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Mega Man Zero (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Mega Man Zero (Game Boy Advance) review


"My initial impression of “Mega Man Zero” when I first played it was: This game is hard as fuck! I was humiliated by the first real boss, Aztec Falcon. The claustrophobic quarters where you fight him caused me to panic. He dwarfed my little Zero character in size, and he nimbly bounded and dashed all over the place. He shot harpoons and sent surges of electricity through the ground and up the walls. To top all of this off, I had to defeat this monster before the platform we were on descended onto..."



My initial impression of “Mega Man Zero” when I first played it was: This game is hard as fuck! I was humiliated by the first real boss, Aztec Falcon. The claustrophobic quarters where you fight him caused me to panic. He dwarfed my little Zero character in size, and he nimbly bounded and dashed all over the place. He shot harpoons and sent surges of electricity through the ground and up the walls. To top all of this off, I had to defeat this monster before the platform we were on descended onto some prisoners below and crushed them. Such is “Mega Man Zero.”

This game is an acquired taste. You don’t start out loving or even enjoying it. You need to take the time and muster the patience to see this game through, before you can finally “get into it.” Capcom kind of understood this, because they created a game mechanic designed to give the player some ample room to learn the basics. It’s called the “Cyber-elf” system. The namesake, Cyber-elves, function like consumable items. Some restore your life, some make you faster or tougher, some upgrade your health bar, etc. Throughout the game you pick up energy crystals, because there are some Cyber-elves you can’t use until you feed them to required amount of crystals. The best Cyber-elves require so much energy crystals that “feeding” them can become a laborious process, which is kind of counter-intuitive to the purpose of this feature.

“Zero” has some other RPG/Adventure elements, like weapons that level up as you use them, an expansive interconnected overworld, and NPCs that you can interact with. You are free to play around in this sandbox world or ignore it and focus on the dozen missions you have to clear. You can choose the order you accomplish most of the missions. Certain missions unlock certain areas for exploration, or contain specific Cyber-elves, or yield special items, or open up new mission trees. While the format is not the same as earlier “Mega Man” games, it is true to their non-linear spirit.

There is a ranking system, which grades you on how you perform during missions. An experienced player can know the requirements to get the highest rank in a level, although they might not have the skill to meet them. Every obstacle and enemy is designed and placed in a way that skilled players can anticipate and defeat them. This even applies to the bosses, who can be felled without inflicting a single scratch on Zero. All this illustrates that, despite the intensity of its challenges, “Mega Man Zero” is not an unfair game. Well, maybe the final boss is a little unfair, I think. Should final bosses play fair?

My final impression of “Mega Man Zero” after multiple plays is: This game kicks ass! I’ve beaten it with Cyber-elves, I’ve beaten it without Cyber-elves, and I’ve beaten it with an “A” rank. Aztec Falcon no longer intimidates me, but I’ll be damned if the final two levels ever become a cake walk. I can name flaws, such as the crystal requirements for certain Cyber-elves or the unforgiving “continue” system, but these aren’t bad enough that they bring the game down or can’t be ignored. If you want to know who Zero is or what weapon arsenal he uses, look it up on Wikipedia. If you want a summary of the plot or bosses, look them up on one of the many “Mega Man” fan sites. If you want an action game that is as rewarding as it is intense and exhilarating, then check out “Mega Man Zero” in the “Mega Man Zero Collection” on the DS, or pick up the original Gameboy Advance version if you feel like it.

Rating: 10/10

joseph_valencia's avatar
Community review by joseph_valencia (June 28, 2010)

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