The futuristic sci-fi setting of the Mega Man X series ushered in a set of new and exciting gameplay abilities for fans beginning in the early ’90s. Wall-jumping, dashing, and equipping armor upgrades are sublime, but the series also has a grittier narrative for the heroic battles of X, Zero, and Axl. Whereas the classic Mega Man series focused on fun, Saturday Morning cartoon story pastiche with Dr. Wily’s recurring tricks and antics, the Mega Man X series took on a more mature tone.
In preparation for Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 coming to PS4 on July 24, now is the perfect time to reflect on the series’ story of powerful, sentient androids and their struggle to find footing in human society.
The Road to 21XX
The first Mega Man X takes place roughly 100 years after the original Mega Man series. Set within the same world as the original series, the titular hero, X, is a different robot from the classic series’ iconic Blue Bomber. Long before the events of the first 16-bit title begin, Dr. Thomas Light finished his final robot creation before he passed away. A highly advanced fighting robot with intelligence, emotion, and free will, X was made to be an equivalent to humankind.
Light believed X would be critical for the eventual salvation of the planet, but realized that his fellow humans would likely not be ready to accept him due to the potential threat he could pose to society. As a result, Dr. Light sealed away X to run 30 years of diagnostics to ensure his final creation would be ready for the world that awaited him.
A century later, an archaeologist from Able City, Dr. Cain, uncovered the capsule storing X, and was in awe of Light’s technological marvel. X overshadowed even modern advances in robotic circuitry, and as a result, Dr. Cain used X’s schematics as the blueprint for a new, enhanced line of robots called Reploids. These new machines demonstrated unparalleled combat prowess and intelligence, though none matched X’s integrated empathy and evolutionary potential.
Dramatic leaps in technology always come with risks, and the Reploids were no exception. An unusual virus and corrupted programming infected a number of Reploids, turning them from defenders of humanity into deadly killing machines. Dr. Cain assembled a squadron of dependable Reploids to counter these irregular Reploids that came to be known as “Mavericks.”
X, with his hardwired combat prowess, was selected to join the Maverick Hunter team alongside a red, A-Class Maverick hunter with flowing, golden hair named Zero. Once thought to be a Maverick himself, Zero was repaired by Dr. Cain and became a dependable Maverick Hunter. Dr. Cain also created the imposing Sigma, who he selected to command the Maverick Hunters due to his unmatched combat prowess and decisive nature. Together, the squadron fought against bands of Mavericks to maintain justice and peace in the world.
To Dr. Cain’s dismay, his worst nightmare transpired when Commander Sigma went Maverick. The advanced Reploid put down his figurative shield to society, picked up his literal laser sword of destruction, and declared humans inferior and a hindrance to the evolution of Reploid-kind. He assembled a band of fellow Mavericks, from the frigid Chill Penguin to the hulking inferno Flame Mammoth, and attacked an isolated island near Able City.
This is where the adventure of the first Mega Man X title begins – with X heroically traversing a crumbling, futuristic highway on a mission to stop Sigma and his eight Maverick lieutenants. If you want to learn more about the events before the original Mega Man X, check out “The Day of Σ,” a thrilling animated prequel that’s included in both Mega Man X Legacy Collection and Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2.
The Maverick Hunters Saga Continues
Mega Man X is only the beginning, as X, Zero, Axl, and the rest of the crew pursue the corrupting influence of Sigma through multiple battles and incarnations. The Hunters must face new Reploid menaces gone Maverick, like the slippery Wheel Gator and dive-bombing Blast Hornet.
The evil X-Hunters assemble in Mega Man X2, focused on destroying X and claiming Zero for their own destructive deeds. Mega Man X4 introduces fully animated cutscenes and the Repliforce, a militaristic counter-Maverick force that operates independent from the Maverick Hunters. Mega Man X5 explores Zero’s nightmarish past, revealing his legendarily brilliant-yet-devious creator.
Mega Man X7 and X8 introduce new protagonist Axl, a rapid-firing Reploid seeking a new team after his previous comrades in Red Alert begin showing Maverick-like tendencies. This is the perfect time to return to these unforgettable tales, or experience them for the first time.
The narrative of the Mega Man X series features many twists, turns, unique characters, and unforgettable moments. These dramatic story beats are woven together with satisfying gameplay, wherein players battle a gang of eight Maverick bosses in any order, steal their weapons, and use them against other enemies.
If one-on-one Maverick battles don’t quench your thirst for combat, Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 features the exclusive X Challenge mode, which pits X against two Mavericks at once in a series of intense battles. Think you can take on Wheel Gator’s underwater antics while Bubble Crab dishes out damage? Try it out for yourself!
Dash into Mega Man X – X4 in Mega Man X Legacy Collection, and jump into Mega Man X5 – X8 in Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2, coming to PS4 on July 24 as a digital or physical bundle. Fight like it’s the year 21XX!