It's almost like clockwork now. Every time Capcom brings out a new game in a Game Boy Advance Mega Man series, I mention how the company once again recycles existing material for a new game in the franchise. The company's done it with Mega Man Battle Network
three times already and now Mega Man Zero
twice. This series hasn't really changed much on the surface, but keen eyes will see that Capcom has actually addressed the series' main problem of being too flippin' difficult. Mega Man Zero 3
traverses extremely familiar territory to the point where it feels like deja vu, but this time it's a lot less intimidating and more fun because of it.
- More than 16 levels
- Cartridge save (two slots)
- Connectivity with Mega Man Battle Network 4
The past two Mega Man Zero
games were excellent in their own right, and Mega Man Zero 3
doesn't deviate much from the formula or story from those previous two games. In fact, the story picks up from the last game without much of a gap in time, and the tale is told via the same hybrid of cutting back and forth between talking sprites and awesomely handpainted still screens that scroll dynamically during particularly "surprising" moments in the plot structure. If I broke down exactly what's going on I'd have to explain the story from the past two games and ruin potential surprises. Let's just say that if you're a fan of the direction the plot's taken in the first and second game -- and if you're a fan of Mega Man X
in general (the series that Zero's
spun out of) then you'll probably enjoy, or at least appreciate, what's happening in Mega Man Zero 3
But Mega Man has always been substance over story, and it's still the case in Zero 3. The gameplay foundation established already in the past two games is still strong and sound, with the same focus on the shoot-em-up platforming design that the Zero series, and every Mega Man game before it, is known for. The game still offers the unique ability to wield a secondary weapon that can be utilized by holding the shoulder button and blasting away, like Zero's light sword that slashes enemies in two (complete with nifty sprite animation for the death sequence). And the clever boss designs put the player's skill of adopting Zero's primary and secondary weapons, as well as his familiar wall sliding technique together.
Along with the standard gameplay elements used in the previous two games, Capcom has enhanced the design with even more unlockables. The Cyber Elf design of the last game has been upgraded in the third game to give Zero even more abilities in battle. It's a far more balanced element in this sequel than in the previous game, encouraging players to actually take advantage of the special abilities these critters can offer...once they've been found. The most interesting element in this sequel is the function of linking up to Mega Man Battle Network 4 to transmit helpful data between the two games; it's an element very few people will be able to take advantage of, but it's really cool to see connectivity between two different properties.
Most significantly, the huge difficulty curve that Zero and Zero 2 prided themselves on, and quite possibly the only hard complaint about the series, has been brought down a tad to make the game a lot more accessible. The game is still tough as nails, but it's not so devious as to throw some of the toughest boss battles at the player on round one...even if this game's storyline is targeted at the players who've blown through the first two games. Don't expect to fly through this adventure in a single outing...the difficulty is still up there, and defeating particular areas in the game's 16 levels will take a lot of trial and error, and memorization.
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