Gaming Today Reviews: Mega Man ZX Advent (DS)
Fans of the Mega Man series are used to seeing sequels of the Blue Bomber released, although the freshness meter on the majority of them seems strangely out of touch with what gamers have become accustomed to with the series. On the surface, Mega Man ZX Advent for the DS may appear to be just another flash in the pan from Capcom, but on closer inspection and within a few minutes of firing up the game – you become pleasantly surprised. Being released as a sequel to Mega Man ZX, Advent is more challenging and in-depth than the previous action RPG. While it is indeed built upon the same engine and has the same gameplay mechanics, Capcom found the prefect balance between the familiar and new with Mega Man ZX Advent.
The story takes place several years later than the events in the original title and in this chapter, robots and humans live side by side harmoniously until a rift threatens to bring war upon the two factions. At the start of the game, you must choose your character – a female named Ashe or a male named Grey. Each have a different back-story and although the game will still go the same direction, each character has their own unique dialogue along with twists and turns throughout the game.
In the opening sequence of the game, two Hunters searching for biometal come across a Reploid in suspended animation; they are soon under attack and leave the facility they have entered. During the chaos, your character (a Reploid) is awakened and while trying to get your bearings, a powerful being appears and threatens to destroy you because she feels you are an “unfinished product”. This sequence turns into a tutorial where you must escape and fight your way to safety with a gun you found on the ground. After your harrowing ordeal, you are awakened by a Hunter who takes you under his wing and enlists your help in performing duties – after acquiring your Hunter’s License, the story starts to take a dramatic turn.
During your first mission, you are transporting biometal (a powerful substance that allows hunters to transform into Mega Men) when your train is attacked by none other than the Mega Man who tried to destroy you earlier, plus another more powerful Mega Man that she hangs around with. The biometal you are protecting bonds with your body, giving you the ability to transform into Mega Man Model A.
Model A gives you the ability to jump up walls, shoot enemies, execute special attacks, and copy the data of a defeated boss or Mega Man. Using the touch screen on the DS you can change between these different Mega Men as well as turn back into human form. Each form of Mega Man has special moves and attacks than will be used differently for each level – you may find yourself playing different forms during the same level to beat certain obstacles. With eight different bosses and five biometal forms in the game, your options are many and you must utilize each and every one of them if you are to beat the game.
While the game plays like an open ended environment with a massive map, certain things must be done in a certain order, which sometimes makes the player feel like they are playing a linear game where they cannot control their movements. Granted, this is indeed the case, but that does not take away from the fun mix of action and RPG elements prevalent throughout the game. Advent plays so much like the Mega Man X games that you feel that not only are you revisiting an old friend, you are also privy to some new forms of enjoyment during your visit. The fun part is going back through areas you have already beaten to pick up pieces lying around that you may have missed the first time. Another pleasant surprise with the game is that Capcom revamped the poorly conceived map system from Mega Man ZX. The new map is a pleasure to navigate and includes the added bonus of using the stylus to click on various areas of your map and transport yourself there automatically. Included in Advent, is bonus content by way of the original Mega Man along with the characters Aile and Vent from the original ZXbeing unlockable. A multicard option for two players allows gamers to play co-op and head-to-head games, and one of the mini-games can be sent as a demo to a DS buddy who has yet to purchase the game.
Advent’s ambiance is not only an improvement from ZX, it is also more moody and dark and lacks some of the lighter moments we have grown accustomed to in the Mega Man series. This only adds to the whole draw of the game and gives it more of an outlander feel. Deserts, industrial ruins, wastelands and sterile environments give the player an idea of what is at stake with the world should they fail in their quest. The graphics are fantastic for a DS game, and while updated – give a courteous nod in the direction of previous Mega Man stylings. The animation never becomes stale and the movie sequences are engrossing for a handheld.
The background music, while repetitive, is enjoyable and you will find it sticks in your head throughout the day when you are away from your game. The voice acting is much better than the previous installment, and the actors do a fantastic job of conveying the mood of the characters at any given point
Side-scrolling goodness abound with the wonderful ability to go back and revisit environments. The ease of being able to switch back and forth between the Biometal and Map navigation screens is flawless, but the bad side to the game is that your save points leave a lot to be desired. Save as often as you are able, and make sure you do not loose all of your 1ups. Sometimes, the boss levels can be a bit frustrating and overly challenging for what you have to work with, but the sweet smell of success in demolishing your enemies more than makes up for it.
Replay Value: 9
The replay for Mega Man ZX Advent is high, as you can replay the game as either Ashe or Grey – depending upon which one you chose at the beginning of the game. With the added fun of playing the original Mega Man and the ability to unlock two more characters, your level of Mega Man fun has been taken up a notch.
Mega Man ZX Advent should appeal not only fans of the series, but to DS owners in general who want a decent, overall fun gaming experience. While I have to admit it took a while for the game to grow on me, it finally did and I am pleased that I had the opportunity to play it. Advent is fairly lengthy, and has an easy user interface, so the action/RPG gimmick mix never wanes – and if you want to play with a buddy it only adds to your options. Developed to commemorate Mega Man’s 20th anniversary, Mega Man ZX Advent has enough fast-paced action and an engrossing enough storyline to keep fans and newcomers alike interested for hours on end and it is a great title to add to the further expansion of this gamer favorite.