|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Mike||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Mike Chasselwaite
Its hard to believe that there is another Mega Man game claiming to be new and improved but somehow Capcom was able to pull it off and continue to keep this robots heart beating for another adventure.
There are those among us that believe the Mega Man series has run its course years ago. There are countless Mega Man games for virtually every gaming system ever invented. It would be safe to say that the format (or gameplay formula), and the Mega Man character have become inextricably linked, for better or for worse. There are many games out there that can beat Mega Man at his own game but thats brand loyalty for ya and a lesson in marketing for you aspiring entrepreneurs. The new gameplay elements are not what I would call significant when compared to other games in the same genre but the Mega Man series is different. Since its been around so long some blind loyalists will gladly accept any change of character, shade or nuance and run screaming through the streets in ecstatic delight. Fortunately this time I dont have to play the role of the merciless, jaded, bastard since there is enough improvements in ZX to recommend it to gamers of all skills levels and not just hardcore (forgiving) fans (fanatics).
Let me start with the new features. Ill expand on them later in the review. For the first time ever, the central character is a human. You can choose between a male or female, and even though they look different, they are virtually the same in terms of powers and controllability. These Maverick hunters use mechanized suits composed of biometals which allow them to have all of the same powers as their robotic counterparts. The first biometal suit is a combined version of the X and the Zero robot. It will be familiar to fans of the series, but heres where it gets really interesting. You will not only upgrade skills, weapons and abilities but you will be able to collect, operate and upgrade four more biometal models each with their own diverse collection of attributes. You can transform into any of these models at anytime. Knowing when and where to use them gives the gameplay added dimension. You can also expect some DS-exclusive touch controls but this aspect wasnt utilized as much as it could be. It only scratches the surface (no pun intended stylus junkies), as some of these models have absolutely no touch controls at all resulting in a barren looking bottom screen.
In the past, war was waged among the humans and a race of robots called the reploids. Peace was eventually established but certain reploids remained on the fringes of this new civilization. Much like guerrillas or terrorists, this group does not recognize the present structure of government and continues to wage its own war. Known as Mavericks, they wont be satisfied until all humans have been destroyed. The humans have discovered an ancient form of technology called biometal which is a living, metallic organism capable of bestowing humans with powers to rival those of the reploids. During a mission transporting the biometal, Vent and Aile are ambushed, causing them to absorb the substance. With newfound powers Vent and Aile are unintentionally thrust center stage into the war arena where they must hunt down the perpetrators and neutralize them if peace is to be maintained in the world of Neo Arcadia.
The XZ is a combination of the Zero and X model. Its main weapon is the Z Saber. Fans of the series will find it familiar to control. The HX is a highly maneuverable flying model. It has dual Sabers and can shoot blasts of electricity through them. For moves is has both horizontal and vertical dashes. A more powerful, long-range unit is the FX which can shoot bullets that can be steered after being fired from the Dual Knuckle Busters. For underwater combat, the LX model glides like a torpedo. Its clumsy on land but its made for the water. It has a land and sea radar system that will pinpoint enemies wherever they are. Last but not least is the PX, which is great for melee combat. Its very responsive and can be used to climb walls and perform stealth missions. Button mashing the controls will allow you to unleash a rapid attack that few enemies will be able to walk away from. The PX also features throwing blades and stars as its main weapons.
Its not a matter of choosing your favorite model to get the most out of the game, its more a matter of choosing the right robot for the right job. There is no doubt that you will prefer some models over others but you know when your mission leads you to the water, youre going to have to use the LX model. Which by the way is my least favorite. All of the models look great and are very responsive. They animate smoothly and the collision detection system is almost perfect. Beginners can relax knowing that the Easy level is actually easy. Youre still going to have to work at it but its nothing like the Hard level which should have been called Impossible.
All of the action takes place on the top screen. The bottom screen is reserved for maps, radar and other unique touch control commands used for special attacks and moves on a few of the models. I would like to be able to say that these unique moves and attacks are a nice touch but that would not only be corny, but also untrue since theres no move on the bottom screen that could not have been performed by the analog buttons.
Mega Man is bright, colorful and fluid with great depth perspectives thanks to the layered backgrounds that scroll independently of each other while you side-scroll through each level. The levels are imaginative although they do straddle the line between recycled and content-consistent. The cutscenes are fully animated and fully voiced, which is great as long as you can understand Japanese. There are English subtitles. The sound effects and the music are arcade-perfect. They manage to sound familiar yet fresh.
Ive often slammed Mega Man for being resurrected from the dead, and deserved so. Fortunately Capcom has been able to breath new life into him with this ZX.
CCC Freelance Writer