Mega Man ZX Advent
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
Attempting to make sense of the convoluted proliferation of Mega Man titles is enough to drive a man insane. Consequently, I won't be attempting that. Suffice to say this is the latest in a long line of robo-suited platformers that started on the NES with Mega Man and splintered down so many different paths, it's a wonder anyone can follow them all.
Certainly I marvel at anyone who does. Mega Man never appropriated the modern critical reputation that blessed other 2D throwback platformers, chiefly Castlevania. It's perhaps because the Mega Man universe isn't quite as appealing a place to visit, plagued by the kind of character bloat and lack of innovation that corrupted the purity of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Still, things are as polished as they're going to get in this sequel to Mega Man ZX. Two different characters are playable in separate plots using roughly the same locations. Grey and Ashe each stumble upon the Mega Man armour in a contrived story that finds them fighting against other Mega Men and all manner of large beasties. Those bosses set the scene for a traditional part of the series' history: defeat them and you earn their shape and powers, able to transform on-the-fly and use them as you see fit. You take advantage of these new powers to strategise new ways to defeat foes, and occasionally do a spot of backtracking to reach previously unreachable areas.
Backgrounds are detailed in some respects, but there's some poor design at work. Your character seems to lack grace in terms of control. More likely you don't suit the environment, which, despite the graphical Shonen Jump sheen, never feels coherently joyful to explore. It's also rather tough beyond Easy mode. Not for the fact that you can't break through any difficult part eventually - it's certainly not Contra 4 levels of hard - but that it contains the archaic notion of throwing you right back to your last saved game should you lose all your lives.
Now get this: you can activate various warp points throughout a level for yourself, but you can only warp in from a save point in the hub areas, not out. So if you want to save before a boss, you have to walk all the way back again, killing everything that just respawned on the level. Provided the door to the exit is reachable or unlocked in the first place, otherwise there's a whole lot of hoping and praying going on.
For some, they'll enjoy that old-school challenge, possibly even laugh at it when they think back to the original NES Mega Man games. It certainly doesn't belie its heritage. There's no denying, however, that the platforming feels a little tired and the constant blibbering of the characters is rather trite. And he still can't duck. You can pull a decent platformer out of here, but after interminable sequels we're all still waiting for Capcom to push the big blue Mega Man reset switch and do it all over again properly.