Title: Mega Man ZX
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: Nintendo DS
The Mega Man franchise, as extensive as it is, may be at an end. Mighty No. 9 may replace the entire Mega Man franchise, though I personally hope it doesn’t. Mega Man had a great run, and spawned several different series, subseries, and timelines. Although most of those series are on the same timeline, there’s also a secondary timeline (Battle Network and Star Force).
I follow and love the main timeline the very most. It started with the original series and then went much deeper with the story and characters with the Mega Man X series. What I loved the most, however, was the Mega Man Zero series that released four games on the Game Boy Advance and a collection I reviewed last year for the Nintendo DS. I loved the plot around Zero and was very torn at how the series ended, and the fact that the series ended.
I’d always known that they made another series after Zero, but I’d never gotten around to being interested enough to pick it up. Having browsed a GameStop lately eventually got me to get the series to see if it was as fun as its predecessors. Now that I’ve finished the first game (with the second to soon follow), here is my retro review of Mega Man ZX!
Mega Man ZX takes place several hundred years after the end of the Mega Man Zero series. Although peace between human and reploid was achieved during the Zero series, Maverick Raids from an unknown source began and those raids have continued in all the centuries since the exploits of Zero and Dr. Ciel. The plot begins as Vent, a young boy who works as a transporter, is attacked by Mavericks and bonds with a “Biometal”, being given the powers of previous legendary reploid heroes and joins a fight with a group called the Guardians against a group planning on awakening a destructive force that could destroy the world.
The story of Mega Man ZX really hits the typical “Villain is going to become strong and destroy the world” thing that Mega Man has always done, but it can really be considered a true successor to the Zero series. The main heroine has a connection to that series and all of the Biometal models you find are all based on characters from the Zero series, from Mega Man X and Zero to Sage Harpuia and Fairy Leviathan. It’s something that any fan of the Zero series can really appreciate.
ZX is a side-scrolling action game with open-world elements thrown into the mix. You have your basic formula and gameplay of fighting in 2D areas, but you’ve also got some new elements in play that the original Zero series did not have.
Progressing through the game is a mix of doing missions to take down bosses and world exploration. Instead of automatically being transported to your mission’s area like most Mega Man games do, you actually have to explore the large free-roam world and discover that area with the mission taken before it will actually start and you can do it. This is done by exploring and finding new paths in what is already available to you and using key cards you gain from previous missions to unlock new areas.
I would directly compare to ZX’s exploration to that of Kirby and the Amazing Mirror. The world is huge and there are a ton of different areas to explore. Some new areas are difficult to find until later in the game while some paths remain closed until you actually take on its mission. It opened up something new for the series, though. This level of exploration and discovery was never done in previous 2D Mega Man games, and it’s a nice change of pace that really adds to the depth.
What you’ll be doing the most in exploration and missions is combat. The most unique aspect of ZX is the biometals that allow you to essentially transform into armored forms based on Mega Man Zero characters. You have Models X and Z, based on Mega Man X and Zero, which form early on, giving you gameplay identical to that of Zero in the Zero series. Then, you gain more biometals from bosses, based on Harpuia, Leviathan, Fefnir, and Phantom from the Zero series. Each of these have very different fighting styles, from Model H’s aerial dashing and double swords to Model L’s ability to freely hover in water and spear combat.
Traversing areas will become much easier by experimenting with the biometals. You can freely switch out each one as you go, and there are also areas that you can only traverse without a biometal equipped. This makes you vulnerable and with much less ability, but some areas are too small for armor to fit through, requiring you to squeeze through in normal form.
Considering the exploration of this game, it won’t be a short experience. My first run through ZX took me almost 8 hours and that’s with a lot of exploration and a little help from online guides to finding certain areas. If you don’t use online resources at all, I would probably gauge the game more at 9-10 hours.
The game is pretty easy to control. You don’t really use the touch functions of the DS when you play the game. You just use the buttons.
The D-Pad/Circle Pad is used for moving around. The L trigger is used for a sub-weapon and R is used for activating the Overdrive ability of an equipped biometal. A is used for dashing and B is used for jumping. X is used for swapping biometals and Y for attacking with your main weapon.
This works, though the scheme is completely customizable. I personally prefer dash being set to the R trigger, but you can set it however you want.
Visually, the game looks like it uses the same graphics engines as the Mega Man Zero games do on the GBA. This looks nice most of the time, but it’s definitely brought down. In a few sections, you can see a noticeable amount of blurring and jagged edges (Yes, jagged edges on 2D models). The animated cutscenes in the game, while great, also look very pixelated and blurry.
Performance runs really nice. The game is smooth, load times are very short, and it all in all works quite well.
Mega Man ZX carries on the legacy of the Mega Man Zero series and moves the main timeline forward. The visual presentation has a couple hiccups, but if you can look past that, you’ll find a fun Mega Man game that fans of the Zero series can really appreciate.