Thursday, September 15, 2011

Megaman Zero 4

Whilst not as good as the earlier X titles, this is easily the best of Zero's solo adventures.
Never judge a book by its cover. Such true words which apply to the Megaman Zero series as a whole. Why? First off, the series already has four installments. A common thought by people is "all sequels are worse than the original". This is not true. Megaman Zero 4 breaks barriers and manages to deliver high quality sequel after sequel. And people aren't sick of it! Megaman Zero 4 give the player a wonderful plat forming adventure - this time for pros and newcomers alike. Once again, you control Zero - the hero of the series. This time, the area "Neo Arcadia" has been taken over by the evil Dr. Weil. Eventually you find out his plan to take over and destroy the world with his "Ragnarok" plan. As expected, certain events eventually lead you up to giving you the task of stopping him. The main reason you often find Megaman Zero games in a used game store is because of the absurd difficulty. Often you will find yourself throwing your game at the wall in frustration because of the difficulty. Thankfully, newcomers to the series can play the "easy" mode (which changes many aspects of the game to make the game…well…easy). Others can start on normal and even work their way up to hard. The difficulty levels are not just stronger enemies like usual - gameplay as a whole is changed.

THE STORY: A group of humans escape from Neo Arcadia, which is now governed by Dr. Weil. They plan to establish a commune to Area Zero, where the space colony Eurasia once crashed. Their caravan is assaulted by Variants, and resistance convoy happening to be nearby comes for help. Zero successfully fends off the threat , but the refugees turn out to be ungrateful bastards, who are distrustful towards reploids and thought Neo Arcadia used to be a paradise. Well, if you discount genocide and totalitarian leadership, it certainly was. Despite this, Ciel and Zero decide to watch over them. This turns out to be a wise decision, since Weil orders cmd. Craft and Einherjar (Eight Warrior) to carry out operation Ragnarok (Geez, how Norse can you get?). Their goal is to wipe Area Zero from existence and destroy all natural habitats. The story is inherently Mega Man. The cast is reduced to bare minimum, and almost all characters serve some sort a purpose, and the few plot twists pretty much is all the plot progression this game has. I couldn't have it any other way.

THE GRAPHICS: Graphics for Megaman Zero 4 are pretty much the same as its predecessors. Somewhat anime-like, and very clear. Just check out one screenshot to get the idea. For a GBA platformer game, the graphics satisfy the mood and feel of the game. At rare times in the game you are treated to a still manga-like image (hand-drawn).

THE SOUND: The music is great, and so are the sound effects. The voice acting is really annoying this time, and it's kind of shame that you can't just turn it off without turning off all the sounds.

THE GAMEPLAY: Ok, this is gonna be long, so please have some time to spare. Ah, the basic engine for every Mega Man game. Run, jump, destroy enemies, and get powers. The basic formula for every Mega Man game of this style and it hasn't changed much, but coming from Capcom that's no surprise (Street Fighter II, anyone?) there are however some basic differences between Zero and the other series. 

Basic Gameplay
This time around, instead of just being stuck with one weapon like the other games (a buster gun) you are given the choice of a buster gun, a saber, or the Z-Knuckle (which will be explained in more detail later) each of these weapons varies in use and spices up the gameplay from the regular formula. Other than that and Cyber elves (which have been radically changed from their previous incarnations and will be explained in more detail below) there's not much difference from other Mega Man games, you still choose from eight bosses to fight with an intro stage, a mid-stage, and a couple of final stages. Needless to say if you liked the gameplay of previous 2D Mega Man games you're going to like the gameplay in this one. Oh, one last thing, these games are Hard with a capital H. Casual gamers will give up and walk away in exasperation, while veterans will play until their thumbs bleed, smiling all the time. So if you're not ready for a serious challenge, or haven't played previous Zero games don't be prepared for an easy ride.

New Things
So what's new this time around? Well a lot of stuff, first off there's the new weather system. Whenever you go into a stage you get to choose whether to change the weather or not, this will affect the stages difficulty and can even make the boss stronger if his element is the same as the weather. The reward for this however is that you get to keep the bosses special abilities if you beat them while they're powered up, so by making the game harder you make it more convenient in the long run. Also new is the Recipe System in which you fuse together items dropped by defeated enemies to make a new chip (like Double Jump, and Auto Charge) which can then be equipped to give you new powers. You can use the Recipe System one of two ways, you can use the recipe and follow it's instructions, or you can just randomly fuse and hope for the best. Here comes possibly the biggest change, the Z-Knuckle. As any veteran of the series will know Zero's fourth weapon changes every game, last time we had the Recoil Rod which could bounce enemies away and shatter strong obstacles. Now we have the Z-Knuckle which once it's used attacks with a very strong punch and steals the enemy's weapon. Now considering there are 56 enemies, and a few of them don't have weapons that's roughly 50 different weapons!
Finally we come to the last major change, Cyber Elves. In previous games you had many different Cyber Elves and once you used them they disappeared. Now you have one Cyber Elf which is always in effect, levels up to get new skills, and has almost all the abilities of previous Cyber Elves.

OVERALL: What else can I say? It's a great game for fans of the series; it might just be the best in the series. If you're a fan of Mega Man games or just a fan of this type of game period you owe it to you're self to pick it up. So what are you waiting for?

SYSTEM: Game Boy Advance


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