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.
- When you discard a weapon, Zero literally tosses it away. You can hit enemies with the weapon he throws and damage them.
- You can use stolen weapons on bosses. If the weapon is of the right element type, you might even hit the boss’s weakness.
- Some weapons can have a special effect on the environment in the stages where you grab them. For example, grab a fire weapon to melt snow.
- It is possible to charge up the Zero Knuckle itself, but you can’t charge most (if any) of the weapons you steal using it.
- The knuckle is useful for more than just swiping weapons. Some enemies can be grabbed directly and tossed away. You can also grab certain things in the environment.
- Play Control:
- 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.
- 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.
- Exactly the same. Oh well, what can I say?
- Pretty normal. There are a couple of tunes that stick in my head, for better or for worse.
- Sound Effects:
- Not a lot has changed here.
- 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: (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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Underground Forest: About halfway through the stage, look for a vertical tunnel with spikes on either side. Shoot the bottom half of the GyroCannonH robot just below the tunnel, then when the bottom part is destroyed, jump up and grab the handle on the propellers and ride it up.
- Hibernation Chamber: Now this is cute. To get this one, enter the stage when there is no snow. Near the beginning of the stage, go down the deep pit and enter the door at the bottom. Use the Zero Knuckle weapon to grab the card key from the robot at the bottom of the next area (you can see it carrying the card around). Take this to the locked door (the one with the energy bands covering it). Stand near the door and press the weapon button to cause Zero to use the card key on the switch to the right of the door. The bands should disappear. Enter the door and take your Sub-Tank.
- The other two are obtained from Hirondelle, the guy in the rightmost trailer at your encampment. You need to make S-Crystals to give to him. See below.
- Remember your triple-slash. It’s really the key to destroying bosses quickly—at least those that put themselves within reach of it.
- Aside from setting the weather, you can also make the game easier by gathering crystals to level up your elf (revisit stages to do this), then raise your elf’s levels as high as you wish. You’ll lose points from your rank, but you can still get the EX Skill from the boss if you selected the correct weather setting.
- Use higher elf ranks when revisiting stages to gather items. (For example, the one that increases the odds of enemies dropping items is useful.) This won’t impact your rank as long as you aren’t in a mission.
- Always have 9 1-Ups: Reenter the Area Zero stage after clearing it. When you reach the diagonal elevator platform about halfway through, ride it partway down then jump off to the right. There’s a ledge with a 1-Up over there. Grab it and exit the stage (use the escape unit from your subscreen). Repeat.
- There are three ways to obtain new item recipes. One way is to simply receive one from someone (talk to people multiple times throughout the course of the game). A second way is to receive hints about how to invent one yourself (talk to your elf a lot). The final way is to simply experiment at random—just combine various parts and see what you get. Be careful when using Moloid parts, however, since you have only a limited number of those.
- Difficulty Modes: The game begins with two difficulty modes and one more is easily unlockable (after that, unlocking the rest of the modes becomes more challenging).
- Normal. This page covers the normal difficulty unless otherwise stated.
- Easy. This mode is insane. You begin the game with two full Sub-Tanks and 9 lives, and your Cyber-elf (when you get her) starts off with a maximum of 15 levels. Zero’s weapons do increased damage to enemies, and conversely, the enemies do less damage to him. Zero benefits from the effects of certain parts, such as the “Strong” body armor, without actually having those chips equipped. (This means, for example, that he’s immune to bottomless pits and he doesn’t die instantly to spikes.) You literally cannot fail to beat the game on Easy mode. However, you can’t change the weather in this mode, so you can’t get EX Skills. (Not that you terribly need them. If you need the Elemental property of one of the EX Skills, such as to burn or freeze something, use the Cyber-elf’s bullets instead.)
- Hard. Not to be confused with the “hard” weather settings, this is an actual hard mode. Unlock this by beating the game on normal difficulty.
- Others. There are other modes as well, which I don’t cover yet because I haven’t taken the time to get them yet.
- There is a clear game save here as in previous games: saving after the credits will produce a game file at rank F which is for the beginning of the game. You keep any EX Skills and Sub-Tanks you’d gained, as well as the items you’d built and all of your E-Crystals and enemy parts, but you start over from the beginning of the plot again. This is a way to play through the game a second time and get things that you couldn’t get the first time through.
- Like the previous game, there are also mini-games you can unlock by doing certain things, but I haven’t actually bothered yet. They are there for those who like giving themselves a challenge and you will find them if you are both skilled and thorough enough.
- Artificial Sun: Hard=Sunny. Destroy energy generators to lower the temperature. If you get all of them when the stage is overcast, you will eliminate the sunlight altogether.
- Deep Sea: Hard=Overcast. This is probably the easiest stage to do with the weather set to “hard” because once you know where you are going, you don’t really need Ciel’s hints. The first part of the stage is basically a wrap-around maze. Drop down through holes in the floor to the next lower level. Ciel will speak up you when you get close. Jump up through the hole in the ceiling to the right after Ciel says something the second time, head right, then keep going downward. Look for a door down there and you’re done.
- Hibernation Chamber: Hard=Overcast. When the sun is shining, there is no snow and some spikes are gone. You can also melt snow using the Blaze Shot weapon you grab from the V.Fires, or any fire-based weapon attack.
- Living City: Hard=Sunny. There are moving blocks inside. Move forward slowly so you don’t get taken by surprise. You might want the “Strong” body chip for this stage to help with the spikes for when Zero decides not to grab onto the handles.
- Magnetic Zone: Hard=Lightning. Ironically, with the weather set to the “easy” mode, this stage is almost more difficult because you don’t get the jump boost during the outdoor areas. However, on the “easy” setting the enemies are more tame and there is no electricity on the platforms inside.
- Particle Beam: Hard=Sunny. You can stand on the yellow platform enemies (the Faitals), so you can use them as footholds to reach higher areas to avoid the laser beam. Just move forward carefully and you should have few problems.
- Underground Forest: Hard=Sunny. Grab the vines with the Zero Knuckle to have the easiest time.
- Hanging Gardens: Hard=Overcast. In hard mode, wind pushes you around after the first section, and clouds can obscure your vision. You can freeze the fountains with any ice-based weapon, and then stand on top of them to reach higher areas. On your first pass through the stage, make sure to destroy all of the acid rain generators to get the 100% mission complete.
- Mini-Stage: This is the rescue mission that you can’t revisit. Grab a water gun from the water pumps you find in the settlement and use that to put out the fires. Make sure you extinguish all of the fires and enter all of the doors before talking to the child at the end.
- Ragnarok: Nothing critical to note about this one, but you may wish to bring the DoubleJump boots here.
- Teleporter Base: There are four paths here; just run down each one in turn, pull the handle with the Zero Knuckle (just ignore the Crossbynes), then return the way you came.
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.