Mega Man X, known in Japan as Rockman X, is a video game developed by Capcom for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It is the first Mega Man game for the 16-bit console and the first game in the Mega Man X series, a spin-off of the original Mega Man series that began on the SNES's predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Mega Man X was first published in Japan on December 17, 1993 and was released in both North America and Europe the following year. Taking place a century after the original Mega Man series, Mega Man X is set in a futuristic world populated by both humans and 'Reploids', robots capable of thinking, feeling, and growing like their human creators. Because of these complex attributes, many Reploids are prone to destructive, criminal activity and are thereafter referred to as 'Mavericks'. The plot of the game follows the protagonist Mega Man X, an android member of a military task force called the 'Maverick Hunters'. With the help of his partner Zero, X must thwart the plans of Sigma, a powerful Maverick leader wishing to bring about human extinction.
Mega Man X takes place in an unspecified time during the 22nd century (2120) and approximately 100 years after the original Mega Man series. A human archaeologist named Dr. Cain discovers the ruins of a robotics research facility that had once been operated by the legendary robot designer Dr. Thomas Light. Among the ruins, Cain finds a large capsule which contains a highly advanced robot with human-level intelligence and emotions, and even free will, the likes of which the world has never seen before. Light had wished to instill within his creation reasonable sanity, good nature, and an understanding of the more controversial aspects of human morality. The robot was buried while running a 30-year diagnostic program to ensure these features. Cain spends the next several months studying the robot, who is named Mega Man X, or simply 'X'. Cain decides to duplicate X and, within several months, completes the first 'replicate android' or 'Reploid', a robot who can think, feel, learn, and grow exactly like a human. Within the year, the design is standardized and Reploids are mass-produced. However, with the free will given to a Reploid comes the possibility of criminal activity; such rogue Reploids are branded as 'Mavericks' by law-abiding citizens.
As the public outcry against the few Maverick incidents becomes too great to deny, the government steps in, and under the advice of Dr. Cain, forms an elite military police organization called the 'Maverick Hunters'. The Hunters are to capture or disable any Reploids that pose a threat to humans, provide damage control at Maverick uprisings, help with disaster recovery, and perform other tasks as needed. To lead this group, Cain designs a very advanced Reploid, thought to be immune to whatever defect causes Mavericks. This robot, named Sigma, heads the Hunters for some time before ultimately becoming a Maverick himself, alongside the vast majority of the other Hunters. Sigma seizes control of a small island, driving out all human occupants. Claiming that the humans are inferior and that they are limiting the growth and potential of Reploids, he calls for his followers to begin a massive extinction effort. X, guilt-ridden at having helped design such a dangerous race, joins forces with the only other remaining Hunter, Zero, in order to stop Sigma at any cost.
While on a mission involving a Maverick attack on a highway, X encounters Vile, a mercenary Maverick working for Sigma who pilots a mechanized tank called 'Ride Armor'. Unable to defeat Vile, X is saved at a critical moment by Zero, forcing Vile to retreat. Zero then offers encouragement to the less combat-savvy X after the battle. X proceeds to track down and exterminate eight of Sigma's most powerful Mavericks, then rendezvous with Zero outside Sigma's stronghold. Inside the compound, X finds that Zero has been captured by Vile. Another battle ensues, ending similar to their first meeting with X at Vile's mercy. Zero suddenly breaks free of his restraints, latches onto Vile, and self-detonates, destroying his own body and the Maverick's Ride Armor. Shocked over Zero's sacrifice, X regains his strength and finishes off Vile. Zero encourages his comrade once again, and succumbs to his damage. Now more determined than ever, X fights his way to Sigma, destroys the Maverick leader, and escapes the island fortress as it explodes and sinks. As he returns to base, X reflects on the events that have unfolded, questioning Zero's sacrifice, his own decision to fight, and the ongoing war with the Mavericks. After the credits, a message from Sigma reveals that X merely destroyed a temporary body, and that Sigma's spirit lives on. Sigma then says that he would gather new, stronger bodies to do his bidding, and he would see X soon.
The original Mega Man series on the NES has generally consisted of 2D platform games that focus on run-and-gun gameplay. Mega Man X uses the same basic principles as its precursors but with many added options. The player takes control of the protagonist X, and, after completing an introductory stage, is presented with a stage selection screen that depicts eight boss characters. Each stage is littered with various enemies and hazards and ends with a boss battle against its respective Maverick. Completing a stage rewards the player with a new weapon. The player may attempt these eight levels in any order, using weapons gained in one level to overcome challenges in the others. The player can return to the game at a later point using a password system; the password will retain any number of the eight stages cleared and most power-ups. Completing some stages will subtly affect the landscape of others. For example, clearing Storm Eagle's aircraft carrier stage will cause electrical outages in Spark Mandrill's power plant stage. In certain stages, X can hop inside Ride Armors to fight enemies. Ride Armors are bipedal tanks capable of powerful punches.
X's abilities are similar to those in previous Mega Man games, such as running, jumping, and a chargeable arm cannon named the 'X-Buster'. However, Mega Man X introduces a number of elements not present in the original Mega Man titles. One prominent feature is the ability to scale, slide down, or jump off nearly any wall. Armor part capsules can be found in several stages which display a holographic message from Dr. Light when approached. Each capsule upgrades one of X's body parts—his legs, armor, helmet, or X-Buster—granting the player improved firepower and defense, as well as new abilities, like a dash upgrade. The player can also collect hidden 'Heart Tanks' that extend X's maximum life energy and 'Sub-Tanks' that can store extra energy for later use. When certain conditions are met, a secret capsule can be unlocked which gives X the ability to perform the 'Hadouken', an attack used by characters from Capcom's Street Fighter series.
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