Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mega Man Zero 2 (Game Boy Advance, 2003)

This is Mega Man Zero 2. Probably the most hardcore Mega Man game of all time. It'd make the original Mega Man on the NES weep. It'd make Mega Man X6 cry. It'd make the first Mega Man Zero run for its life. Mega Man 9 might be about on the same level as this one, but even that very difficult game gives the player more breaks. Enough about the difficulty though. With a fairly emphatic end to Neo Arcadia in the first game, where can the story go from here? Let's find out.

The game begins with our hero stumbling through the desert with a cloak on. This sorta reminds me of the beginning of Terminator Salvation. I half-expect him to start rasping "what happened here" at passerby.

Zero throws off the cloak and badassedly turns around! ...well, it would be badass if he didn't look like a POP figure.

He was being followed by a bunch of Esthar Soldiers Neo Arcadia Soldiers, so he proceeds to completely mop the floor with them.

Recycled-from-the-first-game enemies abound, as a Golem shows up. You'd think Neo Arcadia would leave this guy alone after he dismantled them. How are they still a thing?

Guard Scorpion from Final Fantasy VII is our next foe. This intro stage isn't messing around!

I notice that the bosses have Omega symbols under their life meters in this game, much like the first game. In the original series (and some of the X series) they had W's or skulls. In the X series they have Maverick symbols. In this series... Omega. What does it mean?

I missed getting a shot of it, but after this fight Zero passes out. He's then rescued by Harpuia, the new leader of Neo Arcadia, who drops him off at Resistance HQ. Well, that's weird...

The Resistance Base has been rebuilt since the previous game. It gets blown up more than CTU!

The new guy in charge of the resistance is the not-evil-at-all Elpizo, a psychotic Blood Elf whose name is Spanish for... "the pizo".

If The Pizo is in charge now...who was in charge before? And why do we still need a resistance with X defeated?

The same way I once wore out my penis. It wasn't a good scene.

This is basically a poor man's Grappling Beam, except nowhere near as fun or functional.

He also gives me the Shield Boomerang, back by popular demand... except no one demanded it.

We get a real stage select this time rather than a mission list. Not bad at all. I choose to"Hyleg"

This stage is pretty. I wish the colors were less washed-out on the Game Boy Advance, though. I grew up on the higher-contrast Super NES.

Here we see the poor man's grappling beam in action, as our hero swings across pits that he may or may not clear (because the swing has almost no momentum).

Miniboss of DOOM, a wall with an eye on it. Doesn't really do much. I wish it converged on you like the Demon Wall from the Final Fantasy series.

Here's the boss, the This fight takes place on a giant undulating snake. Is this a Mega Man 3 reference?

I win, and...what? Those Cyber-Elf things have babies now? WTF?

True X's ghost fizzles in for a second after the fight. Remember him yet, Zero? ...I sure don't, because this doofus looks nothing like X. At least the portrait up top has a resemblance.

"The state of our union is strong" says Elpizo. Okay, this guy is definitely the villain. So...I'll be fighting my own side? This could get interesting.

Zero visits Ciel in her bunk. As for what Zero don't want to know. The least dirty thing involves a detachable showerhead, a rope, and a small German man named Hans.

A brief history lesson. See how easy it is to connect your serieses, Capcom? SEE HOW EASY IT IS?

The next stage I challenge is a bullet train. Insta-death objects zip across the screen at random intervals, making this a tougher stage to deal with.

The boss is an electric panther. Notice how boss rooms in this game tend to have pits? Yeah, it's bad. Apparently this guy is a henchman of Harpuia... who saved me earlier. I'M SO CONFUSED.

Next up is the hardest of the four stages, the ice stage.

It's tough because your dashes give you no momentum on the ice. And the stage is full of pits and spikes.

This pit took me something like seven tries to successfully jump over. Seriously. They just DESTROYED the dash/jump mechanics in this level.

After the hardest of the four stages, we get the easiest of the four bosses. This massive ice-bear is too slow to be much of a threat, so Bwooooh to you sir. Bwooooh to YOU!

His only weak point is his head, but he throws ice blocks your way that you can stand on and use as a fire at his head nonstop while he slowly saunters toward you.

After that joke of a fight, we're onto the fourth and final stage (of the first four), Phoenix Magnion. It isn't much to write home about, aside from familiar classic series enemies like these bomb-dropping spinny things.

Here's a GIANT CRAB straight out of the Super NES era. That's just the miniboss, and after that I find myself face-to-beak with...

...the worst boss in the game, if not the whole series. Flame Hyenard (Mega Man X7...coming soon!) previously held that title, but this guy is on another level.

Why? Because he "blinks out" when you fire at him. In other words, you can't hit him. I found the most effective "strategy" to be to stand by the door and just fill the air with bullets. Some of them will actually land, but most won't. From there it's just a war of attrition as he can easily hit you there, so you better have some Sub-Tank energy. When he splits into two, you can hit him normally, at least. Oh, and he's immune to ice.

I think more bosses should "blink out" every time you fire a shot. It'd make more games impossible! That'd teach the millennials.

Our hero badassedly dashes back to the base to learn that...

...Elpizo is sending the Resistance army into Neo Arcadia for a large-scale attack. But why?

Zero points out that Harpuia is trying to seek out a peace agreement between the two sides and this will totally ruin that, not to mention cause a lot of unnecessary deaths. 2003!

Elpizo isn't hearing any of it, and mumbles something about WMDs before starting a conversation with God.

Our hero heads to the battle zone and finds corpses everywhere.

Harpuia (w/ two remaining generals) appears to give Elpizo a brutal beatdown. It's surprising that Elpizo even showed his face in an actual battleground.

After that, we get an escape sequence as Neo Arcadia...comes apart? It's BEETLE MANIA as Zero leaps from flying beetle to flying beetle. Again, I'm confused.

A "protect Ciel" minigame follows, which marks the one time in the game that the Shield is a truly useful item. You can't dodge enemy attacks because they'll hit Ciel, so being able to stand there blocking shots is great.

After all of that, a multi-armed boss attacks. This fight is obnoxious because for whatever reason, he can grab you from halfway across the screen. The creators of Boomer Kuwanger called and said to read a book about hit detection.

Back at the base, Elpizo gives us his sad story. Wait, when he was a boy? So he's not a robot? Oh, he means "errand boy" in a job sense. Well, who knows with this series.

So Neo Arcadia made him deliver mail...and now he wants to obliterate their city? How did this guy get to be in charge of the Resistance?

He then mumbles about WMDs and starts having a conversation with God.

The second set of stages...has some familiar faces. We've got Harpuia, Leviathan, and Fefnir. Who's the fourth one, though?

The creepy Cyber-elves are back. I have a couple of Sub-Tank elves at this point that'll permanently turn into tanks if used as items.

With that, I immediately go from one Sub-Tank to three. Not bad at all, and a huge help. There's one more Sub-Tank out there. I gotta catch more Elves.

Elpizo shows up again, and now he has two elves with him. This is a hell of a lot like when Skull Kid shows up in Majora's Mask. If the elves start going "Hey! Listen!" I'll eat my hat. Then I'll start swinging the Z-Saber, cleaving the elves in half as shrieks fill the woods.

I find the last Sub-Tank. This one is normal and not an elf. Now we've got all four, and we're in business.

Here's the fourth boss, Burble Hekalot.

...what the f****

The fight is over before it gets started. So far, the second round of bosses are a real step down. My question is, why didn't they just bring back Phantom for this? Why'd he have to die in the first game when the other three generals didn't?

Also, time to rant about the ranking system. I blast through this stage, obliterating everything in my path as fast as I can, and I end up with a C and "sluggish warrior" as a title. What do I have to do, dammit?

Oh, and guess what: If you don't get an A for the stage, you don't get the boss' special weapon. Are you serious, bro? The good news is that there's an item (er...elf) you can use to boost your grade to A after the fact, and I had one handy at this point. Used it here to get Burble Herkalot (what the f****)'s weapon, since it's very useful and lets you steal health from enemies to fill Sub-Tanks.

Leviathan is next, and she's just as simple to beat as the previous game. Copy-paste fest 2k17 continues.

The next stage is a Trump Happycamp(tm) for outgoing immigrants. It's home to...

...Fefnir, who is easier than I remember him being in the first game. So far I'm having no trouble with these bosses. Weird how the second set of bosses is so much easier than the first. It's worth noting that these guys have the same elemental weaknesses as the first game, in a refreshing bit of continuity. what I call a hard to get item.

Harpuia's stage actually presents a challenge because it's full of spikes and invisible platforms. Seriously, who thought combining the two was a good idea? This is COMPLETELY LUCK-BASED. It isn't challenging, it's annoying.

Harpuia is wondering WTF is going on with this Elpizo guy. Maybe we can join forces and take on the Resistance leader, ending this senseless conflict.

Nope, first we must DO BATTLE. It's another recycled fight from the first game. The sky looks amazing, at least. I hope Mega Man Zero 3 doesn't re-use as many assets, because so far this game is a bit of a letdown.

Harpuia loses, and he's happy that someone can defeat him and make him feel something. You know, like Fight Club.

Elpizo has become psychotic. You can tell because he now has giant eyes. Time to go off to Neo Arcadia again.

A procession of bosses follow, as we're now in the final stretch of the game. First, ANOTHER repeat boss from the first game. I might as well be using the same screenshots at this point.

Next up is Fefnir for the FOURTH TIME in the series so far. At least this time he transforms into a battle tank and has new attacks.

Here's Leviathan. Did you know that she's female? Apparently she's aroused by Zero. Nothing comes of this. ...besides Leviathan.

...I'm sorry.

Like Fefnir, she now has a higher form. Props to Capcom. They could have just made me fight these bosses a fourth time as they were. How about a fifth time too? WHY NOT, LET'S PAD THIS THING.

Next up is... well, I thought Harpuia, but he's already been defeated by Elpizo in their rematch.

He says something about reviving the apocalypse-inducing Dark Elf (seen here) and scampers off.

Oh, now I DO have to fight Harpuia. Why do I keep having to fight Neo Arcadia when it's clear Elpizo is the villain?

Here's his second form. It's the toughest fight yet, but Zero wins the day. This reminds me of Mega Man X2 giving second forms to the X-Hunters during the final stages.

After that... it's capsule room time! Harpuia's defeated though, so...why am I still here?

Oh, I see. Now Elpizo has taken control of the place and has all of the stage leaders in his thrall. Here we go again. Bwoooh indeed.

Most of the boss fights are the same as they were earlier, but the multi-armed blue beetle is now joined by the multi-armed red beetle from the previous game. And yeah, you have to fight both of them at once. Battles where you have to face two foes at once in this series tend to be the hardest. To add to the cheapness, once you've defeated them they do this insta-death attack where they rush you from both sides. Yes, after you think the fight is over, they launch an insta-death attack. If you know it's coming and jump in time, they'll collide with each other and blow up.

Even that fight wasn't as bad as the phoenix boss, who is still the most aggravating foe in the entire game.

Onward to Elpizo, who has X's body at the core of Neo Arcadia. The hell is this?

Elpizo proceeds to blast X, destroying him. ...well, he was already dead. Wait, so they had real X's body down here the entire time? I wonder if Copy X ever came in here and whispered "princess" to it.

Elpizo transforms into a more powerful battle form. I guess the charade is up, and Zero is in the way of him taking over the world. Not gonna lie, this guy is one of the worst Mega Man villains.

It's on. He likes to do dash-slices with his energy daggers. He's basically a rogue.

The fight is conquered quickly, and he gives the cliché "I'm supposed to be all-powerful" speech. Just weird is it to have a Mega Man series where each game has a different villain?

He merges with the Dark Elf to become... Dark Elf Elpizo, the -Slayer of God-

While it doesn't have pits or unavoidable attacks, this fight is more difficult than Mega Man Zero's final battle. He takes up so much of the screen.

After he's defeated, he apologizes and...melts, from the looks of things. Apparently he was being influenced by some higher evil power to start the conflict with Neo Arcadia up again.

The mysterious Dark Elf goes back to sleep. It's a lot like the Espers in Final Fantasy VI. Once used to wreak destruction in the distant past, but now wants to be asleep and left alone.

After the credits, we find out that things aren't over yet. The Dark Elf might not get to nap after all, as the evil higher powers are still afoot. Whoever is talking here, it's a safe bet they're responsible for all the chaos. It also looks like we'll be getting an explanation for the Omega symbols on the boss meters soon too. Zero 3 is next.

1 comment:

  1. Zero 2 was pretty good even if the villain was the weakest of the entire franchise.