Rediscovering Megaman again this few months was quite an emotional experience for me. I used to spend countless evenings during my high school days reading up the MMHP database and memorizing the moves and game hints. While I cannot honestly claim to have tried all of them, in my opinion Megaman ZX Advent (MMZXA) is probably one of the most content rich Megaman games out there.
This review will mostly just be me pointing out what makes the game such a memorable experience for me. First off, it is the A-Trans system that allows the player to take on boss forms entirely after beating them. There are two types of forms to take on: Pseudoroids and Mega Men. The former being burly specialized beasts with specific terrain navigating functions and niche attacks, the latter being humanoids with smooth controls, dash, wall climb, and generally more useful attacks. I will dedicate a second post reviewing the specific forms one by one, I don’t think anyone has really done that before so stay tuned 🙂 Back to the point, there are generally 14 forms (not counting the default unmorphed form) to unlock throughout the game, which gives players a vast amount of options they could use to tackle platform obstacles. The game starts out a little frustrating due to the amount of goals requiring certain forms to achieve, but once you unlocked certain highly mobile forms the game’s difficulty takes a huge plunge. The sheer amount of choice late game makes the game extremely enjoyable, coupled with the not-so-subtle differences in techniques between the two characters, MMZXA is rather replayable. One can always try taking on certain challenges like beating certain stages and bosses only using this particular form to make the experience more interesting. I had loads of fun experimenting with stuff that achieved results even established guides and walkthrough failed to cover.
The map and interface overall isn’t bad. The game is somewhat open-world, allowing one to choose which stage to tackle first, but in the big picture there is already some sort of suitable sequence. For instance, after beating Buckfire in the second intro stage, the player can choose to tackle the Artic Ice Floe stage or the Tower of Verdure stage first and complete them, but there is one unlockable in the former stage that can only be gotten with Rospark form, which is gotten from defeating the Tower stage. These kind of examples can be seen throughout the whole game. So in reality, MMZXA isn’t really that open world, although players have the freedom to always revisit previously explored places with newer forms and explore areas they couldn’t access previously. Overall, MMZXA has highly explorable content, and it isn’t that difficult to navigate. As long one manages to access the Transervers in the stage, one can always navigate freely to other activated stages. Interface-wise, MMZXA is just alright. I expect some controls to be very difficult to understand for a first-timer (eg. dash-jumps, hovers, certain combos like spinning slashes), but once you master the basic essentials the game can become quite easy.
Plot-wise I have mixed feelings. Being an adult now, I can clearly see the flaws in the plot of the entire Megaman main universe, in my younger years I thought Megaman had some of the most fascinating stories ever. MMZXA’s plot feels rather choppy and broken in certain places, but the world it presents for the most part feels real and whole. The protagonist starts off trying to find his/her real identity, encounters Model A, tries to deliver it to the world government, fights various Pseudoroids along the way for odd reasons, turns out one of the governor is evil, defeat more bosses, make one more friend, recover various data, and eventually discover that the evil governor is related to themselves, but defeats him regardless. The obstacles posed in the game has almost nothing to do with the plot, making the player feel as if the game world and the story world is entirely different. It is worth noting that ignoring Mega Man Legends, MMZXA’s story is the latest installment in the Mega Man main series universe, which is currently in hiatus with a hanging plot. 😦
The other aesthetical aspects such as sound and background is pretty alright. The graphics are honestly extremely dated (still acceptable, but it was a huge downgrade compared to whatever most gamers can get this year), it is effectively Game Boy Advance’s Megaman Zero series’ quality (that is more than a decade and a half old) with slightly more variety of animation, movement, and colors. I am fairly sure that ignoring the touch screen, this game is entirely playable on a GBA generation machine. Some of the effects such as Giga Crush, ZX’s Triple Slash, and Homing Shot look pretty awesome. The sounds in this game are quite amazing. Voice acting for a ten year old game is surprisingly decent in English, and if anything is wrong it is more of the script’s fault. The music and ambient sounds are quite top notch and enjoyable to hear. In fact, I really enjoyed the ZXA’s soundtrack ten years ago even without playing the game, which really speaks for itself.
All in all, I had a blast completing Megaman ZX Advent, and was glad to have visited it on emulator. It is probably the most satisfying platformers I have ever played, from one of my favourite all time franchises. I really look forward that one day a sequel will happen and satisfyingly wrap up the long due story.