Roughly one year ago (almost to the day), I wrote a review of Mega Man Zero 3. It would appear that Capcom’s keeping the Zero series on the same “one per year” schedule that it has adopted for the Mega Man Battle Network games. This is a sort of double-edged sword. These yearly releases keep the fans lining up to buy the new games, but game companies run the risk of diluting the brand with less innovation between installments.
Zero 4 brings a few new techniques to the series’ formula, and fixes a few problems from 3, but on the whole, it’s very much like the other three entries in the series. In Zero‘s case, however, this happens to work towards the game’s favor.
If you’re a fan of old-school Mega Man games, then the Zero series will feel like it’s made just for you. Instead of all the chip-battling and 3D graphics that have invaded more recent entries in the Blue Bomber’s repertoire, this series is all about the old-fashioned, 2D platforming — blasting your way through hordes of evil robots before taking on some themed boss. The Zero series has also gained a reputation for being frickin’ hard, and this latest entry doesn’t disappoint. If you’re not up for a challenge, then don’t waste your time.
Well, you can waste you time with the game’s new easy mode, which is, well, pretty easy. I guess Capcom got sick of people going off about how tough the Zero games are. So if the normal mode is proving too much for you, you always have the fallback difficulty level. And, if you think that normal mode is too tough, don’t even think about playing the unlockable hard mode.
Wanna Cyber Elf?
Zero 4 does away with the ultimately useless Cyberspace feature that popped up in the previous game. This virtual reality world must have looked good on paper, but didn’t really work in practice, and it’s not missed this time around. The Cyber Elf method of powering Zero up has also been refined. In a way, Capcom has diminished the role of the sentient computer programs, but it actually works out fairly well.
To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of the Cyber Elves. The whole “collect these little creatures and power them up to gain special abilities” thing was a little too Pokémon for my tastes. Now, you have one Elf that you power up to different levels. Each level grants you a new skill in one of three different categories. You’re free to customize which ability you want in each category, which streamlines the process and makes it feel, um, less Pokémon-y.