MEGA MAN XTREME / Capcom / Gameboy Color
Capcom had a nice little sideline in the '90s porting cut-up versions of their NES Mega Man games to the Game Boy and Game Gear. Take a couple levels from here, a couple levels from there, snip some stuff out, maybe add a little new section and a new boss or two. A lot of recycled material, but it felt new enough (and was well-made enough given the handheld limitations) that they still did quite well among Mega Man fans. I think the original six Mega Man games were actually stretched out to like six or seven of these sorta-new handheld titles in total.

Anyway. Mega Man Xtreme was Capcom's first attempt to do this same thing with the Mega Man X series. It came out in 2000, however (the GBC had some REALLY long legs), so it was able to blend up elements from all the SNES games. The main sources of material are the first two X games, from which most of the levels are copied in. There are actually 16 total levels in this one, though they're doled out in parcels of four at a time. Some are simply cut-down versions of the original, but others have some small new sequences added. Power-ups are also roughly where they were in the console games, though not all have been carried over.

The gameplay is kinda like if you retrofitted MMX's gameplay style (with the greater mobility, dashing etc.) into the older Mega Man games. It definitely feels like an MMX game despite the smaller sprites and relative paucity of screen real estate, however. It's also impressively faithful to the SNES games, right down to managing to crank some respectable chiptunes versions of the original soundtracks out of the GBC's very humble sound hardware.

A few brutal bits aside (mostly ported in from the insta-death-happy Mega Man X2, levels are mostly a cakewalk since they are significantly shorter (plus there's checkpoints literally every 15-30 seconds or so). The bosses more than compensate, however. Even jokes like Chill Penguin are a massive handful in this one, with longer life bars, new frames of invincibility, and fighting you in cramped rooms that make it much tougher to avoid their attacks.

This whole thing is not helped by finicky, imprecise control on a few moves. X here is too quick to decouple from walls on wall jumps (dropping before you have a chance to actually register a jump input), and getting a dash to actually initiate and sustain properly under pressure is crazy-making (especially considering how crucial this move is in pretty much all the boss fights). Of course, there's no way to have a dedicated dash button on the two-button GBC, and failures of the double-tap to register or to maintain through the entire dash will cause you to take a bunch of hits you shouldn't have.

There's not much point to this one now given how easy it is to play portable SNES games on a wide variety of platforms, but it's probably still worth a look for hardcore X fans as a curiosity piece. It's technically a new game with a new plot (in spite of all the recycled material), and a pretty impressive effort to pull off an X game within the very limited confines of the GBC. Great for those who like absolutely brutal boss battles too, I guess.
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