Mega Man ZX Advent (DS) review
"Most people stopped liking Megaman at X3. There was X4, which was painfully mediocre. X5 - X9, all of which were horrid abortions of games. There was the Megaman Zero series on the Gameboy Advance, all of which were either unplayably difficult or the same boss fight rehashed a billion times. There was Command Mission, which was mediocre at best. There was the Battle Network series, of which the first one was decent (if repetitive) and the rest were rehashed. There were Legends and Legends 2, whi..."
Most people stopped liking Megaman at X3. There was X4, which was painfully mediocre. X5 - X9, all of which were horrid abortions of games. There was the Megaman Zero series on the Gameboy Advance, all of which were either unplayably difficult or the same boss fight rehashed a billion times. There was Command Mission, which was mediocre at best. There was the Battle Network series, of which the first one was decent (if repetitive) and the rest were rehashed. There were Legends and Legends 2, which were about the only post-X3 Megaman games that were worth playing.
Then the DS came out, and there was Megaman ZX. This was something new, but still a painful rehash of the later Megaman X games. And now, there is Megaman ZX Advent. Most people would expect it to be another painful experience on the road to finding another good Megaman game. Unfortunately, ZX Advent only promises more of the same game that ZX offered, and yet manages to go the road of Castlevania, turning Megaman into Metroidman.
ZX Advent follows one of two robotic children, Grey and Ashe. Each one has a different beginning storyline, and some of their special weapons and boss fights are slightly different, but in essence they play the same. Grey/Ashe come in contact with a "biometal", essentially a small floating triangle that allows them to "mega-merge" and turn into what looks like slightly modified versions of the Megaman Zero style Zero. It also allows them to progress through extremely difficult stages in order to fight underwhelmingly easy bosses.
Stages in ZX Advent are the same kind of fare that's been around since Megaman X4. Each stage is split up into four areas, each of which have a teleporter that you can activate using Energy Crystals (currency that is obtained from either killing enemies or from killing bosses and turning in your mission to kill them). The stages start out hard, and get progressively more annoying from there. For instance, the first level is basically a straight line with a single wall in the middle. The second level is a straightforward vertical platform climb. Then you get to the annoying levels, things like the Scrapyard (where you are required to make multiple jumps across pits with junk falling from the ceiling that will push you into the pit, ensuring your death, and to run through falling walls of spikes with poor hitbox detection that will manage to kill you in the most annoying of ways) and the Control Center (with massive flame-shooting machines that take off nearly a quarter of your health every time you get near them). Sadly, almost all of the actual difficulty comes from the stages, and not from the boss fights themselves. The reason for this will be explained later.
Also extremely annoying is the Metroid-style excuse for an exploration system. As you progress throughout the game and get access to different special weapons, you can enter different areas. Unfortunately, this isn't used nearly as much as it could have been, and when it is used it's blatantly obvious what it is you're supposed to do. For instance, you might wander into a large pair of weights hanging from the ceiling that are blocking your path. It's obvious the game is screaming at you to take out Vulturock, a huge lug of a robot that weighs enough to move the weights by grabbing them.
So you've progressed through several annoying areas without the ability to save. Congratulations. Now is time for the easiest boss fights you'll ever see in a Megaman game. The first three bosses are moderately difficult, the rest a cakewalk. Why? Because of the special weapon system. Unlike every other Megaman game, where the whole point of special weapons was to be left unused due to an extremely limited ammo supply unless required to defeat a boss or advance through a stage, ZX Advent manages to make them useful - perhaps too much so. Every boss you defeat drops its DNA, which merges with your Biometal (usually resulting in a lame cutscene) and allows you to turn into that boss at any time you please. Like every other Megaman game, most of these forms are rarely used because they handicap you rather than help. Take Diaburn for instance, the first form you are able to obtain. Diaburn is a giant dog-like robot with the power of fire, via a three-pronged fire arrow attack and a flaming boomerang. Diaburn has no jumping ability whatsoever, and can only wall jump Mario-style (jumping from wall to wall) as opposed to the regular Megaman X style (jumping up a single wall). He's also several times bigger than Grey or Ashe, and has a hitbox that matches his size. Naturally, you won't be wanting to use Diaburn much. Special weapon ammunition is managed through a Biometal bar, which depletes every time you use a charged attack with a form (or doing certain other things like flying/hovering), and slowly regenerates over time or with pickups.
However, for boss fights, there is one transformation that comes above them all for usefulness - in fact, using him, you can defeat every boss in the game (but one which requires a certain form's double jump ability) using only him and your regular "Model A" form. This particular form is called Chronoforce, a giant mechanical squid that is utterly useless in actual combat due to the fact that he cannot move or attack on land. The one thing that makes him indisposable is his ability to stop time for a brief period, after which things slowly speed up until they are normal. Stop time, and even the most difficult boss becomes a cakewalk as you are suddenly able to dodge every attack and counter with charged shots that take off nearly 1/8th of the opponents two health bars. As if Chronoforce wasn't enough, you also obtain a "sub-tank" shortly before fighting him. The sub-tank stores extra health and can be used in a pinch. Without any upgrades to the life bar, one full sub-tank is enough for two full life refills, enough to take out even the mightiest of enemies. You are able to obtain up to four sub-tanks throughout the course of the game, which removes any kind of difficulty that may or may not have ever been present.
One thing that should be mentioned - ZX Advent has practically removed the weakness of bosses to certain weapons seen in every other Megaman game. Chronoforce alone is enough to kill anything anyway, but instead each boss has a physical weak point - for Diaburn, it's the hair on his back. These weak spots are, of course, not meant to be used, at least, not if you want a gold medal (which is totally arbitrary anyway) on every boss fight.
Controls also leave something to be desired. Several times throughout the game you are required to hit elemental switches, which can only be destroyed by a charge shot from a form of the opposing element. More than once, the switches are placed high on a wall and require you to use a form with a projectile charge attack - except that you must mash the jump button to stay high enough that your projectile will make contact, all while the corner you're jumping into pushes you down. One wonders why they simply couldn't have placed them midway up the wall instead, making them far easier to hit and achieving the same effect. Also odd is the fact that Grey/Ashe's regular form (that is, without the use of any Biometal including your basic "Model A" form) is capable of ducking and crawling through small passageways - but their "Model A" form, which is essentially their regular form plus some flashy red armor, cannot.
Then we get to the sound, which is possibly the only thing worse than Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. For those of you not familiar with PoR, the most oft-heard sound in that game was not the background music, but the two characters screaming each other's names as they switch positions ("CHARLOTTE!" "JONATHAN!"). ZX Advent takes Portrait of Ruin's mistake and EXPANDS on it. Instead of Charlotte and Jonathan, you have "MEGAMERGE!" "A-TRANS!" "TRANS-ON!", each done in a different voice depending on which form you happen to be in when transforming. The other extreme annoyance is the sounds the characters make while attacking. The best examples of this are Vulturock, Chronoforce, and the generic green flying Zero ripoff, all of whose basic attacks have them shouting "HOW'S THIS!" over and over. Also of note is the ninja form's basic attack, which while being awesome for taking out multiple enemies is him shouting "HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH" at about the same pace he throws his shuriken.
ZX Advent is probably not worth a buy, simply because you'll get bored of the repetitiveness and easy boss fights. If you have an R4, M3DS Simply, or any other flashcart, by all means, go right ahead and download it - it's worth a download just to be forced to listen to the annoying yelling over and over and cringing as you relive the worst moments of Portrait of Ruin.
Community review by timrod (December 03, 2007)
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