Mega Man X4, originally released in Japan as Rockman X4 (ロックマンX4), is a video game developed by Capcom. It is the fourth game in the Mega Man X series and the second game in the series to be released on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. The two versions were released simultaneously in Japan in 1997. A North America release followed sometime thereafter, while Europe received only the PlayStation version in 1997.
Taking place in the 22nd century, the Mega Man X series is set in a society populated by humans and intelligent robots called “Reploids”. A military taskforce called the “Maverick Hunters” is implemented to suppress the uprising of “Mavericks”, Reploids that begin to exhibit dangerous and destructive behavior. Mega Man X4 follows two such hunters, Mega Man X and Zero, as they become involved in a conflict between the Hunters and a Reploid army called the “Repliforce”. Mega Man X4 is an action-platform game in the same vein as other installments in the series. The player completes a set of eight stages in any order while fighting enemies, gaining power-ups, and winning the special weapon of each stage’s boss. Unlike previous games in the series, Mega Man X4 allows the player to choose between the two protagonists at the beginning of the game: X, who uses traditional, long-range attacks; or Zero, who wields a short-range sword.
The gameplay in Mega Man X4 is similar to the previous installments of the Mega Man X series. The player is presented with a series of action-platforming stages that can be cleared in any order desired. In these stages, the player must avoid obstacles like falling debris and spikes, and destroy enemy robots to reach the end of the stages. The player character retains the capabilities from previous entries in the Mega Man X series like dashing and scaling walls. Some levels contain ridable vehicles such as hover bikes and armored-mecha. Each of the eight initial stages contains one Maverick boss, and defeating this boss gives the player a new ability. Every boss is weak to a particular ability, adding an element of strategy to the order in which the player completes the stages.
New to Mega Man X4 is the ability to play through the game either as X or Zero fully, (while Zero was playable in Mega Man X3, he acted only as a backup for X). The two characters cannot be switched during a playthrough. Though both of them go through the same stages, they operate differently and are challenged differently from the terrain. X wields the “X-Buster”, a plasma cannon on his arm that he uses to attack foes from a distance. It can be charged to fire stronger shots. A new weapon is given to the player with each boss defeated while playing as X. These weapons have limited ammunition, displayed by a meter next to one’s health, both of which can be refilled by picking up power-ups dropped by destroyed enemies. In some stages, the player can find hidden capsules that contain armor upgrades that greatly enhance X’s capabilities. Zero is more melee-oriented than X by using a “Z-Saber” sword. The Z-Saber’s power and accuracy compensate for its lack of range; this offers the player a different form of challenge against bosses. Rather than acquiring weapons from the bosses (with the exception of his Giga Attack), Zero learns special techniques such as the “Hienkyaku” air-dash and “Kuuenbu” double-jump. However, Zero cannot upgrade any of his body parts in this game.
The player character’s maximum health can be extended by obtaining a “Heart Tank” in each of the eight stages. Two “Sub Tanks” can also be found, which can be filled with life energy and then be used to replenish the player’s health at any time. Two new Tanks have been added: a “Weapon Tank (W-Tank)”, which fills up special weapons; and an “EX Tank”, which increases the character’s default lives from two to four whenever the player continues from a save point.