I know, I know. It was rushed. It was too hard. The series was supposed to end with X5, etc, etc. I know all the things people have said about it. But, for me, Mega Man X6 was more than a game, good or bad. It was an adventure. One that started much earlier, with my very first Mega Man game.
My relationship with Mega Man games has been all over the place. At my very first sighting of the series, I didn’t think much of them at all. My friend’s dad had an NES and a handful of games: Mario, Zelda… and Mega Man. The second one, to be exact. I believe we tried Zelda first, seeing as how I had played Mario already. But if I’m being honest it was totally just because of Zelda’s gold cartridge.
I quickly got lost in it and died many times. In frustration, I ejected the game and turned to the only one left; the black sheep of the collection. Nothing about the art appealed to me, obviously. But the name did: Mega Man. It had a cool ring to it. And the fact that it had a two beside it meant there had been enough quality in the first to warrant a sequel, right?
I would later learn the flawed logic of “it has a sequel so it must be good!” but, that day, my logic was sound. The intro alone hooked me. The slow raising of the camera to Mega Man on the roof, the title screen, the music, and the image of the helmet as you start the game and watch Mega Man teleport away. I had never seen an intro like that to a game so old, let alone one so cool that it instantly captured my imagination. I looked at the cover again and wondered how in the world someone watched that intro and then threw it all out and drew a buff dude with a handgun.
The game continuously impressed me. From the level select screen to the colorful enemies, to the way Mega Man controlled and fought, I fell in love with the world and characters. Unfortunately, I wasn’t any good at it. I recall playing an ice level many times, not even making it to the boss. However, for some reason I didn’t switch levels and instead stubbornly tried to beat it over and over. I wanted to see the boss. I wanted to win.
But I wouldn’t, not that day. I left my friend’s house, defeated. For some reason, it never occurred to me to look up the series and see what modern games were like. So I forgot about it and it would be years until I stepped back into the world of Mega Man. I remember that day; I was browsing GameStop (maybe still Electronics Boutique, if you want a time frame), not finding a single interesting game. The PS2 was out and that was my main console at the time, so I usually just focused on those games. But something made me look at the PS1 section despite it already being on its way out.
That’s when I saw it. Not just Mega Man, but his X iteration. I remembered my fondness for Mega Man 2, saw how cool the X version looked, and immediately ran to buy it. I stared at the box in the car, waiting anxiously to play it! If I had only opened the case I would have prevented a tragedy; Mega Man X6 was nowhere to be found. They had accidentally given me Mega Man 8. I tried to get my mom to take me back to the store but she said we could do it tomorrow. I was devastated.
I gave what I had a try, and it was neat, very colorful and pretty fun. But I played the first level and then put it back in the case until I was able to get the right game the next day. Mega Man X6, to me, was a worthy trade up from Mega Man 8. Sure, that game was fun and colorful and I loved the new characters in it, but X6? It had death, darkness, and freaking lightsabers. Zero on his own made it worthwhile. He was just the coolest.
But a problem soon cropped up; the game was way, waaaaay harder. In Mega Man 8, I felt myself making steady progress, not too hard and not too easy. But Mega Man X6 was like a brick wall. I beat the starting level and then after that, I could not beat a single boss. I don’t recall ever getting to see a single one. But each failure just made me more excited.
That was when I made the decision that would change everything. I realized I had no hope of beating the game on my own, so I called up my friends who lived down the street. They came over and instantly fell in love with the game in the same way that I did. The edginess, the shooting, the jumping, and even the difficulty itself made it fun. Usually, we would play multiplayer games, but Mega Man X6 was one of or even the very first single player game we tackled.
We played in rotations. I would give it a try first (it was my game after all) then I would hand it off to my other friend, the older of the two brothers. He was way better than me at a lot of video game tasks, but there were a few things I could do better. We made a good team, sometimes even tackling the same level, handing it off when the part that the other was better at came up. But at times even our double-team approach had us stumped. In those times, we would give the controller to my last friend, the youngest of the brothers. He did not enjoy hard games as much as I did, so his attempts were usually fast and frantic. But he had this amazing gift of doing things in a way that we didn’t think of. We could spend hours stuck on one part and then he would somehow figure out a way out of it, on his first attempt no less.
Together, the three of us made progress through the game. We looked up guides, tackling the levels in the recommended order. That didn’t work all the time since the levels would stump us before we could even get to the boss. But we slowly started killing them, gathering our arsenal of boss-killing weaponry. Whilst on our journey, we found out about the armor upgrades. That became crazily addictive to us. No longer were the bosses the main draw; we wanted to complete all the armor sets. And we did, going far out of our way to get them all.
There’s one particular rough spot if you go on that quest, however. There’s a jump you have to do at one point and you have to dash-jump off a platform and jump far to the right. The first few attempts we saw naught aside from demise, but once we caught a glimpse of the hidden platform, we kept going until we got it, doing a few jumps and then going to another level and boss. We went back and forth until, amazingly, we got the armor piece and had beaten every boss in the game. We might have been overlooking something we needed to get that piece the whole time but, whatever, it still felt like an adventure to me.
The last task was beating the final boss. He gave us some trouble, but he was nowhere near the biggest stumbling block for us. With our steady rotation of passing the controller, we eventually prevailed. I will never forget that feeling. I’ve beaten Mega Man games after that, but something about the journey, the build-up, and the fact that I tackled it with my friends made it a memory I will always treasure. And, because of that, I consider Mega Man X6 my favorite game in the whole series.
I guess what I’m trying to say with all this, is that no matter how bad a game is, there is the possibility for someone to enjoy it in the right circumstances. For me, that was teaming up with friends to accomplish my long-sought-after completion of a Mega Man game. Any video game can be fun. The flaws don’t really matter when you’re young and determined.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 are out today. I personally will be getting just the second one and jumping straight into Mega Man X6. I don’t think there will be many who will join me, and that’s okay. If it’s your first time playing the games, I hope you make some memories as great as the ones that I did. No matter which X game you choose.
Been a fan of video games ever since I opened up a Game Boy with Pokemon Yellow one Christmas far too long ago. I even taught myself to read by playing it! From then on, games and words have always been linked for me. I found that what I really liked about video games (and every other thing I owned) was the stories they held. I’m honored to be here, using my words to talk about the wonderful worlds that games can take us to.