“Throughout his life the same. He’s battled constantly. This fight he cannot win. A tired man they see no longer cares. The old man then prepares to die regretfully. That old man here is me.”
Love him or hate him, James Hetfield does a hell of a job summing my life up in a single verse. While sleeping on my friend’s couch, distanced from everything that would entertain me on my days apart from the monotony of a dead end retail job, I’ve only had Castlevania and Megaman to keep my wandering mind occupied. Well, those and the Dark Avengers comics that I’ve been reading, but nothing good ever comes from letting Norman Osborn occupy your thoughts. Just ask his son Harry about that.
Recently I’ve picked up the Megaman Zero collection for my Nintendo DS. Great game play and all, but somebody with as much free time as I have nowadays can’t help but take what’s supposed to be a fun little action-platformer and tear it’s afterthought of a plot apart. What else am I going to do on my days off, have a social life?
None of what you are about to read will make any sense if you aren’t a Megaman nerd. It’s also very long. Very, very long. It’s not very organized, either. You have been warned.
As soon as our hero Zero wakes up he immediately becomes Ciel’s lapdog. Like, instantaneously. Literally, the moment he comes back from death, some random person that he’s never met asks him to kill a room full of people, an he’s like “Aight, word.” Ciel asks Zero to jump, and he says “How high, how fast, and how hard do you want me to come down?” He just protects the resistance because they woke him up. Hell, with that kind of attitude he was lucky Copy X didn’t walk in his chamber, wake him up, and tell him to eliminate the resistance for the sake of friendship. The entire opening of the game is ridiculous until the player is informed that Ciel is saving the robots with an alternative energy source. Zero was unaware of this until after he gets his cup of Folger’s and agrees to commit robo genocide.
It doesn’t even end there. Our protagonist decides that after destroying the leader of the leading human colony (who were living peacefully by the way besides their energy crisis) He should ditch Ciel and leave, because he’s not sure that fighting “Means anything”. Well hot damn, Zero! Does everyone have epiphanies like that after brutally murdering countless soldiers, tearing apart four public figureheads (TWICE) and then slamming their commander silly?
So after three or four boxes of in game text, our genius decides to leave the resistance, the same people who are trying to save his entire race from extinction. We’re cool through, because Zero doesn’t wanna go back, but he ends up being forced back by Harpuia. Okay. That’s cool. Time to run away again. Time to go back to his journey of finding himself, right?
Nope. Time to walk into the new resistance base, beat the crap out of 4 Reploids in the name of Elpizio, an effeminate fancypants who is trying to destroy the human colony (who not only created you, but have a stronghold on the energy you need to survive), and then save his ass when he runs into said colony with a half baked plan. A plan that you stated was a bad idea countless times, but went along with anyway. Good job, Zero! Yet the stupidity is just getting started! After his plans backfire, Elpizio runs off, and instead of just returning to base, smoking a doobie, and letting the guardians take care of the problem, we go and kick their asses for almost no reason. This allows Elpizio the time that he needs to steal him some dangerous Cyber Elves, a beacon that hides him from radar, and coordinates into the inner workings of Neo Arcadia.
Good Job Zero. What does he win, Johnny? A trip to Central Neo Arcadia so he can murder his former commander, let his old friend die in front of him, and watch all of his work be in vain. Beautiful.
So of course our hero gets the brutal beating he deserves, but alas, by fulfilling the fetishes of the 3 remaining Guardians and saving Elipzo’s hide, we got the treat of having to deal with Doctor Weil attempting to have his revenge on humans. (Seeing a pattern? People hate humans.) Doc Weil accomplishes this by “accidentally” dropping a missile on a residential district, and completing a living weapon with the ability to control all robots. Why? Because we couldn’t leave Pretty Boy alone during our previous adventure. In actuality, Zero could have sat back and let the guardians take care of everything. Literally everything.
But wait, what’s this. Copy X? For the second damn time? You would think him a commodity. Is this how the future is going to be run? Reviving world leaders to fool the humans into inadvertently killing themselves?
Disregarding the fact that the guy is so fucked up that he can’t form complete sentences without coming off as an insensitive asshole who is making fun of Michael J. Fox, you would think that at least these guys would have picked up on X’s liability when he can be revived not only by a 6 year old girl, but an evil old man who wants revenge on the entire planet. That’s like saying “Hey George Washington. You’re weak, can be killed easily, can be manipulated easily, and have a bad temper, but a lot of people know you, and we need you to be accountable for nearly every human alive.”
Yet further icing on the cake is the fact that after Zero puts X and the 8 judges (Who sent the our villain of the week into space in the first place) in check, nobody notices that Weil just kinda bounced in a law that says “I’m ruler if X dies”. Oookay. Isn’t there a system of checks and balances in place or something? How does the guy who nearly mass murdered an entire race and then some even get close enough to the government to drop in a law like this. If i was responsible for LAUNCHING A GENOCIDAL MANIAC INTO SPACE, you can bet your ass that I wouldn’t be ANYWHERE near him when he returned to Earth with an invincible killer robot in tow. At this point I am almost CONVINCED That Weil and the 4chan Trollface are one and the same.
Usually in the real world people try to find ways around the rules so they can fix them. But these resistance guys take lazy to another level. To save Reploidkind (again) Zero decides to kick in Neo Arcadia’s front door (again), and beat his former self. Fuck yes, plothole time. Turns out Zero somehow lost his original body while he was dead and was put inside a fake one. Now he’s gotta fight his real body. I don’t know how, because if a clone of me came with a pink sword that looked like it belonged in a rave apparel store and started screaming at me in Japanese while shooting multiple shots of his gun and swinging his sword like it was Super Glued to his hand while he’s having a Seizure, I’d be dead.
And then, we have peace. A lot of it.
Times like this make me wonder why Megaman Zero four wasn’t really Megaman Zero… Zero. I wonder this because I would think, that from a storytelling perspective, if there was a time of peace as long as there was between MMZ3 and MMZ4, something must have been wrong A LONG TIME AGO. Possibly in a galaxy far away, as opposed to “Well, I guess its time to finally be evil again. Somebody fetch my robot army.”
Instead we get a game that has almost no connection to the plot of the prior games, leaves all of the loose ends of the trilogy dangling, doesn’t even mention a decent portion of characters that we’ve grown to know, and lays it on thick with a brand new quest that shares nothing with the history of the MMZ series, but tosses nods to the MMX series, in hopes of somehow establishing an epilogue for their shared protaonist. Welcome to plothole city, my friends. The gap is so wide, Capcom could release a MMZ3 1/2 that takes place in between 3 and 4, and have it make sense.
In Megaman Zero four, our hero has to dispatch another eight unimportant robots, and deal with a bunch of racist humans, all while feuding with an old man who is probably going to die soon anyway if just left to his own devices. All of this takes place on Ragnarok, a space colony that crashed into the earth in a game from a different series. Quite a few years ago. Joy. Seriously, if you wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between the X series and the Z series, why let three more X games, a spinoff RPG, and three Z games happen in between?
Instead of doing the future thing and pulling an X5 by shooting a laser at Ragnorok or running another space ship into it, we decide to teleport into a falling meteor (that we knew about beforehand) and proceed to kill a human. But let’s rewind for a minute here. At the beginning of Z3 we have an alternative energy source. The thing that was causing the entire conflict of the series to begin with. Complete. Done. Over. Instead of busting down into Neo Arcadia to kick X’s Ass, couldn’t we sit with him over some tea and talk about some business plans. Or Maybe present it to the humans and show we have a peaceful alternative?
No way! We’re a moronic heroic protagonist, and we gotta kill the bad guys! Fuck diplomacy, this is an action game! Zero HAD to kill X, anger humans, and then let them be pissed off at the reploids for their own damn faulty government. GREAT! Much less by the fact that it took killing Weil (instead of using the time between 2 and 3 wisely) to get the humans with the reploids. Hell, if they just wanted Zero, he could have sacrificed himself earlier to the guardians so they could chill out and let the energy flow in. It’s not like Zero hasn’t been spending THE ENTIRE SERIES UP TO THIS POINT playing the solitary warrior from another time, who’s only current purpose is to save the day.
On that thought, the guardians who are responsible for keeping the human race alive aren’t much better. Elpizo WTFpwns Harpuia at the end of the second game with only the power of the two baby elves. Not only that, but he apparently manipulates them into fighting Zero anyway, because otherwise the guardians are complete idiots who prioritized fighting a rival over a national emergency.
Then, in Z3, the guardians essentially spend the game getting kicked around and disappear from continuity at the end. Well, except for Phantom, but he was already dead. They aren’t even cool enough to be so much as MENTIONED in MMZ4. Not a single text box. We get to listen to an old man drone on about bread and stuff once in every game, but we can’t have resolution for a supposed important character? In fact, the only character that gets any real conclusion to their tale is Zero, and that’s only because he’s dead. Again. After a bunch of stuff happened that he only made worse. So I guess the main question is, what was he fighting for?