Title: Mega Man Zero Collection
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: DS
NA Availability: Retail
EU Availability: Retail
Mega Man is one of those franchises that sparked my childhood with gaming and still excels now. Mega Man 6 was the most memorable NES game I had never played. It laid in better memories than even Super Mario Bros 3 did. Past that, I’ve loved the series. I experienced the Mega Man X series on the PlayStation and PSP through X4, X5, and Maverick Hunter X. More recently, I also experienced the Legends series with the PlayStation Network releases of Mega Man Legends and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.
It saddens to know that Mighty No. 9 may replace Mega Man, as there was so much they could have done more with the series. There are a lot of story gaps that people really wanted to see, especially after they made the Mega Man Zero series and started diving into what happened after the events of the X series. That is what we’re here to talk about today. For my first retro writing for the Nintendo 3DS, here is my retro review of The Mega Man Zero Collection!
More than 100 years after the events of the Mega Man X series and 300 years after the original Mega Man series, the world is in chaos with wars with humans and reploids, mechanical robots made to resemble humans. Ciel is a scientist with a resistance movement and discovers and awakens Zero, the reploid that fought alongside Mega Man X during the X series, and awakens him. Upon being awakened, he is made aware that Mega Man X, himself, is supposedly leading an evil movement to retire and destroy all reploids. He goes into the fight with the resistance to put a stop to these plans.
The story of the entire collection spans four games, the above synopsis just being from the first game. Mega Man Zero, Mega Man Zero 2, Mega Man Zero 3, and Mega Man Zero 4 are included here, and there’s a ton of story that they dive into, including events during the X series and what happened between the X series and the Zero series. It has a fair focus on story and if Mega Man fans are curious as to what happened after the X series, then this is the right game for them to play.
One last thing to note is that the story is slightly censored. To make this collection get an E rating with the ESRB, Capcom removed any and all references to death from the four games and some dialogue sequences were removed entirely. I haven’t played these games in years until now, but I had several instances where I was going through a scene and something seemed missing.
Each game in this collection is a 2D platforming game with combat elements thrown into the mix. Everyone knows the basic formula of the Mega Man series. Side-scrolling platforming action with combat elements with learned skills and weapons. The Mega Man Zero series maintains this but adds a few other things to the mix as well, including some RPG elements.
In each game, you have a base of operations you can explore as well as missions you can go on. Instead of having this base be a 2D menu like most Mega Man games, it is actually an explore-able area with NPCs to talk to as well as side-quests to do, like giving energy to NPCs for rewards or extra story bits by talking to everyone. You also have other services, like being able to make new equipment and, of course, going on missions with the game.
Missions proceed pretty standard in the Mega Man formula. You go through a 2D stage, fighting off enemies until you get to a boss, fight the boss, and then you complete the stage. In some of the games, you get elemental chips instead of new abilities. This lets you add elemental damage to your weapons, serving as the weakness-strength system. You also can collect Cyber Elves and other collectible items during missions that can then be used later for various enhancements, depending on what game you’re playing.
The biggest addition that many other Mega Man games don’t have are added weapons. Since this series doesn’t rely on getting a new ability from each boss, you can have different weapons in each game. Some games have special weapons like grappling hooks or gauntlet weapons, a big change from the standard Buster Gun and Z Saber combo. There are also RPG elements thrown in, like having to defeat so many enemies with a certain weapon in order to level up the weapon and get a new type of attack for it.
As far as additions to this collection, you’ve got a lot of artwork that showcases on the bottom screen as well as the Easy Mode that was thrown in. Easy Mode has you playing all four games in succession, but drops almost all difficulty from the experience. You go in from the start with all skills unlocked, maximum double-bar health, all sub tanks for health refills, the list goes on. If Mega Man games are too hard for you, you can use this, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any fans of the series. It really takes away from the experience. I literally stood still for about 30 seconds in a boss fight and they barely scratched my HP bar, whereas playing normally would make you lose most of it if you stopped for even a couple seconds.
Speaking of difficulty, Easy Mode aside, this collection is very difficult to play through. Mega Man has always been known for its difficulty, and these games really show that. When you reach the first major boss in the first game, you’ll have the fact that you have to learn boss move patterns to even defeat a boss and get through it, let alone well. Series fan or not, you’re in for a challenging set of games.
As far as length is concerned, you’re going to be busy for quite some time. This collection has four Mega Man games to play through. Each of these games can take you roughly 3 hours, maybe a bit longer a piece. Multiply that times four and you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. Expect all four games to take at least 12 hours to complete, without doing anything extra.
First order of business is that there aren’t any touch controls to use in the game, outside of moving to the game’s title screen when you’re paused. Nothing too fancy here. It’s also worth noting that the ZL, ZR, and C Stick on the New 3DS are not used at all. I am not sure if it’s even possible to use them in DS titles, but I wished to throw that fact out there.
Controlling Zero is done with the Circle Pad or D-Pad. Since this is a side-scroller, there is no noticeable clunkiness with the Circle Pad. It works rather well, actually. I normally prefer the D-Pad but I found myself using the Circle Pad a lot during this game. Jumping can be done with the A button or Y button. Likewise, you can fire your main weapon with the B or X buttons. Dashing is done with the L button and combining R and B/X will attack with your sub-weapon.
The nice thing about the Zero games is that they offer multiple playing styles. I personally prefer the scheme that lets you dash with R and use your Sub-Weapon with the L button by itself. I’m used to using R for dash in the Mega Man X games, so it felt natural for me to set it that way. Either way, though, it’s not a hard control scheme to learn.
The visual presentation is my biggest complaint about the game. When Capcom ported the Mega Man Zero games from the Game Boy Advance to the Nintendo DS, they didn’t adjust the resolution of the games. That means that on the DS screen, they played as tiny as the GBA’s screen. This is even more apparent when playing the DS game on a 3DS. There are a lot of black borders around the top screen, though the touch screen for artwork expands to the size of the 3DS screen easily.
Performance and sound, though, are quite good. The games play perfectly and sound just as nice as they did on the Game Boy Advance. Hearing a remixed version of Zero’s theme from Mega Man X in the first game is just as iconic as it was when I first played Zero on my GBA SP.
Mega Man Zero Collection is a compilation of some of the best games the GBA had to offer. On the downside, the games display in the GBA’s tiny resolution and some of the storyline has been censored out. If you can look past the black borders around the screen, you’ll find four challenging games that shine on one of the most popular characters in the Mega Man universe.