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.

Play Control: 4
Generally the same, though grabbing handles (the ones that you hang from) can be tricky, and when you use the elf feature that periodically drops life energy, sometimes the unexpected paused refill can really knock you off your game. On the other hand, in the options you can disable the double-tap to dash, which is a rather nice feature.
Graphics: 4
They’re starting to really reuse graphics—a lot of the face portraits are now the same as the previous game, for example. So not much has changed here.
Animation: 4
Exactly the same. Oh well, what can I say?
Music: 3
Pretty normal. There are a couple of tunes that stick in my head, for better or for worse.
Sound Effects: 4
Not a lot has changed here.
Plot: 3
There are plenty of story scenes, most of which you can skip using START if you’ve seen them before. Some of the motivations for the characters seem kind of strange, but I suppose I can see where they are coming from.
Difficulty: 4 (normal to hard)
You can influence the difficulty level yourself as you play the game. So if you like a challenge, this game will still provide one, yet it is also accessible to those who aren’t perfectionists. And if this still isn’t enough, there’s the easy mode which knocks the difficulty rating down to 1 or so (no joke).
Replay Value: 4
Personally, I would be more inclined to pick this one up over the previous Zero games, but that’s mostly because of the lessened irritation factor rather than any particular feature or weapon found here. This title has the same kind of clear-game saves as previous games to help in the replay department.
Polish: 3
Nothing terribly jumps out at me that wasn’t already done in the previous games, although some of the things you can grab using the Zero Knuckle are downright creative.
Overall: 81%
Overall, this one is an improvement in the entertainment category simply because you can make it as hard or as easy as you like and still finish the game. There are a few missing features from the previous games in the series that I miss, but unlike the first three titles, this one doesn’t go out of its way to be irritating, so that’s a good thing.

+ Plus:
You can get and use EX Skills, Cyber-elves, and Sub-Tanks all without needing high ranks or affecting your rank.
- Minus:
You can’t level up your weapons by simply using them like you could in the first two games. It’s not a huge loss, but I still liked that feature.
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.

Left to right, top to bottom: P.Eclair, S.Titanion, F.Lunaedge, N.Mandrago, P.Cocapetri, T.Kraken, H.Genblem, M.Magnus

Sure he is. He’s all around out there. In lots and lots of pieces...
FireRenant: (Underground Forest stage mini-boss)
A two-ended centipede which circles the room. Stand near a corner and as it gets close, hit it with a charged attack, then quickly dash away to the next corner and do it again. It should reverse directions after one or two hits, so turn around and circle the other way. Eventually it starts dropping bombs behind it, so be careful.
SpyLarueI: (Deep Sea stage mini-boss)
Ice dragon. All dragons fight the same except for their special skill. They can all shoot lasers (jump them) and charge you. When a dragon dashes toward you, keep shooting or slashing it to stop it from grabbing you. The ice dragon is weak against Fire and shoots ice shards forward that you have to maneuver around using careful jumps and dashes.
SpyLarueE: (Hanging Gardens stage mini-boss)
Thunder dragon. The easiest of the three dragons. This one shoots balls of electricity which stop briefly, then fire upward and downward. Stand between them or to either side, or simply stand beneath the dragon itself to avoid them.
SpyLarueF: (Particle Beam stage mini-boss)
Fire dragon. It shoots tornado-like bursts of fire that trap you and damage you over and over if you get caught in one. Dash away from the column of fire to avoid it. If you are using a speed-boosting item, you can actually just outrun the tornado.
GearBank: (Hibernation Chamber stage mini-boss)
Just keep slashing its four sides, and the little wheels it lets out. If you slash constantly you should destroy all the little wheels before they hit you and wipe out the boss in little time flat.
Tyrine: (Artificial Sun stage mini-boss)
Looks like one of the energy generators surrounded by eight others. Fires shots aimed at you so keep jumping and climbing the wall and dropping down to avoid them. When you destroy the GlassCannons around it, the middle one begins firing a steady stream of shots in a circle; climb the walls and dash-jump off to avoid it.
ClabangerNS: (Magnetic Zone stage mini-boss)
A crab which can raise the floor using its electricity beam magnets. You can stand on the floor to lower it back down. Destroy the crabs that the boss drops; if two of the opposite type bump into each other, they will blow up, possibly damaging the boss too. You can safely stand in between the beams of electricity that the crab uses to raise the floor.
R.Bandam: (Teleporter Base stage boss)
It shoots throwing star like bullets in a circle. But they are spaced fairly far apart so you can get between them. Also they don’t form a full circle so you can avoid being damaged by just going to the side where the shots started, and they won’t circle all the way back around to you. The boss will disappear a lot, and a random tile will open into a cannon; you can shoot this tile to damage it. Or it might disappear and all the tiles will turn around one by one and each shoot at you, in sequence. The head also bounces around the room.
Cyball: (Teleporter Circuit stage boss)
This one is tricky simply because there is little room to dodge. You can jump up through the platforms, but you can’t drop down through them, so it’s easier to go up than down. Also note you can grab onto the platform because it has a horizontal rod built into it. It’s probably easiest to stay in the middle and jump the Cyball as it goes by. Try to triple-slash it at every opportunity.
This guy’s armed to the teeth. He has homing missiles, a giant serrated knife that he charges you with, a laser cannon, grenades, and possibly a few other things I’m forgetting to mention. You can destroy some of his shots out of the air, and avoid the laser by standing behind him, but overall you just have to be on your toes. Triple-slash Craft to pieces for best results.
Weil 1st time:
He tosses stuff everywhere, though he seems to favor orbs of some shape, size, or fashion. Orbs that travel outward, or get sucked up inward, or rocks that drop down from above, and such. Sometimes he drops daggers which stick in the ground while a purple-pink ball of light sends streamers along the ground. You can destroy the daggers to give yourself more space to jump the streamers. Weil himself stays high most of the time, and disappears and reappears a lot. He can also turn into a ball of multicolored light and this sends out a bunch of Mavericks from previous Zero games. Try to hit Weil with charged shots whenever he isn’t flashing.
Weil 2nd time:
There is a time limit to this battle, although it’s a relatively generous one, so don’t panic. The spike in front of Weil guards his core (the yellow gem thing) from being damaged by most attacks. Hit him with charged saber slashes whenever the spike is not covering it, and use Burning Shots otherwise (if you have them). The green things he produces can be destroyed; if they touch you, they’ll grab you and he’ll fire a laser at you. They might also produce enemies. If he goes toward the ground he’ll fire a laser down there too but that’s also an ideal time to triple-slash him. It might be worth just taking the hit from the laser so that you can slash him to pieces—you’ll do more damage to him than he does to you in this case.

If you use your Sub-Tanks on Weil and then die, the only opportunity you’ll have to refill them is by using the Cyber-elf—and that takes forever—so take care. Also, although 1-Ups will place you right before the gate leading to Weil, try not to run out of them, because then you have to fight all of the teleporting hatches all over again.

EX Skills
General Tips Stage Notes

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.

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Last update: December 13, 2005