The Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection follows in the footsteps of Capcom’s success with their Mega Man and Mega Man X Legacy Collection compilations. This newest collection continues the tradition of the popular studio dipping into their many long-running franchises and making them readily available with a handful of new bells and whistles on modern platforms. In the case of Zero and ZX, they may not be the most beloved installments in the over 30-year-old Mega Man series, but they still manage to be very fun and often very challenging throwbacks whether you are revisiting them or experiencing them for the first time in HD.
The Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection contains all four of the Mega Man Zero games that were originally released on the Game Boy Advance and the two Mega Man ZX games that were released on the Nintendo DS. Throughout the Zero games, you take control of Zero, who first appeared and was playable in the Mega Man X series. The story takes place a century after that original arc, but unfortunately, the story is pretty convoluted and not all that interesting – usually par for the course with this series. The Zero games follow the titular character as he is awakened 100 years after the X series to join a war waging against humans and machines called Reploids.
The same can also be said for the two Mega Man ZX games. In those, you have the option to play as either Vent or Aile. This choice doesn’t change anything outside of a few cutscenes and dialogue. Where Mega Man Zero is a continuation of a story arc started in Mega Man X, Mega Man ZX is only tangentially related to that storyline. It does still contain a handful of nods to those previous games though. In these installments, your chosen character comes into possession of what are essentially the souls of X and Zero from the previous games and are imbued with their abilities. They then reluctantly find themselves brought into conflict between the peaceful amalgamation of humans and machines called Humanoids and rogue machines called Mavericks. Unfortunately, like the Mega Man Zero games, the story in ZX is nothing to really write home about and mainly serves to contextualize the boss fights. Luckily, where this series shines is in the gameplay and if you’re a Mega Man fan, you won’t be disappointed.
All six of the games included in the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection play pretty similarly with the main focus being a mixture of platforming, shooting, and slashing. ZX expands to an open sandbox structure more akin to a Metroidvania style platformer where you run around a hub world with areas that can’t be accessed until you find a special key or special ability to help you progress. It’s a nice addition and adds a bit more variety to the overall package. Each mission also provides a healthy dose of enemies and some often very challenging platforming sections that had me stuck on more than one occasion. All of this always culminates in an end-of-mission boss fight where figuring out the pattern and what their weakness is is the key to survival.
Even as someone who played these games when I was younger, I still found myself quite challenged and also wondering if I had gotten soft in my age seeing as I had finished these games effortlessly in my early teens. It definitely challenged me to harness those old school platforming roots that were such a large part of my formative gaming years. Luckily, the controls feel like riding a bike and quickly came back to me. And in games where precision platforming and combat is key, you want tight and responsive controls which you’ll find in spades here. I reviewed the Switch version and regardless of whether you’re playing in docked or handheld mode, the controls are extremely responsive and spot on.
The Mega Man franchise has always been one where the challenge and difficulty is part of the reason fans keep returning. This can often be daunting for players old and new, but the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection does have two new features that relieve some of the pressure just a bit. One of the new features is the Casual Scenario Mode which lowers the overall difficulty and essentially allows you to start the game more powered up while also making some of the more punishing boss fights a bit more manageable. The other addition is a Save Assist feature that drops checkpoints within missions where you will immediately respawn if you meet your demise against a difficult boss or after missing a precise platform. Both settings are optional and you can set one or the other or both if you wish. Whatever your playstyle, you can start up any game in the collection and play it how you see fit. If you’re a difficulty fiend, then those original releases are still intact if you want a challenging, palm-sweating experience.
Another one of the long-standing draws for many fans of the series is the potential for speedrunning. The Mega Man franchise has been a staple of the speedrunning community for a very long time and the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection introduces a new mode called Z Chaser that is tailor-made for those who want to test their skills in flying through each game included. In this mode, you can select any mission in the game and compete against the top times for a spot on the leaderboard. I spent a good bit of time playing with this mode and it was always a great feeling to see myself beating another player’s ghost, but it was also very humbling, as I had barely scratched the surface of the leaderboard. That being said, it was still a great time and made me want to hone my skills to hopefully at least beat my own times. This will definitely add many hours of gameplay for those that really want to sink their teeth into getting the quickest times. I can see the speedrunning community really latching onto this mode and it becoming a regular addition in Capcom’s roster of rerelease compilations.
Whether you’re a new or old fan of the franchise, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is a fantastic starting point for anyone that wants to jump into these often forgotten spinoffs of the Mega Man X series and another strong compilation from Capcom. It’s old school action-platforming at its finest and the additions that were included this time make it more than just a rerelease cash grab. The six games included, the additional difficulty settings, and the new Z Chaser mode make this a hefty package for Mega Man fans old and new. This is another very impressive entry in Capcom’s Legacy Collection and if you’re either looking for a walk down a saber-slashing memory lane or trying to blast rogue robots for the first time, then you won’t be disappointed by this retro-style platformer.
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection is currently available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
This is another very impressive entry in Capcom’s Legacy Collection and if you’re either looking for a walk down a saber-slashing memory lane or trying to blast rogue robots for the first time, then you won’t be disappointed by this retro-style platformer.