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Maverick Hunter’ a nostalgic fan tribute

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mega Man.

For some, the name seems vaguely familiar. They may have some vague idea what the name entails, be it a video game or cartoon image.

Older gamers should instantly recognize the name, associating it with many nostalgic memories from the days when Nintendo ruled the console scene. The little blue android known as Mega Man has been around for nearly 20 years, and for many has become an icon for gaming. Appropriately, Capcom’s release of “Mega Man Maverick Hunter X” on the PlayStation Portable extends the character’s reach into the next generation of gaming.

Essentially a remake of “Mega Man X” from the original Super Nintendo console, this game is a deal for veterans and rookies alike. “Maverick Hunter” expands on its source material to craft an engaging experience. Featuring new introductions and conclusions to the story, animated in cartoon fashion, as well as a wealth of other features, “Maverick Hunter” is worth the gaming dollar.

For newcomers to the series, the story isn’t too complex to get into. Humankind created a race of androids, titled reploids, which are capable of independent thought and action. They work side-by-side with humanity in a peaceful co-existence.

In typical gaming fashion, things go wrong very quickly. Reploids begin to question their existence, and turn on their human partners. These maverick reploids are a danger to humanity, and to combat them the Maverick Hunters, also reploids, are formed.

The Maverick Hunters are lead by the powerful Sigma. In a twist, he also goes maverick, leaving the group disorganized and leaderless. This leaves the lowly and recently restored B-class hunter Mega Man to pick up the pieces, and attempt to restore peace and order to the land.

Part of remaking the classic “Mega Man X” has been to give this incarnation a graphical update. Featuring fully three-dimensional characters, the graphics are good enough to push the PSP’s hardware capabilities. Retaining the two dimensional nature of the original, the mixture works well and retains fans of the original. The graphical updates alone make the game worth a purchase for veteran “Mega Man” fans.

However, the story has received an upgrade along with the graphics. The supporting characters have all had their parts elaborated, with small cut-scenes before each boss battle featuring a brief exchange of words. Zero, and Mega Man’s nemesis Vile, have also received elaborated storylines.

This brings up perhaps the greatest addition to “Mega Man X,” which is the inclusion of a new unlockable playable character. Vile is playable after one play-through of the game, and his abilities are vastly different than those of Mega Man.

Featuring a vast arsenal of weapons that greatly outnumbers Mega Man’s, Vile’s gameplay manages to spice things up enough to warrant another trek through “Maverick Hunter.” Given three weapons to use at once, as opposed to Mega Man’s solitary hand cannon, Vile is a walking armory to complement Mega Man’s classic mode of gameplay. Vile is also given his own animated introduction and conclusion, as well as unique dialogue exchanges with the bosses.

Also unlockable is a 20-minute movie that chronicles Sigma’s betrayal and leads up to the actual game. It’s additions like this that push the game above the realm of standard remakes and earn it a worthy place in any PSP gamer’s library. At $10 below the standard price for a new PSP game, “Mega Man Maverick Hunter X” is worth the price of admission.