A long time ago, I picked up a pack of Mega Man X figurines from a department store I worked at. It came with X, Zero, Vile, and some robot who I’ve never seen or heard of before. This turned out to be Axyl, and the reason I’d never heard of him before was because he first appeared in Mega Man X7, and I had never played that far in the series.
It was because of this, and the fact that this was the sub-series’ first attempt at 3D, that I was actually excited to play X7. Yes, I was aware of the game’s reputation, but my curiosity was enough to get me through the trainwreck that was Mega Man X6.
MEGA MAN Z-AXIS
While the Playstation had decent 3D rendering abilities for its time, the Mega Man X series stayed glued to its 2D roots. The change to 3D was inevitable however, so when the series found its way to the Playstation 2, it was time to bite the buster and fatten out those environment and characters.
The result is decent, from a visual perspective. Environments stay pretty colourful and the character models are reasonably detailed and easy to look at. From a gameplay perspective, it’s practically a disaster. For a series that I’ve come to know for its speedy gameplay and precision, X7 has none of that. For example, the wall hump jump that allowed you to ascend in previous games just doesn’t work from a 3D perspective. You kind of just awkwardly hop against a wall and hope that you don’t rotate too far and go flying off in the wrong direction.
The game is actually a mix of 2D and 3D sections. The 2D sections work a bit better, but they too are completely imprecise. Hit detection is awful, and you have to depend on targeting for Axyl to be even capable of hitting something. With Zero, you’re lucky you can hit anything with his sword without accidentally lodging yourself into the enemy mass, causing damage.
The 2D level designs aren’t even on the same level as the already disappointing Playstation trilogy. They often consist of extremely linear areas, and any secret upgrades are pathetically hidden. Previous titles mixed things up in the levels, providing different challenges and unique situations in each one. That’s only kind of represented here, but typically the variety comes from the 3D sections, and they really aren’t much better.
With the 3D levels, at least the camera can be manipulated in such a way that hidden items are a bit tougher to find. However, if I had to describe the 3D portions of X7, I’d use the word, “unfinished.”
Focusing just on the levels that have you straight-up fighting, the levels are extremely simplistic, featuring mild platforming and obviously placed clusters of enemies that don’t spawn until well after they’re within line-of-sight. There’s one stage that’s more combat oriented, and even includes the opportunity to utilize the series standard ride armor, which I can only say is remarkable because it was entirely unremarkable.
The worst one of them all is the stage where you ride a jetbike around a circuit, trying to pick up items that allow you to advance to the boss. The bike controls like a shopping cart in a demolition derby, and the track is laughably sparse and poorly designed. Did you ever unlock the Joker Cup in F-Zero X? It challenged you with a series of randomly generated tracks, and their design was roughly on par with this sorry level.
NAG, NAG, NAG
It doesn’t help that X7 carries on the slowly escalating stupidity that is the series plot. To give it credit, it seems to want to set things back slightly to before the narrative decided to go all genocide on the unseen inhabitants of the world.
X actually takes a backseat this time around, as the plot mainly focuses on Zero and his blossoming bromance with Axyl, who has defected to the Maverick Hunters from the vigilante group Red Alert. Axyl has the absolutely useless ability to copy the “DNA” of other reploids to disguise himself. He ties heavily into the plot, which is bad, but not bad enough to get worked up over, so I’m going to resign from discussing it further.
On the other hand, the voice acting is worth looking at. Holy crap. It’s bad overall, but Axyl’s probably the least offensive. He sounds like a typical anime teenager, but that’s as bad as it gets. Zero, on the other hand, has this deep masculine voice that totally doesn’t fit with his bright red armor and giant ponytail.
X is the absolute worst. He talks like he’s trying to talk to someone on the other side of the room at all times. He endlessly nags the other character from behind his desk and takes the whole, “What am I fighting for?” theme that the series has been hammering on and ratchets it up to a level that just sounds like angsty whining. I respect the pacifist point of view, but X just takes it way too far. You don’t even get to play as him until you save half the reploids in the game, which at least spares you from hearing him talk to the bosses.
Speaking of bosses, they are not done any favours by the added 3D. Each one uses a full 3D set-up, though sometimes there’s a 2D slant to it. Soldier Stonekong, for example, takes place on a circular platform, and you sidescroll around in a loop. However, actually hitting Stonekong when you’re not directly beside him is a chore, since projectiles don’t follow the loop.
Speaking of Stonekong, his design deserves a second look because he’s got, like, gems on his butt. You know how Zero has those green orbs on his nipples? It’s like that, but on his butt.
Flame Hyenard is probably the worst of the boss battles. He attacks you with clones that barrage you with endlessly repeated phrases that they scream in annoying voices. In order to actually confront him you have to climb this big quadruped that roams the edge of the arena, and you may recall that I mentioned that the wall jump sucks in 3D? Well, it makes climbing that robot an absolute chore, just to engage in battle with a horribly annoying maverick.
SO, DO YOU THINK SIGMA WILL SHOW UP?
I suppose I’ve now satisfied my curiosity about the first 3D entry of the X series. I’ve got a lot to complain about, but really, I didn’t absolutely hate X7. That might have been because X6 made me absolutely miserable, and basically any game would be an improvement.
Which isn’t to says that Mega Man X7 is a worthwhile game. It’s clunky, it’s poorly assembled, and the voice acting is pretty atrocious. The only positive thing I can really say about it is that it’s playable and it isn’t X6. Frankly, something that isn’t X6 is exactly what I was hoping for, but not so much that I’d recommend X7.
This review was conducted on a Nintendo Switch using a copy of the Mega Man X Legacy Collection. It was paid for by the author.