Mega Man X3 – Super Nintendo
Developer: Minakuchi Engineering
Release Date: January 15, 1996 (NA)
Nerd Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife
1996 was toward the tail end of new games for the SNES, but we got one of the best ones in Mega Man X3. As far as console game trilogies go, this one has to be on the short list of best among many players familiar with the system during those years. We don’t have to talk about what happened to the Mega Man X series after it left SNES. Some things are better left alone.
We’re back in the year 21XX for some more intelligent fighting robot action. (Mega Man) X and Zero are still the 2 primary Maverick Hunters who make sure the rogue reploids are kept in check. Even after defeating Sigma twice, Mavericks still won’t stop making trouble. A strange new face named Dr Doppler shows up and is able to use his technology to reform the rogue robots. For a time, things are looking pretty good.
Suddenly, the reploids once again turn and even go so far as to attack the Maverick Hunter base. Doppler is blamed for the attack and it’s X and Zero thrust back into action to stop the threat. As the game progresses, it’s discovered that our old pal, Sigma is back, but this time, as a virus. He corrupted Doppler in order to get a new body created for himself to finally take over the world.
The gameplay in Mega Man X3 is largely unchanged from the first 2 installments. Back are the simple to grasp, run, jump, shoot controls, complete with wall jumping and the dash being available right out of the gate. The X Buster can be charged to make a more powerful standard attack and the weapons from the 8 bosses are gained upon defeat.
One major addition to Mega Man X3 is the ability to play as Zero! He can be selected during most stages and controls the same as X. He is not able to collect upgrades or fight bosses, but does have a powerful attack with his beam saber following a fully charged buster shot. It’s a fun addition to the game and definitely did well to appease those clamoring for the chance to control him in game.
Also returning are the upgrade capsules that upgrade X’s armor, legs, helmet, and X buster. The upgrades are a temporary shield that prevents damage after being hit, the ability to air dash forward or up, a map layout of each stage that highlights hidden items, and a more powerful charged shot, respectively.
Mega Man X3 marks the first time the helmet upgrade actually serves a pretty valuable purpose for ensuring all upgrades are found. The ability to air dash up in addition to forward (from Mega Man X2) was a perfectly sensible addition for this 3rd game in the series. The X buster upgrade also allows boss weapons to be charged for a powerful secondary fire, but this is not new to the series. What is new are the level interactions some of these secondary fire modes have, which help find hidden items by either removing obstacles or propelling you to otherwise unreachable areas.
While there is (sadly) not a Street Fighter inspired secret weapon in this game, Mega Man X3 adds a few cool upgrade options on top of the capsules. There are 4 additional capsules hidden in the boss levels that provide a 2nd upgrade to the 4 standard ones. They include health regeneration while standing still, longer duration of the shield after taking damage, charging damage taken to unleash continuous charged buster shots, and double air dashes.
It is possible to find a hidden capsule that gives X all 4 of the special capsule upgrades, which also turns his color to gold. The last super sweet weapon addition is being able to use Zero’s beam saber! It acts as the equivalent of the hadouken and shoryuken from MMX1 and MMX2. It is a super powerful attack that defeats nearly every enemy in the game in 1-2 hits. I wish it was available earlier in the game, but it is sadly accessible only in one of the last few stages. The end can be made quite a bit easier with it, though.
Sub tanks and heart containers make a return. There are 8 heart containers that increase X’s health bar, found in each of the 8 boss stages. The sub tanks work exactly the same as before. As health is collected while X has full health, part of a sub tank is filled automatically. They can be used to refill health as needed. I like the ability to use a sub tank even when not completely full. It can really help get out of a pinch to have even a small amount of extra life available for the end of a tough boss fight.
The other major gameplay expansion in Mega Man X3 is the ride-able armor suits that can be used during several levels. In previous MMX games, there was only 1 variety in each but here, there are 4 total, all with different abilities. Two are familiar, the standard that uses a punch as an attack and one with spinning blades for hands. The others are one that launches missiles capable of destroying some walls and one that shoots homing missiles and navigating water easily. The ability to use each suit type can be found in the main levels and can be activated by stepping on special pads. It’s possible to beat the game without them, but the variety is a cool addition.
Once again, the music in Mega Man X3 is enjoyable. It fits the feel of the game and individual levels well. The music for the opening stage does a particularly good job of getting you pumped to take on some evil robots. As a whole, I prefer the music of the previous 2 MMX games, but that’s largely subjective. The sound effects are the same ones used in the others for shooting, jumping, and explosions.
I remember playing Mega Man X3 at a friend’s house growing up. Little did I realize how rare a cartridge it was and would continue to be in the following years. As good a game as Mega Man X3 is, it was not as abundantly produced as its predecessors, largely due to the SNES being at the end of production leading to the release of the N64. Production was so low for the US version, the cart actually cost almost $75 upon release, which was pretty unheard of at the time for an SNES game. I wish I had managed to get a copy of my own as it is worth a pretty penny in the used game market today.
There are other MMX games that came after Mega Man X3 but I really feel like the series took a steep decline after 1-3. Even after 20 years, all 3 of the original MMX titles hold up really well and are an absolute pleasure to play. They are highly recommended for all Mega Man fans. The developers did a great job of taking something that worked really well, kept it going, but added enough to make it feel new each time. Not many game franchises can say that.
If you’re lucky enough to have swiped a copy of this one, pop it into your SNES and give it a run. If you’ve never played it and like solid platforming, find a way to play it. You’ll thank me later.
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