Review: Mega Man Zero 2 (Game Boy Advance)

Review: Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA)
Developer/Distributor: Capcom
Genre: Action
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Release Date: 10/14/03
ESRB Rating: E

Coming hot on the heels of last year’s fantastic Mega Man Zero, this game sees Zero continuing to fight the remnants of Neo Arcadia.

The story picks up a year after the events of Mega Man Zero. Our pal Zero is on his own, fighting Neo Arcadian forces wherever he finds them. It’s really starting to wear him down, and after narrowly defeating a monstrous enemy, he’s picked up and repaired at a new Resistance Base. His old friend Ciel is there, and she explains that she’s turned over command of the Resistance to a Reploid named Elpizo, while she works on her energy research. Ciel believes that the energy shortage is what caused the Neo Arcadia war in the first place, and that if everyone’s got enough energy, there won’t be nearly as many problems. While she works, Zero is dispatched on various missions for the Resistance. A few more historical notes are revealed, but I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Elpizo hands out missions for Zero to complete. You’ll start with four available, and more are assigned as you finish them off. Some are routine search-and-destroy missions, while others focus on rescues, disabling computer systems, or hijacking. Most missions have a boss fight at the end; these Reploids have extremely strange names, just like they did in the first game. Just to name a few:

  • Hyleg Ourobockle
  • Poler Kamrus
  • Phoenix Magnion
  • Panter Flauclaws
  • Kuwagust Anchus
  • Burble Hekelot

The enemies look just as weird as they sound, too. The design team for both Zero games really went all out! Anyway, some old friends show up in this game; namely, the Generals. That bastard Harpuia’s in charge of Neo Arcadia now, and his friends Fefnir and Leviathan are back to make Zero’s life miserable. It’s good thing Zero’s got some new weapons and abilities…

The Resistance engineer Cerveau repaired both Zero and his weapons, so you’ve still got your Z-Saber, Z-Buster, and Shield Boomerang. Your Triple Rod is gone, but that’s a good thing; Cerveau upgraded it into the Chain Rod! This weapon is very similar to the whips in the Castlevania games; you can attack enemies with it, pull objects towards you, or even swing from the ceiling. As before, consistent use of any weapon will raise its level. Higher weapon levels give you added abilities; for example, extra slash combos with your Z-Saber, or the ability to charge some weapons.

A new addition to the game are the Forms. After defeating a boss, Zero gets a new Form to use. Aside from a color change, Zero now has a new attack style to dispatch his enemies with. For example, the Rise Form has slash combos that end with an upward slash; very handy for removing aerial pests. If you do extremely well in a level, and defeat the boss with an S or A ranking, you’ll acquire the boss’ EX Skill. These let you do all manner of crazy stuff!

The cutesy lil’ Cyber Elves are still around. These sentient pieces of data are very helpful; some just refill your life, while others may destroy small enemies for you, reflect shots, or freeze time. Bigger Cyber Elves must be fed Energy Crystals in order to reach their full potential. The ones that require “raising” in this matter often have a more permanent effect on Zero, like longer dash distance, or the ability to stick to ice walls. Some even change into Sub Tanks, which can really save your ass when you’re in a pinch.

As expected, the graphics are gorgeous. Zero and his foes are all highly detailed and fluidly animated. The “cutscenes” look like paintings; that’s how skillfully color is used.
Levels are designed well, and various parts of the globe are very different from one another. You’ll be returning to many levels multiple times, either for a different mission, or just to nab items and Cyber Elves that you missed the first time around. Some levels use parallaxing, but only a bit; not enough to distract you from the task at hand. The sound seems even better than in the first game; the “pops” that riddled some audio tracks are now gone.

Make no mistake; this game is tough. It’s likely you’ll get your ass beat in the intro stage alone. This isn’t due to flawed design, thankfully; the game is just naturally challenging. This is very welcome, indeed, in this day and age where most games are not insanely tough. Once you get enemy patterns down, and work on your mad Zero kung-fu skills, you won’t be able to put the game down. This is one spinoff series that I hope sticks around a little longer.

Ratings
Gameplay – 9
Graphics – 9
Sound – 8
Fun Factor – 9