After countless entries from Capcom in the Mega Man series, you would think that there would be considerable state taste left in the mouths of Megagamers. Maybe Capcom was afraid of not complying with today’s standard of platform games, or maybe they actually felt some creative juices flowing, but finally, the house that Mega Man built has decided to take the blue bomber into… *dun dun DUNNNN* THE THIRD DIMENSION! Come, let us follow X, Zero, and the new kid on the block, Axl, on a surreal trip through blasting the crap out of countless enemies.
Okay, sure, Mega Man Legends was in 3D, but I don’t count that as a MM game at all. You don’t even collect bosses’ powers. But for X7, the developers pulled out all the stops and went the way most games have been doing these days. Although the dimension jump was a bold move, methinks maybe Capcom should have stuck with what they know. It seems as if Capcom was too afraid to commit to just one type of game, as from level-to-level, and even in different sections of the same level, it switches between side-scrolling and free-roaming. Next time, pick one and stick with it, Capcom.
The stages themselves are, for the most part, creatively designed, but are often far too quickly at an end. One state has our heroes jumping from aircraft-to-aircraft in a battle across the skies. Other stages take you to giant ships, the deep jungle, and even cyber-space (for what seems like the third time in a MM game).
With the addition of series newcomer Axl, the cast of playable characters has expanded to three. Each character has his own unique style which plays a major part as to which heroes you choose to take with you into each stage. Axl has the ability to hover over gaps, and a special shot that will let him assume the shape of similar-sized enemies. X is basically the same as you have seen him in previous installments. He has a chargeable blaster, and upgradeable armor through the discovery of “Light Pods.” Zero, the effeminate crimson swordsman, has a double-jump allowing him to reach greater heights. Unlike Axl and X, Zero does not use a blaster weapon, but rather a sword, to defeat foes.
At the end of each stage, our protagonists encounter a boss who will give them a new weapon when defeated. Controlling each character is fluid and responsive, except for the misplacement of the buttons. I recommend switching the control setup to accommodate your taste. You’ll have to keep in mind each character’s abilities when about to embark on a stage.
The bosses themselves seem to become weirder and weirder as this series goes on. X5 saw stunning appearances from Duff McWhalen and Axle the Red (who, you guessed it, is a rose). X7 one-ups this by practically making up names. Flame Hyenard? What the hell is a Hyenard???? Tornado Tonion!?!? He’s a giant ONION! Where the hell has the creativity gone? Is the character design team at Capcom taking stupid pills or something?
Whatever the case may be, the weapons each boss gives you seem to be decreasing in creative quality almost as fast as the enemies you acquire them from. Generic versions of recycled weapons do little to encourage use of these armaments.
The sound in this game is neither impressive nor disappointing. Character voices—with the exception of Axl, who is childish and whiny—are very good, and match aurally what my brain has been portraying pretty well. I only wish the characters wouldn’t speak during the levels, because, especially during boss battles, you hear the same phrase nearly every three seconds as someone performs a certain move. On top of that, these voices quickly inspire people who might hear you playing the game to inquire, “What the fuck is that noise???”
As for music, the techno-jazzy tunes accompany the stages fairly well, and never become a distraction or annoyance. Effects-wise, you’ll quickly get sick of hearing X’s blaster charge up, fire, and charge up again. After a while, you may find yourself trying not to jump in order to avoid the “huh” noise that accompanies liftoff.
Mega Man X7 is the type of game that most greatly appeals to fans of the series. If the numerous installments so far have not yet deterred you from the series, you’ll get your money’s worth out of X7. It most certainly merits a rental. Should you give this game a try; there is a lot to get you to come back again. Each stage has a number of hostages for you to rescue in order to gain power-ups and character upgrades. Finding each of X’s capsules in order to get the ultimate, but poorly named, “Glide Armor” also adds a challenge and to replay value. After that, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find things to keep you coming back for more. Give it a try, ’cause you won’t know if you like it ’til you do.