Interview: CORE Games Talks Mega Man X

I previously brought word of a special Let's Play project from the people at CORE Games that would run almost the entire gamut of Mega Man X titles (minus Command Mission) on Christmas Day. Since then, Erik Bergdahl reached out to me and offered to talk a little more about what will make this endeavor unique and how they're approaching it, among other things.

TMMN: There have been numerous Let's Plays with the Mega Man series (X and otherwise) over the years. What makes this one different?

Erik: As far as I've seen, we'll be one of the first to run through every game in the series, let alone in one big non-stop block. I won't claim to be the fastest or best X player out there, but I like to think I'm one of the most passionate, and one of the more knowledgeable ones, and I'm hoping that that interest shines through in comparison to common speed run videos and whatnot. Plus, we tried to add in a bunch of extra "features" to help make us stand out, such as having what we're calling the "Maverick version" and "Hunter version".

The Maverick videos are our originals, and are focused more on humor, silly headcanon, visual edits, and other such things. The Hunter videos are much newer (we only recently started recording those, with all our past experience under our belts), and are set up to be less manic and more informative, without becoming fully boring. Those episodes are accompanied by things like the [Mega Man X] Official Complete Works books and old instruction manuals to give lots of side details when applicable, which I had a lot of fun with. I'll go into some of the other unique features shortly.

"KA-ME-HA-ME... wait, line?"

What inspired you to run through these particular games?

The original Mega Man X was one of my first video games, and is my favorite game of all time. It's what inspired me originally to get involved with the game industry, and it's why I'm designing my own games. I can't make my own love-letter style game to show my love of the series (yet), so I figured a full passionate video series would be the next best thing!

X doesn't do what Donny Don't does, and gets nine more games to his name.

Your trailer notes "remastered SNES dialogue"? Remastered in what way, and why only the Super NES?

We had originally recorded X1-X3 in a lower framerate, and some of the text presentation suffered from scanlines, along with accidental skips and other issues, which was the main inspiration to fix things up. There were also other inconsistent things with the older games that sorta bugged us, which we had the opportunity to fix up at the same time. For example, in one level, Zero's dialog is written in red font. Then his next appearance, it's blue. Then later on, it's red again. It was just one of those "why would you do this?" moments.

As for it only being applied to the SNES games, originally we had fully intended to remaster every game in a similar way. But the series had been taking too long to release already, and games like X6 and X8, with constant book-length cutscenes just had so much more text to work with compared to the older ones that we just had to scrap trying to do that. The same issues we worked around in the SNES games aren't as prevalent later on (though some rocky translation is), so we don't feel too bad about not being able to go all out like we wanted to at first.

X beefs up to achieve the "full Gundam" look.

Could you tell us more about the "X-Time data system"?

Haha, that's such a fancy term for it. X-Time has always been the name (you can see it in the visual borders applied in the trailer), but the "Data System" title was just me trying to fill trailer text with cool sounding stuff.

Anyway, X-Times are basically on-the-fly corrections or additions. They'll only appear in the Maverick version episodes, which all had dialog recorded during playing, before I learned a specific thing or forgot to do a specific thing I wanted to show off. So we have these X-Time segments cut in (sorta "cross" in, if you will) with new footage to correct whatever issue there was previously. The example in the trailer is about the Magna Centipede fight, and the cool things he can do if you don't remove his tail. I knocked his tail off both times, even though during the rematch I wanted to intentionally show it off, so we re-recorded the fight and inserted it as an informative X-Time. This is something we'll be doing in other LPs in the future if needed, under the same name.

Bee Bladers... my god.

Spikes are supposed to go on your feet in icy weather, X, not your hands!

It doesn't take long before the series starts providing divergent paths, with the options of fighting or not fighting Zero in Mega Man X2. Will you be examining all available routes during your playthrough?

We won't be examining every path in the series, but we do talk about some other path related things. My goal was to get all the good endings and whatnot; so in your X2 example, we rescue Zero. This didn't go perfectly, mostly because our Maverick version run of X5 throwing us for a loop, but for the most part, the Maverick version is golden this way. We'll be making sure the Hunter version exclusively follows the proper good ending path for each game.

"Mavericks are a cowardly and superstitious lot. To strike fear in their hearts, I'll become... a big ball of electricity!"

All Hoganmer wanted was someone to play "catch" with.

How will you be approaching Mega Man X4, with its two parallel stories? i.e. who are you going with, and why?

This is a Mega Man X collection, so we won't be playing any characters other than X, with the exception of character swapping when needed in X7 and X8, and doing a certain thing with Zero in X3. Past that though, there's no plans to include any Zero or Axl story in the series.

RT-55J gets caught smoking on the job, and is about to be terminated.

The one Mega Man X game not included -- besides Maverick Hunter X, which is a remake of the original anyway -- is Command Mission. Was it simply too long for the marathon, or was there another reason for its exclusion?

So there's a few reasons. The length is definitely one; [role playing games] are difficult to LP in an entertaining way, and even shortened down it would bump up the event size by an unreasonable amount for one additional game. Also, I don't consider Command Mission as a part of the main X timeline. I base things around the original set, X1-X5 (and I suppose by extension Xtreme 1 and 2, despite release dates), then consider X6, X7, and X8 as the "extended" timeline, which were all basically retcons to the original ending.

The thing with the X extended games, in my personal opinion, is they're all designed to fit in with the running timeline of events leading to the Elf Wars and, ultimately, the [Mega Man] Zero series. Command Mission messes with the overall dates provided, and doesn't really do anything to include itself, so even though I enjoyed the game, I tend to not include it in the actual timeline. It just sorta exists on it's own in my eyes.

Insert your favorite Mr. Freeze pun here.

Are there any plans to do a separate Command Mission Let's Play?

Yeah, we're considering it! The trick will be to figure out a way to actually do it. Nobody is going to want to watch real-time grinding, so we'll plan around shortening it up and only showing the meat of the game. Probably just showing first enemy encounters or other major things.

Figures Wily(?) would only think of a trap like this after he was dead.

With the Mega Man X series wrapped, what's next? Are you looking at doing another game franchise, or another Mega Man series?

Hoo man. Well first of all, what's immediately next is rest. Haha. We're admittedly drained from this project, so currently we're shifting our focus back to making games rather than LPing them. But there are plenty of other games I want to tackle. As far as Mega Man goes, I really want to do a Mega Man Legends set. And if the Wii U eShop ends up getting them on their [Nintendo] DS list, [Mega Man] ZX and ZX Advent would be a lot of fun as well.

As far as other game franchises, I really want to do Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and The Wonderful 101 (two of my other all time favorite games). Plenty of others, but those are the two big ones I'd choose above any others.

There'll be a little more info in the primer video (coming soon), so go ahead and give that a watch. Otherwise, I hope you all enjoy the event as much as we enjoyed making it!

-----

Inspired by the likes of JonTron and Peanutbutter Gamer, Erik and his friend Mith (along with a few other pals) put aside their game design and theory work to do Let's Plays and will be running through the bulk of the Mega Man X series in "Mega Man X: The Complete Let's Play Collection" on their YouTube Channel beginning Christmas Day.