Mega Man X5 (Switch via X Legacy Collection 2, E10+)

I was going to continue with the X Collection on the PS2, until I learned the Legacy Collection reverted the names of the boss Mavericks, which in the PSX and PS2 versions were changed to Guns 'n Roses references. I thought, well that's interesting, let's give it a shot.

When I first played the Playstation X trilogy, I thought X5 was my favorite of the three. Now, I don't know. Maybe I went easy on it because it was a gift from somebody. X4 is more consistent but dull, while X5 has some actual level design but a lot of garbage that makes it hard to want to replay (and the game wants you to go through it at least three times). And X6... fuck X6.

Mega Man X5 was intended to be the final X game as well as the bridge between OG Mega Man and X, and it wanted to go big or go home. And what would be bigger than the threat of global annihilation by a falling space colony? So X and Zero have to go beat up eight new Reploids and steal their shit to power up a giant fuckoff laser cannon, and when that likely fails a space shuttle to ram it with. Now, we've established the Eurasia is capable of an extinction event on the level of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, so I'm not sure what one lousy space shuttle could do against it. And I never understood why they can't just fire the Enigma a second time, seems like it would have been easy to throw in a line saying the first shot ruptured its main reactor, but whatever.

This is the reasoning behind X5's gameplay gimmick of limited trips to stages, at least until you open up the Sigma levels and can visit previous levels as you please. You have fourteen* attempts to beat as many bosses as you can and power up the two devices, which is at odds with the Mega Man formula of experimenting with stages to figure out which bosses are easiest with your base gun and which ones are weak to what weapons... but then the game tells you to focus on four Mavericks at a time and what order to do them in which is a bit of an overcorrection. I guess the bosses with the rocket parts are given in reverse order to trick you.

* It lists 16 hours, but if you use up the last hour the colony crashes so you have to take it out within 15. Two are used up by the Dynamo fights, and one is refunded if the cannon fails.

You can switch between X and Zero for each stage, but only the character who picks up a heart tank receives the health bonus so you might as well play it like X4 and stick with one character the whole way. But boy is it hard to work up the motivation to go back through with the other character, then a third time as X with Zero going Maverick. First, X and Zero no longer CONSTANTLY SHOUT every time you push a button, but you now have to put up with your new "helper" Alia, who stops the game every ten steps to point out a pit or tell you the glowing cherry Kool-Aid in the volcano is bad. Why is there a Training mode if you're going to treat me like this is my first video game?

Second, level design has more going on than in X4, but some of it is truly boneheaded. Tidal Whale's level is hot garbage, with you slowly being chased around by a submarine. Bubble Crab's level involved a sub, yes, but you weren't shackled to the damn thing. And to get all the powerups you have to visit this fucking place at least three times (once to beat Tidal Whale, once to get the piece of the Falcon Armor which requires Tidal Whale's weapon, then once more after completing the Gaia Armor which requires a complete Falcon Armor to get the heart capsule)

Third, late game bosses take forever to kill. On Normal bosses' health increases as the game goes on, and during the boss rehash in the final stage the Mavericks have health meters half the height of the screen. And the Black Devil in the first fortress stage is torturous. It takes too damn long for it to become vulnerable, its weak point appears randomly around its body, it has long a invincibility period after being struck, and its weak point is only open for a few seconds before it breaks up and starts flying around the room again. You're lucky to be able to to hit it twice with the Tri-Thunder, its weakness. Also its weak point is tiny and if you take it on as X in his Falcon armor, which has a very narrow charge shot, it's easy to miss and drag out the fight longer.

X5 has its moments, but when it misses the mark it crashes into a different post code from the mark.


Luna (PC)

I see the "cute little story, shame about the game" thing is still happening in 2021.

This is a short (just under an hour long) game about a songbird repairing the moon by gathering the pieces from other animals. Nice artstyle, but the actual game isn't much more than a tech demo for a VR set, none of which I have, where you alternate between connect-the-dot puzzles and gardening sandboxes.