Review – Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection

The Mega Man franchise has had so many spinoffs over the past few decades that it’s hard to remember all of them sometimes. Besides the main series, we also have the edgier X series, the 3D adventure Legends series, and the Battle Network games that tried to capitalize on the Pok√©mon craze. Hell, they even made a Mega Man Soccer game back in the day. One of the best Mega Man side franchises ever created is the Zero series, which focuses on the sword-wielding lone wolf stereotype, Zero. Those games have always been exclusive to Nintendo handhelds, namely the Game Boy Advance and the DS, but Capcom has finally released a compilation aiming to bring these underrated gems back to the spotlight. It’s time to tackle the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection.

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Most boss arenas feature approximately half a square foot of area for you to use in order to avoid enemy attacks.

There are a few elements that make the Zero games stand out from the X games, besides the protagonist, of course. Levels are shaped as “missions”, you’re given a rank after beating a boss, and there are small RPG elements that spice the gameplay up a bit. There is also a huge emphasis on storytelling, but I’d be lying if I told you I managed to pay proper attention to the series’ plot. The amount of technobabble and invented terms thrown at you at any given time are enough to make Kingdom Hearts look at it and say “yo dawg, slow down a bit”. The Mega Man ZX games also feature metroidvania elements and a huge emphasis on exploration.

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Honey, there are even more sequels after this game.

The games themselves are a blast to play… for portable titles. This is something you need to keep in mind before tackling the entire collection. These games feature shorter levels, a dated soundtrack that is heavily compromised by how archaic the GBA’s sound capabilities were, less buttons, and a much smaller screen size, courtesy of the GBA’s 240×160 and the DS’s 256×192 resolutions. They were conceived with portable play in mind, best suited for short bursts and smaller screens. They will look stretched on a big HD screen, even though Capcom did one herculean job by adding new anti-aliasing filters and some smoothing techniques to make the games look as good as possible on a console.

These games are also hard. Very hard. Even for Mega Man standards, the Zero games are among the hardest in the entire series (ZX is more lenient thanks to its metroidvania approach). This largely due to the fact you can barely see what’s in front of you, as the game features a very small visible screen, making everything from leaps of faith to fights against big bosses in small arenas a risky endeavor. Thankfully, Capcom was well-aware of how brutal the Zero games were and added a brand new casual mode to every single game in the collection, removing instakills and increasing your overall offense and defense. Another new feature, Save Assist, adds in a few extra checkpoints throughout the levels. Both of these features are completely optional and can be toggled on and off when you’re in the collection’s main menu.

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This is the first enemy you’ll face in Mega Man Zero 3. He looks super friendly, doesn’t he?

Difficulty aside, those games are still pretty entertaining. The RPG mechanics and emphasis on exploration are more than enough to make those six games stand out among the rest of the near hundred other Mega Man games released throughout the years. There are also some extra features for all you fans out there, such as the inclusion of individual soundtracks, a brand new time attack mode called “Z-Chaser”, and just like every single retro compilation out there, a gallery full of concept art. It’s basically everything a fan would want from a collection like this.

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Somehow, Capcom has managed to come up with a dual-screen gameplay system on a single TV screen that actually works fairly well.

Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is the absolute best way to tackle these brutally challenging, but largely underrated portable gems in this day and age. At least without having to worry about expensive retro cartridges, unlit screens, or AA batteries. Those games are far from being gorgeous on a big screen and they make the original Mega Man look fair in comparison, but they are a neat take on the franchise’s core gameplay, with an emphasis on storytelling and light RPG mechanics. And let’s be honest, Zero is by far the single coolest son of a gun this franchise has ever created. A collection featuring six games starring him isn’t a bad deal at all.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Those are good-looking games… for Game Boy Advance standards. Even with the welcome addition of special anti-aliasing filters, the small screen size and resolution are very noticeable.

Gameplay: 9.0

Easy to learn, fast-paced, responsive, with the inclusion of wall-hopping. It’s everything you like from Mega Man X with some RPG elements sprinkled on top.

Sound: 7.5

Those games feature really good soundtracks, considering that both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS had pitiful sound capabilities.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The Mega Man Zero games are a different (and equally entertaining) take on the franchise’s formula, with RPG and metroidvania elements, but be aware that those games are way harder than any other Mega Man out there. Thank goodness for the casual option!

Final Verdict: 8.0

Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection was provided by the publisher.