Another feature the iOS version of Megaman X has – which is an addition to the content of the original game, rather than a tweak/change – is a selection of special leader board based modes. These include a time attack mode where you are tracked on how long it takes you to finish the game, but you must also keep picking up drops from enemies or you will run out of time entirely; a score attack mode that rates your performance in a stage on a wide variety of factors, but otherwise plays like the normal game itself; and a survival mode that challenges players to see how many stages they can survive in a row without succumbing to death, which itself was added in a recent update to the game. All of these additional challenge modes, each with its own separate leader board in the iOS’s Game Center feature, are played using the already powered up X from your story mode save file.
With the many game play differences in the iOS port of Megaman X now thoroughly covered, it is finally time to begin tackling the ways in which this game is visually different from the original release. The most obvious of these – as readily evidenced by the various screenshots included in this article – is that all of the original sprite based artwork in the game has been stripped out, and in its place are high definition recreations. I will not be dwelling on this particular fact too much, for whether or not this makes a rerelease of a game better – or decidedly worse – is more a matter of personal preference than one of quality.
Where as I am not willing to debate the merits of overhauling sprites, I am fully ready to talk about the fact that there are many graphics and animations that are bizarrely missing entirely from the iOS port of Megaman X. These omissions include a ton of missing animation frames in the game that make everything move less smoothly, removed parallax scrolling from all background scenery, background details being removed entirely in some places, virtually all animated elements being removed from the backgrounds, the removal of all water transparency effects, the attacks from the enemies with wrecking balls no longer damaging the bridge in the intro stage, all background animation effects in the boss introduction sequences being removed, the ability of stages to subtly change appearance based on the order you play them in being removed (the heart container in Flame Mastodon’s stage was moved up because of this), and so much more. I realistically could not begin to adequately tackle the long list of graphical omissions – some minor, some quite major – that are missing from what would otherwise be a perfect port, at least not without doubling the length of this review.
You know, there was a time when any game port that got all the tenants of game play correct – even if the graphics themselves suffered somewhat – would end up being considered the text book definition of a perfect home port. Of course, all of this was back when arcade games – which barely exist at all anymore – were being ported to home game consoles that had far less ability to achieve the same level of visual panache. So why then is a port of an SNES game to a more advanced platform, whose visual capabilities are far superior in every possible regard, getting a treatment that would be considered normal for porting a game to less powerful hardware?
As it turns out – after I did some research into the matter – that’s actually pretty much exactly what happened here, since the entire basis of the code used in this game was originally designed for a non-smart phone port of Megaman X that was never seen outside of Japan. Capcom then, in a cheap move that unfortunately won’t surprise their long time fans, decided to simply port the code of the inferior mobile phone version – after first replacing the graphics and the control scheme – to the iOS instead of using the SNES original as their template. I would have been perfectly okay with the various graphical omissions had I been playing this game on an underpowered generic cell phone, especially considering what passes for normal on that platform, but the simple fact is that on an iOS device the bar for expectations is set much higher.
iFanzine Verdict: Never before have I played a game that left me with quite as many mixed feelings as this one, because saying that it’s a bad game would be a heavily inaccurate statement. The game is actually fun to play and does maintain all of the action and excitement from the original SNES title, it unfortunately does so without any of the original’s visual panache. It’s an utter shame that Capcom had to be so cheap in this regard as the iOS platform is far more powerful than generic cell phones, and I would have been able to far better recommend this game if didn’t come off as inferior looking to the SNES original. Whether or not a person can get past the truckload of graphical omissions that riddle this port will probably have a lot to do with how recently they last played the original version.