Friday, December 30, 2022

Mega Man ZX (Nintendo DS, 2006)


On the tenth day of Christmas... MORE MEGA MAN. This is the followup to the Mega Man Zero games. It's sort of MMZ5, but not. Plays similarly, but on newer and stronger hardware. Unfortunately this game has a lot of problems. I played it once before, in 2010 or so, and it depressed me.

The game stars a bunch of kids who work as transporters for like, this Death Stranding courier group. Or maybe they're glorified pizza boys. I don't know. The leader is Giro, who resembles Zero. Not sure if he's human or a 'bot or what.

You have two choices of main character. Vent is a traditional Goggle Boy Protagonist, without the goggles.

Then there's Aile, who looks like a five year old and is wearing bulky shorts that look like a diaper. I'll go with Vent.

Slither Inc is the corporation that has basically rebuilt/saved the world. This takes place a while after the Zero series, which takes place a while after the X series, which takes place a while after the original Mega Man series. So I think we're about 250 years on from that at this point.

I bet Slither Inc turns out to be evil. Not like this is any kind of surprise, their name is Slither Inc. Who names themselves that?

While out on a delivery, Vent tumbles into a pit. Is this where he finds the Mana Sword?

Prairie, the leader of the couriers (who looks like a 5 year old too) is confronted by a giant metal snake!

It's a surprisingly challenging/fun first boss (it's actually possible to lose).

Vent finds the Mana Sword, as it were: This crystal apparently belonged to X and contains his DNA Data Soul or whatever they're calling it now. This gives Vent the power to...

...become X! Yep, now he has all of X's powers. So basically the ZX games are about these kids finding the crystals of the old characters and assuming their forms. I kinda wish these games just had the old characters instead.

You get a pretty nice charged shot, and the screen shakes a bit when you blow up enemy 'bots. All in all, this LOOKS really good, definitely an improvement over the GBA games.

"I got ya package right 'ere, EYYY!" says Vent while crotch-chopping in the air.

This uses a mission-based system where you choose missions and go out and do them. Except...the world is basically open and consists of a bunch of non-descript interconnected areas. So you spend most of your time roaming around, trying to figure out where you're supposed to be and what you're supposed to do to actually start the mission you selected.

I don't know why they didn't just have the mission select warp you directly to the area the mission takes place in. Would have saved time/tedium and felt much more Mega Man like. Instead they used the same approach as Alien 3 on the SNES. There's a reason I found that game unplayable.

The visuals are quite good though, and often convey this kind of apocalyptic stormy-ness. I don't know if this is actually supposed to be post-apocalyptic or what.

Quick side note: Since I'm playing this on the Z/ZX Collection, there are some bonuses here. While the X Collection and original series' Legacy Collection had sets of Challenges you could do, this game goes with speed-run segments. Basically you're racing against "track ghosts" to finish specific sections of the games. It's actually a lot of fun. I might even prefer this to the traditional Challenges, not sure.

Back to the game. There are all these random townspeople milling about and none of them want to talk to Vent. If you unequip his "X Module" and turn back into plain Human Vent, they'll talk to you. But you can't fight anything. So you gotta switch back and forth.

Jesus! What is with these people? Do they think he's a Maverick?

Here's Karen. She's definitely calling the guards, as well as our manager.

And yes, Mavericks are still a thing in this game, despite the time jump.

Lots and lots of empty rooms and dead ends. WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO GO?

Yeah, definitely remembering now why this game was depressing back in the day. I played it a week or two after a breakup. Was running a few Mega Man games to kind of distract myself. Mega Man 8 and this are the two that come to mind. And this one just frustrated me because most of the time I had no idea where to go.

WAIT! A dialogue box! I think I stumbled upon the right hallway to make a thing happen.

We get what is basically a normal Mega Man stage, with a boss fight at the end. It was a great 3 minutes of action after 15 minutes of wandering around.

The boss drops these pillars, then you shoot the "eye" to knock them back up to the boss. It's a weird fight. The boss life meter looks like it has an S under it, which really gives up the plot. THAT'S GOTTA BE SLITHER!

Now that I'm going around in human form, people are more willing to talk. Even Karen, who is very concerned about child labor. I'd understand this if I were playing as five year old Aile, but I'm pretty sure Vent here is least 14.

Man, remember when Mega Man games were cool?

The next part is super vague. You have to find four agents, like this one, hiding in the area. However, I looked EVERYWHERE and couldn't find any of them. Just empty rooms and dead ends. Turns out that even after you get the mission, none of the agents will actually spawn until you talk to this guy:

This guy, who is off to the left when you enter the area. So a lot of players will just run to the right and search fruitlessly for the agents for 20 minutes. Nope, what you need to do is run LEFT and find this guy hidden in his corner. Then he tells you what the mission ALREADY TOLD YOU, and THEN the agents spawn.

A lot of people like this game and I don't know why.

Finishing those two missions gets you access to Guardian HQ. A total of three missions are down, and like, 20 to go. I've covered most of the basics though, time to get a walkthrough and just blast through the rest of it.




Here's Prairie's full-body skin-tight-outfit shot. It was lighter than this but I didn't think to take a screenshot until it was fading out. They make Prairie's outfit as sex-bait as possible even though she looks like a 6 year old.

I really hate the art style of this game, have I mentioned that? Yeah, I know hate is a strong word. That's it, that's the end of the sentence.

Look, the game is even self-aware that she's a little girl while showing you her child-bearing hips, thigh-high boots, and full-on nether region outline.

How indeed. In the land of Japanese games, an 18 year old is like a grizzled combat veteran, a darkened survivor of foreign wars who has seen some shit.

The graphics continue to be nice, at least. In the background we see Slither Inc's Mako Reactor. I'm standing on the corpse of a giant wasp robot that crashed through the highway. If that sounds familiar, it should. This next area is a carbon copy of the intro stage of Mega Man X. I mean direct cut and paste. It's also the first actual good stage in this game.

Remember how Mega Man Xtreme had a similar issue where all the good parts were copypasted and all the new parts were badly designed?

At the end is Serpent, the CEO of Slither Inc. He's all evil and has a couple of evil goons. They also mortally wounded Giro for some reason.

Man, way to give up the story so early. I thought they were gonna keep us in suspense until the end!

They inject Giro with some kind of Maverick virus and leave. This leads to a fight against Giro, who can't control himself, and has all of Zero's powers due to his having the Model Z crystal.

Bosses have like no HP in this game so far. Even with two life meters, a charged shot takes off like 25% of his total health. His health in this shot was after one hit.

After Vent defeats Giro, Serpent reveals that he has the Model W crystal. So...he is the living embodiment of Dr. Wily? Not quite. This crystal is based on Dr. Weil from the MMZ series. Which that series is quick to tell you has NO RELATION to Dr. Wily, plz don't sue.

That one always baffled me. In Mega Man X4 and X5 they built up Dr. Wily returning and it having to do with Zero. Then in the Zero series, which followed those games, they revealed that the strings were being pulled by an evil doctor. The evil doctor had turned himself into a cyborg so he could live forever. Then he was revealed, and it was... Dr. Weil, some random guy. Why not Dr. Wily? Why some random guy? And why have the names be so similar?


And now Serpent has the powers of Dr. Weil and it's treated as some huge revelation. But Dr. Weil was just some random guy, why should we care?

Giro expires, but before he does, he passes the Z Crystal to our hero.

Now Vent can turn into Zero at will, in addition to turning into X at will. This is pretty cool, you can switch whenever.'s also exactly what would have been accomplished by just having X and Zero actually be in the game.

Zero is an absolute wrecking machine in this game, with powerful sword strikes that can be used while running. The best thing about Zero Form, though, is that it's way better at attracting hotties.

"Just take me right here" says the local robot medic before dragging Vent onto the bed. Man, this Zero biometal isn't just powerful in battle, it's also super useful for getting laid.

Next up is a Met-themed amusement park. My favorite area in the game, probably because I never play much further than this...

Pretty rad boss here, a giant Met.

The next boss is this Purprill guy, who I think is related to Spark Mandrill.

We've also got this rhinoceros. Yeah, the animal-themed mavericks are continuing...not that these guys have any of the appeal of the X-series guys.

I keep going back and forth through this highway stage, trying to figure out what to do, and eventually tap out on the game. Yep, I'm done with this one, not even going to finish it even for a post. What I will do is tap into my reservoir of screenshots to wrap it up.

Harpuia from one of the Zero games makes an appearance as a boss here.

I guess Slither is also reviving bad guys from the past? Who knows. In any case, defeating him gets you a green biometal...

...which has a lot of agility and puts a new spin on your character besides the traditional X and Zero biometals. This game had a ton of potential to be awesome. I love these visuals. Unfortunately it's only awesome if you know where you're going already, or have the patience to stumble your way through finding the missions.

Another impressive-looking boss, as Vent demonstrates the ability to switch between biometal forms on the fly. There's a ton of variety in terms of how you can play this.

Harpuia form also has this rad purple laser slash.

This next boss is America. Unfortunately it's Steven Seagal's America.

The actual villains show up eventually in Slither HQ, after doing about 20 missions. Here's the ultra-OP tornado attack that wrecks most of the bosses.

This game pulls a Mega Man X5 and the final stage is a trippy dimension with fast-paced music.

It's a mirror match, with Vent versus a Zero Copy.

We get a boss capsule stage, as is tradition. However, in this game it only gives you two bosses at a time. Defeat each pair and you move on to the next pair. This makes some sense because the bosses in this game are much more uneven than the normal flat-rate bosses of other Mega Man games. This setup lets it send the weaker bosses against you first.

After all of that, here's the CEO of Slither. Wait...seriously? No Sigma/Wily/"Weil"?

That's right, entirely new bad guy here, and he's a formidable foe.

Here's his second form, which has a lot in common with the final boss of Mega Man X. Note how the background of this room is full of broken pods, no doubt from all the mavericks they've built and dispatched to stop Vent.

Annnd that's it for this game.

So, thoughts on this one? I think I've summed it up already. It's a pretty unenjoyable game that could have been awesome with a few tweaks. The amount of your time that it wastes while backtracking over areas to get to where your actual mission is... it gets absurd. Being lost all the time isn't fun. They wanted to make a Metroidvania or something and it didn't work. Also, playing as a kid who is basically cosplaying as the heroes is kind of weird. The next (last) game in the short-lived ZX series pretty much totally ignores this game and reboots the concept anyway.

Here's my "how far can I get" video for this one. the first HFCIG video where I actively hoped it wouldn't go on too long as I slogged through it. Wow. My least favorite of these videos so far, both in terms of playing it and also watching it. Don't bother unless you're really interested in seeing it for some reason.

Lastly, read my original 2010 review of this game HERE. That was right after my initial playthrough way back then.

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