Making the Grades
Achieve world peace and save the planet -- before the batteries die. At least that's the general idea behind Capcom's Megaman Xtreme, the latest Game Boy title to race up the sales charts.
One Saturday morning sometime in the 22nd century, humans and their mechanical creations called "reploids" are sharing neighborhoods and lining up for oil changes. All is well in the world, until a grimy little hacker breaks into the reploids main computer, programming them to engage in anti-social behavior... like shooting things for instance.
"With the world gripped in chaos and confusion as a result of this dangerous attack" (to quote the dramatic lines from the instruction booklet), all humanity rests on Mega Man X, the only human willing to take on the task of discovering who's responsible for the dreaded deed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your Game Boys.
Typical of titles made for the micro Nintendo, Megaman Xtreme is a scroll-across-the-screen 2D game, where your character avoids or blasts items that come into your path.
At the beginning, you are supplied with a gun that contains an unlimited supply of light bursts that act like electrical charges when they reach the enemy. If you win enough battles, including beating the "boss" character in each level, you'll be able to add a significant number of advanced weapons to your armory.
Selecting from an ice firing shotgun, a tornado launcher, a fireball blaster, or an even better electric rifle, you are easily able to handle most of the little annoyances in Megaman's life. The only drawback to these super artilleries is their limited capacity, requiring you to be on the lookout for weapon boosters to increase your energy.
There are also armor and other "power up" options to make you even more mega, because brushing against obstacles or foes decreases your energy slightly. Should your energy level reach zero, you lose a character--of which you only have three to begin with. No characters left equals game over.
Obviously this game and its premise of battling various mutant mechanical beasts is hardly an original idea. While the challenges of avoiding gaping crevasses and other hazards on a path leading through a variety of scenic situations did make for engaging game play, there is little opportunity to avoid fighting. Fortunately, the limitations of the Game Boy display ensure the graphics are anything but explicit. If they could only come up with a similar scenario that provided positive challenges, they could have a mega Game Boy winner.