Mega Man X Command Mission - Review  

A Rebellion draws near! Command?
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

Easy to Variable
15-30 Hours


Rating definitions 

   2004 was a somewhat busy year for franchise-based RPGs: Lord of the Rings received a much-hyped RPG across all consoles, as did the X-Men. Capcom also joined the fray with Mega Man X Command Mission, released on the GameCube and Playstation 2. The Blue Bomber was no stranger to RPGs, as clearly demonstrated by the Mega Man Battle Network subseries, and though Capcom's game-development standards aren't exactly the highest of the videogame world, Command Mission stands as a fortunate exception. My review, by the way, is for the GameCube version.

   There was much trepidation when Capcom announced that Command Mission would be a turn-based RPG; after all, series fans were well accustomed to the action-oriented gameplay of the Mega Man X and Battle Network series. Thankfully, though, the folks at Capcom actually did a pretty nice job putting together a battle system here. The encounter rate is a bit high (I think it's lower in the Playstation 2 version), although most fights end pretty quickly, so long as you use the right strategy.

Should've brought a keyblade instead... "I'll stab you with my ace!"

   Anyway, battles contain a general setup much like Final Fantasy X, where your party and the enemy take their turns from fastest to slowest, with a turn order meter mercifully showing who takes his/her turn when; the gauge also shows how close to or far from death your characters and the enemies are (except for bosses). Characters have Life Energy (LE) and Weapon Energy (WE); LE speaks for itself, although WE begins at a character's default amount when a battle commences, and increases by 25% when he/she reaches his/her turn. Characters consume WE to use one, two, or both Subweapons each can equip, with various effects such as damaging an enemy, charging up the power of his/her Main Weapon, and so forth (a character can use his/her main weapon alongside his/her Subweapons; Main Weapons consume no WE).

   When a character's WE is at least 50%, he/she can perform a unique Action Trigger such as X's Charge Shot, which damages all enemies on the field; Zero's Command Arts, where the player inputs combinations of button sequences for powerful damage on one enemy; Axl's DNA Change, where he transforms into a previously-beaten boss to use its special attack; and so forth. Each character also has a Hyper Mode, where they transform into a more powerful form, occasionally with special Action Triggers and Subweapons, and usable for only a certain number of turns before "cooling down" to their original forms; players can recover Hyper Mode turns at healing facilities or by using Gain Hyper items.

   Moreover, when you acquire at least three characters, your party can perform a Final Strike attack on an enemy if you deplete 75% of its remaining HP in a single character's turn to perform massive damage and, presumably, kill the enemy. When you acquire more than three characters, you can exchange one character with another in battle without consuming a turn. Using the defense option, by the way, not only reduces damage, but also defends temporarily against status ailments, and makes the defending character's next turn come sooner, although with only 12% WE regeneration once that turn comes.

Is there an otter boss in any of the Mega Man X games? Yep, they still have anthropomorphic robot bosses.

   While you characters can use consumable items (which stack up to nine each) in or out of battle, you recover LE via Sub Tanks, with six options for doing so: Recover 25% LE, Recover 50% LE, and Recover All LE, either on one character or your whole party, with each option consuming part of your Sub Tanks. While you don't start out with many Sub Tanks, acquiring four Tank Parts gives you another. You can recharge your Sub Tanks with yellow crystals found in dungeons or at healing facilities.

   Outside of battle, moreover, each character can equip various kinds of Force Metal, with special effects such as status ailment and elemental resistance (thunder beats water, water beats fire, and fire, for some reason, beats thunder). Each Force Metal consumes a certain number of Erosion Points, with each character having a certain limit; while equipped Force Metal can exceed this limit, doing so can adversely hinder a character's performance in battle. Once you acquire Cinnamon, additionally, she can synthesize various kinds of Force Metal with Force Metal Energy (and various items in your inventory) gained alongside Zenny (the currency of most Capcom games) and experience (luckily, you don't have to use a character in battle for him/her to gain experience once you've beaten a battle).

   In the end, there isn't much to complain about the battle system, aside from the high encounter rate, and that going into boss fights with the wrong Subweapons, Main Weapons, and Force Metal equipped, not to mention low Sub Tanks, can make that make your life hard (boss battles are typically far more challenging than normal battles), though thankfully, if you lose, you can restart the battle, load your previous save file, or return to the title screen.

Remember, water rusts, and shorts your circuits! X desperately searches for a way to get the red paint off his knees

   Interaction, for the most part, is clean. The menus are easy to navigate, and inventory space is generous, for one. The game is also divided into ten chapters, with players eventually having a headquarters where they can shop, recover, and so forth; many save points in dungeons, moreover, can instantly transport the player back to HQ. Players can also find robots in dungeons they can use back at HQ to search for treasure in previously-visited dungeons, and which can level up if successful in a search. There are only a couple of small issues, such as not being able to see an equipped Main Weapon's stats in addition to those of one for which you contemplate purchase (the game only shows you the effects of a new Main Weapon afterward, with blue numbering for increased stats and red for decreased stats), and a slightly spotty translation, but otherwise, things work out pretty well.

   Command Mission is moderately original, with the general setup of battles, as I've said, resembling that of Final Fantasy X. Moreover, Weapon Energy is reminiscent of Force Points from the Wild ARMs games, Action Triggers are like Final Fantasy's Limit Breaks, Hyper Modes are much like Yuri's Fusions from the Shadow Hearts series, and item synthesis is nothing new to the genre. The game does have its own uniquenesses, though, such as Subweapons, the Sub Tank healing system, maybe the Force Metal and Erosion Points system, and sending robots to search dungeons for treasure, and in the end, creativity is somewhere in the middle for this game.

   The story follows X and company's quest to stop a Rebellion by a Maverick Reploid named Epsilon, with some nice twists and decent pacing. Since I haven't played a Mega Man X game in a while, though, I couldn't fully appreciate the plot, although hardcore fans of the series will likely find much to celebrate here.

Hundreds of WE? This is obviously an early screenshot... Playing with fire

   The music is mostly generic techno fare, despite the presence of some decent tunes, such as the main boss battle theme, though alongside so-so voice acting, this aspect is average at best.

   The visuals, though, are of a cel-shaded style used in the most recent Mega Man X installments, which is excellent for the most part, what with clean environments and anime-style character sprites, although all are a little jagged at times (yet look better in the GameCube version than in the Playstation 2 version, so I've read). Two half-anime half-CG cutscenes open and end the game, moreover, and in the end, Command Mission looks very nice.

   Finally, the game starts off fairly easy, yet somewhat intensifies towards the end, although beating two challenging extra bosses gave me special abilities that helped me breeze towards the end. That said, one can complete the game in anywhere from fifteen to thirty hours.

   Though most franchise games, especially from Capcom, aren't usually of top quality, Mega Man X Command Mission, overall, stands as a rare exception in spite of its imperfections, what with entertaining battles, a clean interface, and some shiny visuals, among other things. Despite its flaws, it definitely beats more than half of all other RPGs out there today, and is especially worth a look from hardcore Mega Man fans, maybe even a purchase at its current discount price.

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