I just finished Megaman Maverick Hunter X with both X and Vile —  aka Boba Fett with a shoulder cannon — and I have to upgrade last week’s assessment: this game is fantastic!

Gameplay:  What can I say?  It’s Megaman.  You run, jump, and shoot your way through the stages, and steal the powers of each boss as you defeat them.  The gameplay is simple, and the game is punishing until you take the time to learn it.  Complementing the punishment of failure is the satisfaction of success.

Controls:  Every aspect of the control scheme in this Megaman title feels good.  Often these platform games have mooshy controls, and leave me yelling to the controller.  “Do what I tell you to do!”  This game didn’t have that problem.  I felt every move was clean and crisp, and all of my failures and successes were my own doing.

In addition to the generally smooth controls, I was quite happy with the small additions that were made to this game.  The X versions of the Megaman series apparently allow indefinite wall jumps, which add to the design space of the stages.  I also enjoyed the reusable, refillable energy storage containers; they were a dramatic improvement over the one-shot containers of the classic series.  Finally, the directional shooting capabilities of Vile’s shoulder weapon was a pleasant breakaway from the normal constraints.

Graphics and Sound:  The Shadow Complex-like 3D graphics on a 2D platform worked well with this game.  The colors were vivid clear, and the controlled use of saturation made it very easy to differentiate the foreground from the background (it’s amazing how many games botch this).  Upon completion of the game, you get access to a 20 minute (!) video explaining the backstory of Megaman X.  I wish every game included this kind of video; it was a pleasant reward for a hard-earned victory.

The music of the game was fitting and familiar to anyone who has played Megaman 2.  The voice acting was a bit cheesy, but fitting for the genre and storyline.

Interface:  This interface is a dramatic improvement over the original.  In this version, you can break away from a stage at any point by choosing the ESCAPE option on the select menu.  Further, you are given the ability to change weapons on the fly using the shoulder buttons.  While it is occasionally nice to pause the game to catch a breath while changing weapons, I usually found that I preferred the shoulder buttons .

Quirks:  My only complaints about Megaman Maverick Hunter X have to do with the character Vile.  Vile is a villain initially, but you are given the opportunity to play Vile’s story after you have beaten the game.  The makers of the game missed a golden opportunity to flesh out the backstory of this major villain.  They really could have inspired a degree of sympathy for him.  Instead, they just made him this shallow character that seemed to take glee in annoying Megaman for no apparent reason.

I initially found Vile’s gameplay to be frustrating and his weapons to be weak, but I later realized that I was spoiled by X’s weapons.  The differences between X and Vile are similar to the differences between Iron Man and War Machine; one uses blasts of energy, while the other uses endless rounds of mounted machine guns.  Once you get accustomed to X’s storm tornado or rolling shield , it’s hard to transition away.  When I finally got the hang of it, though, I found that I prefer Vile over Megaman.  One day, I would love to see them make a game solely for the Vile character.  It would be a waste to do otherwise.