The first Mega Man RPG – enjoy the new playstyle and the new average

Mega Man X: Command Mission (2004)

I probably don’t have to say this, but I do hope nobody actually takes my opinions onboard. Anyone holding me up as some sort of esteemed critic must be mad, because I’ve got no taste whatsoever. I think Fallout is generally rubbish, and I had no time for most of Tarantino’s work after Pulp Fiction. On the other hand, I thought Batman & Robin was alright, and my favourite music artist is Donkey Kong.

But don’t you go trusting those other online reviews either, all that stuff is either back by bribes, or bombed by begrudgers. If you believed your Metacritics or your Rotten Tomatoes, you’d think Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a good film, or that Skyward Sword was unmissable. I’d hate to see what they say about Anchorman.

Then there are those things which, if we’re being honest, are absolutely average, or even just sadly obscure, things that we’ll defend to the death nonetheless. Like when people dispute my claim that Robbie Williams is the greatest singer-songwriter of our time, by telling me that he’s merely average, things become very heated very quickly.

Do not take anything I say as any kind of gospel, because I’ll only go and change my mind 5 minutes later. But then, since I’m plankton in the grand ocean of video game reviewers, at least I’m not susceptible to the old brown envelope in return for a favourable review, now am I…?

From now on, just use your own judgement and do not give a hoot about what the prevailing opinion may be. If you wanna get some Pokémon Sword & Shield juice going, or if you rate Barry Manilow, or you lap up a few Dan Brown books, then you go and fill your boots. Sometimes you have to stand up for your average beliefs though, and so when I clocked that Mega Man X Command Mission for GameCube and PS2 received a paltry 67 score on Metacritic, I was baffled.

What?! Now you know that in terms of media reviews, anything under a 7 out of 10 average is considered ghastly – it’s a very rare game that slithers its way towards an actual 1 out of 10. A score of 67 is wretched enough to get you a slap over the head, if you’re cursed with very strict parents. More than anything though, it was one of those moments you sometimes experience where you wonder if you’re the only dolt that doesn’t quite get it.

I love this game actually, even if deep down I am well aware how distinctly average it is. We were all clamouring for a Mega Man X RPG you know. Well, OK, that’s a lie. I hardly knew what Mega Man X was during the 90s and early 2000s. You didn’t get many of them on the shelves in Europe, that’s for sure. But there needed to be something official, otherwise the only place we could turn to for a Mega Man RPG would have been a litany of hopeless RPG Maker-based fanmade RPGs which is on par with the rotten public domain music you hear playing in supermarkets.

Look, it’s a simple enough RPG affair, and if you plough your way through it, it’s not long at all. Well, when have you ever expected a Mega Man game to be lengthy? This ain’t your 80-hour epic extravaganza, let’s say. But what you do get is a battle system that pretty much rips off the one in Final Fantasy X.

Alright, so it’s not brand-spankingly original either. But hey, the graphics are a bit of alright, a cel-shaded look, something that appeals to me. It ain’t Wind Waker, but what is? Some of the models and such are pretty well copied over from Mega Man X7 and X8, but since those games are awful (objectively – although you can feel free to exercise your own judgement on what constitutes above and below average here), you’re better off seeing the Mega Man enemies in 3D here.

There are ten different chapters, which is really just ten MMX-style stages moulded into dungeons, with a boss at the end of each. You’ll enjoy going up against the bosses, not because of the battles themselves which can be surprisingly tough, but because this usually brings about one of the game’s cutscenes which are the most awkward, hokeyest scenes of acting imaginable – horrendous voice acting efforts, bizarre animations, a ridiculously overwrought story as is usual for the later Mega Man X games, it all makes Tales of Symphonia’s cutscenes look like The Lion King by comparison.

You just can’t beat those low budget turn-of-the-century attempts at video game cinematography and voice acting. Objectively bad, but who can complain? It breaks up the monotony of the many, many random battles that always end in all manner of blinding, flashing lights and explosions.

I ain’t really selling this, am I? I’d better get onto some plus points for the game I’ve called great – after all, I’ve already admitted to you that I don’t have taste. If I keep going on like this you won’t invite me to your next cultural appreciation night. Well, what I lap up about this game is the customisation aspect, how you can bring in several Subweapons and Force Metal, which is similar to accessories in another, more conventional (more average) RPG game… any other RPG in the world.

OK, I admit it, I’m really struggling here to properly articulate why I’m such a fan of Mega Man X Command Mission. Anything good about the game has been done better literally hundreds of times elsewhere, and they’ve got the critical acclaim to prove it. In times of crisis like this, I always go back to my old faithful, and that’s the music. Yes, you know I’ll forgive even a bad game if the soundtrack is a banger, and when the game is better than bad and is more along the lines of ‘meh’, which MMX Command Mission is, then that’s more points on top, innit?

There’s no missables, which always helps you get your head in the game, and the deployment sidegame that sees you unlocking figures, soundtrack options and other items is a great, gamelong distraction. There ain’t any other sidequests, unfortunately, but a good RPG sidequest is meant to be emotional and character-building, and how can you expect that from robot protagonists?

See, I can make excuses for anything. You might say Mega Man X’s footstep sounds and constant need to dash everywhere gets annoying, but I say he displays a very nice flame “scarf” when he does, so it’s well worth it. You might say there’s too many encounters, but I say it gives you a chance to engage in tactical gameplay, and also see the wide array of enemy robots, lovingly created in 3D.

There you go then, a review for a game that you might as well not have bothered reading, because what I say doesn’t matter a jot. You’re a big boy, girl or beast, so I trust you to make the decision yourself anyway, no matter what some “fancy” Metacritic or some “legendary” Burkey tells you. All I can do is tell you to check out this lovely slice of Mega Man shaped obscurity for yourself. Will you listen to me then…?

7 February 2023

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