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Released in December of 2001, Mega Man X6 for the Playstation picks up directly where Mega Man X5 left off- Zero has died saving X from Sigma's last gasp attack, and despite X's desperate attempts to locate any trace of Zero's body, the hunter is never found.

Zero's absence is felt even harder as the resulting chaos from the crash of the space station Eurasia has thrown all of Earth's surface into chaos. The humans have retreated beneath the world's surface, now living in underground colonies, leaving the Reploids to clean up the aftermath. With Repliforce no longer offering the structure to society that it once was able to, Hunter HQ's forces are taxed near their limit in doing their normal tasks of destroying Mavericks. It's on one of these missions that X discovers something disturbing, and learns that Zero may not actually be dead...

(The instruction manual of Mega Man X6 describes both the in-game controls of X and another unnamed high-ranked Maverick Hunter who uses a saber, so this is probably little surprise.)

Mega Man X6 plays much like the other games in the X series- a 2D platformer game wherein the object is to proceed through a stage, shoot everything that stands in your way, defeat the boss at the end of the stage and take his weapon to use against other bosses at the end of other stages. Powerups for X are acquired through locating the various capsules hiding X's creator Dr. Light- by accumulating each of the four pieces of a particular suit of armor, X can access the Blade Armor or the Shadow Armor. A Heart Tank is hidden in every stage, extending the character's life meter; also, two Energy Tanks and a Weapon Tank can be found in various places.

As in Mega Man X5, injured friendly reploids are in various places around each stage. Rescuing these reploids nets the character a small amount of energy and an extra life; additionally, some of the reploids carry useful parts that either X or the mysterious Hunter can use to improve their various abilities. However, the Nightmare enemies (consisting of a head, torso, and tentacled extensions) can infect and corrupt these reploids, so if you're not quick, the reploid (and, more importantly, any parts they may carry) will turn into an enemy that'll shoot at you with gleeful abandon.

The amount of Parts that X can use at one time is now not limited by the type of armor he's using; rather, in X6, the amount of Nightmare Souls the character is in possession of is the sole factor. Souls are dropped by the Nightmares (and also obtained by smacking Dynamo around with various special weapons). A maximum of five parts can be equipped, but that's only after accumulating 9999 Souls- much easier said than done. What makes it complicated is that the Nightmare enemies don't drop Souls if you've killed them in a recent trip- thus, you can't run through a stage filled with Nightmares and expect to get Souls after the first run-through. Also, the mysterious Hunter is limited by the same terms, and keeps his own seperate total of Souls- thus, if you favor one character over another, the totals can get very disparate. There's an easy way to collect multiple Nightmare Souls, but I'll leave that for you, the gamer, to figure out.

X's possession of the Z-Saber affects the way the stages are played- while the Saber is a very potent weapon, it also requires that he stand still for the half-second that it's in use. Some obstacles can only be destroyed by smacking them repeatedly with the Z-Saber. When using either of the two special Armors, the power of the Saber is increased. Also, the mysterious Hunter has possession of his own Buster- which, while being a ranged weapon that doesn't require energy to use, is pathetically useless as he has to be standing AND immobile to use it.

The two Armors X can obtain are as follows:
  • Blade Armor: With the Blade Armor, X's Air Dash is stronger- pressing the Dash button in mid-air will allow him to dash a considerable distance upwards, downwards, or to either side. The Saber can be used as a charged weapon, too, by pressing up while firing that shot.
  • Falcon Armor: A stripped-down version of the armor X used in X5, already available at the beginning of the game. While it can't fly like it used to, it IS X's only initial option to use the air-dash. Its charged shot is smaller, but it can now charge special weapons.
  • Shadow Armor: Ninja! X's normal Buster now shoots shuriken at varying angles, and lets loose with a huge swipe with the Z-Saber if he charges it. With the Shadow Armor, X isn't damaged by spikes, can stick to walls, and can cling to the ceiling. The drawback? No special weapons, and no air-dash.

The Nightmare System incorporated into X6 alters the way that the stages are played- after completing any of the eight initial stages, aspects of certain others are changed. What changes will vary- in one, the lighting could be reduced to a mere spotlight; in others, little nigh-invincible dragonflies will hover around you and be very annoying. The exact effect depends on the previous stage- but it's never helpful, and is more often than not just enough to impede you.

As far as the difficulty of X6 goes, Capcom apparently took a note from the fans claiming the game was too easy; in comparison to the previous two games for the Playstation, X6 has stages that are far more difficult, but the various bosses are far easier to defeat, seldom requiring more than two attempts to defeat. However, the difficulty level was increased by the easiest cop-out way- filling the screen with vast amounts of enemies. The Investigators that also utilize this trick are a notch more difficult than the others.

Speaking of which, here's the list of Investigators to be defeated in Mega Man X6:
As per the two previous installations of the game, cut scenes spaced every so often advance the plotline- however, where Mega Man X4 featured animated sequences with terrible voice acting and Mega Man X5 used still frames and text, X6 utilizes the original Japanese voice acting with English subtitles to accompany various sequences. The effect is less offensive than X4 and more engaging than X5- and the thought that went into the backstory of this particular game is surprising. Much like Mega Man X5, the ending one recieves after defeating the final boss of X6 depends on the character used to do so as well as whether or not X located the mysterious hunter.

If you liked Mega Man X4 and Mega Man X5 (or just Mega Man games in general), you'll more than likely enjoy Mega Man X6- it's the same mindless shooting glee taken to its final iteration on the Playstation- while Mega Man X7 has been confirmed for release, the game will be designed for the Playstation 2 and more than likely change the game forever- again.

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