Mega Man Zero 4
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|Mega Man Zero 4|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Inti Creates, Natsume|
|Platform(s)||Game Boy Advance|
|Genre(s)||Action, platform, RPG, Hack 'n slash, Run 'n gun|
Mega Man Zero 4[a] is a video game developed by Inti Creates and Natsume and published in 2005 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 does not deviate from the platforming of its predecessors. Players guide Zero through eight main selectable stages, which are usually separated into two parts by a mini-boss battle. At the end of each level, the player faces one of the game's reploid antagonists.
Mega Man Zero 4 includes a new Easy Mode, not found in its prequels, in response to criticisms that the Mega Man Zero series had become too challenging. In Easy Mode, Zero receives a large 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.
Zero 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 (i.e.: Triple Rod, Chain Rod and Recoil Rod) is the new Z-Knuckle. This device 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 small helpers who can assist Zero in combat. Shortly after the introductory levels, a Cyber Elf will arrive for Zero to equip. This elf has most of the powers of Cyber Elves from previous games, which are unlocked as the player raises its level by feeding it E-Crystals. Zero may select one power from each of 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 parts dropped randomly from defeated enemies. Recipes for combining these parts can be obtained from NPCs the player rescues or a Cyber Elf after its stages of evolution. However, the majority of the recipes are found through experimentation with combinations of parts.
Another distinguishing feature of this installment is that 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.
Mini-games and modes
Mega Man Zero 4 has multiple modes. Easy Mode and Normal Mode are available from the start. Easy Mode makes the game easier to play, but prevents changing the weather conditions or acquiring EX Skills.
After completing the game once on Normal Mode, players can access an additional Hard Mode or start a new game over the old one. There is also an Ultimate Mode, which can only be unlocked when certain criteria are met. Like the previous game, there are 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 in less than 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. Zero and the small handful of resistance members happen upon them and come to their aid. Neige explains that they were en route to Area Zero, one of the last natural habitats that can support human life. Shortly after parting ways, Zero learns of a plot called "Operation Ragnarok", meant to destroy all environments outside of Neo Arcadia in order to force humans to return and live under Weil's rule. Helping him on this mad quest are a group of Reploids called the Eight Einherjar Warriors: Mino Magnus (Based on the Minotaur), Pegasolta Eclair (Based on the pegasus), Noble Mandgrado (Based on the mandrake), Popla Cocapetri (Based on the cockatrice), Tech Kraken (Based on the kraken), Fenri Lunaedge (Based on Fenrir), Sol Titanion (Based on Titania), and Heat Genblem (Based on the Black Tortoise). They are led by a military Reploid named Craft, who has a history with Neige.
After defeating four of the Eight Warriors, Area Zero comes under attack by Neo Arcadia. Zero defends it and fights Craft. Neige breaks-up the fight but is kidnapped by Craft. Zero then goes to the prison where Neige is held and rescues her.
Zero stops the Einherjar Warriors, but learns the real threat is an orbital satellite, Ragnarok, which can wipe out the environment with its cannon. Before Weil can use it, Craft rebels and fires Ragnarok at Neo Arcadia in an attempt to kill Weil. Zero defeats Craft, who dies.
Ragnarok moves on a crash course for Area Zero, and Zero makes his way there to find Weil survived. Weil reveals that he was human, made into a bionic-reploid hybrid by the same people who exiled Omega and himself into space at the end of the Elf Wars. His new body is incapable of aging or dying, as it constantly repairs and upgrades itself. Believing he can survive the impact of the crash and personally oversee the destruction of Area Zero, Weil fuses with the Ragnarok core and attacks Zero as the final boss. After an intense battle and the destruction of Weil's fused body, Ragnarok breaks apart, leaving Zero no means of 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 final scene shows a picture of Zero's helmet somewhere in the desert.
Capcom Japan's announcement of a sequel to Mega Man Zero 3 was anticipated, following the pattern of development news from the previous two Mega Man Zero games. Capcom updated its official site quietly with information stating that the game would have an April 2005 release in Japan.
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 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 seen as a nice idea, but 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... 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... (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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