Mega Man Zero 3 – GBA – Review

Mega Man Zero 3 has most
of what the series is famous for: blaster-heavy combat, unrelenting enemies, and
enormous bosses that don’t take death for an answer.  The game also has
something the series isn’t famous for: lengthy story segments that can’t be
skipped.

Mega Man Zero 3’s
gameplay is entirely what you’d expect it to be.  The stages are short and
without too many winding paths.  There are some platforms to navigate, but the
game is more of a "climber" than a "platformer."  Zero has to do a lot of
climbing to get through each area, whether it’s a level of enemies or a safe
haven where all the good guys gather.

Climbing is done by
tightly gripping the side of any wall or object that’s bigger than Zero. 
Technically some of the enemies are bigger than Zero, but he can’t grip them. 
His grip is weak though.  Zero isn’t an ape – his moves can’t compare to Donkey
Kong.  Therefore he slides whenever he grips a wall, slowly falling until he
reaches a platform or solid ground.

Even when falling, Zero
can gain space by jumping higher than the amount of space he’s lost.  Press the
jump button, lunge toward the wall and before you know it you’ll have figured
out a way to hop your way to the top.

Zero’s dash move is also
a necessary part of the game, but not just for quicker exploration.  During a
dash, Zero leans forward slightly, putting him out of harm’s way for certain
attacks.  Combine the dash with a jump to cross gaps and collect items that
seemed impossible to reach.

Mega Man has never been
like the Contra or Metal Slug series, so you still can’t shoot in all directions
with Zero’s standard blaster.  Shots can be fired east and west, but not north
or south.  Jump and shoot to reach higher objects; dash and shoot to reach lower
ones.  The former makes sense, but it’s weird having to run or dash in order to
shoot boxes that are shorter than Zero.  You’d think there’d be another way to
hit them.

Zero will have to take on
a lot of deadly enemies, including several bosses.  Most of the bosses appear to
be more dangerous than they really are.  Take the first one for example.  He’s
about five times the size of Zero and has two giant hands that emit laser rings
from their palms.  Blasting him doesn’t seem to hurt him at first.  You touch
the hands you die.  The lasers hit you and you’ll die.  Suddenly you’re feeling
like the true meaning of your name: a zero.

Try a couple more times
to reveal the secret: boss battles are about learning their strategy.  Bosses
use the same set of attacks over and over again.  They might change the order of
attacks to make things more difficult.  Knowing what to expect from each attack
is what’s important.

This opens the door for
easy evasion of any repetitive assault the enemy thinks about using.  Game Boy
Advance isn’t technologically advanced enough for deep AI integration – they
won’t be changing their styles spontaneously as you might find in a console
game.

To defeat him and other
nagging robots, Mega Man Zero 3 has a weapons system that goes beyond the laser
blaster the series started out with.  For close combat Zero has a handy weapon
called the Z-Saber.  With it he can slash enemies repeatedly, or charge it by
holding the button for a more powerful slash.  Charging it lets you perform
successive EX Skill tricks, but the attack will have no effect if your enemy is
standing on the other side of the room.

Not good enough for the
man who calls himself Zero?  Then check out the new Recoil Rod.  It’ll send
enemies flying!  The Shield Boomerang is a good defense weapon, taking care of
those pesky energy bullets.

Counting only the
gameplay features mentioned Mega Man Zero 3 is an action game that’s slightly
above average.  Not the best in the series, but definitely worth owning.

There’s just one problem:
the developers wanted to cross this game with an RPG. 

The art isn’t bad, but the
story is as dull as they come.

 

The story is terribly
written and is utterly pointless.  RPG purists will laugh at its execution – not
because it’s good, but because of how bad it is.  That said, you don’t buy an
action/adventure for its great writing, but Mega Man Zero 3 doesn’t allow you to
skip any of the story segments.  How can you enjoy the gameplay when you have to
wait several minutes to get to it?

This isn’t being promoted
as an RPG, but that didn’t stop the developers from making you talk to dozens of
characters to find items and clues as to what to do next.  That’s not what
gamers want from a game like this.  When we play Mega Man we want action.  If I
want to spend ten minutes talking to NPCs (non-playable characters) in a
futuristic complex, I’ll go play Xenogears or Xenosaga.

The big question is: is
this enough to make you not want this game?  First you have to ask yourself why
you wanted it in the first place.  Newcomers should steer clear of it.  If you
own and love Mega Man Zero 1 and 2, the third game will only disappoint and
frustrate as far as the story goes.  The rest will be right up your alley.


Review Scoring Details

for Mega Man Zero 3

Gameplay: 7.4
Mega Man Zero 3
is predictable in its gameplay.  This is good because you know what you’re
getting without even having to read a review.

The short levels,
enormously goofy bosses, and the typical scenarios are just what the Mega Man
fan ordered.  The game is super-sized with new weapons and character actions.  I
hope you like cheese because you can’t get it without.  The story might churn
your stomach at the end of the day, but the boss fights will help sooth the
pain, working faster than a bottle of pink medicine.

Graphics: 7.9
Decent.  Mega Man
Zero 3 looks like the higher-quality SNES games.  Pretty colors, cartoony
attacks, and several robots that look really good on everyone’s favorite small
screen.

Sound: 7
Somewhat
entertaining, somewhat repetitive.  The soundtrack sounds like it was written
10+ years ago.


Difficulty: Medium
There are some of
you that are going to think this is a really hard game, while others will think
it’s really easy.  Mega Man loyalists: step right up and beat it quickly.  You
should have no trouble completing it if you’ve beaten Metal Slug X or Metal Slug
3, two shooters with a much higher difficulty level.

Concept: 7
Same episode, new
season.


Multiplayer: 7

Overall: 7.2
As damaging as
the story is, remember that Mega Man Zero 3 wouldn’t score much higher without
it.  This is a good game if you love the Mega Man Zero series.  This may not be
a great game for people who love Mega Man Battle Network or Mega Man Legends. 
Those games are very different from the Zero series.