Game Over Online ~ Mega Man Zero

GameOver Game Reviews - Mega Man Zero (c) Capcom, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Mega Man Zero (c) Capcom
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 83%
Date Published Tuesday, October 29th, 2002 at 09:43 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

It is often daunting to a critic when he or she is unknowingly given the task to review a title from a solid and expansive franchise. My last Mega Man game was when they still used numbers - low numbers at that. It is for this reason I will confess from the very beginning that I know very little of what is to be expected from this or any Mega Man game, other than the traditional blaster, boss battles and platform level design.

Mega Man Zero surprised me, particularly in the beginning because it begins with a dramatic story line where motley rebels flee from mechanical horrors. All of them are aiming to free a 'reploid' called Zero; who is a legendary hero but encased in stasis for the time being. I was surprised to see there was actually a script in this game. Titles on the Game Boy Advance either have no script at all (why?) or they have lengthy conversations that defy the physical constraints of the screen. Mega Man Zero's developers hit the right note and the ensuing drama lends a sense of urgency to the action.

The cinematic moments are perhaps the most enjoyable parts of the game and you'll find them in abundance during the first portions. Afterwards, all the conversations seem to take place in between missions when you return to the rebel base. Mega Man Zero has an open mission selection structure, where you basically go out, do battles, then return to save and go out again.

Platform games often have a problem with repetition but Mega Man Zero paces things nicely. Your weapons, including the basic blaster, will improve with time. And the action is augmented by the fact that you get to collect Cyber Elves; sidekicks who offer special powers. These are attainable after each mission and they add a little flavor to the game because you can pre-load different cyber elves to cater to your or your enemy's dispositions. Some are as prosaic as rejuvenating the protagonist's health but others will directly aid Zero in combat.

The one thing that struck me most about Mega Man Zero was its visual style. There's something seductively attractive about it that I can't quite put a word on. The protagonist, for example, doesn't look like any of the other Mega Man iconic figures I've come across before. Moreover, there's a certain agility and quickness imbued in the animation. Combined with the dashes Zero is able to pull of, this is a title that turns what could be run of the mill platform action into addictive eye candy. Indeed, very few titles, of any genre, approach the detail that is seen in every backdrop of this game.

Mega Man Zero also comes with a great soundtrack and good sound effects. However, it isn't flawless. The main crux is the difficulty level, which fails to let up and in some cases, requires meticulous choreography. It's not helped by the fact that Zero can't crouch and often times, I found myself pressing the down button in a vain hope that I could crouch.

Truly, the best part of the game is where the narrative cuts into the action and again, I point to the beginning where Ciel is tagging around with you. Why this, instead of the increasingly difficult bosses, couldn't be the main point of the game is a little beyond me. However, the gameplay that is here will be a challenge for even the highest skilled players. Mega Man Zero will no doubt disarm a lot of potential buyers, though, with its graphics erring on the cute side.

Before coming into the review, I was lamenting how repetitive Game Boy Advance titles were becoming, particularly recycled platform franchises. Many times, they play the same and look the same too. I thought there was no hope for improvement until developers could branch out into other genres. But Mega Man Zero proves that platform doesn't necessarily mean boring, not even to critics who slog through platform titles on a weekly basis on the Game Boy Advance. This is platform gaming done well, with some fantastic production values but I look forward to its next iteration where, hopefully, the story emphasis will play an even greater role in justifying the action.


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