Thursday, September 15, 2011

Megaman Zero 3

Much more accessible than previous installments, yet still retains the difficulty the series is known for.
It goes without saying that the Mega Man Zero series goes back to the old-school difficulty that apparently is rare in today's gaming. The first in the series is arguably the most difficult game in the series and probably scared a lot of gamers from this series. Mega Man Zero 3 does its job in bringing back those who might be intimidated to the series, and really, if you're new to the series, here's a great game to start with.

THE STORY: The story in Mega Man Zero 3 is fairly enjoyable. At the beginning of the game, it may feel like the story is being thrown at you to fast as they seem to fly through a lot of things at one time. In this game, Zero is in pursuit of the Dark Elf (as he was in Zero 2), but this time, Ciel has finally finished her energy source and now wants to harness the power of the Dark Elf to create enough power to support the world and thus, make the war with Neo Arcadia worthless. This is all good and grand, but we have the appearance of a new (or old, depending on how Capcom decides to write him in future games) villain, Dr. Weil. Dr. Weil is a mad man whose motives are not clear at the beginning of the game, but as the game's story unravels more about his motives are revealed. Various other characters make reappearances as well, and seeing some of them return will surprise you, but I'll let you play the game and be surprised when you see them. This game builds up for great things in future games in this series and will make many players anxious to see what happens next in the series, I know I'm one of them.

THE GAMEPLAY: The gameplay borrows much from the Mega Man/X series in that your controls use the directional pad to move left and right, a button to jump, a button to dash, and two buttons for a weapon and sub-weapon in which you designate. The controls are customizable and will fit any need you feel like. The basic progression is choosing a mission from a set of 4, complete its stage, and repeat until the set is done. After that, you're given more development in the story and another set is available. Each level is filled with cunningly placed enemies, deathtraps (i.e. Spikes, Lava, and the likes that can kill you in 1 hit) in which you must dash, jump, and shoot your way across and pass. At the end of each stage, there's a boss in which you can get their EX Skill and chips (if available). The catch here is that in order to get these extra goodies, you must be at an A or S rank.
This brings up the grading system. You see, your progress in the mission is recorded such as how much damage you've taken, how many enemies you killed, how long it took you to complete the mission, if you finished all the mission objective, how many times you died, and if you used any cyber elves. At the end of each mission, you'll be given a rank depending on how well you've done. Your rank is the average of all your scores. You only get ranked when you're on a mission, and you're free to replay any level without being graded once you finished the mission for the level. This poses a problem however if you failed to capture the EX Skill of a boss as you cannot fight him/her again. There is always a data reload if needed, and will only add to replay value. In all honesty, playing each level/mission again is extremely fun and you'll be surprise at how much better you done.
The Cyber-Elf system has been revamped in this game. Cyber-Elves are little critters that you will find throughout playing the missions, dropped by bosses/enemies or cleverly hidden in the stages' level. Each Cyber-Elves will die once you use them, meaning once you use them, they're gone. Cyber-Elves can do things such as permanently raise your max life, double your max life, save you from pitfalls, and many more. However, what differentiates this game from the previous Mega Man Zero games is that you can assign two satellite elves. What this means is that the elves will not die and you will get its benefits. Also, the game will not penalize you for using the elves if it's being used as a satellite. This makes the game slightly easier as you can equip its special powers and not getting points taken away for using them, which will overall hurt your chances at an A or S rank. Another addition is the Cyber World, in which once entered, all Cyber-Elves in possession will be activated and will not die. You will lose 5 mission points for each entering but if you're seriously stuck, it probably is a good trade-off for you.

THE GRAPHICS: Zero 3's graphics are basically the same as Zero 1 and Zero 2's graphics. The levels are still nice and pretty, and the character design is still good. Worth noting are the nice cutscenes interspersed throughout the game. However, if you were expecting the graphics to be better, well, you might want to bury that desire under a rock. You can't really tell the difference.
TS7 Note: Zero has myriad new animations in this game. You probably won't notice some of them, but one thing that you will notice is his new jump animation. It's a lot different than the previous one, and to be honest, it's a little stupid looking. But I digress. On to the next category.

THE SOUND: The music of this game isn't all that great. I can't give it lower than a 6 though, because it fits the atmosphere of the game. I didn't find many of the tracks in this game very memorable. The boss theme is very dull and will not be retained in your memory for more than a minute after fighting the boss. Same goes for most of the in game levels. For fans of Mega Man music, rest assured that this game does have the more Rock oriented music that many of the more recent Mega Man games have, so if you're a fan of that type of music, you may be in for a treat with this music. If you're anything like me, and you disliked more of the recent music in the different series, you'll really dislike this music a lot.

DIFFICULTY: The Mega Man Zero series has been notorious for its difficulty. Perhaps that's why Capcom decided to water it down this time... I, personally, was slightly disappointed at how easily I beat it, but I respect other peoples' opinions on this matter. For me, the main reason why this seems so easy that virtually every boss can be defeated in 6-8 swipes of a charged Z-saber... Also, the bosses' attack patterns are overly easy to recognize and/or memorize. I know that the bosses' attack patterns are SUPPOSED to be learned, but for a Mega Man fan like me, it wasn't quite hard enough to learn them... and about the EX-skills, I was VERY disappointed at the fact that I could get all of the EX-skills on my third try, which require an extremely high rank to get. But, again, that's just me, and some other people would argue about this, and this is just one side of the story.
Hard mode: Good lord, this is hard... It's not that the enemies are more difficult, but it's just that Zero takes more damage in Hard Mode, and most importantly... HE CAN'T CHARGE HIS Z-SABER!! That is the biggest blow, and is the main source of Hard Mode's insane difficulty... This would be 22/10 in difficulty. Hehe.

OVERALL: If your looking to play this game for gameplay and storyline, you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of it. If your big into graphics and music, you'll be disappointed by this addition to the mega man series. All in all, mega man advocates will love this game for all it has to offer, and if your anything like myself, you'll sit here and speculate where Capcom plans on taking the series in the next few Zero games with all the twist and turns that were seen in this game. Only time will tell…

SYSTEM: Game Boy Advance



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