|Title||:||Mega Man Zero|
|Platforms||:||Game Boy Advance|
|Review by||:||Dain Neater|
In the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, one of the best and toughest game series was Mega Man from Capcom. One might think that, after years and years, this series might have grown stale, but nothing could be further from the truth.
This time around, the player take on the role of a resurrected reploid named Zero brought back to life to save the rest of his kind from a government run amuck. While the story is standard video game fare, the game play is tight, polished, and outshines any deficiencies in the storyline.
Mega Man veterans will immediately notice that the standard area select screen is gone. It has been replaced by a side scrolling area where you speak with various characters in much the same way that you would in a console RPG. It's a great touch. It seemed at first that the non-linear nature of the Mega Man series was gone, but after finishing the first couple of levels, you get to choose one of several missions; depending on the success or failure of your previous missions, your new ones may change.
To go with the new RPG elements, advancement is now an important part of the Mega Man series. You don't, however, level up your character, but each weapon that you wield will gain abilities the more you use them. For instance, your initial Buster shot will progress from a weapon that fires only three shots at a time to one that can fire four times, and even have different levels of charging so that you can fire a more intense blast. The Z-saber and other weapons are also found along the way and can be powered up similarly. It's a welcome feature that adds more depth to the game. Another new RPG element Capcom added to the mix, are Cyber Elves. The name is misleading as they are actually programs that, when found, can be downloaded and used in battle to aid with powers of healing, climbing, and various other skills.
You can tell that the artists at Capcom weren't slouching; they should be quite proud of the work they have done. The character sprites are well drawn and the animation is top notch. Some of the special effects in boss battles reminded me of times when playing the Super Nintendo, when a clever developer would employ some nifty scaling tricks and leave you stunned. Sonically, Mega Man Zero holds it's own with most of the Game Boy Advance titles out there. The tunes are catchy, and fit perfectly into the mix.
If I had to name one flaw in this title, it would have to be the difficultly level. The levels are really well done and balanced, but the end of stage bosses are too tough for the casual gamer, who will find it difficult to get very far in this game. Experienced gamers will welcome the challenge, but it would be nice to have a difficultly setting to ease the burden for others. To be fair, the back of the box does say "The most challenging Mega Man game yet!"
Capcom has done it again, and has created yet another Mega Man game worth owning. While the years have worn the shine off many franchises, Mega Man, like Mario, keeps fighting back the forces of darkness.
This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Gamebits, 17-Nov-02