Mega Man ZX Advent (DS) review
"With the Mega Man series quickly approaching a triple-digit number of games, it's no secret that the Blue Bomber has been in an absolutely ridiculous number of games. It's also no secret that many of the hero's recent entries have been noticeably lacking for one reason or another. Mega Man ZX Advent represents a return to grace for the series and is one of the most enjoyable action-adventure titles on the DS. "
With the Mega Man series quickly approaching a triple-digit number of games, it's no secret that the Blue Bomber has been in an absolutely ridiculous number of games. It's also no secret that many of the hero's recent entries have been noticeably lacking for one reason or another. Mega Man ZX Advent represents a return to grace for the series and is one of the most enjoyable action-adventure titles on the DS.
Advent has a storyline... technically. Your character, whom you choose to be a boy or a girl, fuses with a material known as "Biometal" which imbues them with the power of Mega Man. Since a violence-free adventure would be no fun, there's also a mad scientist bent on obtaining all of the Biometal Model W fragments to develop the ultimate evil Mega Man and destroy and/or rule the world. The story isn't going to win any awards, because apart from the plot being mediocre, it suffers from poorly written dialog and painfully bad English voice acting. The best solution to the storyline is to simply skip through it and get to Advent's bread and butter: gameplay.
The first Mega Man ZX experimented with a more Castlevania-like approach to level design and offered a large world that players could gradually progress through in their own way. Between the poor map layout and the linear level design, though, things didn't work out as well as they should have. After taking the game back to the drawing board, Capcom has come up with something that works well in Advent. The map's layout finally makes sense and the upgrades you receive gradually give you access to more of the world. The game now invites exploration as there are countless places that require some thinking and the right power-up to access. This makes finding the power-up you need to reach a new area that much more satisfying, which is a feeling rarely achieved in the original ZX. The world still isn't as tightly-woven as what you'd find in a Castlevania or Metroid, but it's a marked improvement over the original ZX and is still more than adequate to hold the game together.
This installment might feel quite a bit like recent Castlevania games due to the open-ended world, but that's not to say that Advent has lost its identity as a Mega Man game. The world is still divided up into several stages that have a boss at the end, and you'll still take advantage of bosses' weaknesses to be victorious. Sure, there's several avenues for using the power-ups you obtain and an overworld that links everything together, but this is ultimately the same Mega Man gameplay that's been around for years. The difference between this and the past few MM games is that the level design is actually very good here. The levels all offer fairly unique challenges that take advantage of the abilities you find throughout the course of the game, and there are few repetitive or annoying segments to speak of. It also helps that the visual design of the levels is unique and appealing and that the musical score is very good, because it keeps you from feeling like you're running through a series of generic levels over and over. Each and every stage is a cut above what the Zero series and the original ZX offered, so if you found the levels in those games to be a bit dry, you very well may be impressed by what you find here.
The combat is exactly what you'd expect from a Mega Man game, but the abilities that bosses yield are significantly more interesting than before. Rather than simply obtaining a new weapon, you can actually turn into the boss characters once you've defeated them, which gives you several new ways to take on enemies and abilities that allow you to open up new areas of the game's world. There's little doubt that you'll need all the power you can get, because this is also a very difficult game. Bosses can crush you without a problem on the default setting and the levels themselves are rife with obstacles that aren't friendly to newcomers. There is an easy mode available from the start and that's the best option for anyone but Mega Man fiends, but regardless of which difficulty you play on, this is a tough game and not for the faint of heart.
The game also has some RPG elements thrown in for good measure. You can opt to take on side quests that NPCs offer you, and there's a surprising number of these missions. The rewards for completing requests are generally E.C., the game's currency, but you'll occasionally get something more exciting like upgrades that let you absorb more damage or hang onto walls for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, there's too few of these power-ups, so most of these side quests aren't worth bothering with. Nevertheless, Advent should take you more than ten hours even if you skip most of the side quests, so longevity shouldn't be a concern for those who plan to stick to the main storyline.
Mega Man ZX Advent is a pleasant surprise. The core gameplay is polished and fun, the level design is generally spot-on, and it's a fairly lengthy quest that you'll enjoy the whole way through. It's not perfect -- the RPG elements could use some work and the game still plays it a bit too safe, but the game is otherwise so enjoyable that these issues end up being relatively minor grievances. The Mega Man series has had its ups and downs over the 20 years since its creation, but this is most certainly one of the high notes.
Community review by Daisuke02 (December 30, 2007)
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