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New Leader of the X-Hunters?

I want to share the background profile for X-Kai, TruForce Collectibles’ new “original” villain character. As listed on the box, courtesy Comic-Con attendees nice enough to upload images of their figures to YouTube and Instagram:


X-kai-

■ DATA
Leader of the X-Hunters.

Long ago when Dr. Wily stole Mega Man’s blueprint from Dr. Light, a prototype was built. However, with the development of Zero moving forward, this prototype was discarded and forgotten. During the formation of the X-Hunters, the robot was discovered and completed by a mysterious man. Unlike the original blueprint, it was given much higher specs than that of Mega Man X, using state-of-the-art technology.
(At this time, it is assumed there will be no armor evolution as seen in Mega Man X)

■ DESIGNER COMMENTS
This concept came from the episode listed in MEGA MAN X OFFICIAL COMPLETE WORKS – There were originally four characters in the X-Hunters, however, one character had to be cut out due to ROM capacity.
It still amazes me that CAPCOM did not bring out a villain that looks exactly like Mega Man X. His armor crest has also been switched to Sigma.

by KEISUKE MIZUNO


You can find my usual analytical overindulgence in this concept below.

First, for good measure, here was the original press release from TruForce:


TruForce Collectibles is pleased to announce an exclusive figure from the Mega Man X franchise exclusively for New York Comic Con. X-Kai! X-Kai is X’s evil counterpart developed by a mysterious man during the formation of the X-Hunters. He was given much higher specs than that of X and uses state-of-the-art technology. This figure features over 30 points of articulation, die-cast armor on the chest, shins and feet, an LED X-Buster, purple effects parts and a completely unique paint application that is sure to stand out in any display!

MSRP: $89.99


I appreciate the attention to lore that went into this redeco, although the details are contextually as vague as what I’d come to expect. How well does it fit with existing canon? Let’s break it down.

Since X-Kai is introduced as “Leader of the X-Hunters”, let’s start with some background information on them. The X-Hunters, known as the Counter Hunters in the Japanese parlance, are a trio of villains who rise up to take on the mantle of evil in Sigma’s absence post his X1 defeat. Their ranks consist of Agile, the tall, graceful warrior-spy whose skill in battle is second only to Sigma; Violen, a round, dim-witted powerhouse whose raw brute strength makes him a one-man army; and Serges, a hunched and aged-looking mad scientist figure who served as the brains of the group. Sigma assembled these three in the event that his rebellion failed, and tasked them with continuing the fight while also overseeing his eventual resurrection. In the six months since Sigma’s defeat, the X-Hunters were responsible for the assassinations of over a hundred prominent Maverick Hunters, in addition to launching surprise attacks resulting in the destruction of many Maverick Hunter bases throughout the world. They set up factories to build weaponry and robots loyal to Sigma’s cause, and organized the second round of Maverick rebellions seen in X2. There’s also a heavily implied visual theme in the intro of X2 as well as the Central Computer stage that the X-Hunters were studying X’s schematics specifically.

Serges is often labelled the de-facto leader of the X-Hunters. He has strong ties to Zero, said to be the only scientist capable of repairing (much less upgrading) Zero at the time. Serges also expresses curiously intimate knowledge of Dr. Light and X’s past, adding up to a strong suggestive tie to Dr. Wily that Keiji Inafune insisted be kept intentionally mysterious. Serges (particularly as an avatar of Dr. Wily in a robot shell) is the number one candidate for the “mysterious man” who recovered Wily’s old prototype and reconstructed it into X-Kai, and has now seemingly (perhaps temporarily) relinquished the leadership role to.

X-Kai harbors strong similarities to Wily’s other evil Mega Man counterpart, Bass. The two share a black with gold trim color scheme, red eyes with purple markings down their faces, and construction being based on studying and upgrading the plans to “Mega Man”. It’s curious that X-Kai’s bio states “Mega Man’s blueprint” was stolen rather than Mega Man X’s. It had not been previously confirmed that Wily stole X’s blueprints, though it’s generally evident in the course of the X series that Wily must have been aware of X’s existence. Such technological espionage would easily explain why X’s and Zero’s arm cannon upgrades in X1 are largely identical, as well. Perhaps “Mega Man” was a typo in this bio, since the end of the paragraph equates the original blueprint with Mega Man X instead. The original Mega Man’s blueprints should have been available to Wily rather early on thanks to Copy Robot and Quint, and since Bass and the Mega Man Killers were all based around studying its weaknesses and limitations.

When Wily would have stolen the plans is an interesting question as well. Fans have long guessed that Bass could have stolen X’s plans during Mega Man 7, but the only plans confirmed to have been stolen there were for Rock and Rush’s Super Mega Man fusion form. Mega Man & Bass and Mega Man 2 The Power Fighters , and even Mega Man 9 involve stolen Light technology as subplots, but I think the most appropriate place for the theft to take place might be in Mega Man 10. Wily has prolonged access to Light’s lab, we know that both X and Zero are being worked on by that time, and according to the timeline on the old Zero Collection home page, it would be before Light completed X’s antivirus system. Or it can just take place sometime after, really.

Keisuke Mizuno comments that the inspiration for X-Kai’s background came from Yoshihisa Tsuda (formerly Capcom, later Inti Creates), who commented in the R20 artbook that because of the development team’s focus on the CX4 chip, corners had to be cut in the game, including dropping changes to Violen’s second form and cutting a 4th X-Hunter character’s appearance entirely. Of course, X-Kai is not that missing character, who Tsuda mentioned specifically was a female-type and would have been the series’ first female antagonist robot. The timing of the X-Hunters’ formation largely amounts to being a setpiece during X1 or at the very least pre-X2 where making an overclocked copy of X’s standard body would still sort-of make sense.

That time period would also happen to pre-date the creation of the semi-canon evil clone we call iX from the Mega Mission card series. iX and X-Kai actually have quite a bit in common as far as their actual origins are concerned: the Limited organism that gave birth to iX and caused X’s Clear Armor upgrades in the story were conceptualized as a way to create more inexpensive to produce variations on Bandai’s Rockman X figurine and toy lines, just as X-Kai exists primarily for TruForce to get more mileage from their existing X model sculpt.

Mizuno’s assertion in the design notes that Capcom never made an evil X is rather dubious. iX doesn’t look “exactly like” X, though he’s certainly close enough to be recognizably X’s evil doppelganger — and it’s even harder to imagine that Zero series villain Copy X doesn’t fit the bill. How pertinent that X’s clone warriors the Four Guardians were also inspired by Tsuda’s experiences working on X2, having borrowed the basic “Shitennou” concept for their most charismatic bosses, complete with vehicle-related second forms and all. Perhaps we can write that off as more Inti Creates than Capcom, or toss in the questionable nature of whether the characters in the Zero series really look at all the same as their X series counterparts… Yet by that token, X’s Ver.Ke edition hardly looks the same as basic X to begin with, and it’s clear that X-Kai has coloring details that extend farther than mere palette swaps (he’s not just Ver.Ke X equipped with Twin Slasher, for example) so by that regard he doesn’t look exactly like X anyway!

Without delving into further semantics, while I wouldn’t agree that giving X an evil twin is a remotely novel concept at this point, I still find it nice that they bothered to give this particular one a thoughtful backstory, as they could have just as easily just called it a Comic-Con Bass variant X without any exposition at all. It makes me wonder if the “Test-Color X” Kickstarter exclusive variant will also have some little exposition behind it as well. That would be fun.

1 Comment to "New Leader of the X-Hunters?"

  1. Whistle's Gravatar Whistle
    2015/10/13 Tuesday - 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I’d guess his point that Capcom never made an evil X is more on the logic of considering the characters marketing-wise- like how MvC put it (or was it TvC?), Zero not being Mega Man Zero, and all.

    In that sense, Copy X and the Shittenou are irrelevant- they’re copies of X from Mega Man Zero, a “different” character. iX is also irrelevant- he’s made by Bandai (right?).

    Going by those distinctions though, nothing changes here either- X-Kai is made by TruForce, not Capcom, so we may well in 10 years have, I dunno, Kotobukiya making their own, er, “R-X, X’s evil brother created when a rampant old Wily Copy Machine was found! Because Capcom never made an evil copy of Mega Man X!”

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