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Thoughts ZX, As Promised

Posted by Lab Member 0579 , May 19 2017 · 36 views

I caved and bought a new copy of Megaman ZX off Amazon. And it was actually new! It was in a case, and even wrapped in plastic. Rad. Anyway I’ve completed Easy Mode with Aile and most of Normal Mode with Vent so this seems like a good time to say stuff I guess.

My memories of the first time I played this are a little fuzzy, but I do think I’m benefitting now that I actually know who all the Biometals are based on. ZX as a whole is a neat progression from the Zero series—it capitalizes on Zero 4’s proposition of humans and Reploids setting aside their differences by showing a future where the races have grown close enough that you can hardly tell which characters are which species. It feels a good bit lighter too. There are serious threats and some fairly precarious situations, but the locations and people tend to seem a little more optimistic, so even if trouble is starting to brew again it still feels like the world has really developed a lot during the interim. I really like that.

And of course, this game is noteworthy for giving us a choice of protagonist! Differences between the two are typically pretty minimal (crawling speed, knockback), though there are a few that stick out more than others. In Aile’s story, Zero lookalike Giro says he’s already a member of the organization you end up working with, meanwhile in Vent’s story he doesn’t say anything of the sort. Plus, I noticed two or three very vague references to ZX Advent’s villain that only occur in Aile’s story. Basically Aile’s story is better. And when Vent beat Prometheus the first time, I got a scene that focused a little more on Prairie’s origins and essentially confirmed she’s…well, spoilers. So there is some value in replaying with both protagonists, especially with a certain bonus you get after clearing the game with both, but you don’t really have to if you don’t want to. Anyway, while Aile isn’t the first playable female character in the franchise (I only discovered this recently), this is the first time we’ve been given the option of a female character who actually drives the story forward and is treated on equal terms as the male option rather than being an unlockable bonus. Put more succinctly, she’s the first female Mega Man, which is still a huge deal. (And yeah, “Mega Man” is a gender neutral term here, more on that later.) This, plus a few of the characters introduced in Advent, make this series seem like it’s trying to break the gender stereotypes of the franchise, and now that I know this is important I’m even sadder it was cancelled. Aile’s great. We need another round of Aile.

Right, so, “Mega Man”. It’s actually a term/title in this series, referring to anyone who can utilize Biometal, with this game showcasing three at a time (the protagonist, Giro, and the villain...well, five if you count Prometheus and Pandora, but anyway). There are even more in Advent. I feel like this gives it a slight meta quality, since now we have characters fighting each other to determine the best Mega Man and we’re sort of asked to decide what we want that term to mean. Even before this you probably could have had a debate on that subject: while some of the series just have a character named Mega Man, that isn’t always the case. X’s name is X, but you’ll never hear anyone not call him a Mega Man. Since Megaman Zero is a thing, can we call Zero a Mega Man? And while MegaMan Volnutt is named MegaMan, the presence of MegaMan Juno in Legends implies there’s more to it than that. (Too bad we’ll never know for sure!) So having ZX begin to play with that is neat, I think. And I like the fun with acronyms in the Biometals’ M.E.G.A. System (Meta Encapsulated Granule Awareness)…though I have to say the Japanese version is even more fun. Since Mega Man is Rock Man in Japan, they get R.O.C.K (Rebirth of Crystallized Knowledge), and rather than shout “Megamerge” when they transform, they actually, honestly activate their powers by holding up their Biometal and shouting “R.O.C.K. On!” You can’t beat that. That’s just incredible.

And I’ve always loved the concept of Biometal. It’s a great way to bring back familiar heroes without technically reviving them or bogging down newcomers with needing all this backstory, and you end up with a good variety of abilities to play around with as you wander aimlessly around the map looking for the area you need to get to next. ZXA does give you a lot more forms to choose from, but while that’s fun they can be redundant or overspecialized, so you could argue ZX’s smaller selection is a bit better rounded.

Anyway, that’s an overview of my thoughts on ZX. I don’t want this to be too long so I’ll leave it there. Now I need to justify buying a new copy of ZXA so I can give more coherent thoughts on the series and its place in the timeline.

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