Mega Man Zero/Zx Legacy Collection Review – A Few of the Greats

    Title: Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
    Developer: Capcom
    Release Date: February 25, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Capcom
    Genre: 2D Action

Capcom has released several collections of their groundbreaking Mega Man franchise, but most focused on the original Mega Man entries along with the Mega Man X series. However, Capcom’s latest Mega Man Collection is giving some much-needed attention to lesser-known fan favorites in the franchise. Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection combines all four of the Mega Man Zero series along with Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent. The result is some of the most challenging but rewarding action platforming in the genre.

Even among veteran Mega Man players, the Mega Man Zero series is notoriously difficult. Enemies hit hard and fast, and there is no shortage of pitfalls or instakills. To make the games more accessible, this collection includes “Casual Scenario Mode” and “Save Assist.” In Casual Scenario Mode, you are given unlimited lives, full health, all upgrades, and sub tanks. Enemies also seem to deal less damage, and bosses aren’t much of a threat in comparison.

Save assist gives the player several more checkpoints throughout the stage. In addition to checkpointing your progress, it actually saves your game up until that point, meaning any lives you lose won’t be deducted. This makes once extremely tough games super forgiving. Save assist can also be toggled on and off, giving you a lot of flexibility with this feature.

After playing, I enjoyed the Save Assist feature but found the Casual Scenario Mode a bit too breezy for my taste. I can see new players to the series or those just wanting to speed through, loving this new casual mode. Those that still want the original game experience without handicaps still have it here. And the masochistic can test their mettle with “Hard Mode” after they beat it on Normal.

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Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy also features a new mode called “Z Chaser.” This is a time trial that lets you speed through various courses from all six games. Z Chaser has three different options: “Single Chaser” where you run against a ghost competitor, “Double Chaser” where you can play locally against a friend, and “World Record Chaser” where, as the name implies, you compete in the leaderboards times from around the world.

There are also various difficulties you can try within Z Chaser, which helps you find a race that is best suited for you. Typically I’m not a massive fan of time trials, but I found this one fun and addicting. Seeing the opponent’s screen next to mine brought out a competitive side of me, which kept me playing. It’s also a great way to view what other players are doing to help improve your own gameplay.

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The collection also features several different visual presentations to choose from. For the Zero titles initially released on the GameBoy Advance, you can change the size of the screen as well as the aspect ratio. You can also choose from various wallpaper borders and two filters. One smooths the pixel art a bit while the other presents lines that simulate the original screen.

ZX and ZX Advent present a unique challenge of translating the dual screens of a Nintendo DS onto a single screen console. The options provided, work well, and I found it pretty natural to control what would be the stylus of the DS with the right joy-con. I would love to see more developers take a cue from this when translating DS games.

Other new features include an art gallery and soundtrack for each game, most of which are unlocked from the start. It was my first time seeing some of this art in HD, and it looks better than ever. Another key feature is you can also choose between the English or the original Japanese version of each game.

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As for the games themselves, it’s easy to say that they are each present solid platforming action. The first Zero game does feel like the weakest one in the series as it seems to struggle a bit when deciding how to differentiate itself from the other Mega Man series. Stage selection is a bit more ambiguous, and many of the levels in the first game come off feeling similar.

But from the second game on the series finds its legs and its sense of identity. Moves and abilities also become more varied and open a lot more possibilities and strategies to the player in the sequels. Items that are a bit awkward and not as intuitive to use as the chain rod are also removed. The difficulty seems to decrease with each sequel of each title but is by no means does that mean they are a pushover. More traditional leveling is key to abilities in the first two titles but is dropped in later sequels.

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For the Zero Series, “elves” are used to boost abilities, weapons, or health. Sometimes they are single-use items, and others can permanently increase your vitality or attack. I always found myself a bit confused when or how I could use and upgrade elves, but when I eventually got the hang of it, the system is pretty unique and one I enjoyed. The way the elves tie into the story also gives the player a perspective they usually wouldn’t have with their special items.

ZX and ZX Advent give a less challenging but still enjoyable experience. In both games, you have the choice of two different characters, each with different storylines. The art design is clean and bright, contrasting a bit with the more somber tone of the Zero series.

The soundtrack also reflects this energetic and more optimistic feel with electronic and synth beats. Cutscenes are typically anime, and voice acted. ZX Advent has some questionable English voice acting, and you’ll hear some of the same clips again and again. But overall, both games are great platformers. ZX and ZX Advent seem even more obscure than the Zero series, so it’s nice that Capcom added these two into the collection.

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There is a lot of excellent game design packed into the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection. With the added Z Chaser, save assist, and casual mode, the series is now more accessible than ever with added modes for returning fans. Any of the shortcomings of one title is made up for in the other, which makes it easy to say that that this collection is 2D action at its finest.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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