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Mega Man or Mega Man X?
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) January 21, 2021
Despite my best attempts to rally my followers, Mega Man X is the overwhelming favorite. Most people think that Mega Man X is better than Mega Man.
This is wrong.
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First off, let’s clarify one thing. If we’re talking about the literal video game named Mega Man vs. the first entry in the Mega Man X series, then sure, Mega Man X is better. But I took this poll to be about the two series. In that case, the original Mega Man wins by a rock(heh)slide.
Don’t get me wrong, Mega Man X (the first one) is amazing. It’s one of the best games ever made. Mega Man X2 is also great! Mega Man X3 is a more forgettable outing, but it’s fine. Then Mega Man X4 rules, but after that, the series spirals downward, culminating in the disastrous Mega Man X7 with its bland 3D graphics and gameplay segments. Mega Man X8, the last in the series, is something of a rebound, but it’s nowhere near the heights the franchise once enjoyed.
The biggest problem with Mega Man X is that it peaked early. The first game is the best one. Mega Man X4 is the only other one that I would consider in its same tier. Aside from them, you have some good showings, like Mega Man X2, but you also have forgettable turnouts like Mega Man X3 and Mega Man X8. And then you have games that are outright disappointments with Mega Man X6 and Mega Man X7.
With the classic Mega Man series, I don’t think its worse offerings come close to the X franchise’s lows. Maybe Mega Man 7 is the worst classic Mega Man game, but I would rather play that 100 times over than touch Mega Man X7 again. Classic Mega Man also has more outstanding games. Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, and Mega Man 9 are all top-tier action-platformers. I don’t think that games like Mega Man 4, Mega Man 5, or Mega Man 11 are that far behind them. Even the “mediocre” entries in the series, like Mega Man 6, Mega Man 8, and Mega Man 10, are still a lot of fun.
That’s my big point. Maybe you like the first Mega Man X better than any of the classic Mega Man games. I still like Mega Man 3 better than Mega Man X, but I wouldn’t argue with you. Mega Man X is fantastic. But after that, the X series just can’t match the consistent quality of the classic Mega Man titles.
Of course, some of it comes down to aesthetic preferences. I like classic Mega Man’s more cartoony vibe. I prefer that over Mega Man X’s harder, anime sci-fi world. Mega Man X also makes story more important, and … I don’t really care. Just tell me Dr. Wily made some bad robots that I need to blow up. I’m not into Mega Man for the lore.
So, that’s my case. I hope that all of you who voted for Mega Man X in that very serious and important Twitter poll now feel bad about what you’ve done.
Go play Mega Man 3 as penance.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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