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Mega Man Maverick Hunter X

For: PSP

The least-famous famous game character tears onto PSP with maverick charm

Product: Mega Man Maverick Hunter X | Publisher: Capcom | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Fighting | Players: 1
Mega Man Maverick Hunter X PSP, thumbnail 1
While it's everyone's dream to be famous in this era of celebrity obsession, being an icon isn't all it's cracked up to be. Endless interviews, daredevil paparazzi, and being always on show – and that's before you get into the business of making sure you die young by either crashing your car, eating your own body weight in burgers on a daily basis, or shooting your face off with a shotgun.

As far as iconic video game heroes go, though, Mega Man never made it as far as the hall of fame. Maybe it's because he doesn't have the busty figure and elocution of a Lara Croft, nor the raw speed and kinetic wonder of a Sonic The Hedgehog, or perhaps it's the lack of the lucrative trade skills of plumber Mario. Either way, Mega Man's bright blue bionic frame is hardly synonymous with great, world-changing, digital fun.

Maverick Hunter X is the game that could finally make Mega Man truly famous, however. Indeed, it's a title that already should have. For despite its wonderful, contemporary, showboating graphics, this is an update of a Super Nintendo console game that was released over a decade ago.

Now on PSP, Maverick Hunter X has been washed down, repainted and repackaged, while retaining all the elements that made the criminally underplayed original so fantastic all those years ago. It's also of particular significance as arguably the first traditional side-scrolling action game on PSP – a strange fact given the genre's popularity on other consoles.

As platform-based action shooting games go, Maverick Hunter has a pretty decent plot. Reploids – the type of robot helpers that mankind fantasizes about doing its most mundane cleaning and ironing jobs in the near future – have been duped into dissatisfaction by the enlightened Sigma. Mega Man X's job is to quash the revolution, by defeating each ringleader boss residing at the end of each level throughout the world.

As Mega Man, you're certainly equipped for the job. Besides the standard default arm blaster weapon that effortlessly switches between short, sharp staccato fire and more powerful charged shots, one by one you accrue the weapons of each end-of-level baddie, as and when you defeat them. Mega Man can also make The Matrix-style leaps to and from walls, and powerfully augment his bionic suit to incorporate new shots, dash moves and improved armour.

These new abilities are crucial to progression through the game, as you'll often be unable to defeat certain bosses without an appropriate new skill. And because abilities are scattered throughout the levels in capsules dropped by Mega Man's creator Doctor Light, the order in which you tackle the game's stages is key.

Visually, the game combines two-dimensional side-scrolling play with fully rendered 3D graphics: a perfect mix for the PSP's control scheme and capabilities. By not overcomplicating things, the game feels straightforward and precise, and you'll soon be having far more fun than in rival titles that try more impressive but less well-implemented tricks.

That's not to say Maverick Hunter X plays second fiddle graphically to its competitors though – this is actually one of the best-looking PSP titles yet. Thanks to the fast moving gameplay, the gunfire, and firework displays of explosions, you're hauled head first and sucker punched into its world.

Games are often criticised for getting easier in recent times, and the retro gameplay at the heart of Maverick Hunter X does remind us of how hard games used to test the player. This is one difficult title, relying on a sky-high difficulty bar to counter its relative brevity. That said, there are enough bonus features (a new and wholly distinct character to play through with, and a 24-minute anime film) to add value to the package.

If you're up for the challenge, this is one well worth taking on. In narrowing its vision and scope, choosing to hone and polish its straightforward gameplay rather than adding endless mediocre and ill-matched features, it proves a magnificent debut for 2D styled action on the PSP. In short, Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is everything pocket gaming should be.

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X is on sale now.
Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
Reviewer photo
Simon Parkin | 28 March 2006
Simple, straightforward, short, sharp and sexy, if you're looking for a perfectly pitched run-and-gun platformer, jump in: the slaughter's lovely.
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