DS

North America

Mega Man ZX Advent

by Jonathan Metts - December 1, 2007, 1:46 am PST
Total comments: 6

7.5

Are you ready for Mega-Merging and Pseudoroids?

The Mega Man series has been around for over twenty years, and not much has changed in that time. However, the ZX games for Nintendo DS infuse a lot of life into this venerable series by expanding the most iconic element of the entire franchise. We all know that Mega Man gains powers from his defeated foes, and he can then use those abilities against other enemies and to reach secret areas. In Mega Man ZX, you copy entire bosses, allowing you to transform into the defeated characters and use all of their moves, not just one special attack. This idea makes the game more interesting because each transformation has completely different abilities, movement, speed, and power. The feature isn't completely exploited in Advent, the second ZX game, but it does make the game more fun and more flexible than most of its predecessors.

The game's story involves your character waking up in a mysterious lab, having been suspended there for some unknown time. He has amnesia but apparently is viewed as a threat by some crazy super villainess named Pandora. Then the place explodes and he ends up in a camp with a bunch of other people (actually, they're all androids, but it's hard to tell) who collect comic books and dig tunnels. You can also choose to play as a female character who has a different background, although the two story arcs converge early on.

ZX Advent can be very difficult to get into at first, because the bosses seem overly powerful when you don't have any Sub-Tanks or special abilities. Even if you fight a boss early in the level and gain his powers, you can't save that progress until you play through to the end of an area. I had to keep replaying through some early areas so many times that I nearly gave up on the game – and keep in mind, I've completed about two dozen Mega Man games before this one. New players are going to be eaten alive by this game's barriers to entry. But, like most Mega Man games, this one gets significantly easier as you go. Normally, the decaying difficulty can be explained by the fact that the game designers don't know the order in which you will play levels, so they can't craft a linear difficulty curve as in most games. ZX Advent usually serves up levels in groups of one to three at a time, so that old excuse doesn't hold true anymore. Some of the later levels are pathetically easy if you use the right transformation, and likewise for most bosses. However, there are three difficulty levels available when creating a new game file, so experienced players may get more mileage by using Expert mode.

Transformations are definitely the most memorable thing about ZX Advent. Half of the transformations you will eventually earn turn you into other Mega Men (yes, it's plural now) that are the same size and form factor as your normal character but have very different abilities and elemental attributes. One of them slashes with a saber and can air dash. Another sees in the dark and can hang from special platforms. Another can swim underwater and attack with homing ice dragons. Still another has customizable shot patterns that you draw on the touch screen. The best part is that these are all legitimate forms that you can use at will: you can play through entire levels as these guys, if you feel like it.

The rest of your transformations are Pseudoroids, animal-based characters that look and control very differently from the Mega Men. There's a tiny electric porcupine, a screen-filling alligator with icy teeth, and a vulture-man who attacks with his electric guitar. These transformations look cool and are often funny, but unfortunately, they are not very useful. Most of them can't wall jump, dash, or even climb ladders, and some move so slowly that you won't use them at all except to pass very specific areas. One minor problem with all the transformations, both Mega Men and Pseudoroids, is that you automatically revert to standard form when talking to any character or entering any cut-scene. This happens more frequently than it should, and the mandatory transforming back and forth gets annoying.

Aside from the un-transforming, these little bits of story are also unwelcome for their pointlessness. The story in this game is like an extended, even more unbearable Saturday morning anime. It's hard to believe that anyone old enough to appreciate the Mega Man series and its gradual development over time could care much about yet another convoluted, melodramatic anime plot. Only the fan fiction crowd could possibly be interested in the dramatic posturing and unintentionally funny dialogue. The amount of voice acting is impressive for a DS game, but the acting itself is uniformly terrible, even excruciating for the Biometal Model A character. It will have you turning down the system volume, which is a shame because the soundtrack is consistently good for the Mega Man series. Related to the story woes are the adventure aspects, most notably the hub-like base area that is too large and has nothing interesting to do. Too much of the game is spent dashing across this useless terrain and talking to characters with nothing to say. The game would be a much tighter experience without this filler content; just give us the action stages and let us slice androids in half with our energy blades.

Even with a few notable annoyances, ZX Advent is a fun and addictive action game with plenty of clever level designs and fun abilities. The controls are impeccable, and Mega Man really is still fun after all these years. This is one series totally unaffected by the casual, non-game trend, so consider it a rare gem in the "hardcore" DS lineup.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 5 10 8 8 7.5
Graphics
7

ZX Advent sports the same art style and smooth animation of many recent Mega Man games, so it still looks good, but it also looks much the same as the GBA and SNES games before it.

Sound
5

Good music and sound effects, but the voices are nauseating and will quickly have you turning down the volume. There are no options for volume levels, so it's all or nothing, and cut-scenes show up too frequently to bother with sliding the volume on and off each time.

Control
10

Everything is tight, responsive, and fully customizable. Touch screen elements are minor and totally optional, and you never have to use them in the heat of action.

Gameplay
8

The classic combo of shooting and platforming still holds up after all these years, and it's even more compelling with all the zany transformations. Intrusive adventure elements slow down the pace and add nothing positive to the experience. The difficulty is still heavily weighted towards the beginning of the game, despite a more linear progression through the excellent action stages.

Lastability
8

ZX Advent lasts longer than most Mega Man games because it has more and lengthier levels. Each level has a lot of secrets, many of which are unlocked by the very abilities of that stage's boss, so there are good reasons to play through each level at least twice, and it's fun to do so. There are even some unrelated mini-games that support single-card multiplayer but unfortunately can't be played solo at all.

Final
7.5

If you haven't played a Mega Man game lately, ZX Advent is a quality entry to the series worth playing for its wide assortment of transformations and action stages. The franchise still needs an overhaul, but there's no doubting the quality of these yearly productions.

Summary

Pros
  • Deliciously old school gameplay
  • Lots of cool transformations
  • Many distinct, lengthy action stages
Cons
  • Awful writing and voice acting
  • Pointless adventure elements
  • Very steep learning curve
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

KDR_11kDecember 01, 2007

BTW, only the people with red triangles on their foreheads are robots, the weird ear stuff is just the result of getting cybernetic upgrades (ZX's story says humans got cybernetic boosts to be as strong as robots and robots got artificially limited lifespans to end the human/robot war that was raging during MMZero's time).

Overall I think the game is easier than ZX, even during the early game. Of course the late game suffers from Zelda syndrome (increasing health bars + recovery items), the only late boss battle I found difficult was Argyle/Ugoyle which fortunately are at the beginning of their stage so when you beat them you can just walk back out and use a save point (well, I haven't reached the final boss yet but the boss refights do put some strain on your recovery item stash so you'll have to make sure you keep enough of them, MM final bosses tend to have multiple phases and it's back to phase one when you lose a life). In ZX the first miniboss was already tough as nails, in Advent the first few bosses (at least the giant mechaniloid and Buckfire) are still fairly easy. This is kinda like Megaman 2 after Megaman 1, more difficulty modes but not nearly as difficult.

Also hard mode is only unlocked after a playthrough I think, it only showed beginner and normal mode for me.

Most of the townspeople aren't that useless, I think almost all of them are involved in quests at some point.

Yeah, but the quests are useless too. And a lot of the requests require that you remember the names of NPCs who have no personality and are impossible to remember. That stuff just doesn't fit at all with the rest of the game.

KDR_11kDecember 01, 2007

True, most of the quests are useless since you have enough money, in ZX a major money drain was repairing the biometals you got but that's gone now. Some quests give helper chips that can help a lot (e.g. featherweight helps in areas with surfaces you sink into and the wind boots made the floating ruins level much easier).

BTW, it needs mentioning that the often talked about "defeating in different ways" is only a special challenge that nets you medals (ask the guys on top of the buildings in the basecamp), from descriptions seen elsewhere it sounded like you'd get different moves by defeating bosses in different ways.

So Jonny, I guess you'd recommend Radio Trivia as superior aural accompaniment to this game?

vuduDecember 03, 2007

So how was the Mega Man 2 stage that Karl kept talking about on RFN?

KDR_11kDecember 03, 2007

Dunno, haven't seen it.

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Genre Action
Developer Inti
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Mega Man ZX Advent
Release Oct 16, 2007
PublisherCapcom
jpn: Rockman ZX Advent
Release Year 2007
PublisherCapcom

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