The first Mega Man game released in the USA for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, MegaMan Zero, follows the adventures of Zero (from the Mega Man X series) as he is reactivated after a 100 year period of being shutdown.

Strangely enough, this "new" Zero looks nothing like the Zero of past games and apparently has a totally different backstory, and yet we are told it's the same character. But then again, continuity has never exactly been Capcom's strongest suit. For what it's worth, this game takes place after Mega Man X7. At this point in the Mega Man Universe the war against the Mavericks has ended. Zero wonders what happened to his buddy Mega Man X, so he sets out to find out what happened during the century he was turned off.

Unlike past traditional Mega Man games, in MMZ our hero operates out of a central headquarters instead of a map screen. The player leads Zero around the main building as he talks to other characters (with a talk button, a first for the MM series) and finds elevators to other levels. Also unlike past Mega Man games, Zero cannot choose from a list of robot masters to fight. Instead he is sent out on missions that appear one at a time on a list of up to three missions. Failing a mission results in the inability to retry it. Failing too many missions makes it impossible to finish the game.

Capcom also cranked up the difficulty on this game. Zero only has one life. Run out of energy and it's Game Over. The darkness-factor has also been turned up a notch as well. This time around the enemy robots bleed. That's right, slash a baddie and blood splurts out. Furthermore, after completing a level Zero must sometimes backtrack to the beginning of the level before being allowed to leave.

Zero still has his trademark beam sabre that he uses to slash at baddies. As the game goes on Zero can acquire new moves and weapons to compliment the sabre, such as the spear. Each weapon can be powered up as the game progresses. Zero can also make use of Cyber Elves that act as items. Some increase speed, jump power, and other attributes. Only three Cyber Elves can be available at any one time, and some of them must be "fed" energy crystals before they become active.

MegaMan Zero was released in September 2002. Chances are it's the first of a new series of Mega Man games. Personally I just think its good to see Mega Man back on a Nintendo console (new, original Mega Man games have been appearing on the Sony PlayStation since Mega Man X4). It's easy to find at your favorite game shop and it's success spawned a sequel, MegaMan Zero 2.

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