Part 8: Simon talks about MSP's stageMan, I had completely forgotten the last stage of the previous video. Whoops.
Metal Shark Player
I actually don't hate this level. Compared to much of the rest of X6, it's an incredible breath of fresh air in having a stupid idea at its base, but not fucking it up beyond repair. Trash compactors aren't really my favourite and I loathe Dust Man's level (as much as you can in a game that's as...inoffensive as MM4 is, unless we're talking about the GB version which can fuck right off), but MSP, while hard, stays fair and avoids making you wait for ages and requiring you to do stupid busywork cleaning up shit most of the time. The ride armor block is a nice touch and a good idea, making getting through this too-long-for-its-own-good level a little more bearable by shortening the first part.
Due to the nature of the level, they couldn't just be putting enemies wherever and call it a day, everything here needed to be tightly designed and playtested to avoid getting the player completely stuck. So the placement, while downright evil at points, is surprisingly effective and clever. With the sole exception of the Nightmares, which are the worst enemy design ever and the poorest fit into a stage the requires you to wait around. In cramped spaces, the go-through-walls-because-fuck-you bullets of them will probably hit you. Them trailing your ass will certainly hit you, and the saber is hilariously inadequate for dealing with them. Watching a Nightmare slowly floating over to a Reploid to infest him while you can do jackshit is the worst. Followed closely by watching it respawn because you just can't get the soul in time. They have far too much health; the one in the way during the last mad dash before the portal (why is there a Nightmare portal to continue on normally?) is an incredbly shitty placement for a level that was doing so well, and just because they have too much health. Even more on that later on.
The part beyond the portal doesn't hold up that well. Its (zero!) checkpoints are stupidly cruel; believe me, I've spent upwards of an hour in this part. Just a single one in the middle would have made it bearable, but that ONE JUMP (at 19:25) is just too much, and dying there means five more minutes of tedium. I also feel that putting spikes on the bottom of crushers is admitting defeat; they ran out of ideas, so they made a one-hit-kill obstacle one-hit-double-kill? Shit makes no sense whatsoever. Even the "then you have to stay ducked at points" argument holds no ground, because standing up when you can't will get you killed. Death by letting go of the down arrow. Lovely. X6 is a game that wasn't coded very well. In fucking Super Mario Brothers, Mario would stay ducked when he couldn't conceivably stand up. It's even worse because getting hit will un-duck you immediately, making being forced to duck with a Nightmare around little less than a death sentence. Ducking is a balls-stupid thing to put into a Mega Man game and then actually design obstacles around. I'm so glad Zero doesn't have ducking.
So, that one jump before the miniboss. Looks insane? Imagine doing it without an airdash (and MSP isn't TOO hard to do with unarmored X up to that point). Even more fun? I believe that with the Jumper and/or Hyper Dash parts equipped (which I make a point of getting early because they're fun), it's borderline impossible because you fly too high for the cramped space. Oh, and it's one of like two points in the level where Blizzard Wolfang's Nightmare Effect will add ice on the floor. Triple-super joy. What a bastard of a jump, probably the hardest in the game, and it has quite a few bullshit jumps. The miniboss afterwards is a relief, nothing overly stupid there, except for the duck/crush issue.
In conclusion, if MSP's level were in any game but X6, it'd be pretty good. However, many things exclusive to X6 hamper it. Just to reiterate all the points made above, Nightmares are the worst fucking thing and MSP shows almost every single problem with them off beautifully. You can see all those issues in Eph's video because they will always crop up. Next point, both Nightmare effects make the level more of a pain without being at all clever about it. The duck things shows how poorly coded X6 is, that wouldn't have happened in a game just a little bit better. And don't get me started on the secondary area (we're going to see that one soon enough).
To top it off on a higher note, Metal Shark Player hasn't only got a ridiculously awesome name, he's also got the design to back it up. His background paints him as over-the-top evil, but that's totally in line for the MMX universe. And it - lo and behold - makes sense! He's digging for Reploid remains in the Disposal Center, making forbidden clones or something using their DNA, and he has an actual move to call back to that! That's a tight and consistent design. Oh, and the fight is damn fun. Fast-paced action without any stupid gimmicks, he's hidden in the floor for a very short time for example, and he's got the health bar to back it up. Among the best fights in the game, if not the best.