I decided to pick up Megaman Zero Collection on a whim. My knowledge of the Megaman franchise is mostly limited to the series that came out in my youth (Battle Network, Star Force, and ZX), and every now and then I feel I should really try to expand that, and an entire four game series for $20 seemed like a good way to put a dent in that backlog.
glad they put in an option for playing straight through the entire series on Easy mode. Even with that, I struggled a fair amount, so I’d hate to see how badly I’d do if I had to actually be good
at the game to progress! Since I played ZX and ZXA the basics came back to me pretty quickly, though the X and Y buttons can’t be used…I guess these were originally GBA games, but still, weird. In any event I’ve made it to the end of Zero 4 and figured I’d try to type up some thoughts on it because why not. And hey, this contains unmarked spoilers
Since I already knew some spoilers going in, evaluating the plot fairly is a bit tricky, but man oh man, this has got to be the Darkest and Edgiest Mega Man of them all. Not to say that’s bad—I think they pulled that atmosphere off pretty well, actually. The first game felt a little…well, ‘empty’ might be too harsh, but I felt like they could have done more. The fact that Neo Arcadia is ruled by X feels like it’s just thrown out for shock value and not fully capitalized on, though there’s potential for some great angst there that would have made us all the more relieved to find out it’s actually Copy X. Plus it felt like Zero didn’t speak a whole lot throughout the game, so I wasn’t sure how to feel about him. Similarly, I didn’t have any particularly strong opinions on the Four Guardians at this point, aside from “Why are they called the Four Guardians if you’re going to permanently kill off Phantom in the first game?” Anywho.
I started to really enjoy things when I got to Zero 2. Gameplay-wise, I was still terrible so I never got any of those neat-sounding EX Skills, but the Chain Rod was pretty fun even if I never mastered it. (You could just hang from the ceiling and swing back and forth endlessly. Extra fun when you’re doing this right behind Ciel when she’s trying to work.) Elpizo’s arc felt better-paced than the first game’s plot, and Harpuia started to show signs of being a more interesting character, so I’d say it was more engaging on that level. Plus it started to really focus on the lore of what happened between the X series and this one. Who doesn’t love lore? And since it ends with a touch of that and the mention of a mysterious evil scientist, it feels very well-connected to Zero 3, which I also enjoyed. That one delved even deeper into the lore, gave us an abominable arc villain, and gave Harpuia great development. (Poor Fefnir and Leviathin were left in the dust, unfortunately…but they’ve grown on me at least a little.) I already knew about The Twist that is Omega, but I think it was presented pretty well, and even foreshadowed! Plus that was a neat progression of forms during the final battles. And 3’s Easy Mode is even easier thanks to auto-charging weapons—I was even able to snag one EX Skill! 2 and 3 definitely make a good plot together, by that point I was definitely glad I’d bought the Collection.
So, that just leaves Zero 4, which feels…a little different. Not bad, just…different. The absence of the Guardians, Mother/Dark Elf, and even Cyber-elf X probably contributes to that. I was worried at first—Easy Mode starts you off with all the modification chips, so you aren’t exactly weak, but you still have a pitiful
amount of health. But after clearing the first mission and getting the new Cyber-elf, I realized this was the easiest by far. Easy Mode lets you apply all of the Elf powers at once with no penalty, rendering you a nearly-invincible force of nature who probably doesn’t even need to attack because the Elf is constantly obliterating enemies for you. Plus you can get EX Skills even when you’re terrible now! Absolute power!!
Er, anyway, while it did seem a half-step out of the series’ norm, I do like 4’s plot: it tackles the tensions between Humans and Reploids and has them learn to start moving towards putting an end to that, which seems like a great goalpoint for everything that’s happened from Mega Man X til now. (It sets up ZX, too. Like, I really want to replay ZX now that I actually know the backstory. If only I hadn’t sold it…) I think it ended up being a pretty good way to end an edgy series on a rather optimistic note, if not totally
happy since, y’know, Zero dies yet again. Also nice to see Wiel get what was coming to him. His plan this time around, while certainly horrific, does feel a little less original than 3’s “control all the Reploids in the world” scheme, but I guess that contributes to the feeling that he’s been backed into a corner at last.
All in all, I enjoyed the Zero series. I’m probably not qualified to say much about the gameplay, but as for story: while the first game felt a little lacking, 2 and 3 definitely made up for it. 4 felt different but made that work to its advantage rather well. I’m glad I checked it out!
Now I guess I’ll go back to watching people play the Mega Man X series, since those haven’t
been collected into one Easy Mode package…yet.