Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Game Review - Mega Man Zero Collection

Formats: DS

Gamers have it easy these days. With the introduction of recovering life bars, infinite continues and generously spaced checkpoints, it is nigh-on impossible to not finish any game, given you have enough patience. It's time for a wake up call for all you complacent gamers who whine “Henry Hatsworth was too harrrrrrrd”, so here's a game that'll kick more ass than Chuck Norris at a mule convention, and looks better to boot.

Mega Man Zero Collection compiles all four MMZ titles together on one cartridge, along with a sprinkling of extras. Fans of the series will know what to expect here, and if you're missing even one of the games from your GBA collection or have upgraded to a non backwards-compatible DS system, this is a definite purchase. For those of you who don't know what a Z-saber or a cyber elf is, read on.

The core gameplay of the MMZ games consists of navigating various stages from left to right, defeating killer robots, collecting hidden weapons and power-ups and destroying the level's boss. This all sounds fairly simple on paper (or on screen, whatever) but can be devilishly difficult in practice. While Zero (Mega Man's ever stoic foil) is a nimble character whose combination of sabre slashes and dashes make him a formidable foe, the game's design rises to the challenge to create a world where you never feel overpowered. Whether it is complicated platforming sequences, overwhelming enemy numbers or preposterously powerful bosses, each level presents an obstacle that is incredibly satisfying to overcome. The MMZ games also contain a huge array of usable weapons each with its own unique moveset, so murdering mountains of marauding mechanical monsters never becomes... monotonous.

The Mega Man Zero series picks up a century after the Mega Man X series, which itself is set a century after the core series. For those just looking for a meaty action game the story is not really that important, but the Zero games do contain a fairly in-depth narrative accompanied by some really neat hand-drawn art. One of my favourite aspects of the MMZ series is the art, and the visuals really take advantage of the bigger and brighter screens of the DS (or if you're lucky, the DSi XL). Beautifully animated and intricate sprites can be seen on every stage, as well as numerous examples of cleverly layered backgrounds. This new version also features hand-drawn character art which is displayed on the bottom screen and can be unlocked and viewed in the main menu's gallery, which is a nice addition, but touch-screen enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that there's not much more bottom-screen functionality beyond that.

Besides the extra artwork, there's also a mode for you casual gamers to enjoy. The new 'Easy scenario' mode allows you to play Mega Man Zero 1-4 all the way through, starting with all possible upgrades and weapons, and at a slightly less difficult setting. This is an excellent introduction for newcomers to the series, but the more hardcore among you may find the experience lacking.

The Mega Man Zero Collection represents great value for money, and while it may not have the fancy touch or dual-screen advantages of it's contemporaries, it more than makes up for it in quality and quantity. Just remember that I won't respect you as a gamer until you take it off 'easy scenario'.

Lukao gives Mega Man Zero Collection 8 cyber elves out of 10.

Lukao, CeX UK Contributor.
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