The thing is, Maverick Hunter is as state of the art as a side scroller can get. From the moment the UMD disk boots up, you're privy to some nice-looking anime which sets the story: Robots and humans work together in the future. But some robots have become criminals because there's irregularity "in their central processing core." In other words, some of these robots have gone nuts. Mega Man X is like a super cop: think one-man SWAT team on steroids drinking Red Bull.

Once you get beyond the anime, the graphics become a mix of classic 2D characters combined with lush 3D backgrounds. These backgrounds can be stunning at times. The city environments, full of traffic and chaos, look like a computer game update of the classic 1927 silent film by Fritz Lang, Metropolis

Even as I played the first level, I found the game challenging—and that was in normal mode. Once I got to the boss fights, the challenge was occasionally maddening, perfect for the game geek inside that vows, "I will win at any cost." After finishing the first stage, you can choose from eight different environments in which to fight robots, and, ultimately, the big, nasty bosses. Along the way, you'll acquire lots of weapons and abilities, like fast feet with which to dash around quickly. You'll also have to figure out which weapon kills which boss.

Rabble rousing in Curious George
image: courtesy of Namco
Rabble rousing in Curious George


Curious George
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Monkey Bar (Torus, GameBoy Advance)
For: GameCube, Xbox, PS2, GameBoy Advance, PC

Tamagotchi Connection Corner Shop
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nana On Sha
For: Nintendo DS

You'll be playing levels over and over to eliminate bosses like Chill Penguin (who fires shotgun ice) and Vile (the cuckoo robot with the problem in his central processing core. In fact, once you complete the game, you'll have the opportunity to play the game again, this time as Vile).  You also be able to watch all the cut scenes in the game at once—over a half hour of anime.  And you'll be able to play a demo of the next Mega Man for the PSP, Mega Man: Powered Up.

Maverick Hunter proves that classic games can still be compelling games. They're part of essential gaming history and they should be embraced and enjoyed just as the latest Resident Evil 4 is treasured and talked about.  Maybe I sound like some haughty professor here, but it's true . . . right down to the last repeated cracks of gunfire.

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