The last few entries in the Blue Bomber’s spin-off series Mega Man X have gotten lukewarm receptions at best. Plagued by a slew of problems ranging from repetitive stages with difficulty bordering on nonsensically unfair to weapons that feel only good for exploiting a boss’ weakness and nothing else, entries like Mega Man X6, X7 and X8 have left fans disappointed.
However, some fans have chosen to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. JKB Games has been laboring for over a decade to make a game worthy of Mega Man‘s fans: Mega Man X: Corrupted. Fan art and fan games based on the series are nothing new, and the project has undergone several major graphical revisions since its conception. What is available paints a picture of a labor of love coupled with a determination to make a game that will go down in history for the sheer amount of talent and effort put into it.
Mega Man X: Corrupted notably diverges from the old formula of stage selection with a “Metroidvania” layout, with it being strongly implied various upgrades and weapons will be needed to access more areas. In many of the demo videos published by JKB Games, we see X or Zero teleporting onto the scene via various capsules, which seems to hint at a fast travel system to avoid too much needless backtracking across previously explored areas.
The areas for the Mavericks themselves are more than just stages with a gimmick that gets used once or twice. In the Weapon Factory, for example, not only will players have to contend with molten metal that inflicts a burning over time effect, but also a rogue machine that causes the metal to rise quickly, forcing players to dash and blast to keep ahead of the burning flood. In the Vulpex Laboratory, players will need to wrap themselves in a protective bubble to navigate the acid pits while avoiding hazards that can burst said bubble.
Upgrades for X’s armor are nothing new, but Corrupted offer a new take on upgrades. The new Hydra water-elemental armor for X seems to focus on survival and damage mitigation with a buster that can shoot through walls, a jump upgrade and item-pulling ability, whereas the Phoenix Armor focuses on offense with a burning dash and rapid-fire charge shot when below a certain threshold of health. Furthermore, these parts can be mixed for new effects unique to each combination, encouraging experimental gameplay.
Zero may get fewer armor upgrades, but has a unique combo system that allows him to chain together slashes and special techniques, allowing skilled players to pull off rapid combinations that feel right out of the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. This helps to diverge Zero from simply being a melee-version of X by giving him a system of combat that feels more like a reward than a self-imposed challenge. The Ride Armor makes a return as well, with a slew of customization options including a blaster arm attachment that is used to make short work of Magma Dragoon’s return appearance.
There’s also a level up system that allows players to customize their growth, using skill points to level up weapons and skills. This adds a new layer of strategy to the run-and-gun of the X series. Moreover, the order in which the Mavericks are defeated go beyond merely deciding who is weak to what weapon. The last four Mavericks will change the world in ways that make gameplay all the more difficult.
For example, Plasma Puffer will, if left to his own devices, cause item drops to occasionally turn green, reducing health, energy or lives the player might have otherwise gained, and Neurohack Mosquito will unleash mosquitoes that cause regular enemies to have higher stats. Each of the Mavericks has their own end-game effect, meaning players will have to decide which four obstacles are the ones that absolutely must be stopped.
There will also be higher difficulty options in which Mavericks and other bosses display techniques and strategies they’d otherwise never use. Force Starfish will call on a robotic octopus to attack in tandem with his own assault, requiring the player to destroy tentacles, dodge falling blocks and evade Starfish’s own barrages. Mega Man X: Corrupted is prepared to offer the hardcore difficulty some fans crave, but only at the player’s behest.
There’s still no release date for the project, as revisions to gameplay, graphics and other details are still being made, along with intricate playtesting and troubleshooting. What information is available so far tells a twelve-year story of devotion to the ideal of making a great game, one that will go down in history as one of the most ambitious fan projects ever seen.
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The fan-made game has been in the works for over a decade now, and the clear labor of love could be the game fans of the Blue Bomber have long wanted.