Bogleech.com Reviews Mega Man X Mavericks - PART III!!
By Jonathan Wojcik
Last time, we saw the world of Mega Man X evolve from cool robot battles with only a subtle backdrop of dark tragedy to the heartwrenching story of an ongoing robot genocide. More important, however, we saw a bunch of robot animals, one robot plant and one robot mushroom.
The final three games in the true "X" series - Mega Man X7, X8, and the Command Mission spinoff, continue to offer some interesting metal beasts and complex villains we never spend nearly enouh time with.
Mega Man X7
Okay, wait a minute...why is the official artwork just a head!? Every boss, this time around, is illustrated as only a head, a bust, or for some reason just legless, which does kind of put a cramp on my reviewing of them, I gotta say. Not that the rest of Stonekong is anything too surprising; just what you expect from a robot gorilla. I like that his ridiculous hat looks like a stylized human skull with horns, at least.
"Strongarm of the Deepest Green"
For some reason, Stonekong has a personality like a medieval knight, and he's one of the few bosses in this game that knows he's being manipulated by the villain...he just doesn't care, because he only believes in loyalty over any other form of morality. I don't know what kind of function he was supposed to fulfill before he went maverick...I guess he was always just a fighter.
This is also a game that transitioned Mega Man X from 2-d sprites to 3-d models...and I can't say I really liked the aesthetic shift.
The fire boss this time around is a robot hyena, and interestingly, you'll battle him as he rides atop a giant mecha in the form of a skeletal gazelle! That's SUCH a cool way to play off a hyena's scavenging reputation! There otherwise isn't much to Hyenard, except that this game's virus (there's almost always a virus, if you haven't noticed) is just plain driving him mad with pain :(
"Crazy Warrior Cloaked in Flames"
I guess after that last game got so heavy with all the murder and suicide, they went a more lighthearted route with this one's backstories. Boarski's thing is just that he's really, really violent and angry, and that's basically it. He says "why I oughta!" and "why, you!" a lot, and he has retractable wheels like a motorcycle, or like a hog, right?!
I am really missing those grim backstories now. There's hardly anything I can say about this guy except that he sure is a robot crow man. Yep. Very robot, very crow man.
"Dark Winged Rival"
The name of this guy can almost throw you off - is he supposed to be an aquatic insect? A mayfly or something? His "wings" even look very much like those of an insect, but no, those are really meant to be fins, and this guy is a flying fish! There's a cool animal that doesn't get referenced nearly often enough!
"Pursuer from the Blue Sea"
Warfly is just another battler, and has a somewhat sadistic personality with a frequent laugh of "Kee hee hee!" Not the personality I'd expect from a fish that actually poured all of its evolution points into running away from danger at an expert level.
Anteaters are such amazingly ominous creatures for what they are, aren't they? Long, thin snouts, eerie little eyes and sickle-shaped claws that all in all make them look like they should be up to far more than eating teeny, tiny insects.
"Keeper of the Electronic Labyrinth"
Snipe looks even scarier, with a downright wicked look on his face, and has the personality of an old combat veteran. His specialty is, of course, releasing hordes of tiny, explosive robot ants!
I always appreciate these plant-based ones, even if Tonion's design is little more than, well, a big metal onion. He at least has the interesting ability to split apart, sending his outer onion skin flying around him as his name implies. He also has the personality of a clown-like entertainer, welcoming you to his "silly, silly stage!" for his boss battle...though he'll later confide in you that he knows he's being used, and that he would rather you destroy him now than let him go on being twisted for evil. They decided that of all the bosses this time around, only one would be a tearjerker. I guess it makes sense that it would be an onion.
I put this guy last because, while none of the designs stand out to me in X7, Gungaroo has the most outstanding personality; that of an obnoxious, carefree, highly insecure manchild, bent out of shape over being one of the youngest and shortest robots in town. All he wants is to be respected and have fun smashing stuff, and to that end, he rides around in a special, custom mecha I can't rightfully hide under a text link:
Buddy, pal, Gungaroo...this is not helping you're "not a child" case. As a matter of fact, this is as close as a robot kangaroo can possibly come to living in his mother's basement.
Mega Man X8
Thankfully, X8 takes us back to fleshing these guys out a bit more again as proper characters. I appreciate that they seized an opportunity for this particular pun name, an opportunity that only presents itself if your panda-based character is also in any way dangerous or menacing.
"Fallen Giant of the Forest"
Bamboo is a HUGE reploid, with a dopey voice and an exceedingly sad, cute little face, but his personality is memorably unsettling. He was created to oversee a rocket research facility, which is no doubt a little reference to Princess Kaguya, but once he went maverick he simply continued to study rockets...and eventually concluded that, because the world keeps producing destructive things such as missiles, the world must "want" to be destroyed, and it's everyone's true purpose to fulfill that wish. You might want to think this is an ironic outlook for a panda bear to have, but we're talking about an animal that practically evolved just to drive itself extinct.
I love that title! It just rolls right off the tongue! Rooster's original job was to run a waste disposal plant in the mouth of a volcano, but part of his job included the incineration of "retired" (slaughtered) maverick robots, and over time, it drove him mad. He came to characterize his workplace as a "graveyard," and became convinced that robots were only ever labeled "mavericks" as an excuse to punish displays of free will...which, frankly, doesn't sound unrealistic to me either. It's impossible not to root for this guy, given what he's constantly forced to do even after we know how he feels about it.
As for the design, he may just be another humanoid bird character, but I really love the hoses and canisters evocative of a rooster's wattles. That's really neat!
No particularly sad tale here, except that Yeti was once an environmentalist, succumbed to the maverick virus of the week and began tampering with the climate research facility he was supposed to protect.
"Guardian of the Eternally Frozen Fields"
Yeti's design is a lot of fun, because it borrows just as much from an actual snowman as the "abominable" kind, and they are the same exact word in Japan. I like his pointy carotlike nose, the fact that his eyes peer out from blackness, and the "lower jaw" that sort of feels to me like it's also a scarf.
An ant is an interesting choice for a gravity-controlling robot. I guess it's a reference to their strength? He's another that was once a friendly scientist, but simply turned to villainy and madness under viral corruption. Pretty straightforward. He now believes that the world is an evil place that ought to be either destroyed or completely remade, typical villainy stuff.
"Twister of Time and Space"
A very nice design, though, really harkening back to early X bosses. I still don't get this new direction for the official artwork, though. This image isn't even a "bust," but literally everything except his legs. Also...I don't see any wings on this guy and everyone knows that the only male ants are some of the flying ones!
Speaking of gender, I'm apparently not alone in thinking Optic Sunflower was actually the first female X boss due to the character's in-game voice acting, this being one of the first fully voice-acted titles, but no, Sunflower just has a voice most people would ascribe to a woman, which is also exactly my problem. Maybe Sunflower shares my underdeveloped thyroid problem, only for robots.
"Assassin from the Depths of Outer Space"
In control of a holodeck-like training facility turned death trap, Sunflower is a very slick, intimidating design considering his basis, a full decade or two before Cagney Carnation and Flowey popularized scary flowers even further. I especially like how he holds his face where you expect it to be on a humanoid, even though it's actually attached to a long, flexible stem sticking out of his back.
...What? What kind of title is that? It's not even taxonomically accurate! Nevertheless, it's really cool to see a prehistoric invertebrate this time, and a trilobite is a really excellent choice for an earth-aligned character, what with being found as petrified fossils and all. Unfortunately, we get almost no insight into his personality, and all we really know is that he's a miner who eventually led his fellow mining robots to rebellion.
"Insect Inhabiting Rich Mineral Deposits"
Well, he's not "Scythe Mantis," but he'll do. I actually appreciate they didn't go the obvious route of making this guy a green-plated jungle robot. Instead, he's one of those spooky shadow-themed Mega Man bosses, basically a giant insectoid ninja who can also, incidentally, fling shadowy boomerang-like blades, and like Dark Dizzy, he's got an energy-draining vampiric aspect! He also just looks snazzy as all hell, even if I might have liked him slightly better if the giant, purple bulbs on his head were his actual eyes.
"Deadly Blade Lurking in Darkness"
All we know about Mantis is that he was a military security guard.
NO!!! Look at that face!! How could you ever possibly bear to hurt this sad, dopey robot jellyfish?! They even opted to give him a child-like voice, and utter denial that he's maverick or in any way doing anything wrong as he runs rampant through the city he once supplied with power.
GIGABOLT MAN O' WAR
"High Voltage Drifter"
I really love every aspect of this design, too. Not just the sad eyes, the ridgey mouth area, the fluid-filled dome or the tentacular fingers, but the fact that he's basically shaped like an alien inside a flying saucer. A precious baby who indeed did nothing wrong.
Mega Man X: Command Mission
Command Mission is the last true "X" game we have left to review, and it's a spinoff that breaks away from the traditional eight-boss, eight-stage format. This also means there's a lot of bosses in it that aren't just animal and plant based reploids, and while interesting, I feel like I should stick to what I know for now and review the closest things to "standard" X Mavericks in this one, like Jango here!
WILD JANGO"Ultra Mobile Bobcat Reploid"
Jango is probably just what you wanted if you hoped for a bobcat maverick. The hunched-over stance, blades down its back and oversized claws all have a classic coolness to them, and I really like that parts of this robot are just painted with spots for the sake of its animal theme. We haven't seen a lot of these guys with painted-on color patterns, have we? Any decor on them is usually a three-dimensional mechanical detail. Anyway, just like another more famous "Jango," the Bobcat is a bounty hunter. He also has electrical claws, because of course he's a robot bobcat bounty hunter with electrical claws. Of course!
Bird reploids thus far have included some pretty impressive avians known for their hunting prowess, speed, strength or bravery, but Mach Jentra is just modeled after a cute, harmless little barn swallow. Do you think any of these guys ever resent their own designs? If you were born with a giraffe's head or something entirely because some other person thought that would be cool...would you be pissed? The only time we've gotten much of an opinion on this is from Storm Owl, who hated being mistaken for anything other than a robot owl. Do you suppose Jentra has barn swallow pride?
MACH JENTRA"Reinforced Light Armor Aerial Reploid"
Even funnier than the fact that he's a swallow is the fact that Jentra is personified as a "British gentleman" in the English translation. Oh god. That's not a Monty Python joke, is it?!
The titles this time around aren't nearly as dramatic as in previous bosses, are they? This guy should be something like "The Crimson Gun-Blazing Behemoth" or some junk like that. He's a triceratops! That's only our second or third nonavian dinosaur, isn't it? That's kind of surprising. At least it's not our only prehistoric animal, since we've even gotten a trilobite!
SILVER HORN"Super Heavy Cannon Reploid"
A triceratops robot with guns for horns is pretty rad. What's really surprising however is that this is a water boss, which is what he blasts from those guns. A water boss with a primarily red motif!? Finally! Maybe he was originally designed as a firefighter?
Kind of a shame they didn't go with Silver Horn's early concept though. I really like the medieval knight motif, which would have really stood out against other Mega Man X bosses.
NO special title!? I guess this guy is considered more of a sub-boss, despite the fact that he's a full fledged sapient Reploid character. He's also a two-for-one animal robot, since he has the form of a humanoid seahorse "riding" atop a mechanical ribbonfish, two great sea creatures in one! I guess Silver Horn lost his knight motif because it went to this guy. That's not so bad then.
This is actually a SECRET boss with no known storyline, but he's clearly a little bonkers. He loves to bash things with his giant hammer, Naguru D, which has nothing to do with his theme as a...duckbill mole? That's obviously a platypus, but he goes by "mole," and lest you think that has anything to do with him having a giant drill built into him...he doesn't. That drill is a separate robot, named K-ball, which doesn't talk and never lets go of Duckbill's back, but it does get addressed as though it's a separate character.
Maybe Duckbill wished he was a mole robot? And maybe K-ball wished it was something more than just a drill? What a beautiful friendship...and maybe even more.
Wait a minute, didn't I say I wasn't going to review the humanoids?! Well, there's a reason I'm including Dr. Psyche, and it's not just because he's a mad doctor robot that looks kind of like a skeleton in a gas mask with a giant brain and clown pants. I mean, those are all reasons why this is by far the single coolest humanoid robot in the entire Mega Man franchise, even counting old-school bosses like Skull Man, but I include him with the traditional robotimals because once Dr. Psyche appears to be destroyed, he simply attaches his head onto a new body:
DOCTOR PSYCHE"Computational Humanoid Reploid"
What a cool way to work in one more zoological maverick! "MAD NAUTILUS" is what Psyche considers his "evolved form," so I guess he always wanted to be something more than humanoid and really went hog-wild with his fursona here. I love how the tentacles look kind of like giant hypodermic needles to continue with his medical theme, and his main attack is disturbingly called "Mad Ecstacy."
That just about wraps up what I felt like reviewing from Mega Man X...but we still have the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX games that came later.