(Game Boy Advance)

Mega Man Zero 2 (Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

Mega Man Zero 2 Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Zero times two

Just one year after Mega Man Zero, Inti Creates released a sequel for the Game Boy Advance spin-off. That might sound a bit quick, but Mega Man Zero 2 is no mindless cash-in. It took the sturdy foundation set by its predecessor and built upon it in impressive ways, while also smoothing out the rough edges. On top of that it wove an excellent narrative of its own and set up the plots for the next two games to come. There's no question about it; Mega Man Zero 2 is a great game.

The story picks up one year after the events of the previous game, which ended with Zero and Ceil going their separate ways. We check in with Zero after a solid 12 months of single-handedly battling the forces of Neo Arcadia, and he finally succumbs to exhaustion. An unlikely ally carries his unconscious body to Ceil, and that's where we see how much things have changed.

The narrative that plays out over the course of the four Zero games is impressively layered. Rather than repeat the plot beats of previous entries, each game builds upon what's already come, and advances it in interesting ways. Here, for instance, we see just how much our efforts in the first game have helped the Resistance; they have a much better new base, they are larger in number and better equipped for the fight, and they've established themselves as a genuine threat to Neo Arcadia. It's a great feeling to stroll through this Resistance Base and compare it to crumbling and dingy headquarters in the first game. It makes it feel like everything we accomplished actually mattered.

A lesser game would have told us about how much we helped, before sending us out on a new set of identical missions. Mega Man Zero 2, though, makes the effort to show us just how far along we've brought the movement, and its missions have actually changed to reflect that. The first game saw Zero rescuing captured members of the Resistance, escorting wounded soldiers back to base, and reacting immediately to urgent threats that went totally undetected. Now the Resistance is stronger and the missions are of a more active sort, with attacks on Neo Arcadia's supply routes and fortifications the norm. Thanks to Zero they're no longer in a fight for survival — they're in a fight to win.

The biggest change, however, is that Zero's been replaced. In his absence, a newcomer named Elpizo leads the Resistance, and while we can't say much about him without spoiling plot details, we can say that when we take him in conjunction with X from the first game, the Mega Man Zero series has a lot to say about the seductive danger of power. It's a great running theme throughout the series, and Elpizo represents a remarkably tragic variation on an old, old story.

We haven't said much about the gameplay, but that's because Mega Man Zero 2 wisely carries over the excellent action and controls from the first game. That's not to say it's identical, however; a few alterations have been made, and they're nearly all for the better.

For starters, our main issue with the first game was to do with grinding. Inti Creates clearly heard similar complaints from gamers, because it's much reduced in this game. The weapons, for instance, level up much more quickly and will often max out from basic usage. You can grind in order to get them there faster, but playing through the game is usually enough to unlock their highest potential. Cyber Elves, similarly, require much less feeding, meaning the best Elves will cost you a few hundred Energy Crystals instead of a few thousand. That's a very welcome difference.

In fact, even though Cyber Elves are still able to turn into subtanks, this time around you can actually find subtanks just lying around in stages, which makes it much easier to remember where they are. On top of that, when you do collect a Cyber Elf, you're now told its name, which is a welcome change from the previous game that never made it clear what you were finding and again helps to keep their locations straight.

One change that does feel like a step backward has to do with the mission selection, which is now a line of boss headshots making it feel more like the Mega Man classic and Mega Man X series. It robs Zero of a little bit of its identity, as does the fact that the game world is no longer interconnected, and you can't stumble into one area by exploring another.

That's a minor concern though, and it's entirely offset by the fact that the level design — perhaps as a welcome byproduct of the above — feels much tighter. The obstacles and enemy placements are no longer chosen solely for maximum frustration, and are instead laid out with an eye toward fair challenge. The punishing difficulty carries over wholesale, to be sure, but this time around the game earns it in much more rewarding ways.

The Electricity / Fire / Ice elemental weakness chain remains intact, as do the weapons from the first game, though your Triple Rod has now been revamped to a Chain Rod. With the Chain Rod you can grab items and blocks from a distance and swing across ceilings, which is a welcome change for a weapon that definitely lacked personality the first time around. The Shield Boomerang, though, is still worthless.

Another welcome addition comes in the form of unlockable EX Skills, which allow Zero to learn a special move from any boss he defeats while holding an A or S rank. These are not necessary to progress through the game, but they are a nice incentive for mastering the game's difficulty. On top of that you can discover different forms for Zero that will change his speed, the amount of damage he takes, and even grant him special abilities. These are unlocked depending upon your play style, so someone who's relying on Z Sabre will unlock something different than the form unlocked by someone who relies on the Buster.

In terms of presentation Mega Man Zero 2 looks and sounds a lot like its predecessor, but the graphics — particularly in terms of character portraits — have been reworked to look much smoother and more vibrant. As always you can enjoy the softer resolution of the GamePad or blow this up on the TV with the Wii U, but in any case this is a pretty attractive game. The soundtrack, meanwhile, also exceeds the high standards set by the first game, and that's no mean feat. There are some genuinely excellent tracks here for sure.

Mega Man Zero 2 has the good sense to know what worked in its first game, and it takes this opportunity to refine rather than reinvent. It also provides us with an interesting new adversary, a whole slew of challenging stages and boss fights, and an impressive sense of narrative progression that we don't always get from Mega Man sequels. In short, it's a great game, and if you've never played anything beyond the first game, you're missing out.

Conclusion

Mega Man Zero 2 does a great job of ironing out the wrinkles of its predecessor, which is a very welcome accomplishment. It improves upon the graphics and the soundtrack, significantly reduces grinding, and provides the same brutal challenge in what feels like a much more fair way - restore points are handy if you need a helping hand, naturally. Unlockable forms and EX Skills are also added to the mix, which gives the game an additional layer of replayability. It's a sequel done right, and it's no surprise that it's remembered so fondly over 10 years after its first release.

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User Comments (38)

Gridatttack

#3

Gridatttack said:

I remember there was one game in the series which had minigames, but unlocking them required having an S rank on every level.

C-Olimar

#4

C-Olimar said:

This reminds me, I bought the first 4 Mega Man games and have thus far only completed the first. There's so many of them though :/
I'll probably buy the best game in each the Zero and X series and leave it at that.

Dpullam

#5

Dpullam said:

It's kind of funny how almost everything about this review makes me want to get this game, but then I remember I don't really like the difficulty of these types of games. Oh well.

Kaze_Memaryu

#6

Kaze_Memaryu said:

I'm really glad they balanced some of the frustration factors in this one. The first Zero game was impossibly demanding towards the player, and had some really unfair stuff. Zero still rocks!

ThePirateCaptain

#7

ThePirateCaptain said:

@C-Olimar
The easiest thing to do is to buy the Anniversary, X, and Zero Collections. They're a great value and the former two are relatively cheap nowadays.

DarkKirby

#8

DarkKirby said:

This is one of my favorite Mega Man games.

I have a question though, is the eShop version the censored Mega Man Zero Collection version or the GBA version?

sinalefa

#9

sinalefa said:

I thought Phil did not review games anymore. Or he reviews less games but those are good to compensate?

Dpishere

#13

Dpishere said:

@Dpullam Same with me. I don't mind a challenge but it almost feels at times that the Mega Man games lean towards unfair. Some of them don't but the ones that do put me off from completing them.

shaneoh

#14

shaneoh said:

That sub heading is deceptive, 0*2=0, was expecting the game to get a poor rating.

MetalK9

#15

MetalK9 said:

It's a better step up from Zero 1 and couldn't say it any better myself Mr.Reed. Though, it was rather easy compared to other MMZ's. Elpizo was so cliche with that new guy taking over thing and the Z-Sword still looks like a Katana and not a Triangle Sword like it's supposed to, which somehow bugged me.

MetaSmasher

#17

MetaSmasher said:

Zero times two is zero, so I thought this would be a negative review by the by-line. whatever

sdelfin

#18

sdelfin said:

I bought a copy of the Zero Collection for the DS a couple of years ago and I'm glad I did. I couldn't stop playing them for a while. I forget if I liked the second game or third game more, but they're all excellent. Part two improves many of the first game's issues as explained in the review. Definitely worth a look for those who missed out on the series and enjoy this type of game.

FX29

#19

FX29 said:

@DarkKirby Mega Man Zero is without a doubt the most difficult Mega Man games in the series. However the games are pretty awesome, definitely my 2nd favourite series.
Also the eshop version is the censored NA/Europe GBA versions, only the Japanese version of MMZ 1-4 has blood.

WindWakerLink

#20

WindWakerLink said:

I would totally get this if I didnt already have the RockMan Zero Collection on the DS. What I love about part 2 was the music and how it really sets the environment...like the whole entire 1st stage and the ice level. Oh so good!!! I wasn't too crazy about the new boss battle theme though comparing it to the original Rock Man Zero. This game is awesome and should be gotten if you're a Rock Man Zero fan. It's hard but fun!!!

Genesaur

#21

Genesaur said:

@Obito_Sigma Then let me remind you how easy it is to get Mega Man Zero Collection for DS from, say, Amazon. It's way cheap, and I'm sure you know that you can play DS games on the 3DS.

Retro_on_theGo

#25

Retro_on_theGo said:

I feel this is actually the easiest game in the Mega Man Zero series. i'm surprised to see people saying it can get very hard, but maybe that's because I've beaten it so many times? I love this game. It's my favorite entry, it's just so much fun. Music is incredible, level designs are superb.

evosteevo

#27

evosteevo said:

This is a great series. Wish I had played these games when they were first releasing.

KeeperBvK

#28

KeeperBvK said:

@JaxonH Yeah, because the US NEVER gets VC releases first or exclusively...get realistic, man. It gets old to see Americans whining here when you in fact don't get the short end of the stick.

JaxonH

#29

JaxonH said:

@KeeperBvK Wake up on the wrong side of the bed today?

I'm complaining, ya. And don't tell me I don't have a right. I have every right. I'm tired of all the VC games I wanna play being teased in front of me with releases in every region but mine. If that bothers you, well, be bothered then

FX102A

#30

FX102A said:

@JaxonH I can see both of your arguments but perhaps a little history first.

Basically, we in Europe were historically shafted big time in past generations with waiting times of up to 6+ months after U.S releases and in many cases no release at all. Yet we pretty much just sat down patiently with a bit of a grumbling.

In recent times, whenever a game gets released in Europe first before the U.S., many American gamers are quick to cry "foul" for having to wait that little bit longer. I can sort of understand European gamers being a bit annoyed at having to see this during the few rare cases the U.S. gets something "later" after living through it for years themselves (that and possibly a small sense of "now you know how we felt for so long").

JaxonH

#32

JaxonH said:

@FX102A
It doesn't bother me to see a game release in EU first, the thing that bothers me is seeing all the games I personally want to play release in every region but my own. Doesn't really have so much to do with being an EU release as it does being an "every region but yours" release.

For example, I've been waiting to play DKC trilogy since I bought my Wii U, but my region is the only one left that doesn't have the games. It's become sort of a running joke for a lot of us lately to see the games we want hit every region and yet still nothing for NA...

BinaryFragger

#34

BinaryFragger said:

@JaxonH

That's exactly how I feel about us not getting the New 3DS. I know it's a business decision and Nintendo has their reasons, but it's still annoying to see it released everywhere except NA, especially after seeing these amazing faceplates:

http://kotaku.com/this-is-why-nintendo-should-bring-the-smaller-new-3ds-t-1684193886

People have been calling me a whiner because I want the smaller New 3DS, but whatever, if wanting to buy Nintendo's newest product makes me a whiner, so be it. I want to give Nintendo my hard-earned cash and somehow that's a bad thing.
Going back to the Virtual Console, it took forever for us to get Super Mario Bros 3, too.

JaxonH

#35

JaxonH said:

@BinaryFragger
Yeah I wanted a normal new3DS too, just for on the go (I usually play my XL at home). I guess I just didn't care too much since they'll both do the job just fine. I don't think people look at you as a whiner just for having wanted the normal new3DS. I think the ones being looked at as whiners were they ones having nuclear freakouts over it, vowing to quit playing Nintendo and things like that. Nothing wrong with wanting something you're not getting.

I think they might still bring the normal one to NA, but I think they're going to test the waters with the XL first to gauge sales. If it doesn't do too well, then no, we probably won't see the normal one. But if it takes off like wildfire as it did in other regions, I think there's a good chance they might add at least one model.

Giygas_95

#36

Giygas_95 said:

Frankly, while the first one is less forgiving in terms of extra lives and chances, I find that this one is much more challenging as far as level design is concerned. In fact, I'd say in that respect it's the hardest of the bunch. It's also my favorite of the saga though Zero 4 gives it a run for its money. That opening cutscene and mission in Zero 2 are amazing though. Playing this saga through for the first time on the DS collection was a wonderful experience.

@MetalK9 Huh I've always preferred the katana look myself. It kind of bothered me when it took on the delta shape in Zero 3.

SparkOfSpirit

#37

SparkOfSpirit said:

This and Zero 3 are two of the best Mega Man games.

This is probably the best Mega Man series on a consistent basis. All 4 games are well worth your time.

AlexSora89

#38

AlexSora89 said:

@shaneoh
I've first seen the "It's dangerous to go alone" music video just yesterday, amusing how I stumbled upon your profile pic.
(Content warning: if you guys look it up, it's made by Egoraptor, so it goes without saying that it's NOT for kids despite the lack of gore in it.)

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