Mega Man Xtreme Review

Mar 23, 2024

Back in the NES days the Mega Man games received many handheld tie-in games that were released around the same time. However the Mega Man X series wouldn't see a handheld release until a whole 7 years after the series began on the GameBoy color with Mega Man Xtreme.

Mega Man Xtreme as per GameBoy Mega Man tradition has elements from two of its console counterparts, Mega Man X and X2. However unlike the classic series titles, Xtreme opts to re-create the original stages rather than creating new ones. They are mostly faithful to the originals with many hidden items in the same locations but some ommitions had to be made due to hardware limitations or lack of resources such as the shattering glass in Storm Eagle's stage or the classic Mega Man Batton enemy in Armored Armadillo's stage. Getting 8-bit renditions of the X series music is a nice treat, even if the charge shot sound effect can mess with it. Phase 1 Sigma's baller theme from X1 however was not included, I guess the GameBoy Color just couldn't handle rock of that magnitude.

The sprites are well detailed for 8-bit hardware, the way a lot of character sprites consist of one main color and white actually remind me of the sprites you'd see in Neo Geo Pocket games. X's sprite in particular is animated very well and has an impressive amount of frames. Some of the enemy sprites have odd color choices though and I have no idea what's going on with the sprite of Sigma's head.

An odd design choice the developers made for this game was effectively splitting it in half between normal and hard mode. Normal mode has you play 4 maverick stages followed by the Sigma stages and hard mode has you play 4 different maverick stages followed by the same Sigma stages. Despite the names, normal mode is way harder. Your starting health is low along with your recovery frames. You can get absolutely shredded until you start picking up heart tanks and the armor upgrade. Since you keep everything you attained in normal mode, hard mode ends up being much easier as the stage difficulty doesn't ramp up much from the normal mode stages and the Sigma stages are the same aside from a different boss fight. Beating both modes unlocks Xtreme difficulty which has all 8 stages together in one playthrough, albiet with no story.

Speaking of the story, there isn't much of it in this game. Maverick's (you'll never guess who hired them) have taken over the mother computer containing data on all of the Maverick Hunter's previous battles and so X must digitize himself and take on his past foes in order to maintain peace. Yeah the plot is basically just an excuse to re-use content from X1 and 2, not much but it gets the job done. They try having a tragic turn of events with a reploid Middy and his brother turned evil but they get so little screen time that you can't really bring yourself to care. Although there is a good line from X about how true peace cannot be achieved when the strong rule and the weak are sacrificed.

With the game largely re-using content from the main series games and those games being accessible on handheld devices, Mega Man Xtreme has lost some of its appeal. It's not very polished with some weird bugs (pro tip: a charged rolling shield will make you impervious to spikes and lava) but its 8-bit aesthetic helps set it apart from the main games and I feel it makes for a good companion piece.