Last week, we asked several guests to write about their recollections from playing the original Mega Man Zero on the GameBoy Advance. This week, we’re focusing on the 2nd game in the series, Mega Man Zero 2, released in late 2003.
Today, Jeremy Parish from 1UP (and the Retronauts and Active Time Babble podcasts) shares his memories of Mega Man Zero 2.
There used to be an old wives’ tale that Capcom’s second games were always better. You know: Mega Man 2 was way better than Mega Man, and Street Fighter II was so far beyond the first game it wasn’t even funny. I think that notion kind of died with Devil May Cry 2, but still, sometimes you see little reminders of it. Mega Man Zero 2 was one such reminder.
Hit the jump for more!
It’s easy for the uninformed eye to look at Zero 2 and assume it’s just Mega Man Zero redux and rehashed. I mean, they use similar graphics and everything! But in fact, it’s a sterling example of a refined sequel, and it’s arguably the finest of the Zero games.
Let’s consider what makes Zero 2 better than its predecessor. While it dropped the first game’s semi-open world design (much to my regret; I’m the guy what thought it would be a good idea to register the metroidvania.com domain, after all), the result was a tighter structure and a faster flow to the action. It also threw out the concept of tying players’ hands to artificially inflate the difficulty level. Make no mistake, Zero 2 was a tough game. But it no longer punished players for making use of the tools it offered them, removing the first game’s penalties for having the audacity to use Cyber Elves. That right there made a world of difference. Instead of giving you the sensation that you had to play perfectly, Zero 2 encouraged experimentation — and not just with its enhancements. Beyond those optional upgrades, Zero also wielded a wider array of basic weapons, creating more situational challenges (and opportunities to totally wreck bad guys).
The real kicker was that Zero was a genuine sequel narratively speaking as well. There were some tenuous connections in previous Mega Man games, but until Zero 2 the only time the series had created something that felt like a genuine continuation of a bigger story was in Legends 2. Zero 2 upped the ante, though, with the story kicking off in media res, right where the last game left off. (Or so I’m told, since, remember, I never actually beat the first Zero.) The big plot revelations of the first game received proper development here, and fans finally learned what happened to Mega Man X, among other things.
In short, it was a fine sequel, building on both its predecessor’s mechanics and story. Sleeker, faster, fairer, and more entertaining. What more could you ask for in a follow-up?