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Mega Man Zero Collection review

Mega Man ZERO Collection - NDS Screenshot - 781852

Though Mega Man is currently enjoying life as a retro-action game reborn, it wasn’t that long ago that the series was in search of a new identity. That search eventually led to the arrival of Mega Man Zero, a successful spin-off that spawned three sequels. All four titles were originally developed for the Game Boy Advance, but thanks to the wonder that is the game compilation, the entire series can now be experienced on the Nintendo DS.

This might not be the most exciting news for those who have purchased the GBA originals. But if you’ve sold a copy, lost one of the tiny cartridges, or never bothered to add Zero to your gaming library, Mega Man Zero Collection is a sweet package.

Those who are new to the franchise will be blown away by the game’s excessive difficulty, which is notoriously hardcore. It borders on gamer abuse, forcing the player to endure an army of radical enemies and resilient bosses. The former has no trouble re-spawning when you return to an area that has already been explored, wreaking havoc like you’ve never seen before…except for 2D Japanese shooters such as Ikaruga. If you’ve ever played a hardcore shooter that appeared to be impossible to beat, then you know what to expect from Mega Man Zero Collection.

To help ease our pain, Capcom has created an Easy mode that strings all four games together, allowing you to play through the whole set without stopping. The Easy setting can be turned off for this mode, ensuring that the game retains its crazy challenge. But those who use it will die much less frequently. Enemies may respawn at the same rate, but that doesn’t matter since they die much more easily. Bosses suffer the same fate; whereas the boss battles are unbearably painful in the normal mode, on Easy they can be killed off quickly.

If you think this sounds crazy, then by all means, play the game in its original form. Capcom didn’t create this mode to dumb down the experience (as so many developers do in their effort to appeal to the mainstream). In this collection, the developers were merely looking to offer a bit of salvation to those who were desperately seeking help the first time around – and, most likely, to reach out to Mega Man newcomers who are not ready to take on the game’s most difficult chapters.

Unlike many of the old games that have been ported to the iPhone, Mega Man Zero Collection does not attempt to stretch the picture to fill out the DS’ screen. Rather, it uses the same aspect ratio as the GBA original (it may not be exact but it is very close), applying thin black bars wherever necessary. On the bottom screen, players can take a gander at some artwork from the game.

While the lack of newness – and true DS upgrades – might disappoint those who have already had their Mega Man Zero fix, it is refreshing to see that Capcom wanted each game to remain faithful to its GBA counterpart. Surely a modern upgrade would have been more impressive; who wouldn’t want to see a few polygons attached to these characters? But that kind of an upgrade isn’t usually made until a game has been out at least a decade. Look at how long it took for Capcom to upgrade Ghosts ‘N Goblins.

Regardless, Mega Man Zero Collection is still a good compilation with one great game and three entertaining sequels. At $30, the price is hard to resist – though you could buy used copies of all four games for just a few bucks more, the chances of finding them are not very good. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to play one or more of the Zero iterations, now is your chance.

Good

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Louis Bedigian
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