[Review] Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: 25/02/2020
  • Price: $29.99 / £24.99
  • Review code provided by Capcom

A New Legacy

I remember the day when I came home with a friend’s Gameboy Advance for the first time. He had lent me a copy of Mega Man Battle Network 2 and I devoured it. It wasn’t too much longer after that when that same friend sold me that GBA and I started to expand my library. The first game that was shown to me was Mega Man Zero and I was immediately hooked. As I grew up I can tell you honestly that every Mega Man game that was released on a Nintendo console was played, beaten and conquered by me.

This remained the case until the Playstation started getting Mega Man titles. So, for a brief while, I didn’t have access to new Mega Man games while I watched those friends of mine lucky enough to have their hands on Sony’s rival console play the games I couldn’t. That is, until this new Zero series came out. For the first time, Mega Man wasn’t the protagonist of the series – it was Zero. For any of you who followed the Mega Man series, you know that Zero was the coolest looking new character to enter the franchise. He had a super cool looking style, was stronger than Mega Man X and most importantly has the coolest looking Beam Saber that we all wanted to use.

But the Zero series was different.

Zero had an even edgier design in a MORE dystopian future where robots have eradicated humans almost entirely. His attacks were faster and hit harder. The enemies looked crazier and had more insane designs. Enemies fall apart based on how you defeated them. Use your buster? You would blast part of them off. Use your sword? Bosses would be cut in half. AND IT WAS AMAZING! It was so different from what the rest of the series had been up to this point. Mega Man Zero took the whole series in a more mature place. Sure, the story is nothing amazing, but that’s not what I came to the series for. I’m a guy who loves the jumping and shooting. The game has always delivered, but this time, I don’t have to go looking for all my old cartridges. This time, I have the Legacy Collection.

Together Again, For the First Time

For anybody familiar with the previous Mega Man Legacy Collections (Mega Man and Mega Man X), the layout of the menus is a little bit different. Instead of being in a single list as the other legacies were, the game is split into the two series that it represents: Zero and ZX. By pressing either left or right at the menu you will change to one series or the other. This can, of course, be shifted using L or R to switch between series in case you want to switch things up. It even adds a new “casual mode” that mitigates the massive difficulty that a turned a lot of people off of Mega Man Zero to begin with. More on that later. This collection also has a pretty robust achievement collection too, with sections dedicated to getting better ranks on stages all the way to simply completing games in the collection. There’s a ton here to explore and it just keeps getting better.

Between a Rock[Man] and a Hard Place

Now that we’ve talked about what we’re looking at, let’s talk about the actual games themselves. I went into Zero 1 expecting something along the lines of what I’ve played in the Mega Man X series: go fast and hit hard. This, however, ended in very fast and very miserable deaths. I didn’t understand it at first. I was dying a LOT. Like, having a hard time finishing the first few levels hard time. I actually had to consult a friend of mine who is a very talented Mega Man Zero player to find out how to play this game correctly. Turns out that Zero is a game all about technique and speed. If you don’t know what you’re doing I can assure you that you will die and die often. To make matters harder, depending on how you play each stage you garner ratings upon completing a stage. These rankings, ranging from F to S (F,E,D,C,B,A,S) will give you bonuses as you play the game. These rankings will also unlock achievements in the long run, but just know that as you are playing the game, EVERY SINGLE DECISION has consequences when it comes to getting those elusive S ranks.

Let’s not talk about the ranks, because that’s an entirely different beast. Let’s just talk about the difficulty and how you can work with that to eventually be a Mega Man Zero champion. CAPCOM saw this game and the challenges that it gave and decided upon a fabulous solution: save points. Strewn about the worlds of Zero you find these small green pylons that activate as you pass by them. Each of these pylons act as a simple save point, but I tell you now YOU ARE GOING TO DIE SO MANY TIMES and every save point saves you the pain of getting game over screens that shoot you back to a menu. Honestly, they’re life savers with how hard the stages are as well. I can’t tell you how many times I had to start whole missions over again just because I died to some awful platforming. These are a lovely addition and I am grateful they have been added.  

In addition to these save points, a casual mode has been added that effectively maxes out everything your character can do. You usually start each game with maximum health, reduced damage, or other bonuses that will give you a much more relaxed playthrough. However, this leads me to what I think these games are trying to do to you as a player, rather than to you as a fan.

Reaching Maximum Power

The design of the Mega Man Zero series emphasizes learning and technique in every facet. You start the game like I did, getting bodied on the regular. As you finish the stage, you see your rating and the amount of time it took you to complete it and you’re generally let down by how poorly you did. I mean, if you’re like me, you finish a stage and say “Well at least I beat it!” Eventually, you stop caring about how fast you can get through each area, but occasionally, you get a B or maybe even an A. These give you hope that you might be able to get better times. You start seeing fewer deaths and less damage. As you play more, you see yourself grow as a player and it really drives your success as you journey onward. Now, couple this with the variety of weapons and stages in the six games that this collection includes and you have a fabulous experience that help you feel like a champion when it’s all said and done. This entire anthology is built to help you grow and conquer these games. It may not seem like it at first, but as you play each game you FEEL yourself getting better. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but it’s not out of place for the later Mega Man games.

Two Series, Two Screens

One of my main concerns with this collection was the inclusion of Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent. Not that these are bad games by any means or that I wasn’t excited to play them again, but it was the fact that they utilized the touch screen on the DS in their original forms. How was that going to work on a port to another single-screen system? The answer is, as well as I guess could be expected. It’s not flawless by any means, but it’s not terrible. Generally, the touch screen is accessed by simply pushing pause, but in some cases you can use the right stick to navigate the screen while you play the game on the main screen. There are a few moments where it’s near impossible to do the things you want to do with the way the touch screen is laid out, specifically with the ZX series and a certain achievement (What do you MEAN I can only use the attack where I use the touch screen to attack?!), but its generally alright. You hardly use it other than that one thing.

The heart of the [ZZ] Cards

See, something I never would have known about were these things called ZZ cards that you can get in this game. Throughout the collection, there are 27 achievements to unlock as you play. For every achievement you get you unlock three of these ZZ cards. These cards used to be collectibles that you could use in tandem with the ill-fated Game Boy Advance e-Reader to unlock exclusive customizations for Mega Man Zero 3. Things as ridiculous as filling your home base with cats to something as helpful as additional e-crystals to charge items in the game are available to turn off and on at the slightest whim. It’s a really cool addition that they didn’t need to do, but I’m certainly glad they did.

Chasing the Record

One of the fun new modes that Z/ZX collection adds is a fun thing called Z Chaser: a turbo fast speed-run mode that puts your skills to the test. Now, there’s a cool story to this mode, so read this whole section, I promise. A very kind setting you can choose during this mode is like adding a Mario Kart ghost on a separate screen to show you how to do these insane time trials. In each of these scenarios the room for error is EXTREMELY small. For heaven’s sake, I think it’s actually impossible by human ability to get a ZZ rank. It’s just too close to machine perfection. In fact, this friend that I have been having help me through this checked and to get a ZZ rank on the first stage you have to match a tool-assisted speedrun! I submit that it cannot be done and those who say they can are cheating. Now, this is a fun mode and I love how it pushes the player to get as perfect as they can. It’s really cool.

Now, for the cool story. I watched as my friend tried to reach the elusive Z rank on this first Z Chaser stage. It was amazing. I watched as two minutes became 90 seconds. I watched as 90 seconds became a minute and ten. And I watched as he strained every last bit of strength he had to get that time down to one minute and two seconds – A WORLD RECORD FOR A SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME. For a brief, shining moment, a record on my Switch was the fastest recorded time on Z Chaser. I even have photographic proof. He did the thing, and so, by extension, did I.

Final Mission: START

This game collection is good. The series are great even when they’re weird. The Zero series is a fantastic franchise to get into and it is a marvelous addition to the Nintendo Switch. I cannot recommend enough that you go and buy this as soon as you can. For a few reasons, but mostly so we can see not only more Mega Man games in the future, but also maybe more Legacy Collections (I’m looking at you, Battle Network and Legends. C’mon.)

Pros

  • The worst I would give any of these games is a 3.5/5 and the best is a 5/5
  • Six games for a discounted price
  • Save points are a GODSEND

Cons

  • ZZ rank is impossible, I tell you. IMPOSSIBLE!
  • ZX and ZXA are clearly the least of the six games
  • We don’t talk about the smoothed graphical style.

Verdict
If you like Mega Man at all, this is the game for you. With a price tag like this for as much quality as you’re getting, you would be foolish to not jump at this as soon as you have the resources.
4.5/5

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