Zero has been wandering around for a year since Mega Man Zero 1 (why is everyone putting brown cloaks on everyone now?), and he hasn’t been taking very good care of himself either. That’s okay, though; he soon stumbles over Ciel, who takes him back in. But things have changed at the Resistance Base, chief among them being Elpizo who is now calling the shots...
If a Cyber-elf is a type of program, how can they die? (This is some “cutting edge technology”... Have they never heard of backups?) And how do you breed programs? Why is it necessary to “grow” a program when it could simply be copied or reprogrammed to do what you want? And how do programs have bodies? Wouldn’t that make them robots?
A sequel as sequels go. The biggest change you will notice right off is that there are now extra lives and continues like any typical Mega Man game. As far as I can tell it is no longer possible to fail missions (which was a rather unique though irritating feature of the previous title). In fact, you can’t choose a new mission at all without loading a save game. When you lose all your lives your choices are “Continue” or “Reload from Save.” When you continue, you keep all weapon levels and elves that you’d picked up. On the other hand, if you decide you simply can’t beat a mission, your only recourse is to reload and lose everything you’d gained in that mission. This is still better than a total “game over” every time you die though.
There is also a stage select screen that is more typical of classic Mega Man games, and right at the start of the game Cervaeu gives you basically all of the weapons you’d had from the previous game, which is a switch.
- The Trans Server in this game has been replaced by Elpizo’s command room. Talk to the operator to use the Trans Server and revisit stages. (Kind of a shame; I rather enjoyed walking to stages from the Resistance Base in the previous game.)
- You don’t download Cyber-elves using the Trans Server anymore. Instead, talk to Ciel and ask about Cyber-elves. After listening to Ciel’s monologue, ask about Cyber-elves again, and this time you should get access to the Cyber-elf menu. (This changes a bit halfway through the game; take note that Ciel’s menu actually scrolls—there are more options than will fit on the window at once.)
Using the Chain Rod
The Chain Rod is your gimmick weapon in this game; you’ll use it more to accomplish tasks than to defeat enemies. But it can be a lot of fun (as long as you aren’t trying to use it to cross pits) and is an improvement over the Triple Rod at any rate.
- Hold down the attack button to latch onto things, and release the button to let go.
- Latch onto ceilings and walls to navigate. You can swing across a ceiling of arbitrary length, provided you don’t mess up of course.
- Latch onto boxes and other objects and pull them onto spikes or into holes or other places of convenience.
- Snatch power-up items with the Chain Rod by latching onto them and then pulling in the opposite direction, just like other objects.
- Latch onto enemies to temporarily stun them (doesn’t work for all enemies). You can also pull some of them around, like objects.
- Try grabbing an enemy and pulling him onto spikes.
- Grab an object first, then push a direction on the control pad to pull it. You can’t pull an item if you are already pressing a direction on the control pad the moment you latch on.
- You can only pull objects if you are standing on the ground when you latch on. However you can fire the chain diagonally and pull a block that is above you if you can reach it without jumping.
- When Zero is hanging from the chain, you can press up and down on the control pad to lengthen or shorten the chain. Press left and right to swing back and forth.
- You can use the Chain Rod in any of eight directions. (Of course, to fire it straight down you have to be in the air.)
- Note that the chain will only grab objects if you hit them with its very tip on the way out. This is particularly an issue when trying to grab floating platforms—if you overshoot the platform with the chain, you’re in for a plunge, even if the tip goes through the object on the way down.
- Play Control:
- Pretty much identical to the first title. The Chain Rod is a little more difficult to use than the Triple Rod though...mostly because it’s more critical. If you mess up, you could very likely land yourself in a pit, so...
- Pretty much the same here as well. The portraits and cut scene drawings are a bit cleaner, but still look like scans.
- The sprites haven’t changed much; and most enemies still have a custom animation for when you destroy them with a saber, which is rather entertaining.
- Some of the tunes are pretty nice, but they would have sounded better with better quality instruments and stereo renderings. I do like how the opening ties into the ending music, though.
- Sound Effects:
- Not much has changed here either.
- The plot of this game gets kind of crazy, where your allies are your enemies, and your enemies are really your allies. I mean, Neo Arcadia has banned Reploids, yet they have Reploids working with them, and Reploids fighting against them, and Elpizo turns out to be both an ally and enemy to both sides at once...
- Difficulty: (hard)
- The addition of extra lives does make it slightly easier (or at least less tedious) than the previous game, since now at least you don’t have to replay stages from the very beginning every time you die. However the difficulty is still up there, particularly if you want to get EX Skills.
- Replay Value:
- The clear-game save adds some amount of replay and at least addresses some of the more irritating aspects of this title (such as the fact that you can only earn certain items on your first run through a stage). In fact, this game appears to have been designed such that you aren’t supposed to be able to obtain everything on a single play through...
- I gotta hand them two things. First, during the intro stage they actually use the subscreen art from the first game, except cracked and broken to represent Zero’s current condition. (The rest of the game uses a totally revamped subscreen.) Second, in the Resistance Base are some towers where, if you walk to them from inside the base, you see the insides of the towers, but if you go topside and visit the same towers, you are now seeing them from the outside. It’s rather clever.
- Overall: 75%
- I think I would have enjoyed this game more if it wasn’t necessary to rush through stages just to get a high rank. I only have fun after the fact, when I am able to go back into stages and explore them properly—but of course, this makes the first trip through completely pointless. Overall, this game, like its predecessor, seems to relish in giving the player disincentives to really enjoying it. For example, a lot of the Cyber-elves are quite entertaining to use, but of course, they come in such a limited quantity that the player will never be able to fully appreciate them. And putting the stages on timers means you cannot take your time and explore, at least not the first time through. And so forth. Someday, maybe developers will realize that the goal of playing a game is to have fun...
- + Plus:
- You can get Sub-Tanks without using elves.
- - Minus:
- Achieving high ranks is now essential rather than simply being useful for bragging rights, which can really reduce the enjoyment factor.
Honestly, if you managed to earn an A+ rank during the intro stage, you may want to choose your first level based on what EX Skill you’d like to pick up. It’s not as easy to come out of later stages with high ranks, so you may have to settle with grabbing whatever EX Skills that you can. (Most of them aren’t really all that critical, though, so if you can’t maintain a high rank, don’t worry too much about it.)
Otherwise, for beginners I suggest Hyleg Ourobockle first, since you can pick up a Sub-Tank during the stage to use on the boss. Likewise, if you manage to come out of the mini-stage with an A or higher rank, I strongly recommend doing Burble Hekelot afterward, not only because you can get a Sub-Tank from his stage, but because his EX Skill is one of the best in the game. (This might be one worth using an elf on.)
- Hyleg Ourobockle (Rescue Reploids)
- Poler Kamrous (Destroy Computer)
- Panter Flauclaws (Supply Train)
- Phoenix Magnion (Destroy Power Generators)
- Mini-Stage (Residential Area)
- Burble Hekelot (Forest)
- Fighting Fefnir (Shuttle Factory)
- Sage Harpuia (Crystal Cave)
- Fairy Leviathan (Computer Zone)
In the teleporting hatch rooms, you have to actually stand in the center of a hatch and press Up to enter it. (Not exactly intuitive, particularly for someone who has never seen a teleporting hatch room before.) Once you are finished, the exit is the gate in the upper left hand corner of the room.
- At the end of the mini-stage (the interlude stage between the first four stages and the second group of four), you will need to protect Ciel from attack. Position yourself just to the left of her, facing left, and equip the Shield Boomerang. Hold down the shield button for the entire battle (never throw it).
Use a saber-type weapon on your other slot; when an enemy appears over your head, jump slightly and slash it (or attack upward with the Chain Rod); also slash the X-Joe robots crawling on the floor when they get too close. These are the only things which have the potential of getting past you and hitting Ciel; the rest you simply need to block with the shield (or your body, if you have to).
- Rainbow Devil MK2 (Neo Arcadia Temple boss)
- Again. As usual it’s quite active, but you can avoid most of its attacks by climbing the wall and hanging out in the upper corner. Jump off and over it when it is out of the way, so that it doesn’t trap you. It doesn’t appear to be weak against any Element, so using your normal attacks should do, although make sure that you don’t have the Laser Shot equipped if you’re going to be using the buster. Hit it in the head; you know the drill.
- Fighting Fefnir MK2 (Temple of Flame boss)
- Remember, he’s weak against Lightning, not Ice, despite what temple you find him in. This is basically Fefnir in a tank that uses lots of flame attacks. Keep your distance and shoot at anything that flashes. As you destroy pieces of his tank, his attacks become less varied and easier to dodge.
- Fairy Leviathan MK2 (Temple of Ice boss)
- She mostly hangs out on either side of the screen, spearing her way across from time to time. Once again, she’s weak against Fire, and you can destroy many of the ice attacks that she creates.
- Sage Harpuia MK2 (Temple of Wind boss)
- He turns into a nifty bird machine that flies from the distance into the screen. He’s still weak against Ice. Use powered-up Saber slashes to hit him but try not to get too close to him.
- Kuwagust Anchus MK2 (Teleporting Hatches)
- Now this is rather interesting; you are up against two of them at once here. Fortunately, one of them will usually stay out of the way in the far distance, except during their twin dash move (dash under this). They are both weak against Ice and share a single energy meter (which means that hitting either will take damage off the boss meter); however, this is not much of a plus because they have a three-tier meter and they do way too much damage to Zero. Remember to jump as well as dash to avoid the horizontal whirlwind.
- Elpizo (first time)
- I knew this guy was trouble the moment I laid eyes on him... Anyway, I found that charged Saber slashes seem to be about the only thing that make him flinch. You can’t hurt him while he’s blocking, but you can knock him out of most of his attacks. Stay a few steps away from him, but keep him on the screen so that you can see what he’s up to, otherwise you won’t be getting much damage in. Avoid the ring of spheres at all costs, and note that sometimes he opens a dimensional portal and brings in some minor enemies. Destroy these for potential energy refills.
- Elpizo (second time)
- Keep your distance, and hit Elpizo only with fully-charged strikes. Again I found the charged Saber to do the best damage, although it does mean you have to hop rather close to him to hit. Come in from an angle, rather than standing directly underneath him (underneath him is the last place you want to be in this batttle; naturally, this is where Zero walks to before the battle starts). You need to hit the figure in the center part, but the outer spokes of the star will not hurt you when you touch them; just avoid the objects that Elpizo has rotating around him. This fight is actually not overly difficult, as you can avoid most of his attacks by simply staying away from him. Move close only long enough to strike, and of course only when you see you have an opening. Mysteriously, his first form is more deadly than his second...
Side note: If you die to Elpizo, you don’t have to go through all of the plot again, which is kind of nice.
- Forest of Dysis: Near a rescuable Reploid, across spikes. Drop a block down to the spikes below, then cross the spike pit to the left.
- Forest of Notus: Immediately after the mini-boss, don’t destroy the block that you see. Instead, use it to get over the first set of spikes, then carefully navigate right through more spikes. Use a diagonal-up aim with your Chain Rod to pull away the block that is in the way; you have to jump out of the way of the falling block before it falls or it will land on your head and kill you.
- The rest are made using elves.
- When you are fortunate enough to get Techniques (“EX Skills”), you can actually turn them off via the subscreen. This way you won’t perform them on accident. (I would have loved this feature in Mega Man X6...) In fact you have to turn them on first before you can use them (they default to off). To do so, go to the subscreen and highlight the icon and press A.
- Don’t bother exploring levels completely the first time you make your way through them. Just cover the essential areas and go straight to the end to get the best time. Then when you complete the level, go back into it (before doing any other levels) and explore it fully. You won’t affect your ranking this way.
- You’ve probably noticed from the boss section, but knocking enemies out of attacks is probably the number one key to defeating foes in this game. Unlike many other classic and X series titles, most enemies don’t just take hits and keep going. If you hit them hard enough, they actually reel, interrupting whatever attack they had been in the middle of performing. This works mostly with the bosses, but some minor enemies react this way as well.
- Remember that it’s your rank going into a stage that determines if you will get an EX Skill, not what rank you achieve for that stage. For example, if you go into a stage with an A rank and then come out with a B, you’ll still get the EX Skill for that stage. There are Cyber-elves that will raise your rank to A, so if you manage to get enough of them, you could go ahead and take your time and enjoy most of the stages without worrying about your performance, and then use an elf afterward to get your rank back up to speed for the next stage. (This doesn’t work for the first fortress stage, because they send you off without giving you a chance to do anything else first. However, if you suspect in advance that you won’t have an A rank for the last stage before the fortress, you could bring an elf with you, and then use it once you are in the fortress.)
- As a total side note, on the surface the ranking system appears to make no sense. A 79 is an A, and an 85 is a B. Heck, once I got a 65 and that was a C, yet another time I got a 65 and it was a B. Cait contributes that ranks are possibly an average of all of the mission totals, not just the most recent; this would make sense given the results I have seen, although I haven’t fully tested this.
- After you beat it, the game gives you an option to save clear-game data to one of your save slots. You will notice this is listed as rank F. That’s because loading your clear-game actually begins a new game, but you keep all of the Forms, EX Skills, Sub-Tanks, and Cyber-elves that you had earned in the previous game. This gives you a chance to pick up Forms and EX Skills that you missed the first time through, although you still only get one shot per stage.
- As with all Mega Man Zero games, if you do really insane things like find all of the Cyber-elves or fulfill other conditions, I’m sure you can unlock more elves and other hidden modes. However, they will never be covered here as I have no way of verifying any of it.
- Forest of Dysis: This one was made for the Chain Rod. Rescue Reploids by standing in front of them and pressing Up. You have to be positioned just right for it to work. Also notice that there is a hidden passage behind the mini-boss.
- Power Room: This stage goes in an infinite loop. Also, there is a section of fire platforms (that you can freeze with the Ice chip) where you can pick up a Cyber-elf by playing a mini-game that reminds me of old arcade shooters. Shoot the little bug robots that are traveling along the track; if you manage to destroy them all and the flashing robot that comes after, you will be rewarded with the elf. (This is also a good place to raise your weapon levels, for obvious reasons.)
- Train: Most all of the items are inside the trains. You also won’t need to worry about the overpasses down there, but for your first run through, going across the tops of the train cars is probably faster.
- Forest of Notus: Did I mention you can burn the tree foliage with the Flame Chip?
- Computer Zone 2: To navigate the long vertical passage filled with bombs, you can follow a snowball down, which will destroy the bombs as it rolls. It is difficult to do though because if you don’t keep the snowball on your screen, the bombs will “scroll back on” by the time you get to them, even though they were destroyed by the snowball.
- Crystal Cave: Nifty, nifty stage. First is the section of invisible crystals over spikes; you can actually walk on the crystals even if they aren’t visible (when power-up items fall from defeated enemies, you can use them as a guide). The crystal ledges become visible when the appropriate-colored lightning bug robot is on the screen (red or blue), but since these bugs also tend to get in your way, you may be better off destroying them. Shoot the diamond-shaped pod to produce more bugs. Finally, later in the stage you will encounter Reploids from the Resistance Base who are under the control of the enemy. You aren’t supposed to hurt them; however, interestingly enough, each one you destroy gives you a 1-Up. (It’s mean, though, and hurts your rank to boot.)
- Broken Aircraft: This is actually part of the Crystal Cave stage on your initial run through, but you have to transport to it separately afterward. The area inside of the ship opens up when you revisit the stage (it is blocked off the first time through). This allows you to (finally) revisit the areas that you went through during the mini-stage (the one where you diffuse the bomb). So if you missed any Cyber-elves then, you can come back and get them here.
So, X is destroyed by Elpizo, who wants to kill all human beings and destroy Neo Arcadia and, oh, be a hero. He merges with the Dark Elf, but in the end, seems to regain his senses, right in time to die. Well, almost. The Dark Elf saves his life by turning him into a Cyber-elf instead (now we know where Cyber-elves come from), and Elpizo apologizes and makes his leave.
X arrives, in Cyber-elf form, and explains that the Dark Elf wasn’t always evil, but that someone called Dr. Weil (uh huh) placed a curse on her. Zero thinks he knows her from somewhere, but naturally, X doesn’t bother to tell him the Dark Elf’s original name, or explain why he might know her...
Oh yeah, and there’s a plug for Mega Man Zero 3 after the credits.