Mega Man is one of the key figures you’d associate with Capcom, and it’s often referenced in many other games. This collection contains 6 playable games to really give you value for money. There are also extra game modes which include time trials to test the skills of the Mega Man experts. Ashamedly, I am not a Mega Man expert, and this is my first real experience of the series. It is definitely the tricky fast-paced action/platform 2D shooter that you’d expect it to be.
The story if I get this correctly is set 100 years after the Mega Man X Series. You play as Zero, who disappeared at the end of the Mega Man X series. He was discovered and awakened by Ciel who is a scientist, keen on ending the energy crisis plaguing the world. Zero is unsure of who he is and is immediately called to action to protect Ciel and her reploid friends from a group that want to destroy them because of the energy shortage. It seems the events of the X series led to a war where mavericks which are crazed humans set out to destroy reploids. But the Mavericks were defeated, and this led to humans and reploids living together in harmony until the energy shortage led to desperate humans destroying reploids to conserve energy. Zero protects the group and understands Ciel’s efforts to create a new renewable energy source to end the massacre of reploids and agrees to help her. This story theme is stretched over the four Zero games, through many plot twists involving characters from the past, but all pointing to Zero having to save the day to pave the way for Ciel to help make a better world for everyone with her new energy source to end the conflict. The story of the other two ZX games takes place even later still. The harmony of humans and reploids once again compromised by mavericks and it falls to a choice of 2 characters, Grey or Ashe to become the next Mega Man and save the world.
Considering all 6 of the games were originally Nintendo DS games they have been ported/emulated with mixed success. The 2D graphics look like DS quality graphics still, just stretched to make a nice playable size on the screen. One thing that doesn’t transfer well is the zoom factor of the upscaling making the game tricky to play. It still looks quite decent for a DS game but as this is an action platformer, navigating the platforms and tackling enemies becomes that much harder as you cannot see too far ahead of you as you are so zoomed in. Another issue is the controls which I feel could have been handled better, but I think they must have been limited. Using default controls is hideous as you press your X and A button for jumping and attacking which is fine in mimicking the DS buttons. But to use your alternate attack you have to hold the right bumper button and then press the attack button. Considering the number of spare buttons on the Xbox controller this seems daft. Luckily you can customise this in the options so that Right Bumper is just your second attack, or it switches your primary and secondary attack when using the attack button. The sound in the game is what you expect from an action shooter. Fast-paced background tracks with the usual shooting, slashing and explosion sounds. The ZX games also seem to have some English dialogue spoken in them which is quite nice.
As a Mega Man newb, I was quickly lost in some of the features available. There are a variety of weapons to choose from as your primary or secondary and you never know which ones to use for a mission. The real confusing part comes with the cyber elves as it’s not clearly explained how you should be using them. From what I learned by playing it, cyber elves are like powerups you can use in each level which assist in granting health or attacking enemies. However, using these cyber elves lowers your completion score so those chasing the high score shouldn’t use them. Considering you can feed them, grow them or when you use them they die it all becomes a bit confusing. Another annoying factor for me is that the base where you choose your gear and mission is unnecessarily complex. It probably doesn’t help when the game is in 2D, but it seems in each game the base where you end up has rooms and lifts all over the place and you almost have to map everything out on where to get to certain places. I understand they wanted to make the base look big but that thought diminishes when there are 5 floors and 20 or so rooms and you only ever see like 10 people.
But each of the games is fun and challenging in their own way. In typical Mega Man fashion, you have to tackle the enemies, conquer the platforms, keep your health up and eventually take on a boss. This is pretty much the tried and tested format of Mega Man and it works throughout all the games. The graphical zooming and iffy control limitations aside I found all of the games quite fun to play through, and the story flows nicely through each of the games in their respective series. It does help that the game comes with a casual mode which gives you extra health and save points through each of the missions, otherwise my experience would have been short-lived. Purists would probably call it a cheat mode as it does make the game considerably easier, but I feel this kind of setting should exist in games and is becoming more common, often labelled as a ‘story mode’ difficulty setting, so those less skilled players can still enjoy the game. However, the purists can still play as nature intended and this collection also offers a rush mode for each series where you can play any of the missions from any of the games against a time trial ghost. This is a fun add-on where the screen splits and you play your game on one screen and the ghost on the other screen and race the ghost to beat their completion time.
The Mega Man Zero ZX Legacy Collection is definitely a game that provides a lot of value in the package. The Mega Man games are still great fun to play and perfect for fans of the series who may have missed out on these Original Nintendo DS games. There are a few graphical and control issues to overlook, sure, but that doesn’t detract from the fact these are still decent 2D Platform shooters.