Dr. Weil has taken over Neo Arcadia, making humans as much his subjects as the Reploids there. Any humans who try to resist or flee are terminated on sight, as Ciel and the rest of the Resistance Force discover when they save a small band of humans on the run from Weil’s forces. Meanwhile, to prevent the humans from having anywhere to run to, Dr. Weil is systematically turning the entire planet outside of Neo Arcadia into a desert wasteland...
The most significant new feature of this game is that you can actually select the difficulty level per stage by virtue of using the weather-changing system. Every stage has two possible weather settings; one of those settings is the “hard” mode, and one setting is the “easy” mode. You can tell which is which because when you select a stage and get a description of the mission, the operator will mention the current weather if you have selected the “easy” weather. If she says nothing about the weather, you are using the “hard” variation. (The outline of the stage’s weather icon also glows if it is in “hard” mode.)
With the weather set in “hard” mode, you will be able to pick up the EX Skill of the boss because he will be able to use it against you. In “easy” mode, the boss won’t use his EX Skill and additionally, certain aspects of the stages are modified or missing entirely, making them less challenging.
Using the Cyber-elf
In this game, you have just one Cyber-elf. You level her up by giving her energy crystals. The higher her level, the more special abilities she can give you.
To actually choose the abilities, go to your Cyber-elf page on your subscreen and move the cursor to a category, then press right or left to change the level for that category. Note that levels are not accumulative. This means you get just the specific effect that you select, not all of the ones before it too. However, you can select one ability from each of the three categories, and all three of those properties will be in effect at the same time.
As you change abilities, note the level indicator on the upper right. If you go higher than the max level, you will lose points from your rank when completing stages. Otherwise there is no penalty; the elf will function just fine at any level.
Using the Zero Knuckle
The new gimmick weapon of this game is a rather unique one—it allows you to grab weapons from enemies and then use those armaments yourself. Finish off an enemy with the knuckle and you will swipe his weapon if he has one to grab. Not all enemies have weapons you can steal, but most do.
- When you discard a weapon, Zero literally tosses it away. You can hit enemies with the weapon he throws and damage them.
- You can use stolen weapons on bosses. If the weapon is of the right element type, you might even hit the boss’s weakness.
- Some weapons can have a special effect on the environment in the stages where you grab them. For example, grab a fire weapon to melt snow.
- It is possible to charge up the Zero Knuckle itself, but you can’t charge most (if any) of the weapons you steal using it.
- The knuckle is useful for more than just swiping weapons. Some enemies can be grabbed directly and tossed away. You can also grab certain things in the environment.
As usual, there’s no sequence of using weapons from one stage on another stage’s boss, so feel free to do the stages in whatever order works best for you. This order is simply what seemed to be the best progression of easy-to-hard along with making sure you get critical parts and Sub-Tanks as early as possible. In particular, the Particle Beam stage has some important parts for making several useful items, so try to complete it as early as possible.
- Remember your triple-slash. It’s really the key to destroying bosses quickly—at least those that put themselves within reach of it.
- Aside from setting the weather, you can also make the game easier by gathering crystals to level up your elf (revisit stages to do this), then raise your elf’s levels as high as you wish. You’ll lose points from your rank, but you can still get the EX Skill from the boss if you selected the correct weather setting.
- Use higher elf ranks when revisiting stages to gather items. (For example, the one that increases the odds of enemies dropping items is useful.) This won’t impact your rank as long as you aren’t in a mission.
- Always have 9 1-Ups: Reenter the Area Zero stage after clearing it. When you reach the diagonal elevator platform about halfway through, ride it partway down then jump off to the right. There’s a ledge with a 1-Up over there. Grab it and exit the stage (use the escape unit from your subscreen). Repeat.
- There are three ways to obtain new item recipes. One way is to simply receive one from someone (talk to people multiple times throughout the course of the game). A second way is to receive hints about how to invent one yourself (talk to your elf a lot). The final way is to simply experiment at random—just combine various parts and see what you get. Be careful when using Moloid parts, however, since you have only a limited number of those.
- Difficulty Modes: The game begins with two difficulty modes and one more is easily unlockable (after that, unlocking the rest of the modes becomes more challenging).
- Normal. This page covers the normal difficulty unless otherwise stated.
- Easy. This mode is insane. You begin the game with two full Sub-Tanks and 9 lives, and your Cyber-elf (when you get her) starts off with a maximum of 15 levels. Zero’s weapons do increased damage to enemies, and conversely, the enemies do less damage to him. Zero benefits from the effects of certain parts, such as the “Strong” body armor, without actually having those chips equipped. (This means, for example, that he’s immune to bottomless pits and he doesn’t die instantly to spikes.) You literally cannot fail to beat the game on Easy mode. However, you can’t change the weather in this mode, so you can’t get EX Skills. (Not that you terribly need them. If you need the Elemental property of one of the EX Skills, such as to burn or freeze something, use the Cyber-elf’s bullets instead.)
- Hard. Not to be confused with the “hard” weather settings, this is an actual hard mode. Unlock this by beating the game on normal difficulty.
- Others. There are other modes as well, which I don’t cover yet because I haven’t taken the time to get them yet.
- There is a clear game save here as in previous games: saving after the credits will produce a game file at rank F which is for the beginning of the game. You keep any EX Skills and Sub-Tanks you’d gained, as well as the items you’d built and all of your E-Crystals and enemy parts, but you start over from the beginning of the plot again. This is a way to play through the game a second time and get things that you couldn’t get the first time through.
- Like the previous game, there are also mini-games you can unlock by doing certain things, but I haven’t actually bothered yet. They are there for those who like giving themselves a challenge and you will find them if you are both skilled and thorough enough.
- Artificial Sun: Hard=Sunny. Destroy energy generators to lower the temperature. If you get all of them when the stage is overcast, you will eliminate the sunlight altogether.
- Deep Sea: Hard=Overcast. This is probably the easiest stage to do with the weather set to “hard” because once you know where you are going, you don’t really need Ciel’s hints. The first part of the stage is basically a wrap-around maze. Drop down through holes in the floor to the next lower level. Ciel will speak up you when you get close. Jump up through the hole in the ceiling to the right after Ciel says something the second time, head right, then keep going downward. Look for a door down there and you’re done.
- Hibernation Chamber: Hard=Overcast. When the sun is shining, there is no snow and some spikes are gone. You can also melt snow using the Blaze Shot weapon you grab from the V.Fires, or any fire-based weapon attack.
- Living City: Hard=Sunny. There are moving blocks inside. Move forward slowly so you don’t get taken by surprise. You might want the “Strong” body chip for this stage to help with the spikes for when Zero decides not to grab onto the handles.
- Magnetic Zone: Hard=Lightning. Ironically, with the weather set to the “easy” mode, this stage is almost more difficult because you don’t get the jump boost during the outdoor areas. However, on the “easy” setting the enemies are more tame and there is no electricity on the platforms inside.
- Particle Beam: Hard=Sunny. You can stand on the yellow platform enemies (the Faitals), so you can use them as footholds to reach higher areas to avoid the laser beam. Just move forward carefully and you should have few problems.
- Underground Forest: Hard=Sunny. Grab the vines with the Zero Knuckle to have the easiest time.
- Hanging Gardens: Hard=Overcast. In hard mode, wind pushes you around after the first section, and clouds can obscure your vision. You can freeze the fountains with any ice-based weapon, and then stand on top of them to reach higher areas. On your first pass through the stage, make sure to destroy all of the acid rain generators to get the 100% mission complete.
- Mini-Stage: This is the rescue mission that you can’t revisit. Grab a water gun from the water pumps you find in the settlement and use that to put out the fires. Make sure you extinguish all of the fires and enter all of the doors before talking to the child at the end.
- Ragnarok: Nothing critical to note about this one, but you may wish to bring the DoubleJump boots here.
- Teleporter Base: There are four paths here; just run down each one in turn, pull the handle with the Zero Knuckle (just ignore the Crossbynes), then return the way you came.
Here are a few of the item recipes in the game. Find others! (Note: Ceratanium is a special part that can only be found lying around in stages. However you can obtain it as often as you like; simply pick one up, exit the stage, and return to get another.)
So Weil is claiming to be perfectly human despite the fact that he’s no longer even remotely human. But Zero decides the only way to stop Ragnarok from repeating Mega Man X5
is to blow it up by destroying the core. Of course, the core happens to be Dr. Weil, but this doesn’t deter Zero in the slightest.
Back down on the ground, the operator informs Ciel that Ragnarok is breaking up as it enters the atmosphere, so the mission was a success. She says this with some reservation, of course, since naturally they have lost all contact with Zero, who was on Ragnarok when it blew up. Ciel runs out of the trailer to the settlement where Neige and the others are watching “shooting stars” of the pieces of Ragnarok falling to the ground. Ciel declares that since Zero believed in them, they will have to believe in Zero. And so, she waits and hopes for Zero to someday return.
Now, for all of you who are worrying that Zero is dead...
Don’t. Come on, the next game couldn’t be called “Mega Man Zero” if it didn’t have Zero in it. Besides, Zero has been destroyed at least four times by now, maybe more that we don’t know about, and he always manages to come back. (Honestly, I have no idea why the characters in these games worry about Reploids dying. For that matter, why hasn’t someone given X a new body yet?)
So, as I said about Mega Man X5: If Capcom wants to make another game, Zero will be back. You can pretty much bank on it.