Nothing says retro platforming like the Mega Man games. With Mega Man Legacy Collections 1 + 2 on the switch, and the Mega Man X Legacy Collections coming real soon, I decided to look back on a somewhat forgotten Mega Man series: Mega Man Zero.
This series is composed of four games originally on the Game Boy Advance, each starring the Zero character first introduced in the Mega Man X games. In general, he plays more like he did in some of the X games, favoring his sword, the Z-saber. That being said, these games do have some unique features not seen anywhere else in the Mega Man games. I will go over and rate each game individually, then give the collection an average grade at the end. There will be some spoilers, as the games feature some continuity concerning the plot.
Mega Man Zero:
The setup for this game is that a group of rebelling reploids, (human-like robots) are wrongly branded as mavericks (which are the game’s name for rogue reploids) by the Utopian country of Neo Arcadia, which is led by X. They seek to awaken the legendary Zero to help save them. From there, Zero is controlled by the player to assist the rebels cause.
Zero starts with the buster weapon, but quickly gains his signature Z-saber in the first boss fight. The first thing any player should do once they start the game is set up the control scheme to their liking. Most notably, how they want to use their sub-weapon. I found that using one of the shoulder buttons to toggle which one is active on the B button was the easiest for all four games. In Mega Man Zero, you will find that each of Zero’s weapons can be upgraded by using them enough. This allows for more techniques, and stronger charge attacks.
There happen to be two more weapons other than the buster and saber. The triple rod can attack in 8 different directions, and the shield boomerang can reflect enemy projectiles, and when charged, can be thrown like a boomerang. Most of the time, however, the z-saber will be used due to its greater strength and wider range. Since there are no boss weapons, one could say these games don’t feel like Mega Man games.
When you do defeat certain bosses, you can get an elemental chip. This chip powers up charged attacks with an element. This system is a little weird though, as fire beats ice, ice beats electricity, and electricity beats fire. I have never heard of a lightning bolt extinguishing a fire, but the developers went with this anyway. You can defeat bosses very quickly with their weaknesses, so bosses will have way more health than in previous Mega Man games.
Then there is the cyber-elf system. These are collectibles that can give some sort of bonus to Zero. Some can heal Zero, some increase the length of his health meter, others give bonuses to speed or defense, while others still can hinder enemies. Each one is single use, though some of the weaker ones have multiple similar effects. The stronger ones require you to feed the elves energy crystals before you can use them. The best ones require a lot, but are worth it to make the game easier.
Next, let’s look at a feature that is persistent in all four of these games: the performance ranking system. After every mission, the player is graded based on their performance. This is based on if you complete the mission, how quickly you beat it, how much damage you take, how much you damage each enemy, if you use a continue, if you found all the cyber elves in this mission, and if you used any cyber-elves at any point in the entire game up to this point. If you use a cyber-elf, you get a grade penalty! That is right, the game punishes the player for using one if its features.
Luckily, your grade doesn’t mean much beyond bragging rights, so don’t worry too much about beating the game without the perfect grade of S. (There is a rare cyber-elf for doing so, though). Additionally, you can choose to fail a mission if you run out of continues, but that means you won’t be rewarded for finishing the mission. Continues are not refilled after losing all of them, so the game can be unforgiving in concerns to giving the player enough retries.
There are also some level structure issues, as there are some points where the player can’t see where they need to jump to. These are infrequent, but annoying. This game is still a good way to get your challenging platformer fix, and can be neat to explore its many collectibles.
The score for Mega Man Zero is:
7.9/10 Almost great
Go to page 2 for Mega Man Zero 2