Mega Man Zero Collection Review for Nintendo DS

Mega Man Zero Collection Review for Nintendo DS

Not Perfect, but Much More than Zero

There are few gaming franchises more revered than Mega Man. The series has seen many transformations over the years, including a complete return to 8-bit with Mega Man 9 and 10. The Zero games, however, stand out as being some of the most popular entries in the beloved saga, and Capcom has now wrangled the complete collection together to sit on a single Nintendo DS card. If you consider yourself a fan, there’s cause to rejoice.

Mega Man Zero Collection screenshot

The Mega Man Zero Collection is comprised of four numbered Zero games originally developed for the Gameboy Advance (GBA). You can choose to either play each game individually or tackle the experience as one, long adventure in Easy Scenario. If you’ve played either of the ZX games for DS, you’ll likely know what to expect from the story. The writing is barely a step above Saturday morning cartoons, but it still manages to convey a compelling message.

Zero is a Reploid discovered by Ciel and the Resistance fighters. Human factions have been using Reploids to wage war on one another, and surprisingly, the Zero Collection does a decent job dealing with the grey matter and collateral damage of such a tale. From Zero 1 to Zero 4, there’s a powerful saga that unfolds, and though the series concludes on a somewhat bittersweet and stunted note, the batch of games should prove especially satisfying to fans of the ZX games.

Fans of those games will also appreciate the more straightforward approach of the Zero Collection. Though I enjoyed the almost open-world nature of ZX and ZX Advent, it was easy to get lost within environments that looked very much the same. Knowing where to go and how to get there is never an issue in the Zero games. Though there is some wiggle room in terms of how you take on the adventure, the mission structure cuts out most of the guesswork.

Mega Man Zero Collection screenshot

If you’re new to the series, the Mega Man Zero games are platforming shooters that fall easily in line with the likes of Castlevania and Metroid. Gauntlets are littered with secrets and challenging pitfalls, and deadly bosses await you at the end of each march.

At the heart of every Mega Man game are the gadgets, and the Zero games each have their own interesting tidbits to offer. For instance, in Zero 1 you’ll acquire EX Skills that will add elemental attributes to your charged attacks. Knowing how and when to use these abilities is crucial to your survival against the game’s very challenging bosses.

Elves also play a big part of each of the four games, offering temporary assistance, as well as permanent power-ups to Zero. By the time you reach Zero 4, you’ll be creating your own items out of various parts found while trampling through levels – ample reason to make repeat visits to the different locales throughout the game. Since each of the four games is incredibly short, these incentives are a major part of the games’ lasting value.

Mega Man Zero Collection screenshot

You’re ranked at the end of each mission, and if you play the games individually, a high rank will earn you various extras in Zero games 2-4. The ranking system forces players to master the games’ many nuances. You can scrape by and still make it to the end of each game, but elite players are rewarded well for their hard work.

Though the Zero games were initially designed for the GBA, Capcom gives players the ability to customize the controls in the Zero Collection. Let me tell you, it might seem like a minor thing, but it really changes the gameplay quite drastically and for the better. Rather than having to press both a shoulder and attack button in order to fire off your sub-weapon – oftentimes a requirement while jumping or clinging to a wall – you can assign each weapon to a separate button on the DS.

Mega Man Zero Collection screenshot

Another little extra diehard fans should truly appreciate is the addition of mod cards, an element of the Zero games that never surfaced in the original U.S. releases. The mod cards are unlocked after completing each of the games, offering both minor aesthetic changes and gameplay enhancements. Wallpapers and character cards are among the other various unlockables included in the package, and for $30, Zero lovers will likely find a lot to love here.

Unfortunately, not everything from the past holds up to today’s standards. Enemies re-spawn anytime you move slightly from one area of a level to another (nothing new for ZX fans), and it’s an element of these games that can cause unnecessary frustration, especially when attempting to navigate some of the more challenging platforming segments. The level design is also somewhat barebones in some areas, and by the time the series starts to wrap up, you can begin to feel a waning of inspiration.

Though newcomers can opt to get their feet wet with the Easy Scenario, I found it to be a tad too easy. Your weapons are upgraded to the fullest, you’re given all sub tanks and elves, and a massive, double-layered health bar means you can tank pretty much anything the game throws at you. The Easy Scenario is a fun option for folks who just want to fool around, but it borders on being an invincible mode that pretty much removes the need for any skill.

If there is one aspect of the Zero Collection that continues to shine, however, it’s the controls. Dash jumping is excellent, and wall climbing never gets old. The mechanics are darn-near pixel perfect, making for many gleeful moments as you trudge your way through missions. The construction of most missions too is very entertaining, though things start to become a bit formulaic by Zero 4.

Graphically, the Mega Man Zero Collection is still something of a treat. Some environments and enemies are more interesting and detailed than others, but there are still lots of great 2D art to admire along the way. The animations look really good, though there were some odd framerate spikes here and there. I was disappointed the screen size wasn’t formatted to fit snugly on DS, but it’s a minor quibble, really. The music is as tight as ever and there is plenty of variety. The smattering of voice blurbs is also a nice touch, and the sound effects are satisfying and well matched with the gameplay.

The Mega Man Zero Collection is a sweet, little anthology that is as surprisingly relevant and fun today as it was when the games released on GBA back in the early part of the decade. The games are pretty short and not every element of the Zero Collection can be labeled a classic; however, the meat of the experience is still completely solid. Meaningful extras round out the package nicely, and fans of the blue…err, blond bomber can consider the Mega Man Zero Collection with confidence.

The sprite work still looks really good, as do many of the games’ environments. There are some bland moments, however, and weird framerate spikes also blemish the presentation slightly. 4.5 Control
The controls were already tight, but having the ability to customize settings makes gameplay much more comfortable. Not all of the platforming is stellar, but the mechanics are above reproach. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There’s a good bit of variety in terms of the music throughout the series, and the sound effects get the job done nicely. The fidelity is a bit dated, however. 4.0

Play Value
The games are short, but as a complete package the Mega Man Zero Collection is a strong value for your buck.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The Mega Man Zero series is comprised of all four Mega Man Zero titles previously released on the GameBoy Advance onto one cartridge for the Nintendo DS.
  • In the tradition of most Mega Man games, the Mega Man Zero Collection is a fast-paced, 2D action side-scrolling platform game.
  • For the first time, it will be available for Nintendo DS complete with all new modes.

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