Alright, what is this? No, seriously, what IS this?! I introduce you to a game called "Luo Ke Ying Xiong EXE5". I have no idea what that means, but I can tell from the title screen alone that this is an unlicensed game centered around Zero from the Mega Man X series. Made by a Chinese developer called Sintax, this one actually steers away from the solidified platformer roots of Mega Man in favour of a more Metroidvania-like excursion. I'll give them a bit of credit: having a Mega Man game in the Castlevania style actually sounds rather pleasant and enjoyable. Maybe Capcom should lend a quick glance to this Luo Ke... er, "Leukoplakia Thong EXE5" or whatever it's called.
After what may be the most ominously depressing title screen music ever to grace a product related to the Mega Man franchise (officially or otherwise), we get a brief scrolling storyline set in the year A.D. 2XXX written in a language I don't understand (Mandarin or Cantonese, take your pick — it's all foreign to me). Without warning, we're thrown right into the action. Though that's clearly a knockoff of Zero on the title screen, I can't describe the actual sprite we get for our hero. That's definitely not Zero. And it's not Mega Man X. It's orange and black, for one thing. It resembles a Maverick, perhaps, if there was very little effort put into its design. If I look closely, I think it has a pompadour, too!
Our hero, Luke Sexy-Fife, sets out on a journey near what appears to be a mine overrun with crusty robotic baddies. You can see the city skyline in the background, however, leading me to believe that this is actually set in futuristic Montpelier, Vermont. It's a very bland and uninteresting area, scattered with little debris aside from the occasional rock that resembles a warped knight's helmet. Snapping plants and hopping red mechanical gloves seem to wish you ill will, and Luke realizes it's best to move on. In the next area, it's now a construction site, and you wonder where the heck you are, or if it even matters.
The game is one giant interconnected overworld. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a separation between areas where it's relatively safe to travel and ones containing enemies that will tear you apart like militant armadillos on a Tuesday. According to the semi-cryptic menu screen, you can raise your overall level, similar to an RPG, so I imagine you could get stronger. Most enemies take way too many hits for very little reward. There was also room for special weapons on that menu. Money is there, too, and I did manage to stumble upon a passing merchant. But enemies weren't really dropping gold, and I couldn't afford anything except his twisted sneer of contempt from cheap bots like myself. The journey will be rough, and frankly, it's not worth it.
EXE5 has other issues that grate on my nerves like Gruyère. Luke jumps like he sat on a cactus unexpectedly. Not that anyone sits on one with purpose, mind you. As well, for some reason, the hit boxes on enemies have been horribly misplaced: they are actually to one side of the enemy (typically the right-hand side), rather than directly over them, making battles quite the arduous ordeal if you're on the left. Ah, to be a youthful programmer, steadily tapping away on his or her little computer in the cold roughage of the unsanitary basement, laughing all the way to the bank. The Bank of Making Very Little Money For A Terrible Video Game. It's a long name for a bank.
Somehow this is part of the unlicensed "Zook Hero" series, also by Sintax. If they are as bad as this game is, then Sintax should be scorned from afar. Heck, I will scorn Sintax for this one alone. Curse you, Sintaaaaaaaaa—
—aaaaaaaaax! And the horse you rode in on!
Enjoy some screenshots from my brief entrance into the least fun Mega Man X-based game I've ever played: