Author Topic: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?  (Read 5608 times)

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Offline Align

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X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« on: April 27, 2013, 02:23:15 PM »
I think we've all seen the
Sequelitis episode
where egoraptor talks about the difficulty in CV1 being a good thing, and how it makes you stop and think rather than just blow through enemies the moment they show up on your screen.

It occurred to me that X6 might have a similar thing going on, this being why it's appreciated by a number of us here on RPM.

There's different kinds of difficulty, good and bad. Bad ones would be making it literally impossible to avoid taking damage, or just increasing enemy stats so you have to wail on them forever without really being different from early game enemies, and I feel that for the most part X6 avoids these.

All in all, it's unforgiving, unlike previous mega games, but fair and satisfying.

I believe Demon's Souls would also be relevant but I have yet to get around to playing any game in that series, so can't say for sure.

Offline Flame

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 10:06:21 PM »
I like it because it's real hard. Because it throws the kitchen sink at you, it makes it all the more satisfying when you plow through a dozen enemies in front of you.

Also, X6 does have forced damage in the Nightmare rain segments, but it always provides a full heal right after the section, so it's not that bad.

I never considered X6 to be a "stop and think" game like Castlevania, to be honest. I suppose you can make the comparison, Trying unarmored runs of X6 REALLY make you think, a LOT, but I don't think that was really what was in mind when it was made.

Also the story was just plain good. Since Zero is totally optional, they are kind of forced to strengthen X's characterization so he can carry the game alone, in the event you don't get Zero.
...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.

Offline Zan

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 02:15:02 AM »
Quote
Also the story was just plain good. Since Zero is totally optional, they are kind of forced to strengthen X's characterization so he can carry the game alone, in the event you don't get Zero.

I think most of the people that complained about X6's story didn't know how to deal with bad translations, or simply couldn't see the bigger picture.

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Offline Flame

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2013, 03:34:37 AM »
Mmm... Probably both, really.
...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.

Offline Fxeni

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 07:49:50 AM »
Some of the difficulty is well designed, yes. It's not consistently that way though.

Offline Flame

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2013, 08:52:49 AM »
Definitely not. Part of the territory that comes with being rushed. Blaze Heatnix is practically an unfinished stage stuffed with filler.

But It adds flavor.
...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2013, 11:09:23 AM »
Definitely not. Part of the territory that comes with being rushed. Blaze Heatnix is practically an unfinished stage stuffed with filler.

But It adds flavor.

...Flavor? What does that mean?

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2013, 07:43:12 PM »
I love X6, but the game is kind of a huge mess. I wouldn't say the difficulty is by design... X(

Demon's Souls and Dark Souls are definitely similar to CV, though. Even leveling up doesn't guarantee you'll win, you still have to play carefully and study the environment/enemy patterns. Lots of problem solving, strategy and decisions to make, one "screen" at a time. You can't plow through without any knowledge, and every time you die (or rest in Dark Souls), all enemies respawn.

Also like that: Devil May Cry. The DMC creator even said that Castlevania is his favorite action game.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2013, 10:42:44 PM »
Some of X6 seems on purpose... only some though.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 01:06:50 AM »
I'd honestly say that most of X6's core level design is awesome, and more than that, the power-up access/distribution is phenomenal.  The Nightmare System is really what bogs it down, but once you know it, you can predict and to a limited degree manipulate it.  As I've often stated, I appreciate the fact that as difficult as the obstacles are, they all have multiple solutions, which allows for an element of personal preference that goes way beyond the "use this weapon to destroy that block" formulas that we usually see.

I think we've all seen the
Sequelitis episode
where egoraptor talks about the difficulty in CV1 being a good thing, and how it makes you stop and think rather than just blow through enemies the moment they show up on your screen.

It occurred to me that X6 might have a similar thing going on, this being why it's appreciated by a number of us here on RPM.
Actually, although X6 kinda starts like that, it grows away from it.  Which, to me, is brilliant, because it emphasizes that you're growing stronger, which is a central theme of most Mega Man games and ESPECIALLY the X-series.

No other Mega Man game has such a huge difference between how you start and how you end, in terms of how powerful you are (besides MAYBE Xtreme2, but the enemies in that game aren't strong enough to really emphasize it).  In X6, you start out in pretty desperate shape, and by the end, you're plowing through MOBS of enemies, realistically strong enough to take them head-on, but at the same time not so much that you can afford to get completely careless.  That balance does not exist anywhere else in the franchise.

Not only did the game place a greater emphasis than ever on growing stronger, but it also did the same for the non-linear nature of Mega Man games (which was VERY refreshing after X5 went the complete opposite way).  That one is disorienting and even frustrating to people who aren't looking for it, which is another reason why X6 may not be for everyone, but it's also another reason why I love it.  Every level has a branch, even problem has multiple solutions, you can unlock the end whenever you feel you are up to it without the need for some damn cutscene lottery, and above all else you have a respectable level of freedom in what power-ups you pursue, when, and with what character.  The game may be hard as hell, but when you find a way through, it's YOUR way through.

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Offline Soultrigger

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 11:15:58 AM »
Some of X6 seems on purpose... only some though.

This is pretty much my stance on X6 as well. I wouldn't call it well-crafted simply because I don't think the "open-ended" design was intentional (Gate Lab stages come to mind). In terms of good open-ended game design, I think Super Metroid and Zero Mission would be much better examples of intentional branching paths. On the other hand, I can see why others can appreciate the open-ended-ness, even if it was by accident. Even Super Metroid's large array of sequence breaking wouldn't be possible without some notorious glitches like Mockball.


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Offline Zan

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2013, 02:56:38 PM »
Most of the issues caused by X6's 'open-ended design' could have been fixed by the fortress stages taking default X into account more.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 04:38:37 AM »
F*@#! that.  Unarmored X works just fine.

What they needed was an Exit option for uncleared levels that doesn't involve the Title Screen (and unfortunately X Collection removed even that due to an oversight with the new save/load menus).

This is pretty much my stance on X6 as well. I wouldn't call it well-crafted simply because I don't think the "open-ended" design was intentional (Gate Lab stages come to mind). In terms of good open-ended game design, I think Super Metroid and Zero Mission would be much better examples of intentional branching paths. On the other hand, I can see why others can appreciate the open-ended-ness, even if it was by accident. Even Super Metroid's large array of sequence breaking wouldn't be possible without some notorious glitches like Mockball.
I don't think they "accidentally" built a spike wall that has 7 different clear methods, including some EXTREMELY convenient enemy placement for barrier abuse (something X2 did on a smaller scale, BTW).  And that's where most of the bitching comes from.

X6's stages have their annoying moments, to be sure, but the only one that I consider badly designed is Yammark's alternate route, in that it has a jump that is actually MORE difficult than Gate's Lab 2, subjects it to Nightmare effects, AND actively baits the Shadow Armor into accessing it via the ceiling dash.

Of course, when I say the game is open-ended, I'm referring equally if not more to the availability of the power-ups in the first place as I am their usage in tackling later/more difficult obstacles.  And X5 demonstrated what "bad design" in that regard truly means.  In X6 you can freely choose which armor you want to pursue first, something that was near impossible in X5.  There's also the fact that despite the incessant bitching about how inaccessible some of X6's nooks and crannies are, they were each crafted so that both X and Zero can access all of them despite the differences in their abilities.  Again, in X5, this was not the case, as numerous secrets were built specifically around X with no work-around for Zero, and many of the work-arounds that DO exist for Zero are far more needlessly difficult and complex than most of what X6 throws at you.

Also, on the topic of "how much of X6 was intentional?", I submit to you the alleged issue of permanently losing power-ups.  Basically EVERYONE who doesn't know their way around X6 bitches about this despite the fact that all of the "essential" parts are located in areas where they cannot be lost (the most important part that you can permanently lose is Speedster; which is ONLY useful in aiding physics exploits that you have absolutely no reason to be attempting once you get Hyper Dash).  In X5, the aforementioned oddball Zero work-arounds for an extra Heart Tank or two often require power-up parts that you have a less than 50% chance of ever obtaining, and that you may deliberately want to forsake depending on your preference.  X6 has no such restrictions; whatever you outright NEED is always available, whether you found it yet or not.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 08:09:51 AM »
Well, the way Egoraptor approaches the design of Castlevania 1 is that everything is thoughtfully planned and laid out; that candle might be holding a sub-weapon that can be great for the part you're in but not so good for the boss, so you can decide to skip it and have a tougher time with the enemies. Or enemies are placed in rather precarious areas that can result in an instant death if they knock you back into a pit, but they're placed just right so that a skilled player can kill/evade them with ease if they practice hard enough.

X6 may have that open-ended approach where you can tackle anything you want almost with few limitations other than the randomization of Scaravich's stage or the dickish Nightmare System effects, but when I play the game, I just don't feel a cohesive whole. Jumper doesn't feel like it was an intended bypass for Gate's Lab 1's tricky parts if you can't use that ice weapon well, using the Z-Saber as X feels like it was thrown in because 'hey, he held Zero's saber at the good end of the last game' without any true use, and so forth. Nothing feels like it was planned out ahead of time for thoughtful design, just like it was a slapdash of design to get a game out quickly.

But then Castlevania 1 was the first game of an entire franchise, which was built upon starting with CV3. X6 came on the tail-end of the intended finale from X5, at least after 13-15 games in the franchise as a whole, and just feels so.. Strange in comparison to the rest of them in terms of design. It may not be bad, I never hated X6 like some do, but it's just so different from everything established before it in terms of design that it feels out of place.

.. Well, less out of place than X7, anyway.  :D

Offline Zan

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 09:19:26 AM »
Quote
F*@#! that.  Unarmored X works just fine.

Nothing wrong with X, that one stage just had no business being an unconventional roadblock for him and his Shadow Armor. Since Zero already gets transported to a replacement stage, an additional flag could have been put in place to teleport X around the issue.

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Offline Soultrigger

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2013, 10:33:35 AM »
I don't think they "accidentally" built a spike wall that has 7 different clear methods, including some EXTREMELY convenient enemy placement for barrier abuse (something X2 did on a smaller scale, BTW).  And that's where most of the bitching comes from.
In terms of "visibly intentional", I would only say these are: X (Ice Burst+Jumper), Shadow Armor, Zero (Hyoroga). That's only 3. I don't think Capcom had Blade Armor with Ice Burst in mind as very few people are even aware of it. I definitely don't think Capcom had in mind using invincibility, reducing descent speed, or even very tight double jumps as viable options (and if they did, they're idiots for expecting the players to come up with or even execute these).

The problem I have with these visibly intentional solutions is that, for X, requiring Jumper (which is simply a Part) or Shadow Armor is excessive for the player. They're inconsistent with the design philosophies of the prior games, from which X6 borrows from. If X6 intended to deviate from those philosophies, the requirement element should have been more frequent throughout the game (either before or even after), rather than dropping the news to the player suddenly that X6 decided to do a 180 on imposing an upgrade search requirement, and then completely forgetting about it after that specific part of the game (Gate Lab 2 seems more like a design oversight than an actual "requirement", because it takes Falcon as base but completely forgets about Shadow). Or, at the least, they should've made Jumper easier to obtain and/or a lot more prominent than the other universal green Parts. A firsttime player may not even know of its existence: if such a part is so important, why does the game give such little attention to it?

I acknowledge that this roadblock is meant to force a firsttime player to go back and collect power ups until they have enough in their arsenal so as to be prepared for the endgame. However, in that regard, I feel that having the option of beating High Max to skip to Gate Lab is contradictory to it: why bother giving the option to skip to the final stages if you're just going to force the players back to the original eight on a search quest? I also feel that, as a "mental challenge", it doesn't belong in a game like Mega Man X as a roadblock obstructing the path to completing the game (in other words, this type of challenge is better suited for an out-of-reach upgrade/collectible). As a challenge, it is not very approachable, and thus turns off a lot of players who could've potentially (although probably unlikely) enjoyed the rest of the game. It is also not balanced: why does Zero only need Hyoroga while X (Falcon included) needs its equivalent AND Jumper?

A much better example of this kind of design is in Super Metroid. A firsttime player does not know about advance techniques like wall jumping or infinite bomb jumping, and assumes that in order to get Spazer Beam, one must skip ahead to the next area, only to later return once they have found the necessary requirement to get it. In doing so, they must enter Norfair, obtain the Hi-Jump Boots, then backtrack to said location. However, a clever player, even on his or her first playthrough, may realized that one can reach infinite height through bomb jumping, and thus circumvents the height requirement needed to get Spazer Beam. This grants a power upgrade earlier than intended, making the game easier and faster. On the other hand, an experienced player who has been exposed to and mastered walljumping can simply, quickly jump up. In this sense, the game is both approachable because it allows new players to find the easy solution but also deep/clever in that it rewards players for coming up with or knowing beforehand a better, more efficient solution.

Besides Zero, X6 does not have an approachable method (unlike Hi-Jump Boots, Jumper and Shadow Armor aren't exactly easy to get for firsttime players). X6 merely has different methods, and in X's cases, all of these solutions can be considered too demanding, in the sense that it is unprecedented for an X game to require miss-able upgrades to advance.

Also, on the topic of "how much of X6 was intentional?", I submit to you the alleged issue of permanently losing power-ups.  Basically EVERYONE who doesn't know their way around X6 bitches about this despite the fact that all of the "essential" parts are located in areas where they cannot be lost (the most important part that you can permanently lose is Speedster; which is ONLY useful in aiding physics exploits that you have absolutely no reason to be attempting once you get Hyper Dash).  In X5, the aforementioned oddball Zero work-arounds for an extra Heart Tank or two often require power-up parts that you have a less than 50% chance of ever obtaining, and that you may deliberately want to forsake depending on your preference.  X6 has no such restrictions; whatever you outright NEED is always available, whether you found it yet or not.
I think this issue has to do with expectations of the game.

The problem with X6 isn't that you can't obtain the tools necessary to advance, the problem is that these tools are optional/miss-able and that the game doesn't inform the player in some shape or form that they are necessary or that they even exist to begin with. Even if the player does have the upgrade, it might not even occur to them that said upgrade is necessary to pass said obstacles. A personal expectation I have, and I'm sure many people share, is that any stage within the X series can be cleared no matter when or how you entered it. As far as I know, besides Magnet Beam in Mega Man 1, X6 is the only non-spinoff game that I can think of that actually requires you to quit the stage and backtrack because you weren't properly equipped enough (or in Gate Lab 2/Shadow Armor's case, "you dun goof'd").

You can argue that this sort of backtracking and searching for the upgrade you need would be applauded in games like Metroid or Castlevania (Metroidvania). But again, in those games I expect to do those things while in X6, I simply do not. The Metroid-style game works because they operate in a large open world: backtracking doesn't break the pace the game, it simply requires you to turn the other direction. Mega Man X doesn't work like that: you choose a stage and go from start to finish. ZX Advent is known to do this in 2 parts of the game, but this was more acceptable because, despite having linear-styled stages, they were connected enough to give an open world feel while also not actually making you backtrack much at all by teleporting you to where you needed to be. Even Mega Man & Bass, during the special weapon requirement stage, gives you a teleporter back to the stage select.

If Capcom wanted me, the player, to have a change in those expectations/assumptions while playing the game, they either should've been cluing me in with Alia or, like you said, give me easy access back to stage select. And yes, I am very well aware of the fact that you can return to title screen and load previous data. However, that method is extremely roundabout and carries the implication that you are quitting the game, not that you simply want to return to an earlier point. In fact, I don't even think Capcom had this method in mind: the spiked walls seem to carry the message "if you aren't well equipped, kill yourself here so you can return to stage select". I am confident that the idea of returning to the title doesn't even occur to most players because that option wasn't intended to solve requirement issues, it simply exists as a "soft reset" that many other games utilize as an alternative to hard resets. In X4 and X5, they were mainly a tool of convenience to restart or load another data; it just so happened that they also offered to go back to stage select, and this was probably meant for players who changed their minds about quitting. While X5 did have some irreversible events that had negative consequences for the players, neither X4 nor X5 mandated that the player had to start over from the stage select.

Now let's just say that Capcom DID intend the title screen/load previous data to be the solution for being ill-prepared. Then I ask you this question: What is the point of lives? And by extension, what is the point of the EX Item? Player Rank is determined by Souls, which means accumulated damage is simply for record keeping and has no gameplay effect on the player. You can keep continuing from the same checkpoint even after getting a gameover. So then, how do lives benefit players? The answer is they don't: they simply deter a player from rushing each stage for quick upgrades. But that doesn't actually prevent players from returning to stage select, it just makes it more tedious to do so. If you view it like this, then you can pretty much call out Capcom for being idiots because they could've easily been much more straightforward about it: if players are to return to stage select, then they are forced to give up all the upgrades they acquired throughout the run. Otherwise (which is probably the reality, especially when you add EX Item to the equation), you'll notice that Capcom just blindly followed its own convention without actually thinking about why they were implemented in the first place, which was that lives were to aid players in advancing to the finish. And yes, X5 is guilty of the exact same thing, which serves as even more proof that Capcom didn't actually know what they were doing because they just did it again.

EDIT: I've been making numerous edits to this post in order to clarify myself, but I think
what Egoraptor said
summarizes the point well: "Castlevania feels well thought out, it feels planned and complete. But Castlevania 2 feels like a [tornado fang]ing mess". Of course, replace Castlevania 2 with X6 (how ironic that the analogy that was attempted to be made was instead interchanged for the other).

In case people are wondering why such a long wall of text was necessary: I made this same exact argument years ago, and everytime I tried pointing something out, counterarguments made against me (that were usually taken out of context) missed the point entirely: X6 was a title that suffered in quality due to being rushed. "Suetsugu stated that the development schedule of Mega Man X6 was tight." If even the artist admits the game was rushed, I don't see why people can't accept the fact that many aspects of X6 was not actually intentional/well-designed and that, had the developers been given more time to polish and QA them, they would've definitely changed.

In terms of good open ended design, games like Super Metroid and Zero Mission are much better examples because they both are approachable and reward cleverness. In terms of challenging design, games like the original Castlevania and Hard Corps Uprising are much better because they are actually cohesive and consistently fair. On no respectable scale does X6 actually compete as a top contender, the only notable gameplay merit it has is being so frustratingly hard in that its completion is considered an achievement. (By the way, I am referring to the game as a whole: X6 of course does have its moments of legitimate design. However, it cannot be ignored that X6 also has its equally illegitimate moments of artificial difficulty and situations determined solely by luck).
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 05:37:41 PM by Soultrigger »


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Offline Nexus

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2013, 10:55:30 PM »
(By the way, I am referring to the game as a whole: X6 of course does have its moments of legitimate design. However, it cannot be ignored that X6 also has its equally illegitimate moments of artificial difficulty and situations determined solely by luck).

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2013, 04:55:59 PM »
Soultrigger's post is pretty on-point.  X6 has its fun moments and did indeed do some things better than X5, but to me the game as a whole doesn't come off as well-designed, and as such I really don't see how some of the stuff in this game can be defended.  Case-in-point; that silly pit in Gate's stage is clearly an oversight.  No player should have to trek through an entire stage + boss, only to be punished for not having armor/parts equipped that they had no previous indication they would need.  It's extremely obvious in some cases that this game was thrown together at a moment's notice, and really I don't see how anyone can look at X6 as a whole and go, "Gee, this is a well-designed game".

That said though I only really consider 4 of the X titles to be well designed games (X1/X2/X4/Xtreme 2), the rest all have issues that get in the way in some shape or form.
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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2013, 06:43:21 PM »
Gate's Lab looks stupid when viewed on YouTube out of context.  What nobody seems to realize is that air-dashing is a standard feature in X6 (why you UNCONDITIONALLY start with the Falcon Armor, unlike X5 where unarmored X is your punishment for picking Zero in the intro).  The game is designed accordingly, and as awesome as Shadow Armor is, the difficulty with which you have to obtain its parts should probably cue you in to the fact that lacking an air-dash requires some manner of compensation.  I admit it's a departure for the series that can take one off-guard pretty easily, but after either 8 levels or High Max, you REALLY ought to have figured out that your equipment matters (especially since Yammark's hidden pit is a LOT worse than Gate's).

And at least you CAN compensate for this in some way.  In X5, if you pick Gaia Armor in the first Zero Virus level (which is realistically the first "new" level in which you have access to it), then you are [tornado fang]'d.  What everyone bitches about in X6 is not its end result, but rather its learning curve and lack of direction.  Not saying everyone has to like it, but seriously, stuff like that passed in the 80's without comment.  Had X6 come out in an era where player's guides were an expected part of the culture, this would be a non-issue (and we all know Classic NES games did this, what with such tomfoolery as the Magnet Beam and the ever-cursed Crash Bomb ammo).



Okay, never really was bored enough to read all of this post, and I most certainly don't expect to change Soultrigger's mind as I do acknowledge that X6 isn't for everyone.  But, a niche audience and a poor quality are not the same thing, so here we go:
In terms of "visibly intentional", I would only say these are: X (Ice Burst+Jumper), Shadow Armor, Zero (Hyoroga). That's only 3. I don't think Capcom had Blade Armor with Ice Burst in mind as very few people are even aware of it. I definitely don't think Capcom had in mind using invincibility, reducing descent speed, or even very tight double jumps as viable options (and if they did, they're idiots for expecting the players to come up with or even execute these).

(Yes, "that image" is back.  Blame the AA news)

Why, then, are the wolves at every ledge, coupled with the fact that the first jump is easier than the rest?  That enemy placement is as obvious as the Bat Bones in X2 (in Serge's stage, damage barrier use is required if you skipped the capsules; something the game designers clearly intended as a viable option since it alters the ending slightly).  And I REALLY should not have to tell you how often X6 uses that same "barrier abuse to block spikes" trick; it's particularly well known in Wolfang's and Turtloid's levels.

"Jumps are too tight to be intended" is not a viable argument against Zero's double jump.  By that logic we've been cheating at an awful lot of Rush-required areas in the Classic series (Snake Man and Magma Man both come to mind)

The only thing I will grant as POSSIBLY unintended is the descent speed from special weapon abuse (not applicable to the spike wall, but still).  And even that is arguable; there are a lot of obstacles in the game that are built with the expectation that the player knows how to squeeze the most out of the game's physics (ie: Metal Shark Player's hidden path).  However, it is a tactic that I personally consider cumbersome and useless; it is outweighed by Hyper Dash in every conceivable situation, and I've only toyed with it for the sake of argument/research.  The fact that the second Mega Man game to ever have timed leaderboards redid pause screen mechanics also suggests that this is not intended, as does the fact that Speedster, otherwise a useless part in X6, can be permanently lost.

The thing is, it's not THAT difficult to program an obstacle that is destroyed by a specific weapon.  Not only does the rest of the series do it, and not only does X5 do it in some extremely ill-thought-out applications (LET'S REQUIRE THE SAME WEAPON YOU GET IN THIS STAGE!), but they actually do this in X6 with the Nightmare System obstacles.  If they wanted to require one arbitrary solution, they'd have done so.

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The problem I have with these visibly intentional solutions is that, for X, requiring Jumper (which is simply a Part) or Shadow Armor is excessive for the player. They're inconsistent with the design philosophies of the prior games, from which X6 borrows from. If X6 intended to deviate from those philosophies, the requirement element should have been more frequent throughout the game (either before or even after), rather than dropping the news to the player suddenly that X6 decided to do a 180 on imposing an upgrade search requirement, and then completely forgetting about it after that specific part of the game (Gate Lab 2 seems more like a design oversight than an actual "requirement", because it takes Falcon as base but completely forgets about Shadow). Or, at the least, they should've made Jumper easier to obtain and/or a lot more prominent than the other universal green Parts. A firsttime player may not even know of its existence: if such a part is so important, why does the game give such little attention to it?
I don't think anyone would argue that X6 isn't something of an odd-ball to the series in that regard, whether they like it or not is another question.  So, yes, it's inconsistent, but it's not without warning.  The alternate routes in the game actually DO telegraph this concept, most notably Metal Shark Player and Rainy Turtloid.  The "main" levels are not viable because the philosophy of the Stage Select screen means that any one of them could be your first level (and as we're all well aware, Heatnix takes enough flak for this as it is; those minibosses are pretty easily dismantled with proper equipment but are a royal pain with only default gear).

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I acknowledge that this roadblock is meant to force a firsttime player to go back and collect power ups until they have enough in their arsenal so as to be prepared for the endgame. However, in that regard, I feel that having the option of beating High Max to skip to Gate Lab is contradictory to it: why bother giving the option to skip to the final stages if you're just going to force the players back to the original eight on a search quest?
High Max himself IS a roadblock because he's unbeatable without an appropriate special weapon.  It's not a literal check point, of course, but it's an obvious red flag of the design philosophy.  Coupled with the early spike wall and the frequent difficult jumps in the alternate paths, yeah, I'd think twice.  Or at the very least I'd accept the consequences of my own rash curiosity as being my own fault.

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I also feel that, as a "mental challenge", it doesn't belong in a game like Mega Man X as a roadblock obstructing the path to completing the game (in other words, this type of challenge is better suited for an out-of-reach upgrade/collectible).
It's not as if that mentality can't be taken to its own extreme, though.  X5 is a textbook example of such as it creates a very overly linear game compared to the rest of the X-series.

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As a challenge, it is not very approachable, and thus turns off a lot of players who could've potentially (although probably unlikely) enjoyed the rest of the game. It is also not balanced: why does Zero only need Hyoroga while X (Falcon included) needs its equivalent AND Jumper?
Probably because Zero requires an extra part to not get ripped apart at twice the rate X does.  From the standpoint of "offense, defense, mobility", the balance is pretty obvious: Falcon is the all-rounder, Blade trades offense for mobility, Shadow does the opposite, and Zero trades defense (and range) for mobility and power.

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While X5 did have some irreversible events that had negative consequences for the players, neither X4 nor X5 mandated that the player had to start over from the stage select.
Outright impossible, perhaps not, but on the topic of "tight timing", the previously mentioned Gaia in ZV1 trounces any difficult-to-time jumps that X6 ever presents, and that DOES require a trip to Stage Select to rectify.

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What is the point of lives?
Same reason they exist in any other game: In case an enemy kills you or you die due to player error.  And in X6, the general "standard" of both enemy power and enemy numbers is much higher than normal (granted, I play on Xtreme mode all the time, but I do the same for X5 and there really is no comparison).  It actually balances quite well with the fact that X6 removes all of X5's asinine power-up restrictions, thus allowing for much stronger and more customized characters with more or less the same pieces of the puzzle.  But it makes starting out even more troublesome than the usual as well.  It also couples with the Reploid rescue system amounting to 16 one-time extra lives: You get a "crutch" for your first time exploring a level.  For revisits, you need to step it up.

As for "Continuing" at the exact same spot.  ...I got nothing.  But I'm pretty darn sure that X6 is not the first Mega Man game to do that.  And to this day I still play a lot of games where I kill myself deliberately because it's the only way to restock your lives if they fall below the default, so...yeah.  Common problem with the industry.

To be clear, at no point would I call X6 "approachable".  It isn't.  But not every game is supposed to be (again, I call it "Mega Man X: The Lost Levels" for a reason).  That factors into challenge, and to me, challenge has little relation to quality.  There are hard games that I enjoy and easy games that I enjoy just as much.  What constitutes a "fair" challenge is an eternal debate that I have no expectation of settling here (I believe the Zero/ZX concept of "Hard Mode" to be conceptually and thematically worse than anything in X6, but hey, that's me).

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X6 was a title that suffered in quality due to being rushed. "Suetsugu stated that the development schedule of Mega Man X6 was tight." If even the artist admits the game was rushed, I don't see why people can't accept the fact that many aspects of X6 was not actually intentional/well-designed and that, had the developers been given more time to polish and QA them, they would've definitely changed.
First of all, nobody who's seen the boss sprites or the localization will debate that.  Second, I've acknowledged the lack of an unconditional "exit" button and the fact that Sentsuizan's controls are inexcusable, right?  X6 is not trying to be Metroid; it takes steps in that direction, yes, but Mega Man has yet to do the "open world" thing on anywhere near that level of quality, and I don't believe that's what X6 was trying to do.  The existence of the Stage Select screen is not only clearly intended but is accommodated to a much better degree than X5 did.  For how tight X6's production was, its level design and power-up accessibility was ultimately better thought out than X5's, which took longer than normal in production.  That, I believe, speaks volumes.  The so-called "grand finale that Inafune intended" is one of the most overall restrictive layouts that the series has ever seen, and is the eternal reminder to me that time =/= quality.

We all know that X6 has its rough spots, but it has better "bones" to it than most, and the unique balance between difficulty and power-ups creates an equally unique appeal and gratification when compared to other X-series entries.

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Offline Soultrigger

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2013, 02:52:12 PM »
The bats in X2 Serges's stage are supposed to be frozen and trekked with Crystal Hunter, a weapon you can't not have at that point of the game. In fact, you are supposed to do this again in Agile's stage, with or without the armor.

Wolfang doesn't require you to get hit (although it's extremely hard not to with Heatnix's Nightmare Effect), you're supposed to use Blade, Shadow, Zero, etc. to save a lot of the Reploids. To be honest, I am not even sure which Reploid you're talking about, but there isn't any that require you to get hit.

Turtloid is the same: you are supposed to use Blade's tight Mach Dash or Shadow (even though you get Shadow in said stage using Blade). Falcon's Air Dash, and by extension Zero's Air Dash probably as well, also work, but I believe Blade's Mach Dash has significantly more leeway. However, most people realize you can just circumvent these getting hit and abusing invincibility.

Capcom never outright forced players to get hit to advance (excluding Turtloid rain obviously), and this is true even for X6. It just so happens to be that getting hit in X6 is often the best solution. That's not to say that only X6 is "guilty" of this, X2 has it with the Heart Tank in Wheel Gator's stage. However, X6 has this solution available in high amounts. Because it is never forced on the players, it's fairly safe to say that it wasn't intended. Sure, it lets you get Shadow without Blade, but it also makes Blade [almost] completely unnecessary for item collecting, which raises the question of how meticulous they were about item collecting when damage invincibility makes a lot of their intended methods capable of being bypassed. Unlike Metroid infinite bombjumping, walljumping, shinesparking, etc., I don't consider damage invincibility to be clever when many of the items Capcom specifically prepared to be collected for the armors can instead take very little effort to sequence break.



In regards to X5, not that I hold X5 as the shining pinnacle of game design or anything (requiring Gel Shaver revisit to get Falcon Body, cockblocking Zero from Heart Tanks, the Maverick leveling system, the Hunter ranking system, mandatory Alia prompts among other things are all examples of grade A bull [parasitic bomb]), but ZV1 is very humanly possible to do as Gaea Armor:


In fact, this is a very good example of a tradeoff where a player can make a boss easier at the cost of the stage being harder.

The point of bringing up the Gate Lab 2 jump isn't that it's difficult to cross (far from it), but that it imposes a requirement that, no matter how good you are, under specific circumstances you are forced to retry from the beginning. There are other examples like Yammark's secret area or Scaravich's stage (when randomized in a certain way), but not all players will necessarily come across them.

What I find ironic about all this Hyper Dash talk is that Capcom accidentally swapped the Hyper Dash and Speedster icon (both in the English and Japanese version), which really puts into question how important they were supposed to be.


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Offline Flame

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2013, 05:42:24 PM »
Damn thats insane. Ive tried getting down there with gaea, but it requires pretty much memorization of the level and preplanned moves to an incredible degree.
...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.

Offline Zan

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2013, 06:27:35 PM »
I find the main dificulty of that area is the wall-cling. If you can avoid hitting the wall, then it's smooth sailing. They should have just made those slippery.

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Offline Fxeni

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2013, 07:05:35 PM »
Thanks for that Zan, particularly with the second to last paragraph. I didn't feel like repeating myself for the umpteenth time.

Also, I hate Scaravich's stage for that. I always get the segment that's ridiculous with unarmoured X. Always.

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2013, 01:28:38 AM »
The bats in X2 Serges's stage are supposed to be frozen and trekked with Crystal Hunter, a weapon you can't not have at that point of the game. In fact, you are supposed to do this again in Agile's stage, with or without the armor.
I'll ask you to pardon my memory as for some reason I do not recall there being a second bat at that jump.  YouTube, however, has proven otherwise.  Perhaps I was thinking of that option dead-end branch past the breakable blocks that nobody ever ventures into...

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Wolfang doesn't require you to get hit (although it's extremely hard not to with Heatnix's Nightmare Effect), you're supposed to use Blade, Shadow, Zero, etc. to save a lot of the Reploids. To be honest, I am not even sure which Reploid you're talking about, but there isn't any that require you to get hit.
Past the teleporter, there is one and only one Reploid, behind a very long stretch of spikes down one of the pits.  It's where you get Jumper.  Damage is not by any means required (my entire shpiel with X6 is that virtually never is there "one" solution, and that applies to barrier abuse as much as it does Parts), but it is EXTREMELY helpful.  The vertical nature of the Nightmare hazard allows you to "bait" the hazard into following you down the pit to aid you.

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Turtloid is the same: you are supposed to use Blade's tight Mach Dash or Shadow (even though you get Shadow in said stage using Blade). Falcon's Air Dash, and by extension Zero's Air Dash probably as well, also work, but I believe Blade's Mach Dash has significantly more leeway. However, most people realize you can just circumvent these getting hit and abusing invincibility.
That is an extraordinarily lofty assumption when you're talking about a game that includes a Power-Up Part specifically designed to extend your invulnerability time.

Remember that such an exploit is not possible without adequate enemy placement, and we have three such examples (Turtloid, Wolfang, Gate) with enemies very clearly distributed to allow it.  Turtloid and Wolfang both use enemies (or hazards, for Wolfang) that specifically follow you from a safe area to that concerned (note that for Turtloid I am talking about Shadow Armor's capsule, the single most valuable item in the spike segments, which requires you to bait the Bat Bones into proper position in much the same way as X2's Shoryuken capsule required you to get them to chase you before freezing them with Crystal Hunter).  Gate, meanwhile, uses stationary enemies that are ridiculously non-threatening, and proportioned EXACTLY one enemy per jump of equal height, with the only enemy-lacking jump being the smallest of the jumps.

It may be fun to mention that in X5, Skiver's capsule cannot possibly be reached as Zero without such an exploit.

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Unlike Metroid infinite bombjumping, walljumping, shinesparking, etc., I don't consider damage invincibility to be clever when many of the items Capcom specifically prepared to be collected for the armors can instead take very little effort to sequence break.
Okay, here's my problem with that statement, which is simultaneously what happens to be one of my biggest gripes with X5: There isn't SUPPOSED to be a sequence to break in the first place.  Mega Man games and especially X-series games sell on their non-linear nature, what with the Stage Select screen and all.  It's not "exploration" like Metroidvania, but it is meant to be flexible.  One or two power-ups to unlock further secrets is done every now and then, yes.  However, requiring four or more separate power-ups before obtaining another is something that, outside of X5, was previously reserved ONLY for end-of-game secrets.  This is why requiring a COMPLETE armor to obtain part of a second armor is BS design.

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What I find ironic about all this Hyper Dash talk is that Capcom accidentally swapped the Hyper Dash and Speedster icon (both in the English and Japanese version), which really puts into question how important they were supposed to be.
About as much as Z1's mistranslations imply how important your Buster Shot (not Z-Buster) is really supposed to be, I'd imagine...

Damn thats insane. Ive tried getting down there with gaea, but it requires pretty much memorization of the level and preplanned moves to an incredible degree.
Thank you.

To be clear, it's not that I HAVEN'T gotten there with Gaia, it's that the level of memorization and handicap is uncalled for.  In 99% of all playthroughs, your default abilities are nerfed at the one single point in the entire game where it hurts you the most, and such design works on my nerves.  Moreso the problem however is the fact that the "sequence" of Falcon before Gaia should not exist in the first place.

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Offline Flame

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Re: X6's difficulty like Castlevania's?
« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2013, 07:57:50 AM »
Late reply is totally late.

The Armor sequence in X5 IS real annoying. That said, back when I was a kid, it's not like I cared or noticed really. I still don't, what bothers me more is [parasitic bomb] like the Gaia helmet being so [tornado fang]ing difficult to get, requiring you to navigate a firefly through that mini maze for a part that does absolutely NOTHING. That's something that you CAN [tornado fang] up, and have to die or retry the stage. if you told me Gaia arms, well, alright. put the helmet in Spike Rosered's stage, the easiest and most obvious Gaia piece to get.

Also, Requiring Gel Shaver to get Falcon body. That ALWAYS pissed me off, even as a kid.
...When Larry the reploid accountant goes maverick of his own accord, he's certainly formidable during tax season, but he isn't going to provide X the challenge needed to make him grow as a warrior and reach his potential.