Retro Review: Mega Man Xtreme

Mega Man Xtreme takes a page out of the Gameboy Mega Man games, featuring four bosses each from Mega Man X and X2. Despite that superficial similarity, though, Mega Man Xtreme reflects a significantly different design philosophy than its portable predecessors, one that leads to an enjoyable port of the SNES Mega Man games on Gameboy Color.

While the earlier games remixed each boss’s level and introduced new endgame bosses, Mega Man Xtreme is a straight-up remake of portions of the games it draws from. Or more accurately, it’s an 8-bit demake of those games, which is an impressive technical feat. This time around, the sprites have been scaled to better fit the Gameboy screen, and X controls very well. He retains all of his moves from the SNES games, including the all-important wall kick, and the game plays at a fast pace. The one downside to this direct conversion is that many projectiles are hard to see due to a lack of contrast. All in all, though, Mega Man Xtreme looks and plays much better than the previous Gameboy Mega Man games.

The levels are not exact copies of those from the source games, but rather abbreviated approximations. They are recognizable, though, and you’ll find secrets in many of the same places. The game also mixes up the formula by including an X2 boss among the first set of four, and an X boss in the second set. This doesn’t serve to make the boss order any more complicated, as the choices all have the same or otherwise obvious weaknesses, but it does set the game apart somewhat.

The oddest thing about Mega Man Xtreme is that it plays out over a set of three “difficulty” modes. Normal difficulty consists of four bosses and three endgame stages, while Hard consists of the other four bosses and the same three endgame stages. You can choose to keep all of your weapons and abilities from the Normal playthrough when playing Hard, essentially making it the second half of the game. But the lack of changes in the endgame is jarring, even if there are some minor differences in the bosses.

Finally, there’s the (almost) titular Extreme mode, which consists of all eight bosses in one set, followed by the same endgame stages for a third time. This is easily the most fun way to play, but you’ll have to complete the game twice just to unlock it, which is a downer.

Despite being a remake of existing levels, Mega Man Xtreme manages to be a lot of fun. The low-fidelity graphics give the game a unique feel compared to the games it’s based on, and it’s short enough that its insistence that you play it over and over isn’t too tiring. There’s not a lot new here, but Xtreme is one of the better portable Mega Man games.

Review Score: B+

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