Rockman Zero 3 (Mega Man Zero 3)

The next installment in the Rockman Zero series is strikingly similar to the first two


The Lowdown

Pros: Solid 2D action, good degree of difficulty

Cons: Extremely tired game formula, reused graphics

Purchase at Play-Asia

Capcom has been using the same old Rockman (or as the rest of the world outside of Japan knows him, Megaman) formula over and over again. Every once in awhile there are some slight improvements such as the gameplay leap of Mega Man 6 to Mega Man X. When the Rockman Zero series jumped on to the Game Boy Advance it starred X's partner Zero, in a darker more mature storyline. Zero also had a few changes he didn't "steal" enemy weapons and he had more than one melee weapon at his disposal. Rockman Zero 3 (Mega Man Zero 3) continues the story with the same gameplay used in the Rockman Zero series.

One thing good about the story is that the game jumps right into it. After the Dark Elf crisis from the previous game ended there was a brief moment of peace for Neo Arcadia. Although, everything is far from perfect. A new enemy called Weil appears on the scene with his eight robot guardians the Weil Numbers. To further confuse the mystery X appears again, but didn't something happen to him after Rockman Zero 2 (spoiler cautiously avoided here)? Zero is on the scene to stop Weil from destroying Neo Arcadia and track X down.

While the story in the Rockman Zero series is decent and has its roots in anime, it isn't the meat of the game. Mega man games have always relied on their classic gameplay and Rockman Zero 3 is no exception to this rule. The game starts off with an introductory stage to familiarize you with the series. Press "A" to jump and "B" to attack with your gun. Holding R and pressing B allows you to use your sword. When you get other weapons like the spear and shield boomerang you can replace the commands. Which means you get some customizable control. If you hold down B Zero can charge his attack up to two levels. More charging means more damage and typically a wider area of attack too. Zero also can dash by pressing R and climb walls by tapping A by a wall. Nothing exactly new here. The intro stage is classic too, it has enemies to shoot. Some enemies require a charge shot to be destroyed. There are some pits to jump over and at the end there is a giant robot boss. Everything here you've seen before and if you're a fan of the series maybe even ten times too many.

The problem with the game isn't the level design or the gameplay both are brilliant. It is just that the game is too much of the same. For instance when you pick the first robot levels there is a level that has to deal with fire (as in most mega man games). The level has a volcano that spews out boulders every once in awhile and some lava you need to jump over. Another one of the levels has you swimming underwater where for some reason in the Mega Man universe you can jump twice as high. Another one of the levels has you inside a jungle. See the trend of similarity here? These are the same standard levels you would expect in a Mega Man game or even any other platformer. What is even worse is that Capcom reused many of the sprites from the other Mega Man Zero games. Zero's animation look great, just like they did in the first game. After seeing them for the third time with little change they don't have the same effect. A lot of the enemy sprites, except for the new bosses also are reused sprites. Even the powers that Zero get are the traditional special attacks of lightning, fire and ice.

Even though everything is pretty much the same it is executed fairly well. The controls are simple and responsive. Something that you can expect from a Capcom game. There are plenty of big bosses to battle with patterns that aren't too taxing to remember. The levels have a decent amount of traps such as plenty of spikes to jump over in the water level. The game also has its fair share of challenge. Even though the levels aren't that long there are enough traps and enemies to memorize you'll have to play them over once or twice. Getting a "S" rank for a stage could take more than a couple of tries to replay. This gives the game some extra replay value. Beating the game also unlocks a small mini game, which is a nice addition.

Capcom has a solid game for players who have never played a mega man game in their life. For the rest of us (rest of the world) Mega Man Zero 3 is a little too much of the same to warrant a purchase. It doesn't have the length of other games at the same price either. On the other hand it is a hallmark of the series and one of the better action games on the Game Boy Advance. If you're a fan of the series you'll love it, if you already know you don't like Mega Man games this wont change your mind.

Import Friendly?

Easy to learn how to play without any additional language knowledge. If you want to get anything out of the story you'll have to know Japanese.

US Bound?

Mega Man Zero 3 should be released in the October 2004.

Overall

Nothing really new or special here, even though Mega Man Zero 3 is still a fun play through.