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Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 25, 2020


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PS4 Review - 'Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on March 2, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Ready your Z-Saber and prepare to megamerge as old friends and new heroes from the Mega Man universe unite in Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection.

Buy Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection

As you might gather from the name, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection follows the popular character Zero through a number of postapocalyptic adventures. This compilation includes Mega Man Zero 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent. The core gameplay is similar to the Mega Man X games, but with a few differences. Since you're playing primarily as Zero, the games focus on melee combat over the usual Mega Buster. There is also significantly less in the way of boss upgrades, and rather than getting one of the boss skills for beating an enemy by default, weapons and items will be dropped throughout the story. (The later game gives you a chance to acquire a boss skill with skillful play.)

The other big shift from the classic Mega Man titles is a generally overall higher difficulty. Developed by Inti Creates, who would go on to make Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mega Man 10 & 11, the games require a somewhat higher overall skill level than the usual games. This trends downward as you play, but they can be fairly punishing for casual playthrough if you're used to the relative ease of the X series.

If you never played the original Zero games, they have an odd method of gaining new abilities and upgrades. One method involves collectible creatures called Cyber Elves, and it's difficult to get your head around. You effectively have to collect adorable creatures, raise them, and devour them for power. This also heavily negatively impacts your score. The idea is that you must handicap yourself to get the best possible score, but in practice, the system felt awkward, and players wanted to avoid killing the cute little creatures. The later games in the series introduced methods to get around this, but overuse of Cyber Elves is still discouraged.

The other method also involves score: Games include special bonus equipment and abilities for beating bosses with a high ranking. If you play the game casually, you might not notice such a thing exists, but it goes hand-in-hand with the discouragement of using Cyber Elves. You want a good ranking so you can get cool skills. Most of the skills are optional, but they feel cool to unlock, so it's disappointing when you can't.

That isn't to say Mega Man Zero is punishingly unfair. If you use the tools given to you, the game can throw a lot of advantages your way, but the one-two punch of poorer scores and fewer cool abilities can discourage that. There are ways around it — including Cyber Elves that can raise your rank to A for one stage — but at the end of the day, it's a game franchise built with the mindset of using as few advantages as possible. Thankfully, by Zero 4, the developers have found a pretty good balance between encouraging players to take risks and giving casual players the ability to power up from challenges.

The two newer games in the collection, ZX and ZX Advent, are different. Rather than collecting new weapons, you gain the ability to transform into different armors, which grant new powers based on the bosses you defeat. It's far closer to the classic Mega Man games in flavor and a lot more accessible than the Zero games, with a lower overall difficulty, more quality of life features, and lacking the Cyber Elf system in favor of more traditional upgrades.

ZX and ZX Advent were DS games and used both screens, including the lower touch-screen. The PS4 version compensates for this by putting a smaller version of the lower screen in the corner of your main screen. (You can customize its location in a variety of ways, though.) You can use the right analog stick to move a cursor around and "touch" the screen. It's not the greatest placement in the world for a DS screen, but fortunately, the touch-screen use is relatively rare and usually not under time pressure.

With all that out of the way, I want to emphasize that the Zero franchise is fantastic. It's my favorite of the Mega Man platformer franchises, and it has the most consistent quality, avoiding the occasional massive pitfall, like Mega Man X7. The gameplay is fast and feels great, and it has some of the most enjoyable melee platforming this side of Strider. It isn't quite the old-school Blue Bomber, but it has a flavor all its own.

The Zero/ZX Collection includes some nice, new features. There are collectible achievements and art galleries, as well as the ability to use the Link features from various games to unlock bonuses and extras. There's also a scored Boss Rush mode, complete with leaderboards. For many players, the best additions will be the difficulty toggles. One is effectively a story mode and makes the games remarkably easy, similar to what existed in the DS Zero Collection. The other adds extra checkpoints to the stages, which I think is an excellent balance between the original difficulty and being far too easy. The checkpoints can be toggled on and off or even jumped over, so you can use them for difficult stages but not when you want the challenge. It makes the games significantly easier, but it's a good way to make them accessible to people who don't enjoy the earlier titles' punishing gameplay.

Unfortunately, that brings us to one aspect of the collection that might be problematic for a lot of people. The Zero franchise began on the GBA, and the graphics were all designed to look fine on the tiny GBA screen. They were not designed to look great when blown up to a full-size TV. There are a couple of smoothing options available (I wasn't fond of the default), but without those, expect to see every pixel in the game. This wasn't a game-breaker for me, and it's an unavoidable aspect of porting such an old game, but if you're unable to stand that, then you're not going to enjoy the collection. The audio sounds mostly good, and there are options to used remastered voice tracks for some of the games. The Zero franchise has some great songs, and it feels pretty good to have them all in one package.

The Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is a great collection. It contains six solid and enjoyable games with a lot of nice quality of life features that make this the definitive version of the game. The only real flaw is that the games have aged, and no smoothing filter can hide the jagged GBA pixels. If you can look past that, then this is a great addition to any Mega Man fan's collection, and if you missed these gems on the GBA or DS, then you owe it to yourself to give it a chance.

Score: 8.0/10

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