Release Date: February 2020
Mode(s): Single-player, Multiplayer (Local & Online)
Genre: Adventure, Action
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch
The majority of the 21st century has been either a hit or miss for the Mega Man franchise as from 00-2010 had a plethora of Mega Man titles released from the Legends series, Battle Network series, Starforce series, and even the resurgence of the classic series but the X series was one that did not have the best time in the new century with the decent Mega Man X5, mediocre and down right broken X6 and atrocious BURN TO THE GROUND X7, return to form with Mega Man X8, and an evolution of the series in a new genre with Command Mission and yet despite all this people were not interested in the X series anymore and Keiji Inafune wanted to move forward with the franchise with a sequel series. He was able to make the 2nd sequel series to the Classic Mega Mean series with Mega Man Zero debuting on the Game Boy Advanced platform which is set 100 years after the Mega Man X series and was supposed to be a follow up to Mega Man X5 which was the intended end to the X series but is now set after Mega Man X8 staring Zero as the main character exploring his story in more detail. In 2006 we got the start of the next series with Mega Man ZX (although I view it as part of the Zero series and not its own). The ZX games utilize a lot of what the Zero games implemented and by proxy what the X series innovated but add a twist of making the Mega Man series transition into the MetroidVania genre and explore a world without the Bluebomber. This series only got 2 entries and never caught on to the mainstream and thus the franchise went into a hiatus and was ignored by Capcom for quite a while until the Legacy Collections revived the interests in the franchise. Is the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection worth picking up and playing on modern consoles and PC? Let’s find out!
Covering the story of the 2 series in this collection isn’t very difficult as the Zero series kicks off with resistance members Ciel and company running from Mega Man-esque enemies, they eventually find a lab with a dormant and damaged Zero in a new body as well as with a new artstyle instead of the X series style Zero. The gist of the story is an amnesiac Zero joins forces with the Resistance to oppose the tyranny of Neo Arcadia which is lead by Mega Man X…….or so we are told, as repliods are hunted down and deemed Mavericks being pushed to the brink of extinction. We then transition from the fight against X to the series villain Dr. Weil who nearly eliminates all life on Earth and no this isn’t Dr. Wiley this is another evil scientist although it was a missed opportunity to not make him Dr. Wiley and give some closure and back story to Zero’s saga.
Mega Man ZX and ZX: Advent are set 200 years after the end of Mega Man Zero 4 in the year 25XX and focuses on a new threat in Slither Inc with the heroes Vente and Aile having the ability to Mega Merge with various BioMetals which have the souls of several series heroes like X and Zero in the forms of Mega Man Model X and Mega Man Model Z to name a few. These models give them the appearance and abilities X and Zero and more including the titled ZX model combining the best of X and Zero’s abilities. Your goal in this series is to stop Slither Inc and the Masters to restore order to the world.
The gameplay of Mega Man Zero 1-4 is heavily grounded in the gameplay style of the X series and in some ways an evolution of that play style but it also slowly diverges itself into the MetroidVania genre, not fully but it’s got it's foot in that genre. You have a hub world or base in each game and ultimately can roam around and talk to the various resistance members and Ciel before deciding on a mission to go to, this in and of itself is a major departure from what the Classic and X series did as in the older games you selected a Weapon Master or Maverick to defeat and then it takes you to their level whereas in this one you can travel to the level after talking to Ciel. The more open-ended nature of levels takes some getting used to as for me I am used to the games keeping me on a linear path leading me to the end but you will acclimate after a bit.
Given that this was originally a GBA title you have less buttons to worry about as you have your jump, shoot, dash, and your modifier button which is used in conjunction with the shoot button to alternate between the Buster or Saber. While I would’ve preferred separate buttons for Saber and Buster, I am able to manage with the customization options that they give you to work with. You’re able to eventually collect chips for various buffs which give any number of advantages such as elemental properties to your attacks that are often the weaknesses of the bosses and guardians that you end up facing.
Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent play virtually the same as the Zero games however the differences are that you now how the BioMetal system which allows you to use the MegaMerge feature to transform into various characters from X, Zero, and the guardians from the Zero series. The other major difference is the full change of how you get to the levels as these entries went full on with the MetroidVania format of having a hub world and to get to levels requires you to go out and find your way to levels which in my opinion merges the Mega Man formula with the MetroidVania style and it works.
The newest addition that’s really cool is the Z Chaser mode in which you race against the clock to complete a total of 12 stages against either the CPU or a friend locally or online. Whats cool is you can play locally in whats called Double Chaser which allows you some couch local play which is a first in the series and further is if you play online versus someone else you can either see your opponents progress or you can set it to where you focus only on your screen. You can set the difficulty to Normal or Hard and and jump into this mode to try your hand at trying to place on the world rankings.
Like all Legacy Collection titles in the Mega Man series, this entry gives you the choice of playing the game in its original mode or with the newly added save assist which allows you to pick up where you left off at the various save point check points that you pass as you progress along in the game which will help curb the difficulty of the games a little bit. I also like the gallery mode which gives you not only background on the games and characters but also official released and unreleased artwork!
Graphically the games all look good but it is noticeable that these were originally both GBA and NDS titles as when you compare them side by side to the PSX era of Mega Man X4-6 and Mega Man 8 they don’t look anywhere near as good but when paired to the earlier entries of the X series being X1-3 then they look like an upgraded version of those games. The animations are not on the same level as the later entries of the X series so you wont see the subtle animations and attention to details but when taken in as they are the game still looks really good. Zero, Vent, Aile, Ashe, and all the characters look pretty amazing and the new artstyle moving away from the shonen style of the X series compliments it by looking decidedly more realistic with its humanistic depictions of the reploids.
This lasts all the way till the ZX games which straddle the lines of the art style of the X and Zero series in promotional art but in gameplay the look similar. The ZX games are much more vibrant and colorful than the Zero games and have some smoother animations and better sprite work than the Zero games do. The ZX games also get English voice acting and animated cutscenes in higher resolutions than they were in the original releases on the Nintendo DS which look sharp on both the Switch docked and undocked and the Switch Lite.
There are various filters to either sharpen and enhance the graphics of each title, or for the purists, add filters that allow you to see all the glorious pixels as well as change the aspect rations and the background wallpapers as well. When playing the ZX games you have the option of changing the layout of the screen to acclimate to how they incorporated the original DS versions lower screen by either putting it on the lower left or right side of the screen, right underneath with the normal game stacked on top of it, or overlayed on top of the game as you play. Many may like this feature and the customization that Capcom gives you with it.
Every aspect of the audio in this Legacy Collection has been given a substantial leap in quality from the OST to the voice acting. The level of clarity is possible because of the platforms that it is releasing on as both the Game Boy Advanced and Nintendo DS were not the best when it came to quality audio. My favorite theme, Departure from Mega Man Zero 2, sounds so good with crisp clear with each riff and synth sound. The included music player is incredible as you can just play the amazing soundtrack for hours on end in its higher quality glory!
Ok Downsides solely lie with ZX and ZX Advent because of how they decided to go with the screen layout making the gameplay screen layout appear off center as its off to a side slightly just to incorporate what used to be showcased on the DS’s lower screen which is compacted and moved to the lower portion of the screen with wallpaper art covering an area. I just don’t like this and wish that they retooled the bottom half to something else as the layout as it is makes me think of when streamers emulate DS and 3Ds games honestly. Of note, some may find the Zero games and especially the ZX games to be incredibly difficult, however, with any Mega Man title all you need to do is learn the patterns of the enemies and their weaknesses and you’ll be fine. Trial and error people, as honestly the games are better balanced now than they were at release and even from 2010's Zero Collection on Nintendo DS.
With 6 classic entries, the Z Chaser mode (with online ranking local and online play), significantly improved audio and visuals, better balancing, and being released in a time where the titles can be appreciated in their entirety on all major platforms for only 29.99$ at the time of this review; The Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is simply a MUST OWN if you are a fan of the blue bomber and are looking for a series of quality titles that will keep you engaged for dozens upon dozens of hours! Capcom is continuing to knock it out of the park with these rereleases of the Mega Man franchise which makes it obvious that the next entries should be the Legends series and potentially the Battle Network and Starforce series with a hope that all this is leading to new entries in each series.