Bogleech.com Reviews Mega Man X Mavericks - PART II!!
By Jonathan Wojcik
My first review of Mega Man X robofurries was pretty well received, so I've vowed to continue reviewing them until we've hit the end of the Rockman X universe, including the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX series, regardless of the fact that I never played most of them past what we're reviewing today.
Of course, there are many more bosses and villains in this franchise besides the "main" eight of each game, like that rad dragon guy up there, but I'm going to keep these focused on just what I feel are the "core" boss sets as best as I can, beginning with....
Mega Man X4
Oh, did you know every boss in the series also had a "title?" I actually somehow didn't, until just now, and some of them get pretty wild later on. So, Cyber Peacock is interesting because he's actually a digital being, rather than a physical robot, or at least he has a digital form and was originally created to protect and maintain "The Network." You can just say the internet, Capcom, it's okay.
A peacock is a cool choice, already a really psychedelic animal and befitting the feel of a virtual-reality entity, the eyespots on the feathers becoming actual eye-like, flashing lights. I guess we should also start talking about the power and weakness of each boss, since that's a pretty central aspect of Mega Man foes.
Ice is often my least favorite "elemental theme," aesthetically, though I'm not really sure why that is. Almost every ice-type Pokemon is pretty badass. I love snowman-like monsters. What do I have against ice? Maybe I just find it a little predictable, is all. Frost Walrus isn't too shabby, though. Walruses are kind of inherently hilarious. As his title implies, he's grizzled, rowdy bruiser with a lust for action, and I'm going to also just assume he's a drunk. I don't know what a robot in this setting gets drunk on, but I think if ANY megaman robot is an alcoholic mess, it's Frost Walrus.
"Roughneck of the North Pole"
This naval robot is really more of a manta ray, judging by the "horns." His patriotic color scheme is a tad gaudy, but rays are inherently cool animals and I really like the big "breathing apparatus" sticking off his face. You'll also notice his little hat. A lot of the bosses in this game wear berets, because most of them are supposed to have been members of "Repliforce," a squad partially devoted to hunting down and destroying malfunctioning reploids or "Mavericks." Unfortunately, the members of Repliforce end up rebelling, which is what defines a maverick, and this is basically what happens in almost every single Mega Man game.
There isn't much to this guy's design, but of course their first "dragon" Reploid gets the most extreme backstory, because it's at about this point that the games really start fleshing out these guys with more dialog and plot. Apparently he had always dreamed of fighting X, or Zero, depending on which of the two characters you're playing as, and agreed to help the villain, Sigma, just for that opportunity. This entailed crashing an entire floating city into a non-floating city and presumably killing tens of thousands of people, which also resulted in the general populace turning against Repliforce.
"Martial Artist of Exploding Flame"
Jesus, dude, if you wanted Megaman to beat you up that badly couldn't you have just keyed his car or something? Egged his house? Called him out on your blog?
Known in Japan is Beastleo, rather than just "Beast," there really isn't anything more to either this guy's design or story than what you see here, unfortunately. He's a lion guy, he's brave, he slashes things. His element just seems to be "metal," basically, and his level is actually a train running through badlands, so that's pretty neat I guess.
"Steel King of Destruction"
You know, I thought Mega Man didn't actually repeat elemental titles, but here we have Storm Owl following on the first game's Storm Eagle. There IS an explanation here, however; the two were friends! Eagle was also the one working the day shift, I guess, while Storm Owl specialized in nighttime operations. His bio takes care to mention however that he did not like Chill Penguin, and not even for anything Chill himself did, but because of other people repeatedly mistaking Owl for a penguin-based robot. Wow. owl's kind of a dickhead, there, isn't he? Unfortunately, this is the sixth X4 boss in a row that I'm not actively into as a design or concept. After the previous games gave us some pretty radical bugs and fish, most of this one left me kind of unimpressed, besides their fun personality quirks.
"Staff Chief of the Skies"
Fortunately, the last two we're covering for X4 are pretty great. Web Spider is their first and still only true arachnid, surprisingly, and this game's forest boss. Once an accomplished maverick hunter himself, his job is now entirely to guard a superweapon hidden long ago in the jungle.
"Guerilla Commander of the Jungle"
Spider's design is cool for multiple reasons. He's still got the prominent humanoid arms and legs of almost all other Reploids, but his hunched stance and four extra little limbs make him suitably spidery, I really like the design of his fangs on an otherwise mouthless ball of a head, and his two different eyes give him a lot of prsonality, especially how one of them - ironically the more natural eye-like one - appears "strapped on" like an eyepatch! As you may have guessed, he produces webbing, and like countless other spider bosses, he can generate many tiny babies, or at least spider-like robotic bombs. Just like Blast Hornet, Web is a single parent!
And here we have the absolute darling of the game, our second non-animal Maverick! It's a robot FUNGUS! What an adorable title, too. From his dumpy shape and ominous, gas-mask-like face I really wouldn't have expected Split's agility and hyperactive, child-like personality, emitting high-pitched little vocalizations as he bounces around his arena and generates holographic clones of himself! He multiplies!!! This reflects the fact that he's a biology robot, or at least assigned to guard a "bio lab" overgrown with green moss!
"Little Devil of the Ruins"
Mega Man X5
The Skiver, you ask? What? What's that?? Oh man, it's so wonderful is what it is. "Spiral Pegasus" is the more direct localization of this character's Japanese name, but the first time this game was translated to English, this pompous flying robohorse was confusingly named "The Skiver."
SPIRAL PEGASUS/THE SKIVER
"Air Force Prince"
As it turns out, this name is supposed to be derived loosely from Guns N' Roses collaborator "Michael "High in the Sky" Monroe." I have no idea how that converts to "The Skiver," but in fact every boss in this game, and only this game, has a name loosely derived from a Guns N' Roses band member.
This translation gimmick was the brainchild of Alyson Court, also known as the original voice of Resident Evil's Claire Redfield, and also the main character of the 90's children's series The Big Comfy Couch.
You got all that? One woman is the intersection between Mega Man, Guns N' Roses, Big Comfy Couch and Resident Evil, and that's so great I can't even contain in words how great it is. Mega Man fans apparently hated the name changes, but we're going to include all of them here, because frankly I think they're ten thousand times better. Sorry I spent your entire write-up just talking about something else entirely, Pegasus.
This giant mechanical bear is one of the few Mega Man bosses not directly affiliated with the main villain of his game. Instead, Grizzly is an independent and illegal weapons dealer who takes no particular side in the surrounding conflict, and do I even need to tell you he's also supposed to be Russian? This character practically writes himself. Of course he's Russian. Of course he's an arms dealing bear. Of course he has a scar over one eye and a giant, red-painted claw arm. This isn't a type of character or a type of animal I'm particularly into but I have so much respect for this character's existence in this setting.
CRESCENT GRIZZLY/Grizzly Slash
"Berserk Iron Claw"
As soon as they decided to base their bosses around animals, you had to know a dinosaur guy was an inevitability, and that the very first would have to be Tyrannosaurus. I wager fire is also the most expected element they could have given him, too.
Before he turned on everybody, this huge, flame-spewing dinosaur robot was apparently designed for "disaster prevention," which seems to me like the absolute worst idea anyone in this continuity has quite possibly ever had in their life.
I really love it when one of these communicates a personality other than just a cool, scary robot, and you can tell immediately that this guy is supposed to evoke an intelligent little old man. He is in fact an engineer who specializes in laser technology, which is such a cute, fun thing for a little robot firefly man to be. Certainly more reasonable and more thematic than putting an exploding dinosaur in charge of anybody's safety, that's for sure.
SHINING FIREFLY/Izzy Glow
"Radiance of Intelligence"
Sadly, Izzy is one of several bosses in this game who ASK you to kill him, because he already knows he's been infected by the maverick virus. Actually, that's how a lot of dialog went in the last game, too, and continues through at least half the bosses in the rest of this continuity. How many times can Mega Man be forced to murder former friends and beloved celebrities before he snaps, anyway?
See why I refused to exclude Alyson's names for these guys? How can you not LOVE a name like Duff McWhalen to bits?! What kind of cold-hearted bastard complains about such a great thing to ever call a humongous metal whale guy?!
TIDAL WHALE/Duff McWhalen
"Guardian Deity of the Oceans"
DUFF is even more tragic than Izzy. He literally just protects the seas from exploitation, and was "chief of an oceanographic museum," but he, too, feels the virus overtaking him and demands a fight.
Where there's an octopus character, there must eventually be a squid character. Volt Adler here has a fairly straightforward design for what he is, a sleek and menacing squid guy with a judgmental glare, and it suits his personality. He apparently retired from fighting long before the events of the game, seeking out a peaceful life as a scientific researcher as far away from violence as he could get...in part because he was still mourning his friend, Launch Octopus. At least, we're told they were friends. I think if you quit your entire purpose in existence and run away from everything and still think about them all the time, you might have been a little more serious than just a couple of platonic tentacle bros. I'm just saying.
VOLT KRAKEN/Squid Adler
"Super Electromagnetic Trap"
As bitter as he is, Squid Kraken is still willing to help the guy who put Octopus down and hand over a plot-important weapon...but the virus overtakes him all at once.
Nobody really talks about this side of Mega Man games very much, do they? How they're just one non-stop brutal slaughter of robots that never meant any harm. It's happened so much that it's downright silly at this point...who's even still making robots in a world where there's seemingly a 90% chance of violent rebellion? That's almost as stupid as making them in the image of flesh-eating prehistoric monsters and then lighting them on fire. No, I'm not going to get over that.
Hey, I actually DID know this one! The real guy went by "Axl Rose" and was pretty much the most famous name connected to the band, so of course I'd already heard him referenced outside of Mega Man.
SPIKE ROSERED/Axle the Red
I probably don't have to tell you that Axle is a fan favorite of this game. He's kind of blatantly designed to be both badass and kinda "sexy," as is quite often the case with rose-based characters and especially rose-based, nonhuman villains, though this is a rare male example. "Scarlet Witchcraft" is also a boss as hell title, and he's apparently a freak "mutation" of a reploid, because I guess mega man robots can also "mutate" somehow.
This was the name change that seemed to irritate fans the most, I guess because "Necrobat" is admittedly a badass name for a robot and again almost none of the target audience understood the reference (including myself) but COME ON, live a little! "Dark Dizzy" is a DELIGHTFUL name for a spooky bat! Bats even fly like they're literally dizzy! I think this is even my favorite name in the franchise, so Thank you, Alyson.
DARK NECROBAT/Dark Dizzy
"Forgotten Soldier of Darkness"
As gothic and sophisticated as
And, of course, he has the power to drain energy from other robots by biting them.
Mega Man X6
After the backlash over Alyson's translation, X6's localization team apparently decided to keep the names almost identical to the original Japanese, but that still results in some stranger ones than what we're used to, since the Japanese version called a Phoenix a "Heatnix," and some of our other names will get even odder. Sadly, we do seem to have lost the unique character titles in the process as well.
Blaze was designed to endure extreme heat deep beneath the Earth's surface, and became part of a team devoted to monitoring active volcanoes. His design is the kind of sleek, majestic look you expect from a firebird, but I honestly can't look at any robot bird without imagining an extremely funny voice, and in this case, I'm totally expecting the voice of Scratch from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. This is even funnier given that Heatnix is supposed to be terrifying; he has a sort of "survival of the fittest" outlook, doesn't take orders from anyone and has a long history of getting his own underlings and comrades killed.
Guess he's overcompensating for how stupid his voice is.
Ah, the inevitable wolf character, always the most anticipated animal by the fandom of literally anything that regularly involves animals. I have to admit he's pretty rad for what he is, even if the bright red booby lights are a little silly. In stark contrast to Heatnix, and because every wolf character is required by law to be an edgy loner, Wolfang is actually tormented by the slaughter of the team he once led and the brutal vengeance he carried out against every single enemy reploid responsible. He himself was eventually murdered when he was thrown into the freezing ocean, but was resurrected by the game's villain, obligated him to pledge loyalty, which is actually a running theme with this game's bosses! They're all dead! Or they were, anyway.
The saddest thing about Yammark is that he's the easiest boss in the game; the one you can technically defeat with your ordinary starting weapon, instead of acquiring his special weakness. The amount of character these games started giving to each boss really makes a difference, doesn't it? I wouldn't have cared about this guy at all from his design alone, but now I want to give him hugs and tell him everything will be okay.
Speaking of which...this one? This big bruteish looking metal turtle with the adorably jaggedy beak? He was designed to explore hazardously polluted aquatic environments, but drew criticisms for being dangerously overpowered. When his creator and master refused to nerf Rainy in any way, he felt like such a burden that he killed himself.
That creator, a humanoid reploid named Gate, would later go mad under the influence of a mysterious virus, and become the very villain bringing all these long-dead robots back to life. By the time we meet Turtloid, he knows that his beloved master has turned against humankind, but won't back down from obeying his orders, because the only thing he really cares about is making his creator proud...whichever side that puts him on.
I don't like that :(
This is our second robot beetle in a row who's tweaking a classy white mustache! But while Izzy was a wise old scientist, Scaravich is just a greedy treasure hunter who was destroyed for raiding ancient ruins! Oddly befitting of a dung beetle character, who rolls up a big ball of garbage in an attempt to crush anyone in his way! He doesn't have much more to his story or personality, but I'm glad there was a dung beetle character at all.
A bivalve! Neat! For that matter, a bivalve character that actually features two valves! We think so much about the hinged shells of bivalvia, we often forget the very feature they were named for. It's a cute touch to make those into a set of "horns" on the head of a humanoid design, while the shell is almost like a pair of massive wings. I appreciate that he's predominantly painted in peachy colors, befitting of his inspirations soft and fleshy interior.
Would you believe they can squeeze another heartbreaking story out of a goofy robot scallop? Of course they can. Sheldon was designed to be a bodyguard for high-profile reploid scientists, but when one of his charges went maverick, Sheldon was forced to destroy him. When authorities arrived on the scene, they only assumed it was Sheldon who malfunctioned, and while awaiting charges as basically a murderer, Sheldon destroyed himself in shame. That's now two shelled animal robots who committed suicide in the same game, if you're keeping track. Once resurrected by Gate, Sheldon sees a second chance to fulfill his bodyguard duties and restore his honor...even if it means dying for good, which it does. HOW CAN YOU MORALLY EVEN COMPLETE THIS GAME.
I don't know where the "Player" comes from in this one's name, but it sounds cool, doesn't it? A shark was a long time coming, and I'm glad they went straight for a hammerhead, one of the most iconic of all shark-kind and by far the vertebrate with the coolest looking face on the entire planet earth. Wielding a huge anchor as a weapon is just about the only thing they could have done to make him even more rad, though he actually isn't even a water-based enemy!
METAL SHARK PLAYER
No, it's far cooler than that; Metal Shark Player is the master of a robot recycling plant, which is a pretty grotesque business from a robot's perspective. As a matter of fact, Player was originally decommissioned and dismantled for his illegal experiments in robot ressurection, furthering the very technology that would later bring him back from the dead himself.
You'll fight Metal Shark in a huge pit of garbage, which of course he's able to tunnel through as if "swimming." That alone would be memorable enough, but he can also summon up dead bosses from previous X games, which can't be destroyed, but will mindlessly repeat their signature move before they collapse again.
There are only three possible bosses that might come back as Shark's undead puppets, but the selection delightfully consists of Blast Hornet, Magna Centipede, and good old Sting Chameleon!
Ah yes, the deadliest animal of all...the Mijinion.
But seriously, I must have been one of the very few people in America who immediately recognized what this robot was supposed to be when this game came out. The pear-like shape, pointed tail, transparent surface and even the way he holds up his oversized hands are unmistakably taken from daphnia, or water fleas, and the Japanese audience would have gotten it too - they're a staple specimen of biology classes the world over, and biology is a core standard of Japanese public schools, a fact I have mentioned innumerable times in my reviews because it absolutely pisses me off that it's not the case in America.
Back on topic, these tiny freshwater crustaceans are partially known for their ability to reproduce very, very rapidly, which is precisely what Mijinion can do, producing an almost limitless number of holographic but somehow solid and equally dangerous copies of himself. He's actually regarded as one of the toughest, most frustrating bosses in the series, and can produce enough copies to start slowing down the game!
Mijinion is another boss who was kind of always a jackass. He was designed to be a technical genius and test pilot experimental machinery, but was still reckless enough to constantly put his coworkers in danger. Eventually, someone or other had enough and sabotaged a critical test to destroy even Mijinion's true body, making it look like a freak accident.
Mijinion is glad to be back to life and back at his research, but only barely loyal to his boss. You'll battle an ENORMOUS, humanoid mecha about mid-way through his level, only to find out that it was a personal side project he calls his "Sweet Illumina," and that he'd hoped to use her to "destroy all the idiots" - everyone other than his brilliant self.
We've seen a lot of lovable characters here, even if we haven't seen as many designs quite as fun as the first three games, but I think this petty, arrogant little asshole is my favorite of this round, and it's even funnier that they gave such a massive ego to a creature normally so harmless and so tiny, you can use it as an insult.