Mega Man, in all his incarnations, has droves of loyal fans, and many of those fans have followed his exploits through wave after wave of action games. Mega Man X: Command Mission steps a bit outside the blue bomber's usual turf, fitting his latest adventure into the frame of a turn-based role-playing game while matching X (as Mega Man is known in this series) against evildoing mavericks once more. The transition to the more measured pace of a turn-based battle system is handled surprisingly well, and while the game is too short and too simplistic, there's still a good time to be had here for Mega Man X fans.
When troublesome mavericks are about, there's only one robot to call--Zero! Oh, and his friend X.
Things open up with X, his powerful companion Zero, and a maverick hunter named Shadow being dispatched to investigate renegade reploid activity on the island of Gigantis. Things don't go as smoothly as planned, and the company is separated after being beset by a group of powerful foes who serve as officers for the Rebellion Army, an organization that seeks to actualize the full extent of reploid abilities by attacking everyone who doesn't buy into their ideals. X ends up having to scrape together a force to oppose the rebellion, and this provides the justification for putting together a party and then fighting a series of increasingly strong enemies until the threat has been eradicated. The game is organized into 10 chapters, and it emulates the typical Mega Man experience by having you progress through fairly linear stages with boss characters at the end of them.
The fighting is the thing in Mega Man X: Command Mission, as the battle system is the game's best feature. You can field three reploids at a time, and quickly swap in any of your reserve characters with a simple button press without sacrificing a turn. Each character and enemy will have a chance to act based on his or her relative speed, and there is a meter along the bottom of the battle screen that lets you know what the order of the turns will be. This meter also tracks the relative health of enemies and allies using a bar graph, allowing you to see at a glance how your fighting force is doing. The basic suite of attack options consists of your robot's main weapon and any secondary weapons it may have equipped--these secondary weapons being anything from shoulder-mounted missiles to items that let you steal from enemies. The limiting force that you'll have to watch is weapon energy (WE). All characters have it, regenerating a set amount of it per turn, and every attack they make consumes WE according to the strength of the weapon or ability used. If you have enough WE saved up, you can let loose with a character's special attack, called an action trigger.
The game's battle system balances strategy, button mashing, and fun.
Action triggers are abilities specific to X and his friends that will completely empty that character's WE bar when used. Everyone has a different power. For example, Axl has a DNA ability that allows him to take the form of a boss you've fought before and unleash a single attack, and Cinnamon has a healing ability whose strength depends on how fast you're able twirl one of the control sticks. The use of these powers is equal parts skill and gamble, wagering all your accumulated energy on your twitch reflexes and your luck. They're a lot of fun to use, but because of their high cost and uncertain payoff, you'll need to carefully consider when and where to attempt to employ them.
But wait, there's more--every character also has an alternate form when he or she goes into hyper mode. Hyper mode dramatically boosts all stats for a limited number of turns, and it is most useful against the game's large and powerful bosses, letting you inflict and absorb big chunks of damage. While it would be easy to let such an ability be cheap and overpowered, Capcom has included a turn limit for their use, and the power of the bosses you'll face balances the hyper mode well. What does feel a little overpowered is the "final strike" ability, which is triggered when you've emptied a certain percentage of an enemy's health during one turn. Final strike lets all onscreen allies attack at once with a huge barrage of firepower, polishing that last bit of enemy health off in an assault that's as satisfying as it is gratuitous.