Also available on 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/29/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Mega Man Xtreme gives Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 the handheld treatment by taking bosses and levels from those games and putting them in a downgraded form in a single game. It’s one of those cross-gen games that was made for Game Boy Color will also work on Game Boy (since I consider the Game Boy Color to be a successor to the Game Boy, not an enhanced version of the same system; I’ll die on his hill), but with how simple the color choices are, it would probably have been just fine being on the regular Game Boy.
The first thing that stood out to me about this game was how bad it looks. The color choice is just utterly unappealing in my opinion, and it honestly looks only a little better than the color added to original Game Boy games played on a Super Game Boy. I get that they wanted to retain compatibility with the original Game Boy, but Link’s Awakening DX was another game compatible with both Game Boy and Game Boy Color, and its color use was fantastic. The simple visuals here seem to be an intentional design choice. The cut scenes in the game do look quite nice, but they too just have ugly color choices. This is a totally subjective complaint, and some folks may have no problem whatsoever with the color used in Mega Man Xtreme, but it was a major turn-off for me.
Another big complaint I had was the level design; they’re pretty much 8-bit versions of their SNES counterparts. Whereas the five original Game Boy games were more “inspired by” than “based on” their NES counterparts by and large, these are straight up “Let’s put SNES levels on Game Boy Color.” On the one hand, it is kind of cool to see what Mega Man X might have looked like if it had been made for NES instead of SNES. On the other hand, unless it’s an actual de-make (which this is not), I’d much rather see some creativity and more unique levels that reference the SNES levels rather than copying them.
My third and arguably biggest complaint is the difficulty, and this has one major component that separates it from just “Waaaa, this game is too hard” – the controls. The five Mega Man games on Game Boy all controlled pretty well by and large, and while the first three had some rough spots, they felt nice and responsive for the most part. Mega Man Xtreme feels stiff by comparison, and it lacks any smoothness whatsoever to the controls. The only thing about the controls that I can praise is that Mega Man is no longer as slow as molasses when ascending ladders. That’s literally the only thing about the controls that wasn’t a step down. These controls make the Mavericks significantly more difficult than their SNES counterparts. The actual bosses themselves are exactly the same – same attacks, same patterns, etc. They’re just much harder to dodge and get in position to attack this go around because the controls are balls. It also feels like the hit detection is wonky here, but I’m not sure if that’s actually the case or it’s just that the controls made it harder to get a good shot in.
Mega Man Xtreme is a huge drop in quality compared to its five predecessors despite being on better hardware. Granted, the Game Boy Color isn’t leagues ahead of the Game Boy, but the games should be at least on par with the five previous ones and certainly not inferior. The only thing that looks better is the cutscenes; even the sprites don’t look as good in my opinion, and that seems to be due purely to stylistic choices. I honestly found this game to be worse than Mega Man III and about equally frustrating albeit frustrating in different ways. It tries to keep up the surprisingly solid plot and storytelling of the core X series, but it fails in every department. The premise isn’t interesting, and the writing is so stilted and god-awful that it honestly would have been better without any story elements at all. I’ve read My Little Pony fanfiction that’s more competently written than this. It’s a shame because the Mega Man X games are some of the best the series has to offer, but this Game Boy Color entry in that sub-series is among the worst that the series has to offer, at least of the games I’ve played. I really can’t recommend this to anyone but the most hardcore Mega Man enthusiasts and even they are better off just skipping this one.