Review by Pierre-Yves L.
Set one-hundred years after the events of Mega Man X6, Zero is awakened by a scientist named Ciel in order to help save a group of reploids from being “retired” by the current tyrant… none other than the once hero, Mega Man X. Running away from these forces is right where this newest saga starts off, with Ciel finding Zero asleep and hoping that he can be the hero that her and the resistance need. Yep. We’re digging into the ridiculously obtuse lore of Mega Man again.
While graphically moving from the Nintendo GBA and DS to the Switch, Xbox or PlayStation is a large jump to make, this collection of retro re-releases do look rather nice on the modern consoles. Treated to a flashy intro screen in which you can choose to play one of Zero’s four adventures or the two follow up adventures of Vent / Aile or Grey / Ashe, you’ll quickly find yourself hooked on it all, because these are genuinely good games. Adding new features like a checkpoint system makes things easier if you don’t want to play the old-school hard mode, you also get a lot of control over just how much challenge you want to give yourself, making this a particularly accessible package, even for newcomers to the series.
What makes this collection special isn’t that it’s bringing six separate titles together, or making them more accessible to a wider range of players, though. What makes it special is that unlike the rest of the series, which could be summarised in single sentences (i.e. “Mega Man or Mega Man X fought against eight Robot Masters or Maverick Leaders before Dr. Wily or Sigma”), Zero’s adventures are more mission-based and therefore tells much more of a story, finally giving the action some kind of genuine context.
Of course, the gameplay isn’t ever going to be an afterthought in Mega Man. Taking a new direction for the series though, Zero won’t be absorbing powers and getting funky new moves from bosses. Instead, he can get better and learn new skills with the arsenal that he is given by using those weapons in battle – i.e. a basic kind of RPG-like system. From the iconic Z-Saber being one of the most powerful tools at his side, he’ll also over the course of the four titles be given the use of other tools including a spear, chain rod and boomerang shield.
The core of these mechanics carries on more or less the same through the first four titles in the collection. And then you’ll get to Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent, which are the first Mega Man titles to not have the typical characters that you’d expect, such as Mega Man, ProtoMan, Base (Forte), Mega Man X, Axel or Zero. Taking place two hundred years after Zero’s final battle in Mega Man Zero, there’s now a third race of people known as humanoids, who are cyborgs of sorts being a mix of human and reploid. Of course peace was never going to last between the three, and then your choice of characters, Vent or Aile, become orphans after an attack. After getting powers of their own, they set out to get themselves revenge.
In the final game in the series, your choice of Grey or Ashe get their hands on the Biometal Model A, which is based off of Axel from Mega Man X7/8 and his ability to transform into anyone he copies the data from. In these final two titles, the ZX adventures moved more towards a more modern “Metroidvania” approach, and returns the series staple of collecting powers by defeating specific enemies rather than leveling up skills. It’s not a bad direction to take, but being so detached from the first four titles in this package, they do feel like an oddity, and don’t help the cohesion of the overall collection.
There are plenty of other goodies to be found in this package. In addition to the easier accessibility options, there are the sheer amount of art that has been done to make each entry work on modern consoles, there are collectible cards to showcase just how well you’ve done and the inclusion of other features like the original ability to load data from Mega Man Zero 3/4 into ZX for extra encounters. There’s also the ability to change the background, as these titles weren’t originally formatted for widescreen, and you even have the ability to add in filters to give the game a CRT look go full retro and look like you’re playing the original GBA title.
All in all, this collection coming out on the back of the original Mega Man and Mega Man X Series is a must have for fans or those that never actually got around to playing them. With plenty of features only improving on the original releases back on the Game Boy Advance and the collections on the DS, Mega Man Zero 1-4 and its two sequels are an ideal way to celebrate one of the more niche and forgotten chapters in the Mega Man legend.
– Pierre-Yves L.