Purists might insist on calling him "Rockman", in keeping with the original Japanese name, but there's no quibbling over the sterling gameplay that's garnered Mega Man a dedicated following. Mega Man X is a benchmark in the series, the blue bomber's first outing on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System way back in 1993, and nearly two decades later it arrives on the App Store. How does it hold up?
How does it play?
With the switch from the 8-bit NES to the 16-bit SNES, and the more advanced graphics and sound it afforded the development team at Capcom, Mega Man X was a huge leap forward. Whilst the underlying concept of action platforming was the same, the game has expanded controls and customisation options, and a more ambitious storyline.
Set 100 years after the previous game, sentient robots are putting their free-will to nefarious uses and threatening humanity (again). "X" is also a sentient robot, but very much one of the good guys, and he's going to save the world. Players must run and gun their way through eight stages in any order they choose. Defeat the big boss at the end of a stage and they're given a new weapon which they can activate and use at any point throughout the rest of the game.
Where Mega Man X departs from the core mechanic is expanding our hero's range of movement and abilities, like scaling, sliding and jumping off walls. Stepping into special capsules in certain stages grant Mega Man with armour attachments that grant new powers like speed dashing. Also, there's the clever notion that completing some stages before others will subtly impact on their landscape. Clearing Storm Eagle's aircraft carrier stage, for example, will cause electrical outages in Spark Mandrill's power plant stage.
Why do we like it?
The graphics look splendid on the iPhone's retina display, and the touchscreen controls are on the right side of responsive. The game remains as famously difficult as ever, requiring superhuman reactions to dodge all the hazards thrown in your path, but newer players can opt for two easier, defanged modes that will ease them in gently.
The customisation options are impressive, ranging from screen, sound and language, to "cheats" where you can pre-programme the harder moves without getting your fingers in knots. There's also Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements, and a shop where you can just buy all of the weapons and upgrades outright without needing to play through the game.
Mega Man X is a great update of a property that's something like 18 years old, and Capcom should be commended for their subtle and sympathetic handling of the material. The only quibble is that it's not been optimised for iPad, but a software update down the line could easily remedy that. Go Rockman, go!
Mega Man X is available now on the App Store, iPhone (£2.99)