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Following the success of the original MegaMan Zero for the Game Boy Advance Capcom released this sequel, MegaMan Zero 2, in October 2003. The game follows the continuing adventures of Mega Man X's buddy Zero during the course of events one hundred years after the Maverick Wars of the original seven Mega Man X games. After spending a year roaming the world and trying to find his purpose, Zero comes across a squadron of Reploid troops that escort/force him to the robot base. At the base he is reunited with the human female scientist Ciel who considers him to be a legend and he meets the new leader of the Reploids, Commander Elpizo. Apparently Zero has arrived just in time, as the Reploids are on the verge of launching an offensive against the settlement of humans at Neo Arcadia. Zero has always fought for peace between humans and Reploids, but he feels that any cause Ciel is supporting is a just one. He agrees to help and this is where the game begins. Elpizo presents Zero with a series of missions that must be completed in order to end the war. There are sixteen stages in all, and while each has an end boss fight only a few of the bosses have powers that Zero can swipe in classic Mega Man style. Moreover, Capcom realized that the first game in the series was blindingly unfair at times and has given Zero a more balanced battle this time around, equipping him with extra lives and continues.

The game engine is virutally unchanged from the original game. Zero and friends look the same, move the same, and interact in similar environments as they did the last time around. This is nothing new for a Mega Man game (especially in the past seven years or so), but this time around it's extremely noticable. The graphics look magnificent, don't get me wrong, but they'd have been even better if we hadn't seen them just one year ago. There is something new added to the game, however: a weapon called the chain rod. This item (given to Zero after the introduction level) enables him to pull a Bionic Commando-type move by hanging from any ceiling surface and swinging in an arc in order to scale large distances. The weapon can also skewer enemies and pull large blocks into helpful positions. The rod joins the familar cache of weapons such as the Z-buster gun, the beam sabre, and the boomerang shield. Just like in MMZ1 our hero gains new weapon powers with repeated use of the weapons he has. Add to all of this the ability to combine the attacks with the powers of electricity, fire, or ice to exploit certain enemy weaknesses and you have a rather powerful character. And then there's the new power forms that are awarded for achieving special unwritten goals that enable Zero to shoot faster, jump farther, and other such enhancements. For the game masters out there Zero can learn new skills by earning an A or S ranking at the end of levels. Rankings are mathematically derived based on mission completion rates. Oh yes, and the Cyber Elf system of powerups from the first game returns as well.

So with all this variety and challenge, what's missing from the game? Accurate translation. Capcom has been increasing the amount of dialogue in Mega Man games for years, and you'd think by now they could afford decent translators. The Engrish in the game can be downright amusing and confusing at times. The game features a lot of dialogue to move the plot along, so be prepared to decipher parts of the text. Also as has become the trend in recent games in the series the bosses are fairly nondescript and not very memorable. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing, but who among us will ever forget classic boss robots such as Cut Man or Guts Man? Bosses in this game include robots such as Panter Flauclaws, Hyleg Ourobockle, and Kuwagust Anchus. I mean, what the hell? Capcom seemes determined to slice one of their best franchies apart with knives of confusion. The classic Mega Man gameplay is intact, but the frills and wrappings aren't what they used to be. I long for the classic feel of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 where the objectives were spelled out, the bosses were worth remembering, the challenges were difficult to the point of decency & not frustration, and the music was catchy. I fear that the Mega Man franchise may be running out of energy and unless Capcom does something about it very soon then even an energy tank won't be able to restore the blue bomber to full power.


References:
http://www.GameFAQs.com
http://www.mmhp.net

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