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Mega Man Zero 2 (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Mega Man Zero 2 (Game Boy Advance) review


"The first stage of “Mega Man Zero 2” is one of the best possible notes a game could start on. Our hero, garbed in a poncho, fatigued from the battles he’s fought since the prior installment, limps his way through a canyon in the midst of a sandstorm. The storm dies down, and a battalion of Neo Arcadian foot soldiers flank Zero from behind. He tosses the poncho aside, and a techno/Western theme music kicks in. The menu screen from the previous game is withered, obscuring and disabling options tha..."



The first stage of “Mega Man Zero 2” is one of the best possible notes a game could start on. Our hero, garbed in a poncho, fatigued from the battles he’s fought since the prior installment, limps his way through a canyon in the midst of a sandstorm. The storm dies down, and a battalion of Neo Arcadian foot soldiers flank Zero from behind. He tosses the poncho aside, and a techno/Western theme music kicks in. The menu screen from the previous game is withered, obscuring and disabling options that were once accessible before. (The nomadic Zero hasn’t kept himself in the best condition.) Ahead on the path are tumbling cacti-bots and robo-vultures feeding on the rusty remains of expired reploids. There are not one, but two enormous golems to be defeated before arriving at the proper boss, a scorpion machine that crushes the ground with its tail and fires its heat conducting pincers.

The rest of the game doesn’t quite live up to that brilliant opening stage, but it’s nevertheless a solid continuation of “Mega Man Zero.” It endeavors to be more accessible to novice players, and it kind of succeeds. The unpopular continue system from the prequel is now gone and replaced with the series standard: infinite continues, two or more lives spent before you see the ‘game over’ screen. Two subtanks can be had without having to collect and spend energy crystals on Cyber-elves, little critters that power you up; the Cyber-elves, while functioning pretty much the same as before, now require much, much less crystals. (One Cyber-elf that ate 750 ECs in the original “Mega Man Zero” only needs 250 ECs in this one.)

For those who can coast through levels without using subtanks or Cyber-elves, there’s a new reward system in the form of “EX Skills.” If you can fell a boss with your rank at “A” level, you’ll acquire their skill. There are ten of these moves: four that can be used with the light saber, four that can be used with the second level buster shot, one that can be used with the shield boomerang, and one that’s for the new chain rod. I really like the saber skills, which can be performed from the get go without having to level up your weapon, but I only really cared for one of the EX shots. It’s cool to get a reward for placing a high rank, though.

Speaking of the chain rod, it’s one of the things about this game I didn’t care for. It doubles as a weapon and a tool, piercing enemies from a distance and allowing you to swing across gaps and pull blocks. The thing is, it’s not as effective or agile in combat as the beam saber, and the swing mechanic is a bit clumsy and unintuitive. There are patches where you pretty much have to use the chain rod, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to just leap and stealth-dash my way across the level instead. Like many misguided, non-organic attempts at “variety” in the history of video games, the chain rod flops.

Some levels aren’t very fun, in particular the Crystal Cave and any place that involves shutting off electric currents by disabling mini-generators. There are too many rehashed bosses and assets from the first game, to the point that parts of “Zero 2” feel like they’re assembled from leftovers. Sure there are twists and tweaks to these old bosses, but if the developers fought the temptation to recycle existing graphics there could have been fresh bosses. I also think that the “Form System,” which awards you special armor for experimenting with different weapons, is a bit cryptic and mostly useless. I found myself wishing I could combine the different benefits of multiple “forms" and not put up with their weaknesses, such as not being able to use beam saber combos with certain armors. The requirements for earning the best form render it useless.

For the reasons listed above, “Mega Man Zero 2” isn’t really a tight game. It’s better in some ways than the first, but it falls short of it in the larger picture. It’s not the best of the three sequels in this franchise, and yet it sets the tone for the following two games. It amounts to a clumsy step forward, and a pretty good time. In the spirit of its ranking system, I award "Zero 2" a "B."

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by joseph_valencia (July 06, 2010)

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aschultz posted July 27, 2010:

I really like the opening paragraph here. Wish I had the guts to try it. The rest feels like a solid rundown of the game--a good explanation of how it was made easier but with more optional challenges--though I feel it didn't have the pace of the opening paragraph. Some tips for what to change:

"endeavor" clashes with "kind of" in one sentence

prequel -> predecessor

"subtanks can be had" is passive voice

"Speaking of" is a sign you don't quite have the transition you want.

I might also have liked to read more of the things MM3/4Zero did that MM2 didn't in the conclusion. It's this sort of thing that helps show you have a vision for what games should be like, and what you expect, that brings the review out from thumbs up/down to something else.

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