A small indie team called JKB games has been quietly working on a new game in the Mega Man X series called Mega Man X: Corrupted for the last 4 years. Taking a similar approach as the recent Mega Man titles, JKB’s unofficial fan sequel returns the Mega Man X series to its SNES roots while still adding more than enough new features to make it exciting.
It has the classic SNES style sprites. You can acquire multiple armor sets. You can mix and match armors. You can unlock extra abilities by mixing and matching armor pieces. You can play as Zero and switch freely between X and Zero. Zero gets armor upgrades like X. It takes some influence from the later Mega Man handheld games like Mega Man ZX and makes the gameplay take place in an open world, Metroidvania style map. It has skill upgrades.
Put simply, JKB is developing the Mega Man X sequel every Mega Man X fan wishes that Capcom had developed instead of Mega Man X 6 through 8.
The Story of Mega Man X
For those who don’t know, or are too young to remember, Mega Man X was the 90s era edgier reboot of Mega Man, which takes place in the future. Dr. Light is dead, but his last and final creation was Mega Man X — the first ‘reploid’, or, fully autonomous droid. Not just a robot, but a living, thinking being. The plot is a little complicated, but put simply, X is used to create a whole breed of reploids and, since reploids have free will, they develop criminality. The reploid criminals are called Mavericks, and X joins the Maverick hunters, which are basically futuristic robot cops.
instead of Dr. Wily, you fight a guy named Sigma who use the be the leader of the Maverick hunters… until he finds a reploid named Zero hanging out in a warehouse somewhere. He punches Zero in the head and contracts a virus, which turns him into a huge asshole. Zero, as it turns out, was Wily’s last creation. Zero, incidentally, gets repaired and cured of the Maverick virus and becomes X’s Lethal Weapon style partner.
X and Zero go out and hunt down Mavericks, which in 1994 on SNES seemed pretty cut and dry, but in the later games starts to add some nuance where it really seems like most of the Mavericks you’re hunting are actually just anyone the futuristic robot government deems to be criminals. Which, uh, kind of makes you the bad guy, but let’s move on. It was all going really well through X4.
Then, X5 came along. It was alright, but didn’t move the series forward, and named all the bosses after band members from Guns ‘n Roses for some reason. Which is… cool? But why? Then after that it very quickly devolves into a complete and absolute mess, Capcom mercifully killed the series, and rebooted it even further in the future as Mega Man Zero.
Why is Mega Man X: Corrupted So Promising?
Much like Mega Man’s return to form with Mega Man 9 through the upcoming 11, Mega Man X: Corrupted takes the series back to its roots. Back to a time when it was good. As a certain point they lost the plot, and then eventually went full 3d and lost any semblance of knowing what was fun. Mega Man X takes it right back to Mega Man X3-4, and then updates it a bit from there.
In the SNES games, you could play in Zero briefly… in X3. It wasn’t until X4 he was a fully playable character, and even then, his playthrough felt somewhat less polished than X’s. He lacked armor upgrades and some of the bosses had to grant him basic movement abilities that were granted to X through the armor upgrades. Corrupted makes him fully playable, with armor upgrades and everything. It even takes him back to his (imo much better) SNES era look.
The Metroidvania is an interesting new addition that I’m excited to see. It worked in Mega Man ZX, which would have been the last good Mega Man X game if the series wasn’t already six feet under ground when it came out. It also adds a skill tree sort of element where you can upgrade the powers granted to X and Zero by conquering the Maverick bosses.
The scope of the game looks quite large. It looks like it would be the most robust X game to have been created, and the quality looks quite good. It’s not just a retread. From the videos available on JKB’s channel, it’s clear the level design is extremely nice, and there is more new in this game than there is, typically, for a new iteration of an X game — new bosses, new weapons, new armors, new mechanics, and more.
Just remember… it’s unofficial. So shhhhhhhhhhhh.