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Mega Man Zero 4 Package Art
GENRE
Action
DEVELOPER
Inticreates
PUBLISHER
Capcom
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1
CONNECTIVITY
No
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Mega Man Zero 4

Having grown up on Mario, I'm a more recently converted fan of the Blue Bomber franchise, though none the less enthusiastic for it. Current-gen Nintendo systems have seen plenty of Mega Man love from Capcom, and this most recent installment in the Mega Man Zero GBA series is no exception. In the tradition of its classic Mega Man predecessors, Mega Man Zero 4 carries the torch as another quality action platformer featuring more of the same, which in this case is a good thing.

The game opens with a cut scene detailing the history of the wars that have brought us up to now. Our hero has defeated the leader of the would-be human utopia Neo Arcadia, and in the vacuum of power the twisted Dr. Weil has emerged to rule with an iron fist. A small band of rebels flee the city in an attempt to escape Weil's domination. They succeed in escaping the city but fail to escape his attention.

Weil rounds up eight of the usual suspects to bring these rogue humans into line through an ominous project codenamed Ragnarok (for you non-Nordic out there, Ragnarok is the battle at the end of the world). Fitting. As I'm sure you've now guessed, it's up to you as our hero Zero to defeat Weil's eight boss minions and halt Ragnarok.

visuals

Everything from environments to characters to bosses in Zero 4 is a treat for the eye. Technology pulses with light and display screens flicker. The caliber of the cut scenes is impressive for a GBA game, most notably the action-packed intro of the fleeing human caravan against the pursuing forces of Dr. Weil. Sprites are realistically animated, evoking a realistic sense of character. This is apparent not only at the ending (which I won't give away), but also at Zero's first encounter with Weil's gang of eight.

audio

Background music is enjoyable, subtle and varied enough so as not to get annoying. Sound effects fit well, detailed from the slash of Zero's Z Saber down to the severed parts and pieces of enemies. Zero's crew voices a word here and there. Bosses sport some emphatic voice acting talent, though it is all in Japanese.

gameplay

Anyone who has played a classic Mega Man title will be familiar with the structure of the game. Choose a sector, navigate the level and take down its boss. While Zero's adventure is similar in structure to Mega Man's, fundamental differences vary the experience. Alike, but different from Mega Man's Power Slide, Zero can jump with his Command Dash. In addition to the Buster Cannon is Zero's signature Z Saber which changes the dynamic of gameplay from a distance destructor to an intimate one. Zero can also slide down walls, which becomes key to vertical wall-climbing and platform jumping.

Making the game nicely accessible to players of all skill levels are the varied levels of difficulty which you can choose to play Zero 4. In Easy mode, the game can be completed in 2 to 3 hours, seemingly short until you take into account that your elf (Zero's companion) is completely leveled up from the start and lethal spikes and falls have been softened significantly.

Such is not the case in Normal mode--add back the spikes and falls to lengthen the gameplay on a learning curve of trial and error. While frustrating, this element of gameplay does give satisfaction when surmounted and makes you a brutally accurate, hair-trigger player, especially in boss battles. These are also made more difficult by the need for your companion elf to level up, which can increase health, weapon accuracy and alter Zero's running and wall sliding speeds.

In Normal mode you can alter the weather in certain stages to make it easier to play. In Easy mode the weather always just happens to be perfect for a strike at the enemy base. When the weather is unfavorable, you get to see what ease you enjoyed as levels function with standard difficulty.

Some other gameplay items of note: enemies drop the Zero Knuckle weapon and parts that can be assembled into various items. In my game I was only able to make an improved piece of head armor, but one could conceivably go back to completed stages to collect needed parts to build more efficiently. The Zero Knuckle allows you to grab things, mostly other enemies weapons for Zero to use. While a novel concept, in practice it doesn't significantly impact gameplay.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

I haven't played any previous installments of the Mega Man Zero series, but after playing Mega Man Zero 4, it makes me want to track down the previous releases. This is a polished, dead-on addition to a franchise in which a sore thumb stands out. The post-apocalyptic sci-fi story balances the great side-scrolling action for a truly satisfying experience.

final score 9.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Paul Starke
Staff Profile | Email
"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"


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