"Mission Failed!" If you love reading those words, here’s a game for you. First impressions of the import await your perusal.
Hey, are you a fan of Ikaruga and/or Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts? In that case, the newest GBA Mega Man Zero is perfect for your hardcore tastes. That’s because this game is one of the hardest platformers you’ll ever play, even considerably harder than the first Zero game. But, like most of the Mega Man series, you start to get the hang of things after a few tries, and eventually you’ll get decent enough to beat a level or two. Whether the experience ends there or continues through the remaining levels probably depends more on raw platforming talent than anything else.
Mega Man Zero 2, as the game will be called when it’s released outside of Japan later this summer, plays just like its predecessor, which in turn played much like the popular Mega Man X series. You control Zero, the famous Reploid Hunter, armed with his trusty energy sword and other weapons. The selection of main weapons is the same as in the first Zero game, except that the rod, which was quite boring last time around, has been upgraded to a grappling hook. Aside from having a much better range, the grappling hook can latch onto enemies and certain kinds of blocks, and then you can pull them towards you. It also lets you grab onto walls and ceilings to swing across, but the hit detection and timing are very picky, so it takes a lot of practice before you can swing across a room with any consistency or control. Overall though, I’m really enjoying this new gameplay element, and there are some great places to use it.
Between levels, Zero is still sent to a base where he can run around, talk to people, and save the game, but unlike the last game, the levels aren’t all tied into this one big environment. It’s more like a classic Mega Man game, in that you choose from a set of missions (each characterized by some fancy boss character) and are then teleported off to that level. The other primary RPG element, whereby your weapons gain new abilities as you use them, remains intact and unchanged.
Since I can’t read the descriptions, I haven’t tried using any Cyber Elves yet, but it looks like they work pretty much the same as before. New upgrades include different suits, which seem to grant Zero new attributes such as jumping higher or shooting faster. There are also EX skills, which seem to be special attacks like a laser that penetrates walls. The suits and EX abilities are unlocked based on your performance in each mission, which is quantified based on speed, technique, secrets found, etc. (Thanks to dubweiser in the chat room for that info!) I’m rather hoping that some of the cool stuff can just be found within levels, because my slow, meticulous playing style keeps me from getting very good performance ratings.
So far, I’m really enjoying Zero 2, but I’m definitely in this game’s target audience: hardcore Mega Man fans. If you’ve only dabbled in the series or don’t have much patience for difficult games, it’s safe to say that you should stay far away from this bad boy. But if you're already salivating and don't want to wait for the domestic release, you can import Rock Man Zero 2 from Video Game Depot.