Mega Man Zero 4
|Mega Man Zero 4|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Inti Creates, Natsume|
Mega Man Zero 4, known in Japan as Rockman Zero 4 (ロックマンゼロ4, Rokkuman Zero Fō?) in Japan, is a video game developed by Inti Creates and Natsume and published by Capcom for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) handheld. It is the fourth and final title in the Mega Man Zero subseries of the Mega Man franchise and is set several months after the events of Mega Man Zero 3. The game deals with Dr. Weil's reign over Neo Arcadia in which humans, who have been reduced to second-rate citizens, begin to escape in large numbers to the last known livable location on the planet, Area Zero, beginning a conflict between the two groups. The effects of this war eventually drive Zero and the Resistance to protect Area Zero and its inhabitants from Dr. Weil.
The fourth installment of the Mega Man Zero series introduces gameplay changes, but doesn't deviate platforming of its predecessors. Players guide Zero through eight main selectable stages and usually a mini-boss to separate it into two parts. At the end of each level, the player faces one of the game's reploid antagonists.
Besides the past ties Mega Man Zero 4 also includes a new Easy mode, not found in previous installations of the series, giving into responses that the Mega Man Zero series has been too challenging. In Easy mode, Zero receives a massive life boost, and can use the Cyber Elf without restrictions. However, Easy mode prevents the changing of the weather, and consequentially the acquiring of EX Skills.
The player is still equipped with the Buster Shot and Z-Saber at default. However, in place of the Shield Boomerang and the rod-type weapon from the previous games (Triple Rod, Chain Rod and Recoil Rod) is the new Z-Knuckle that allows Zero to perform several actions, including hanging from pipes, destroying obstacles, stealing an enemy's weapon if Zero destroys it using the Z-Knuckle and acquiring special weapons in certain parts of a stage.
Another new element is the weather system, which allows players to choose between two weather conditions for each of the eight main stages. The difficulty of the stage varies depending on the chosen weather condition, with the stage being harder if the weather icon has an orange border around it. Sometimes, there are secret passages in some stages which the player can only reach by setting the weather to "hard". The trade-off for an easier level is that Zero cannot learn an EX Skill from a boss.
Cyber Elves, a core element of previous Mega Man Zero installments, are no longer required from the player. Shortly after the introductory levels, a Cyber Elf will arrive for Zero to equip. This elf has most of the powers of the all the Cyber Elves from previous games, which are unlocked as you raise its level by feeding it E-Crystals. Zero may select one power from each of the three categories: Nurse, Animal, and Hacker. The player's ranking at the end of a level is no longer given a penalty for using the Cyber Elves as long as they are kept under the maximum power limit. In addition to this, Zero can now equip body chips to enhance his abilities, including double-jumping and self-recovery, similar to early Mega Man X titles.
Zero cannot rely on finding secret disks to give him enhancements as in Mega Man Zero 3. Instead players must collect enemy parts dropped randomly from defeated enemies. Recipes for combining these parts can be learned by talking to NPCs the player rescues and by talking with a Cyber Elf after its stages of evolution. However, the majority of the recipes are given not through conversation, and instead from random combination of parts.
Another distinguishing feature is that in MMZ4, Neige and Ciel have different faces depending on their emotion. For instance, after Zero "dies," Ciel is sitting near a tree and tells a promise that saddens her and brightens her. Neige also has an angry face, one that Ciel lacks.
Minigames and modes
Like its previous installations, Mega Man Zero 4 has multiple modes. A new mode to feature in this game is the Easy Mode, which is, like the Normal Mode, available from the start. It makes the game easier for players, but at the cost of preventing them from acquiring EX Skills or changing the weather conditions.
After completing the game once on normal mode, players can access an additional Hard Mode or start a new game over the old one. Also making a comeback is the Ultimate Mode, which once again can only be unlocked when certain criteria are met.
Like the previous game, there are also seven mini-games that can be unlocked once certain criteria are met. They are as follows:
- Lumberjack - Beat the game with an overall S-Rank.
- Lava Surf - Beat the game with a complete database.
- Busy Basket - Beat the game once on Hard Mode.
- Slam Harvest - Beat the game under one hour.
- Plant Panic - Beat the game without feeding your Cyber Elf any E-Crystals.
- Elf Chase - Beat the game without using any recipes.
- Energy Lab - Surpass the high score on all the other mini-games.
Humans have begun leaving Neo Arcadia since Dr. Weil assumed power. Labeled as human Mavericks for opposing his rule, a caravan led by a journalist named Neige is attacked by Weil's army of Variants on their way to freedom. Zero and the small handful of resistance members happen upon them as they drive cross-country in their convoy and come to their aid. After rescuing the caravan, Neige explains that they were en route to Area Zero, one of the last natural habitats that can support human life outside of Neo Arcadia.
Shortly after parting ways, Zero learns of a plot to destroy Area Zero from Craft, Doctor Weil's second in command, called "Operation Ragnarok" . It was meant to destroy all environments outside of Neo Arcadia, so that life could not be sustained outside of it; this was meant to force all humans to return and live under Weil's rule.
After defeating four of the Eight Warriors, Area Zero itself comes under attack by Neo Arcadia. Zero fights through it and sees Craft at the end. Zero and Craft fight, with Zero winning but Craft still alive. Neige appears to break up the fight, and Craft kidnaps her. Zero then goes to the prison where Neige is held and rescues her.
After stopping the Einherjar Warriors, Zero learns that they were just a distraction, and an orbital satellite, Ragnarok, can wipe out the environment with its cannon. But before Weil can use it himself, Craft rebels against him and attempts to fire upon Neo Arcadia in an attempt to kill Weil, regardless of the fact that innocents might be killed, but he is stopped by Zero and dies after a struggle.
Weil had teleported directly onto the station and manually directed its flight path into a crash landing into Area Zero. As the station plummets toward the planet, Zero teleports onto it and makes his way to Weil. Zero questions him as to how he survived the initial strike on Neo Arcadia.
Zero learns that Weil was a human, made into a bionic/reploid hybrid Weil by the same people who exiled him and Omega into space at the end of the Elf Wars. His new body is incapable of aging, or more importantly, dying as it constantly repairs and upgrades itself. Weil purposely set the station to crash knowing full well he could survive the impact and oversee the destruction of Area Zero personally. Weil then fuses with the Ragnarok core and attacks Zero as the final boss. After an intense battle and destroying Weil's fused body, Ragnarok breaks apart down to Earth, leaving Zero unable to escape.
Ciel passes through Area Zero where it is confirmed that Zero did not teleport back. For the final scenes of the game, the player sees Ciel atop a hill, on her knees and crying during the credits. Afterwards, she stands up and expresses her faith in Zero, and the hope that he'll return someday. The scene fades to white, and then to an image of Zero's helmet as it lays shattered on the ground along with various other metal pieces and the sun in the background.
Capcom Japan's announcement of a sequel to Mega Man Zero 3 didn't come as much of a surprise, with the pattern of development news following the previous two Mega Man Zero games. Capcom updated its official site quietly with information stating the game would be released in Japan in April.
Mega Man Zero 4 entered Japanese sales charts at number eight during its release week. According to Media Create sales information, Mega Man Zero 4 was the 177th best-selling video game in Japan in 2005 at approximately 74,354 copies.
Mega Man Zero 4 has been called a "refined version of an outstanding platformer series" with a more streamlined weapon and Cyber Elf system. Critics were quick to state that it hadn't changed much and that it was "more of the same". One reviewer, however, stated that the level designs were "slightly less challenging" than those of previous installations, but more inventive.
The new simplified Cyber Elf system received mixed reviews. GameSpot thought the new single Cyber Elf was an improvement, while Jeremy Parish of 1up.com stated that it signalled a return "to the old-fashion Mega Man game structure", which he found "unfortunate since the Zero games' greatest strength was their willingness to break the trite and true Mega Man mold".
Critics were mostly neutral about the weather system, saying that diehard players wouldn't make use of the system. It was touted as a nice idea, but that the effects weren't "pronounced enough to make most levels worth playing through twice".
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- Rouge: Data about Area Zero has been sent from the Resistance Base. Since the crash of the space colony, the section has been sealed off, but apparently the land has been renewed in that time and nature is becoming more and more abundant. Ciel: Nature is coming back to Area Zero!? Rouge: It's said to be due to an environmental system still left active after the crash. It's not much, but it still means hope for humanity. (Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Craft: We need the power of Ragnarok to destroy this much nature. Once Ragnarok has begun, one Reploid will be beneath our concern. There's no time to deal with him now. Zero: Destroy the nature in Area Zero!? Just what are you trying to do!? Craft: My name is Craft. I am a soldier of Neo Arcadia... No, Lord Weil. We... Lord Weil... requires all nature be destroyed. Fenri Lunaedge: Lately there are a lot of impudent humans thinking the world outside Neo Arcadia is better. Sol Titanion: That's why we must make sure it isn't by burning it. Popla Cocapetri: Then, nobody will have delusions of escaping Lord Weil! (Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Weil (radio): I told you Zero! You don't have a chance of stopping Ragnarok! Laying down a blanket of destruction from the comfort of my space cannon was what Ragnarok was built for the whole time! The Eight Warriors were nothing more than a diversion until I could complete Ragnarok! Zero: Operator! Can you transfer me to Ragnarok? Rouge: I'm sorry, I can't pinpoint the coordinates! I can't send you anywhere without a destination! Weil (radio): Hehehe! Bwahahaha! Your confusion thrills me to no end! You pathetic insects around getting excited about your precious nature! I want to hear you scream as you meet your doom!(Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Craft: "I've destroyed Ragnarok's remote control system." "I am no longer your dog to yank around by the chain!" Craft: Now I control Ragnarok! Your space cannon is no longer pointed at Area Zero... It's pointed at you and Neo Arcadia! Weil: Seduced by the sweet words of a woman! Unbelievable! You do realize how many humans and Reploids are living under my control! Craft: Are you saying I should play the loyal Reploid and follow you!? Not doing... Not thinking... Just waiting at your beck and call? And are you condoning the destruction of nature, struggling just to survive!? I... I will not let you take control! I've fought too long and too hard for humanity to let you! I will change the world! Ciel: What!? So you're going to attack Neo Arcadia instead!? There are still humans and Reploids there! Come in Resistance Base! Reploids are dispatched to help with the injured. (Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Ciel: "Zero! Respond!" Zero: Ciel... I stopped Ragnarok... Ciel: "And Craft?" Zero: And Craft... Ciel: "I'm sorry..." "I don't know what to say..." (Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Zero: That voice... Dr. Weil! How did you survive that attack from Ragnarok!? Weil: Survive? That's easy... Because I can't die! Zero: What happened to you!? Weil: Hehehe... Did my mechanical body surprise you? Did you think that I was a Reploid and you could fight me? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm pure human... Even with a body that looks like this! Zero: How!? Weil: When the Dark Elf took control of the Reploids and destroyed the Mavericks in the Elf Wars... The humans of the time modified me... They transferred all of my memories into program data... And switched my body for this armor with the power to rejuvenate me... Do you have any idea what that means? I can't age, and wounds heal more quickly than normal. After the war, I was cursed to live an eternity in a world without light or nature... The humans expelled me from Neo Arcadia! (Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Rouge: Ragnarok... is... breaking apart...* - We see an illustration of Ciel looking at the monitors in the Trailer. Each and every one of them is filled with nothing but static. Rouge: Ragnarok has entered the atmosphere. Most of it will burn on entry... Impact with Area Zero has been averted. Mission... successful... Ciel: Zero! Come in Zero! Zero... please... Come in... Rouge: There's no response from the receiver... The connection has been lost... Ciel: ...(Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
- Ciel: Zero... You believed in us... Now it's our turn to show you that your faith in us was not misplaced... Watch Zero... I'll make this world a better place... One where humans and Reploids can walk hand in hand, living in peace... Just come back someday... I... I believe in you!(Mega Man Zero 4) Capcom Japan, 2005
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