If forced to choose, I'd say without hesitation that Mega Man X is my favorite Mega Man game of all time. No question. I grew up playing the NES games and was definitely a fan. But it was this release on SNES that cemented itself as the pinnacle for me. I spent so much more time on Mega Man X than any other game in the series. Part of that is because of all the secret stuff in the levels which gave you a real reason to go back and explore. I still remember how amazing it felt when I first got the hadouken back then. Oh my goodness. And so throughout the years, I've found myself revisiting this one time and time again.
For all the baffling decisions that Capcom has made in recent years, I must give props where due on these Mega Man collections. Mega Man X is such a comfort game for me. And it totally defines the SNES era in my mind. It's up there with stone cold classics like Super Mario World, A Link To The Past, Super Street Fighter II Hyper Awesome Edition Featuring Jumpman, NBA Jam, Mario Kart and so on as these games that filled hours upon hours of my youth. These are chicken soup for the soul games, baby.
Everything about Mega Man X is spot-on perfect for me. The color palette; the sprite work; the level design; the music. I love how cool X looks in this one. I even love the bosses. And I mean little things... that opening level that's meant as a quasi-tutorial. Or the way that Launch Octopus taunts you with his "you're going down" animation at the start of the battle. There is just layer upon layer of love put into this game.
So over the holiday weekend, I crammed in some Mega Man X and played through the main boss stages. Now I'm going back and working on getting all the upgrades before I make my way towards Sigma. I think I did this again like five years ago or so and had a blast. And once again, I'm loving every moment of this replay. Just the fact that I want to go back for the upgrades is a testament to how much I love playing this game. Most retro games that I revisit for the umpteenth time it's like I just wanna rush through. Not with Mega Man X. I savor every moment.
The one upgrade that drives me nuts - and I'm sure drives most players nuts - is the one in Flame Mammoth's stage. The jump needed to get to the blocks just feels SLIGHTLY too far a jump. And then pulling off the block-breaking takes some precision. It took me like fifteen minutes of attempting to jump there properly before I pulled it off. But ugh, glad that's done.
So now I've got all the upgrades... except for the hadouken. I totally forgot that you need to have gotten ALL of the heart tanks and ALL of the e-tanks in order for the Hadouken upgrade to even appear. So I'm not sure I'll bother. I don't feel like I need all those extra hearts and e-tanks to beat the game. I don't know. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I guess a couple of them would be helpful. We'll see how it goes. Maybe I'll give it a shot, but if I get impatient I'll just make a rush for Sigma instead.
But the thing is this - it's not even about beating this game. I've beaten it plenty of times in my youth. I know Mega Man X inside and out. No, the real reason for me to play Mega Man X twenty-something years later is because it's like taking a little vacation to a place that I loved as a kid. This game is so special.