a Mega Man X game, where it should be all about the action and explosions. Even as you stare in disbelief at the Engrish subtitles, the voice-acting is all delivered with Japanese voice acting anyway, no matter what language you pick. It seems the creators went for two languages here and missed both of them by miles, a bit like my final French and Irish exams in school, I suppose.

Even the save screens ain’t translated good, asking me if it’s OK to “overwright” my data. Suddenly it felt like my data was under threat; I didn’t actually believe the game had the brainpower to do it. The Save Screen was plainly mad, it was just as likely to eat my memory card (or worse, precious PS4 memory) instead. The GDPR bods never had to deal with data risks like that, had they? It was getting so bad I was wondering if I’d have stood a better chance playing everything in Japanese and letting the game drop its ridiculous charade attempt at English.

I thought I’d visit the fiery Reploid’s stage. Fire’s always a nice weapon to have with you, and you usually get excellent electric guitar music in the volcanic Mega Man X stages. But when I arrived at Blaze Heatnix’s level, I could hardly believe what I was playing. I’m not just exaggerating for effect, it’s got to go down in history as one of the worst stage designs ever.

I can’t even get past the first two screens. You go up against what’s meant to be a robotic ouroboros, but resembles a red donut moreso. The thing has a healthbar that goes on until Christmas, and not a single animation to speak of – it just slides back and forth, blasting you with multiple lasers in a terrible war of attrition. You’ve got to defeat, I think five of these abominations before getting to the boss and skipping through another load of barely comprehensible dialogue. There’s hardly any platforming between the five of these, either, nothing you could actually call a level.

A fine start. Nobody could think this stage was fun. Whoever designed it ought to have been drawn and quartered, and have their last words mangled horribly in translation. The level, and the rest of the game in fact, is so unfinished and untested that I’m actually embarrassed for the creators. I now know how my teachers and lecturers felt, having to mark my tests and essays.

I suppose the advantage of Mega Man games is that, even if you’re brought to a vomitous stupor by the wretchedness of one level, you can at least try seven others. But how’s my luck, I then picked the second worst stage, the snowy one. There’s plenty of insta-deaths here, but also another torturously slow section where you’re dodging a bunch of snow-covered boulders rolling down on top of you. But you actually see all of these boulders spawning all on top of each other, as if it was a programming loop that someone forgot to close. Then the rocks hurtle towards you with not a trace of animation. Oh, great.

The third level I tried was a dung beetle’s lair. Yes, a dung beetle. Not exactly a kuwanger, is it? It also had dismal music, and it was repetitive beyond belief – it’s just you trying to take down a load of enemy totems as you move back and forth through a drab looking tower. At least the boss was easy enough, which I was relieved about because X6 is dreadfully hard on the whole. That’s not to say fighting him was fun, of course. And after beating him, things were about to get worse because it was back to this game’s pathetic attempts at being a good platformer.

I was completely fed up after the fourth level I tried, which had music that ripped off The Final Countdown of all things. There was a giant robot shouting at me, trolling me to death in the background, firing lasers at me. And just when all of that had me properly gnashing my teeth, he made the whole level dark, a bit like when you get a Togepi in Super Smash Bros. Suddenly, mere rage seemed impotent – I had the fury of the Gods. I’m telling you, I could have chinned Mike Tyson in one after that.

God, this is a miserable game. Some of the music is the usual top standard, although there’s even a letdown here as well because some of the music is just grabbed from X5. Just stick to X4, because we’re really on a terrible slide now as far as Mega Man X is concerned. The makers of X6 might as well have been beside me in that office, watching It’s Always Sunny in Phildelphia all day long. I wish my brain would “overwright” this one out of my memory.

26 June 2020

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