Not a divisive choice.
Back in 2002, Inti Creates cemented their reputation as the go-to 2D platformer-with-a-challenge creators with the Mega Man Zero series. For so many years, they’ve created arguably the best Mega Man successors on the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS with four Mega Man Zero titles and two Mega Man ZX entries.
Each of these entries significantly improved with each sequel while trying out new mechanics and gimmicks that do not wear out their welcome, from grappling hooks to Metroidvania-style level progression. In short, they’re masterclass in 2D action platforming design during their heydays.
And while their recent ports, under the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection could use a bit more work, I’m happy to say that this compilation is the best at bringing back the games in a neat little package:
I’m all for a challenge and brutal level design in a 2000-era made game, but if I have to start over from scratch and go through the game with just one life (in a series that already has a multiple lives system), it’s going to turn off even the most staunch fan. The new auto-save point system help make the experience slightly less savage, but still retains the difficulty level the series is known for. It’s still optional, so go ahead and turn it off if you’re a bad enough dude to play it like it was back in the early 2000s.
And then they are the original games themselves. I’d still say Mega Man Zero 3 is the best among the lot, but all the games here are worth playing from start to finish, if only to see how they evolve throughout each entry. You’ll have fun playing different sorts of 2D missions. You’ll enjoy the narrative weaved here that focuses on Zero and the human/reploid conflict. You’ll bop your head to tracks like “Enemy Hall”,“Departure”, “Esperanto”, “Crossover Station“, “Reborn Mechanics“, …..
Okay, there’s just so many goddamn great tracks in the Zero series. Point is, this series and the ZX duology are still great platforming action fun with challenges aplenty, lovely gimmicks, and a rockin’ soundtrack worthy of the Mega Man series.
You’re still getting the best damn 2D games for a worthy price. You’ve probably sold your Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DSs by now, right? Plus, the extra mode called Z Chaser are really fun if you need to challenge yourself. Basically, it’s a time trial that takes sections of levels from each game, including boss fights, and turns it into a challenge.
You can upload your results on the online leaderboard, or just challenge another person locally or online to see who is the better Mega Man Zero/ZX speedrunner. It’s seriously fun for those who want more out of their legacy collection.
First: You’re only given two shoulder buttons to map the game’s main action controls, and it’s for the tiny bumpers, not the triggers. This might be a deal-breaker to some, especially if you’re used to using the Right Trigger to dash in your 2D platformers.
Second: some mechanics still need some explanations and tweaking. Your first-time user may not know that getting a high rank in Mega Man Zero 2 and 3 will net you new moves to use. The map in Mega Man ZX is perhaps one of the worst I’ve used in a Metroidvania-style title. Capcom should have done due diligence in improving and updating these past aspects.
Lastly, the PC version I’m playing still has weird stuttering and skipped frames issues which shouldn’t be the case for a decade-old series. The emulation work here really needs some updating and improvements. So far, I haven’t heard many issues for the PS4 and Switch versions, so this could be a PC thing that can be solved by Capcom via a quick update or two.
A Lovely Sum Game
Even with the port bugs, this is one damn fine collection of arguably the best 2D Mega Man games since the first half of the X series.
For those who played the X series but are new to the Zero and ZX series, or want to find out what the big deal is, this is a must-buy. The save-assist mode is a godsend for those who want a balance of fairness and difficulty. Do play them in order from parts 1 to ZX Advent, though be prepared for an unresolved cliffhanger for the latter. Maybe just play parts 1 to 4 if you just want to keep things resolved. It’s still worth all the effort.
For those who played these games to death, you’ll still want to get this, provided you have no other means of revisiting them in their original GBA and DS forms. Long story short, I do hope this spells a resurgence for X’s BFF Zero and the future of the Mega Man series because this is one legacy worth preserving.
- Six games featuring sublime 2D action.
- Great music.
- Lovely new time attack mode.
- Save points.
- Some mechanics in-game need explaining.
- Some port-related & controller-mapping tech issues.
FINAL SCORE: 90/100