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Mega Man ZX Advent Package Art
GENRE
Action, Platformer
DEVELOPER
Capcom
PUBLISHER
Capcom
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
BUY NOW AT

Mega Man ZX Advent

Capcom is up to its old tricks with another annual Mega Man release. This time around itís a sequel to last yearís Mega Man ZX. Building on the Metroidvania design (the open-ended level structure made popular by the Metroid and Castlevania series) first used by the series in Mega Man ZX, Mega Man ZX Advent refines the experience and breaks new ground. This is the game the first ZX was meant to be, and it sets the stage to further this offshoot Mega Man series.

visuals

Capcom has done it again: Mega Man, the robotic super soldier, has never looked better. Sprite-based 2D platforming is back in all of its colorful glory, and stylistically, continues its evolution to resemble the Mega Man anime. This is the 20th Anniversary for the Blue Bomber (put him in Brawl!), and it shows: Capcom spent its time rendering the detailed enemies and backdrops, which cover the usual locales of cityscape, forest and neon cyber hell.

audio

16-bit hyper melodies bring back the love of early Mega Man and keep the ZX Advent action upbeat. In a surprise move, a great deal of the plot is voiced. Each main character and boss features a wealth of dialogue spoken by an array of actors. While itís easy to spot the overall lack of talent, fans of the Saturday morning anime will feel right at home with the familiar voices.

gameplay

ZX Advent begins with your choice of Grey (a male robot that shoots faster) or Ashe (a female robot with slow, powerful shots). In typical anime existential angst, our heroes emerge from cryogenic sleep with no recollection of who or what they are. Thus begins a quest for identity, one that defines ZX Advent.

One of the key motifs of Mega Man has been the absorption of a defeated bossís power in order to power-up and defeat even more bosses. But this time around, not only do you inherent a bossís power once you defeat him, but you also become him. At the press of the Y button or a touch of a screen, Mega Man shapeshifts from a bipedal robot into a giant underwater behemoth or a horned demon. Mega Man is no longer Mega Man, but Mega Men. With a total of 14 forms, Mega Man becomes multi-dimensional -- not merely a character, but overlapping ids that shift, shimmer and bifurcate across multiple personalities.

The identity crisis extends to the gameplay, in which you change form often. Some Mega Men are simpler the others, and youíll quickly discover favorites. Others are required sparingly by the game design. All of them force frequent form changes, which slows down the run-and-gun platforming, and will make you wish that Mega Man would make up his mind about who he is.

The Metroidvania level design suffers in much the same way, but shows signs of maturation. The map is better than the previous ZX, but still lacks the refined sense of either of its inspirations. Light role-playing aspects are sprinkled throughout ZX Advent, with a few side missions here and a bit of item collecting there. Neither offers incentive to backtrack, as the reward is negligible and the items too few to affect gameplay. In short, Mega Man plays like he always does: in stages; only now, thereís a hint of something grand in these growing pains. If only Capcom could tie it all together into one cohesive whole, instead of letting the multiple strands hang loose.

The selectable difficulty also offers up its choice of personalities. On Easy, young teens and tweens will find a lot to love. But crank it up to Normal or Hard, and this game is difficult, even by Mega Man standards. Expect to die, and expect to die a lot. True to the Mega Man formula, the learning curve for the game can be infuriating with its trial and error approach to certain level elements and boss battles. Learning both patterns and specific weaknesses takes time, and one false move is certain death. Add in a mere two lives (a couple more can be found) for all these Mega Men, and youíve got a game thatís not for portable sessions.

Adding to the challenge is the frustrating design decision to lock warp points; in order to unlock a warp point, you must buy it with the scarce Energy Credits. (Note: On Easy, no Energy Credits are required to unlock a warp point.) This wouldnít be so bad if you could warp between warp points; but sadly, Capcom seems to have again forgotten that ZX Advent is a portable game for on-the-go and not for marathon gaming. In order to warp, youíre limited to the few and far between access points; these serve as save-, health recharge- and transfer-to-any-warp points.

Despite all these facets, ZX Advent does have a core: quality Mega Man platforming. Some of the newer additions to the platforming genre -- like the ability to shoot in eight directions or a double jump -- would keep the experience fresher; but ZX Advent knows the basics, and it knows them well. Chalk up some cool moves, intricate bosses and spot-on controls, and itís easy to overlook these multiple flaws. Maybe Mega Man knows who he is. Maybe the ambiguity is our own, as Mega Man grows and changes. Maybe the quest isnít one of identity, but of self discovery and learning to discipline the childish psyche into a mature whole. Hereís hoping the best for this maturing series; but for now, letís enjoy the growing pains.

multiplayer

An unlockable, downloadable, two player minigame called Gem Busters is at your disposal. It plays a bit like Puyo Pop meets Bejeweled. Itís more of an afterthought, but it serves as a good distraction and is a testament to industryís obsession with multiplayer, no matter how silly its inclusion might seem.

overall

Mega Man and retro aficionados should apply for ZX Advent. This series is on the fast track to excellence, and any fan should add a point to my score below. Hard mode will ensure multiple twitch-happy sessions of old school goodness. Those who are not up for the challenge may want to look elsewhere; but if youíve never played Mega Man, now's the time to discover the past with this 20th Anniversary release. Keep Ďem coming Capcom.

final score 7.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Abraham Walters
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"The cake is a lie."


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