Zero returns to the resistance and a new adventure awaits, but does it hold up to the first? Read the review to find out.
Last year’s Mega Man Zero marked the return of classic style Mega Man games to the Game Boy Advance. Now, Zero is back again, and this adventure is harder than ever. Mega Man Zero 2 takes place a year after the first in the series. As the game begins, Zero is looking to re-connect with the resistance and his friend Ciel. After locating them and joining up, he meets the new commander of the resistance, Elpizo. Elpizo wants to take the fight to the enemy, Neo Arcadia, although Ciel disagrees and wishes to find a more peaceful way to stop the war between humans and Reploids. Zero reluctantly chooses to help Elpizo out with some missions in order to buy Ciel more time to finish her research. The overall plot of the game centers on the Dark Elf, a Cyber-Elf of immense power, and the Baby Elves, children of the Dark Elf.
Choosing missions is much less of a hassle this time around. In the original, Zero had to walk around the entire base and out of it to complete missions. Now, all the missions are selectable from the command room in a fashion similar to the classic Mega Man titles. After choosing a mission, Zero is teleported directly to the start of the area. Plus, Zero also starts the game with all of his weapons from the first adventure. The rod weapon, however, has been replaced by a chain-rod that can grapple on to walls and ceilings allowing Zero to swing around. Though it isn’t used very often, the chain-rod is an interesting new weapon. It will take a while to get used to the weapon’s behavior though. Until then, expect to be falling into pits and on to spikes for awhile.
The game plays very similar to the classic Mega Man and Mega Man X titles; guide Zero through the level and beat the boss. There are secondary mission objectives in each level as well. Completing the levels 100% will grant special bonuses at the end and increase your overall score. Zero can learn EX Skills and new form changes to help him on his journey. EX skills act like super attacks while form changes alter Zero’s attack, defense, and speed skills and also grant other special abilities.
Also like some of the older Mega Man games, Zero 2 is tough as nails. Zero begins with a paltry health bar and takes a lot of damage from enemies. At the start of the game, it won’t be uncommon to die multiple times before adjusting to the difficulty. Unlike previous Mega Man titles though, Zero relies much more on his energy-sabre than his gun. The gun is very weak and is only good for hitting enemies you don’t want to get near. The sabre, on the other hand, does immense damage, especially when fully charged. By beating some of the earlier bosses, Zero can also gain elemental chips to change the effects of charged weapons.
The robot bosses in Mega Man Zero 2 are nasty. The beginning few are themed after animals, which is the token of the X universe baddies. Later boss fights put Zero up against higher ranking leaders who are other reploids like him. Most of the bosses have four times as much health as Zero starts with, if not more. Beating bosses is a matter of skill and pattern memorization. Picking the right element to use against the bosses is absolutely essential to taking them out quickly and painlessly.
Thankfully, there is a way to counteract some of the insane difficulty in Mega Man Zero 2. Like in the first game, Zero 2 features Cyber Elves. They are tiny creatures that Zero can collect and use to lower the difficulty of the game. Cyber Elves can do all sorts of things like permanently extending Zero’s health bar, freezing all the enemies, or helping him attack. The Cyber Elf system is great because it benefits both players who want the steep challenge and those who don’t. Instead of having an easy mode and a hard mode, players can customize the difficulty to their liking.
Mega Man Zero 2 doesn’t offer that much more than its predecessor, but it does continue to deliver a challenging gameplay experience. The chain-rod, (though not perfect) as well as the other new features add just enough to keep the formula from getting stale. The fast and exciting gameplay will keep you on your toes and immersed in the game. Mega Man Zero 2 is a great action platforming game worthy of a place in the library of any gamer worth his salt.