The sword-wielding Zero made his video game debut in 1993 in Mega Man X. The character gained a lot of popularity, despite the fact that he wasn't even playable at first. That moment had to wait until 1997 when the fourth entry in the Mega Man X series came out. After that, Zero was a staple in the X series and he finally got his own game in 2002, although it was only on Gameboy Advance.
This new Legacy Collection consists of the four games in the Zero series, with the Nintendo DS-sequels ZX and ZX Advent completing the package. The games have not been released on home consoles outside Japan before, so anyone who missed out on these spin-offs back when they were handheld-only finally has the opportunity to see what Zero has got up his armoured sleeve.
The games share a lot of qualities with the X series, but there's a twist; Zero carries his trusted Z-Saber as well as a version of the Mega Buster that he uses for ranged attacks. The games don't follow the classic Mega Man format in terms of bosses and levels, but rather Zero is sent on various missions set in the game world. As a refreshing addition, the bosses are also more varied here than they were in the X games. What's more, the ZX series also evolves this concept a bit and has a Metroid-ish open world to explore.
When it comes to the difficulty level, these are exactly what one would expect from Mega Man. In particular, the first two Zero games are fiendishly difficult. Luckily, the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection gives us a couple of nice options to make things a bit more bearable. There is an option to play them on 'casual' difficulty, but more importantly, you're able to take advantage of more frequent save points, which also double as infinite lives. This helps a lot, as the original save system was clunky and made unfortunate players run through the levels again and again whenever a boss ground Zero into ashes.
Visually, each entry in the collection is here in its original form, with a couple of optional filters to choose from. Even so, it doesn't help much because when those once-handheld graphics are sent up to the big screen, they look absolutely terrible. Small screens and big sprites are not exactly nice to look at and they add to the overall difficulty level, as you can't always see enough of the action to accurately predict events on-screen.
Elsewhere, the soundtrack is nice, and the controls are Capcom-sharp. The ZX games certainly benefit from the bigger screen and the additional power of the Nintendo Switch and are much nicer to look at that way. We reviewed the game on Playstation 4, but it's clear that the compilation would be at its best on the Switch when played in handheld mode as the games simply fit better on a smaller screen. Otherwise, not much has been added.
If you missed them back in the day and can't get enough of the tried and tested Mega Man formula, the Zero series should be right up your street. The previous Legacy Collections offered a tighter, better package, however, so play those first. Time has not been kind to the titles included in the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection, at least not visually, however, the playability is still great and these adventures stand on their own feet just fine. This isn't as good as the earlier legacy collections, but then again, that's no easy feat.
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