Sunday, July 6, 2014

Game Review: Mega Man ZX Advent

Action/Adventure; Nintendo DS; Capcom/Inticreates; 2007
Another week another review. How many of you are enjoying their Fourth of July weekend, or to everyone who doesn't live in the United States a normal weekend. Not much of not happened to me during my weekend, so I'll skip all this and just jump right into my review of Mega Man ZX Advent.

Ashe lounging on an Airship, Like a Boss.
A few years after the events of Mega Man ZX and the fate of the world is back in jeopardy. Grey is a Reploid boy found in a mysterious laboratory with no memories and is being hunted by mavericks seeking to "dispose a defective product." Meanwhile, Ashe is a young hunter of bounty and treasures who has found a treasure greater and more dangerous than she can ever imagine. Their lives take a turn for the worse when one of them finds the mysterious Biometal, Model A, and Megamerges with it. Now they are thrown into a "Game of Destiny" against other "Mega Men" to see who will become the new ruler of the world, and the past of these two heroes come to light. Who are Grey and Ashe? What is Model A? And what the hell happened to Prairie? And what the hell does Advent mean?

The story to Mega Man ZX Advent is about what you expect from a Mega Man game. Rather shallow, has a little bit of charm, and is more or less functional as a narrative. One thing I do like is that unlike the original ZX, Grey and Ashe have different back stories and even unique story events, making it feel like I'm actually playing as a different character as oppose to just a gender-swap of the same character. Also, unlike the first game which removed most of the original voice overs except for battle cries and cutscenes, ZX Advent has fully voice sequences with English voice actors.... And they are about as good as you'd expect from a Mega Man game... Which isn't much. It's better than Mega Man 8 and X4, but weaker than Mega Man Legends, and it makes me pine for the Japanese voice acting of the Zero series. Overall, I prefer ZX's story but for a Mega Man story it isn't bad.

At this moment you realize that you are screwed.
Yes, this is a Mega Man game and what that means is that you will be doing a lot of running and shooting. All the Mega Man mechanics are here, run, shoot, dash, and wall jumps are all present. However, what Mega Man ZX did was take the original Mega Man formula and blend it with more Metroid style exploration, with powers gained by defeating bosses being used to access new areas and yield new upgrades like Life-Ups and Sub Tanks. ZX Advent continues this by having a far superior map system and the ability to completely transform into the bosses you defeat. Once you defeat a boss you can assume their form and thus have access to all of their abilities and attacks, most of which is used to gain access to hidden areas you couldn't before. And there are a ton of bosses to defeat, not only do you have the 8 main bosses, the Pseudoroids, but also the 5 different Mega Man Models giving you the abilities found in the original Mega Man ZX. Also new to Advent is dramatic differences between the two playable characters. Unlike Vent and Aile having the same move set just with slight differences between their attack speed and dashing ability, Grey and Ashe have attacks that are unique to them. For example, instead of having a normal Buster shot like most Mega Man characters, Ashe instead has a Laser shot that when fully charged bounces off of walls. Each of the Mega Man models also have different charged attacks depending on which character you are playing as, which also changes the fights with these characters as well. Unlike the orignal game, it is well worth your time to play through this game with both characters.

Running running RUNNING!
Unfortunately, Advent does have some weird issues, first and fore most is it's level design. There are a few areas that are just absolutely annoying to get through, chief among them are the Floating Ruins and the final stage which are complete instant death traps. With so many death traps it makes it really discouraging to scan the area for items. Also the structure of the game is odd. As I said, ZX takes the Mega Man formula and mixes a little Metroid into it. Ultimately, how they did this was to have a central point that branches off into various straight shot stages where you have more classic Mega Man progression. However, unlike the original ZX, these areas feel more isolated, especially since several areas can only be accessed by warping to them. And since most of them are not connected to each other, it creates less of a Metroid exploration feeling, and more of just another way of doing a Mega Man stage select. Especially since warping is a one way trip and you can only warp out of most areas by heading all the way to the end of the stage. Meaning if you need to get something at the beginning of some stages you'd have to go through the rest of the stage just to exit. In this regard I think ZX did it better, true the map system was terrible but there all areas except for the Airship can be access on foot.

Mega Man ZX Advent is a solid game on it's own. It improves on a lot from the first game making it a more realized form of this kind of mix of Mega Man and Metroid. However, it's frustrating stages and exploration hostile structure also serves to hold it back. If there was a third game I would have love to see them take the map and abilities from Advent and combine them with a more free form world like in ZX. Unfortunately, this is the last we ever saw of this series, and Capcom seems to be doing everything they can to forget Mega Man even exists. Hopefully, at some point in the future we will see Mega Man return. Until then Mega Man ZX Advent comes recommended from me.

Until next time.

-Crescent, such an awesome, yet sad image.

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