Review: Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection (Switch)

Do these six classic handheld games shine on Nintendo Switch?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 04/14/2020 02:20 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
All of the games in the collection are immensely fun; exceptional pixel art; smooth, furious gunplay; solid soundtracks
Poison Mushroom for...
Difficulty level might put off some players (but is mitigated by quality of life tweaks in this collection); storylines are bloated, especially in the later games

Capcom is a lot like Nintendo in that the developer has a ton of different franchises that date all the way back to the ’90sand even the ’80s. Street Fighter, Final Fight, Resident Evil, and countless other series have been kicking around for years, and also like Nintendo’s pantheon of properties, many have been reinterpreted in numerous ways. This is especially true for Mega Man— from the X series in the ’90s through to Mega Man Battle Network, the Blue Bomber has been reimagined in a variety of different forms and genres throughout the character’s long and storied career.

One particularly endearing take on the Mega Man mythos were the Mega Man Zero and ZX series. These platformers were developed by the legendary Inti Creates, partially under the supervision of Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune. Following in the wake of the Mega Man X series, Zero and ZX both pick up the pieces and imagine entirely new stories and characters that continue the legacy of Rock and friends while also pushing boldly forward in a fresh direction. To have the entirety of both series assembled in Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is a thrill, albeit one that’s held back a tad by some of the issues that originally plagued these titles when they were first released.

To help keep things in perspective, it’s worth pointing out that the Mega Man Zero series was released on Game Boy Advance, while the Mega Man ZX games were delivered on Nintendo DS. As handheld titles, there are some limitations in terms of graphics that are an unavoidable reality. Yet, that doesn’t mean Inti Creates didn’t do a wonderful job of squeezing out as much beauty and detail as possible when creating both series. As examples of GBA and DS games, Mega Man Zero and ZX are among the most gorgeous assemblages of software on either platform. Transitioning the two series to Switch has done nothing to assuage their gorgeous aesthetics.

For this latest Legacy Collection, Capcom has done everything in its power to accommodate for the larger screens of both Switch and TVs in a number of ways. Every game has a myriad of display options to take advantage of. Each title can be made to fill the screen, or there’s also the option to shrink them down to the actual dimensions of the GBA and DS screens that they originally would have been played on. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with how the games look exploded onto larger screens, there’s no getting around the fact that the Zero and ZX series weren’t made to be shown off in such large dimensions. Filters help to smooth things out (or add some retro flair), but overall I felt the optimal way to enjoy this compilation was with the screens set to the smallest viewing options— including when playing in handheld mode.

However players choose to view the games in Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is up to them, but there’s no denying just how sharp the art direction is. Zero’s redesign in his eponymous GBA series remains cool as hell. He’s sleeker than in the X series which works much better with his fast, kinetic fighting style. The hand drawn narrative segments of the Zero games are still a treat to comb over, lending the narrative a manga element that perfectly meshes with the crazy, twisting plot. The ZX series, meanwhile, took the visuals of the Zero games to the next level and arguably look even better than what came before. Dystopian sci-fi cityscapes, legions of robotic enemies, and more all coalesce into a pleasing whole.

There are a ton of quality of life options to take advantage of, too. Buttons can be remapped as the player sees fit, for starters. The “Easy Scenario” mode from Mega Man Zero Collection on DS has been carried over here as “Casual Scenario” mode and is available for both series. This will be a godsend for more inexperienced players or those who just want to delve into the… complicated narratives of each game (more on that in a moment). Casual Scenario Mode is coupled with the new Save-Assist system, which offers the opportunity to create save points at virtually any point throughout a game. The need for this is mitigated somewhat by the ability to suspend play on a Switch at any time, but it will still prove beneficial to fans who do want to quit entirely mid-play session. Overall, these are great options to have for players of all stripes.

If there’s anything that holds back either of these two series, it’s the brain-numbing narrative. Midway through the X series, Inafune and company began injecting heaping doses of storyline into each game. With Zero and ZX, Capcom opted to double-down on the narrative focus, to the detriment of the games. There’s a lot of talk about elves and duplicates and grandiose plots of destruction, and it all gets so involved and confounding that it eventually starts to devolve into a crushing word salad. The narrative doesn’t ruin anything, but it’s bloated and self-indulgent to the point that many fans will tune it out. Less can often be more, and that should have been the mantra of Zero and ZX’s writers.

Overlooking the flawed storytelling, fans will find six games stuffed with content and gameplay to enjoy. In the Zero series, players are treated to the same zippy run-and-gun platforming adventures that the X series did so well. Zero can be upgraded throughout each entry, with a number of both permanent and temporary buffs to take advantage of. The Zero games are notoriously challenging, but the Casual Scenario mode and Save-Assist features do a lot to ease the difficulty for those that are interested in a reprieve. This collection is a perfect way to spend some time and it’s highly recommended to consider giving it a download!

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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