How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. ZX Advent streamlines the exploration compared to the first game, which was already a borderline fit for the Metroidvania genre, however the utilities provided by some of the transformations are much more interesting here
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~8 hours
Review Info: Mega Man ZX Advent was played using the Mega Man Zero/ZX Collection on Windows PC via Steam.
Buy Mega Man ZX Advent if you like…
- Mega Man X Style Boss fights
- Switching Costumes and Morphing into Bosses
- Z-Saber Fighting
- Optional Missions
- The Continuing Mega Man Story
▼ Review continues below ▼
The original Mega Man was one of the first platformer games that offered some level of choice on how to approach the challenges you faced. You were given six levels to choose from and depending on which order you did them in you could have an easier or harder time based on the powers obtained from each. With Mega Man 2 diverse vehicle utilities were introduced, and Mega Man X moved those utilities onto the character itself, allowing Mega Man to dash and sometimes even fly as that series continued. These are all elements that make Mega Man seem like a great fit for converting the series into the Metroidvania genre, which Inti Creates attempted to do with Mega Man ZX. Sadly, with that first game they seemingly were not able to let go of some of the tropes Mega Man has repeated since the beginning. Things like the lives system and enemies respawning the moment they leave the visible screen acted against the ideal setup for exploration fun. Those two things are still present in Mega Man ZX Advent, but many of its other elements have been streamlined for the better, even if it had to sacrifice the interconnected world for it. Mega Man ZX Advent is a marked improvement over its predecessor, but I still can’t help but feel that either the extra step should have been taken to make it a full Metroidvania, or they should have backed off completely to what the series originally was.
Of course, regardless of how a Mega Man game is packaged with its level design, you can almost always expect a good set of bosses. Mega Man ZX Advent includes more bosses than its predecessor and perhaps the most in the entire post-X Mega Man series. Some of the bosses are redesigns of the first game’s bosses, but the most you can ask for in any Mega Man game is a slightly new set of patterns to challenge anyway. If you’ve played any other Mega Man game, the principles of combat are the same. Bosses telegraph their attacks, and you either memorize their patterns or get super observant in order to avoid their attacks and counterattack yourself. However outside of the first game’s repeats, many of the bosses in ZX Advent are quite different than you would expect. Each of the eight Pseudodroid Maverick bosses in this game are especially creative. One includes a large sphere that you have to destroy before you can deal damage, another uses background poles to swing around the room, and one even has a guitar amplified by loud speakers you have to avoid. The uniqueness of each boss makes ZX Advent almost worth it by itself.
Even more interesting than the boss designs is how ZX Advent lets you transform into these bosses after you’ve defeated them. The first Mega Man ZX game included four Mega Man Biometal suits which were each supposed to have drawbacks and benefits. Ultimately the ZX suit you started with ended up being the best suit to use for most occasions. In ZX Advent your starting suit is much weaker, and the Pseudodroid forms you obtain are much more clearly intended for very specific uses. The first form you get lets you break blocks above and below you, and that boss I mentioned that uses poles to swing around gives you the ability to climb and swing on poles yourself. Some of these boss forms are even completely unusable outside of their element, like the water boss is unable to move at all on dry ground – but it is still useful for its niche case time stopping power nevertheless.
Besides being able to turn in to the Pseudodroid bosses, you will also obtain the biometal suits from the first game which have more universal combat benefits. Because the starting suit is so much weaker, the same suits that seemed underwhelming the first time around are given more opportunity to shine thanks to the relative power difference. The most useful suits are obtained almost last, at which point they become an easy dominant strategy, but it at least happens after you’re able to have some fun with the other options.
Switching forms to find secrets is also engaging thanks to the creativity involved with their design. Every Pseudodroid enables you to access something new. Your typical Metroidvania obstacles like the space that’s too tight to walk into, or the blocks that require a special power to eliminate litter each level. Behind those gates could be a health or energy upgrade, a subtank, or one of the game’s other collectables. Even money is worth collecting when you find it, since now you can conveniently fill up sub tanks with a small purchase instead of grinding, or you can use that money to activate teleportation spots all over the map for easy return to areas you’ve been to previously. Besides the hidden collectables that are always just there, NPCs will also ask you to perform tasks for them that require you to revisit old locations, whether to pick flowers for them, or to obtain ancient artifacts depending on what they ask for. It would be neat if these quests were just active all the time – letting you collect flowers and then complete the quest when you find the NPCs – but at the very least you can perform them more organically than you could in the first game. It’s also worth noting that main quest objectives are all active all at once. So if you wander into a zone you can just go kill the Maverick that owns it instead of having to activate a mission like in the original ZX. It’s a little disappointing that several areas are ones you can only teleport to – essentially just making them a level rather than a part of the Metroidvania world – but considering how easy it was to waste your time in Mega Man ZX, it’s for the better that ZX Advent regressed slightly away from that design.
Even though many of the little things about the exploration have been improved, some of the design decisions that weighed down the original ZX are still present here. The lives system is back, forcing you to repeat areas if you die too many times. Luckily this time around the teleportation system makes that much more forgiving, and as I mentioned in my review of the first game, using the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection save assist system makes that criticism a moot point anyway. What isn’t less annoying this time around is how enemies respawn the second they leave the screen space. It seems a little more forgiving this time around, but the issue is still there. This makes backtracking through old areas especially repetitious. This repetition is alleviated somewhat by teleportation nodes that you can activate for a small fee that let you jump to an area instantly. Unfortunately once you go to an area, you have to fight your way back to a teleportation spot to even leave. It’s a two steps forward one step back sort of thing that also kind of confuses me. The “Exit utility” – a menu option that let’s you leave any level you’ve completed instantly – has been around since the first Mega Man X, and just including that in this game would have been a huge improvement. It’s almost like the designers were intentionally trying to pad the game time for whatever reason. Because of the tedium involved, I avoided most of the optional side content. Even though there’s a lot to do, it just isn’t that much fun to actually do it. Thankfully I was still able to focus on this game as a solid X style Mega Man game just fine even without the bonus upgrades available from the NPC side quests.
Story-wise Mega Man ZX Advent continues the lore of the Mega Man universe in interesting ways just like with the first game. It of course culminates in a “stop the madman from destroying the world” plot, but the bones of something more interesting is still there for those that like to discuss hypothetical Mega Man stories. If you play the game in English though, the localization leaves a lot to be desired. Mega Man is no stranger to “Doctah Wahwees” and other cringe worthy voice acting moments, but it still breaks the mood when a genocidal Mickey Mouse has gotten a hold of the Model L biometal. The voice acting does occasionally reach that Capcom camp “so bad it’s good” level of quality though, so I imagine for some players this will be a feature rather than a detractor.
As a second attempt at bringing the Mega Man series into a more Metroidvania style of design, Mega Man ZX Advent plays it a little too safe to be able to claim victory. However, I doubt that it was ever Inti Creates’ intention to even make a Metroidvania. I think they were just trying to add depth to the story of the game’s world, and taking a step back from the higher inter-connectivity of the first game in service of the gameplay was undoubtedly a wise choice. The focus is correctly back on good linear level challenges and creative boss fights, but ZX Advent also teases that it could be something more. Some simple changes – like an Exit Utility to let you leave areas more easily – would help quite a lot with the game as-is. As fun as it was to use the Pseudodroids to get optional collectables, I can’t help but imagine an alternate universe where they could been applied to ability gating in a fully realized Metroidvania world. In the universe we’re living in, the design of Mega Man ZX Advent isn’t as tight as some of the competition within its own series, but ZX Advent is still a decent Mega Man game if nothing else.
Boss fights are easily the highlight of the game, and there's lots of variety here even if not every one is a winner
Though occasionally challenging the platforming isn't particularly memorable, except when transformation gimmicks are involved
Teleporting to destinations is fairly friendly, but rapidly respawning enemies, a lives system, and lack of fast travel made me want to take the option to avoid exploring
There really aren't any puzzles in this game
On paper there are some great concepts in ZX Advent. In execution - especially thanks to some weird localization - it comes across awkward, or at best really campy
Inti Creates gives us some more nearly perfect pixel art to match ZX Advent's anime style
Catchy music sets a great mood for slicing robots
You have a decent amount of choice to diversify the route you take on new playthroughs, and there are two characters to play if you care to see the differences between the two
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