Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mega Man Zero 4 (Game Boy Advance, 2005)

Time for the shocking conclusion of the entire Mega Man classic/X/Z series. Unlike the first three, this game is kind enough to offer the player an easy mode. This is a series that was in dire need of an easy mode just to provide accessibility to non-hardcore players. There's a time and a place for easy mode, and this was the time and place. That said, I think some games have gone overboard in the modern era by giving us easy modes where it's literally impossible to die (Final Fantasy XV, Mass Effect Andromeda). That's a story for another day.




Created for sexual stimulation, little did we know that they would turn on the human population.

And today, everything sucks, with the reploids ruled over by...

...Dr. Weil, a centuries-old human who has converted himself to 90% machine and has no historical significance to the other Mega Man serieses despite being around for them timelinewise and is most certainly not Dr. Wily or anything interesting like that

Our hero, fresh off of learning that HE WAS A CLONE AUSTIN, HE WAS A CLONE ALL ALONG, is Zero. Well, "Zero". Because Lord knows this series doesn't have the balls to have any of these characters actually BE the characters from previous games that the story pretends they are.

Speaking of balls, Zero's new move for this game is a very suggestive ball-grab. Use that on enemies and after asking them to cough, you'll get their powers. That's one way to do it, I guess.

Here, our serial ballgrabber cops a feel on a flamethrower-wielding enemy and now has flamethrower power temporarily. This'll be super useful if we get invaded by John Carpenter's The Thing.

Ciel finally looks in a mirror and notices her own fantastic 'bod.

The intro boss is a wall-cannon that doesn't move and is thus defeated easily. Notice the W under the boss meters now. It's for...uh...Dr. Weil. Yeah.

Next we meet the highly-annoying Neige, some angry red-haired girl.

You mean...like Ciel, because Zero is a reploid.

I'm just glad Neige brightened up a bit. I was THIS close to calling her "Raggedy Angry".

Area Zero is where the Eurasia colony crashed in the canon version of Mega Man X5. It must have fallen right on Dr. Wily's head and killed him, allowing for the rise of hip newcomer Dr. Weil (plzdon'tsue).

Area Zero looks pretty nice now, with vegetation everywhere.

Soon, though, the forest gives way to the mechanical ruins of the colony.

The next fight is basically the first boss of Mega Man X2.

Yeah, we've been through several intro stages now and no stage select is in sight!

Speaking of stage selects... Zero is now confronted by a literal pile of robot masters.

They're led by the nefarious Craft, the new second-in-command of Weil since Omega and X are both gone.

Named after the Einherjar from Norse mythos, these are going to be the antagonists for most of this game. I see they dropped the "Weil's Numbers" thing (plzdon'tsue).

Zero isn't sure if he can defeat Craft. While most of the reploids Zero has fought up to this point only vibrated in two settings, Craft vibrates in no less than FOUR settings.

The stage select FINALLY looks different from the first three games. It still isn't particularly impressive, and the Maverick portraits are missed. For some reason, you can change the weather in these stages, which gives them a different dynamic. Sorta like Wire Sponge in, again, Mega Man X2.

So far this game has much more of an X-series vibe than the other three. They felt like their own new thing, but you could tell me that this one was intended to be an X game and I'd believe it.

The ever-liked hard hats return, as I take on the first of the eight stages.

Much like the other Zero games, the levels in this one tend to all kinda look alike. I miss the old games where every level had a very clearly-defined theme and look.

Here's Pidgeyotto Man, a lawn gnome making son of a bitch!

After a surprisingly easy fight, it's on to the next stage. This one looks a little different. So far the difficulty in this game has been pretty low compared to the other Zero games, and that's playing it on Normal even. I guess they toned things way down.

The first boss I chose was probably the easiest of the eight, while the second...is probably the toughest of the eight. Giant bosses in Mega Man games tend to usually be easy targets, but this guy is a BEAST.

The next stage is a flying ship, featuring the dragon from Mega Man 2.

This guy definitely looks like an X series boss. I believe there was a very similar-looking Maverick in one of the later games. Shining Hotarunicus or something like that. Mega Man X6: Coming Soon.

"If only I'd bought more rubber nipples from that jiminy man!" says Mr. Horse.

Look at that guy, all "You won't get past ME" before getting plowed over.

The Zero series is at its best during these fast and furious boss fights where both of you are ping-ponging all over the screen. It's reminiscent of the X series.

That's four Einherjar down, four to go. Here we've got Megaton from Fallout 3.

"I'm back, you bastard!" screeches the random goon before being plowed over again.

Next thing we know, the resistance tents are aflame as Weil's forces attack. So...what was the point of Mega Man Zero 2 existing again? Maybe with Elpizo in charge running a military state we'd be able to stand up to Neo Arcadia!

Random Enemy: "I have returned! And your mother's a whore!" ::gets plowed over again::

"When I grow up, I'm going to drink a big glass of milk and take my vitamins and be JUST LIKE YOU!"

The resistance base stage (a halfway point stage, it seems) culminates with Zero finally battling Craft...who has a BFG. EVERYBODY GET DOWN!

But wait! Craft shows evidence of a face turn, as it seems he's the Honorable General Just Following Orders trope.

That weird redhead is back, and none too happy about this war that is going on. In 2005. ...in the game (plzdon'tsue)

It turns out that Neige is the one Craft is "fighting to protect". He's in love. She doesn't think he's so bad either. Too bad she's human and he's a ROBOT. I don't care how many settings he vibrates in, damn it!

But wait! Here's Dr. Weil. I have no idea WTF he's talking about, because Lord knows he wasn't in the X series or anything. It's like this game is following up on an alternate version of X6 that didn't actually exist.

This game is gorgeous when it wants to be. At this point I return to an earlier stage to ball-grab my way to a Sub-Tank.

Onward to the fifth Einherjar stage, finally. This one has...

...the OTHER Sub-Tank! MEIN SUSTENANCE!

The fifth Einherjar is this over-aggressive thing that won't even take Zero out to dinner first.

Mega Man 2 dragon... REEEEE-MIIIIIIIX!!

Boss six is a turtle. Again, pretty sure Mega Man X6 did it...

Mega Man X6! Coming Soon! ...really soon. We're making Dre do it.

The turtle was really difficult, but a win netted me the rising fire slash. This was my favorite Zero move in the X series, so I'm glad to see it finally debut in the Zero series. This really does feel more like an X series continuation than the others, and I like it.

Yet ANOTHER dragon! What is this, Pure Land?

Einherjar Seven is the only one who has been respectful at all besides Craft. He wants an honorable battle to avenge Phantom. Still think it's weird that Phantom died in the first game while the other three Arcadia generals all went on to long and important careers throughout the Zero series. It's sorta like Gokou's brother dying in like episode four.

One tick of energy! WHO WILL WIN?

...well, I did, but not necessarily on that go.

Apparently direct sunlight burns in the future. This is what happens when you don't listen to the Pope!

Here's the next boss. She's sun-element, which is cool. She's also a huge flirt, because she's "female" and all. That's all eight of 'em.

After defeating the weird sun-hornet, Weil appears on our screen to troll while everyone gets all mad about it instead of just, you know, muting the TV.

But wait! Weil is about to unleash an orbital space-cannon on the resistance base, when Craft steps in and disables the cannon. IT'S A FACE TURN!

But wait...what IS it pointed at now?

...Neo Arcadia, it looks like. Craft then proceeds to unleash the weapon, killing basically all of the reploids that live there. And probably Weil too, but who cares at this point? Craft is responsible for GENOCIDE.

Zero then transfers up to the orbital station to stop Craft. If only he would have just fired the gun harmlessly into space....or at a Furries convention.

Random Minion: "Now that I'm equipped with a shoulder cannon, your time is UP!" ::Zero plows through him::

This section is the hardest in the entire game. It's absolutely ludicrous, and I'll illustrate why Madden-style:

Behold all of the dangers. And this is just a taste of the hallway of death.

Craft is charging the orbital cannon up for a second shot when Zero finds him.

This leads to a repeat battle. It's much easier than the first battle because Craft is exactly the same while Zero is considerably more powerful.

With that, Craft falls to one knee and dies. Zero gets pretty broken up about it. Not sure why. Yeah, Craft and Neige liked each other, but he just murdered thousands of their fellow reploids. Even if it was in an effort to save the world by taking out Weil, it was too much.

Next, we see the aftermath of Craft's devastation. Well, this game got dark in a hurry.

There's Colbor, who has been missing since the first Zero game.

Zero returns to base and I wait for the credits to roll... but wait! Of course, this isn't over yet. Someone has taken control of the wrecked orbital station and is steering it towards Earth. This could be Eurasia all over again.

Here's the central core of what is now called Ragnarok, the orbital station. Soon, it gives way to...

...a computerized digital world straight outta Tron.

Capsule room time. You'd think all of these reploids would be abandoning ship since we're slowly descending towards Earth (unless Zero can get to the controls in time). Whoever is in charge here (lol, it's Weil) is sentencing all of these bosses to death!

Mr. Horse! Stop this madness and get out while you can!

The flirtatious Girl Reploid is back, as well. Everything she says is about how she's female. What a trope!

After rolling around with Zero for a minute, she wonders why he isn't all sweaty. Because... we're robots?

After defeating the eight robot masters again, we see that Earth is looming closer than ever. Is this the end?

And here's the core of Ragnarok... no relation to Exor, from Super Mario RPG. It IS, however, the grandson of Mack from Super Mario RPG.

A voice chimes in. I bet it's... Dr. Wily!

...er, yeah. Right. Whoever he is (plzdon'tsue)

OH MY GOD THE CONE IS GONE AND HE'S EVEN WORSE

All of this would mean SO MUCH MORE (and, well, would mean -anything-) if this were Dr. Wily. Kinda like how the first Mega Man Zero's villain loses all meaning or poignancy when you find out it isn't actually X. I'd be fine with these things if it weren't for the fact that there's no good reason why they couldn't have been the genuine articles. It'd be like bringing back the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and changing all of their names for no reason.

Weil can't age due to his bionic enhancements, and wants Zero to help him finish off the rest of humanity. It's too bad he wasn't actually in Neo Arcadia when Craft nuked it pointlessly.

Speaking of pointless, why even have Weil be an enhanced ageless human? If he isn't supposed to be Wily, why not just have him be a reploid? And if he isn't supposed to be from the X series, why even have him be old enough to be around during those times?

Weil shifts into Battle Form. This is one of the easiest fights in the game, if not the series, which is pretty surprising. Of course, that isn't the end either...

We get some creepy, writhing wires outside the ship. Reminds me of the intro to Xenogears.

Forget his battle form, now he outright fuses with the ship to become a new mega-form.

He has a devastating Golden Aurabolt. It's worth noting that the Earth is getting bigger and bigger in the background as the station plummets. At this point I don't think it's possible to stop the fall even if Zero does defeat Weil.

To his last gasp, Weil grapples with thee. Right after he says this, Zero strikes the killing blow.

This results in Ragnarok exploding in the atmosphere, completely annihilating both Zero and Weil. Gotta say...that's a ballsy way to end this story.

Ciel is devastated. She's still the Chloe to Zero's Jack Bauer.

Zero destroyed Ragnarok and saved the planet...but at what cost?

And...well, that's it. Zero is no more. Which would have a bit more of an impact if it was the real Zero, but even Clone Zero is a pretty sympathetic dude. It's a sad way for things to go, but the planet is again free of tyranny.

The credits have Ciel breaking down and crying. If there was any doubt that Zero may have survived...

...he didn't. It's pretty unambiguous on that front.

Zero is dead.

Long lived he.

On a final note for this very difficult series, here's a video of all of the final boss battles. Penultimate AND final forms. That's right, I recorded the final clashes of all four games. Good stuff.

Join me soon as I take a look at the OTHER branch-off of Mega Man X5...the later X-series games. More ranting will ensue, most likely.





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