Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection Review: Great Gameplay, Steep Difficulty

Capcom's blue bomber has had a storied history. So storied, in fact, that it's taken the publisher multiple compilations to collect all of his adventures. The latest such collection is Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection, which gives gamers a second chance to revisit six classic Mega Man games. The titles included in this collection first appeared on two of Nintendo's handheld devices; the four entries in the Mega Man Zero series all first appeared on Game Boy Advance, while the two Mega Man ZX games first appeared on the DS. None of the six games in this collection are nearly as well-regarded as titles like Mega Man 2 or Mega Man X (games which appeared in Capcom's previous Legacy compilations), but there's still much to be enjoyed for fans of the franchise.

While the Game Boy Advance's graphics haven't aged quite as gracefully as the NES or Super Nintendo, one of the things that really sticks out when playing the Mega Man Zero games is just how good everything still looks. The graphics lack sharpness when compared with games like Mega Man X, but they still have an endearing quality that makes them stand out. In fact, it sort of contributes to the charm of the Zero games in this collection. Meanwhile, the two Mega Man ZX games look absolutely splendid. Outside of Mega Man 11, these games just might represent some of the best-looking games in the franchise as a whole.

If there's one area where the compilation stands out, it's in the sound quality department. Each game in this collection has really impressive music, particularly the games in the Mega Man Zero series. Unfortunately, there is one area where the sound quality dips, and that's in the voice acting department. While the Zero games don't feature voice acting, the ZX games do, and it's definitely a little rough around the edges. It's not enough to really hurt the package, but players just might find themselves rushing through reading the dialogue so they don't have to finish hearing it.

Of course, some players might want to skip reading the story entirely. One of the biggest problems with the Zero/ZX games is that they tend to be overly verbose and the stories just aren't all that interesting. The whole thing is surprisingly convoluted, and the amount of time players are willing to invest deciphering it all will absolutely vary. Mega Man purists might be able to rattle off the intricacies of the Reploid wars, and how each game fits into the overall canon, but casual fans will very likely find themselves lost.

It's impossible to discuss the games in this collection without addressing the difficulty: all of these titles are quite tough, and players that are looking for a more laid-back experience will want to look elsewhere. The Mega Man series has always been known for some difficulty, but the Zero and ZX games take it to a different level, and that tone is established quite early on, in just about every game in this collection. Thankfully, the games do offer a Casual Mode, and this is a major blessing. It definitely doesn't change things too much, but it should make the overall package a little more manageable for newcomers.

While Game Boy Advance games like the Zero series can be easily ported to other consoles, Nintendo DS games are a bit more of a headache for developers. Essentially, it means having to find a way to replicate the system's bottom screen. Thankfully, Zero/ZX Legacy Collection does so in probably the best fashion possible. The ZX games used the bottom screen as a map, allowing players to warp to different areas when possible. Players can navigate the screen using the controller's right stick, and bringing up the menu allows players to move the location of the second screen. The most cumbersome thing about this is that none of the options make the screen as big as it was on DS, so you'll likely have to squint to make things out.

The ability to move the location of the DS' touch screen isn't the only customization option. Players can alter filters, change wallpapers, and more. There are a lot of options, and it should please purists and newcomers alike.

There is one area of the game that wasn't available in time for review, and that's the compilation's Z Chaser mode. Z Chaser mode allows players to compete with the top scores of other Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection players, and even view replay runs of those times. If the mode lives up to its promise, it certainly should be a tempting option for fans of the franchise.

Compilations are hard to judge. No matter what the collection, some games will invariably be more enjoyable over others. That said, regardless of individual quality, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is a well-made compilation that will definitely appeal to long-time series fans. With its tight gameplay, gorgeous graphics, terrific music, and a number of customization options, there's a lot for players to enjoy. At the end of the day, it's hard to say whether or not the collection will appeal to newcomers. The steep difficulty and overly complicated storylines are definitely a hurdle to overcome. It's hard to recommend this collection over any of the previous Mega Man Legacy Collections, but for players craving more blue bomber, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is worth overcoming those hurdles. Now, bring on Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection, Capcom!

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Mega Man Zero/ZX Collection is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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