Mega Man is an interesting franchise given it’s set into different series. We have looked at the Original and the X era. Now let’s look at the Zero era. Originally set to have started after X5 Capcom did a few things behind the person in charge and threw the storyline into madness by continuing the series against their wishes. This all makes the time when the X era ends confusing. But we go into the Zero era now, set 100 years after the X era ends… but as said we don’t know when that is.
Zero 3 is the third in the franchise (because I haven’t played the first 2 yet.. I could get the collection I suppose) and continues the cliffhanger of the second game as Zero, Ciel and the resistance are investigating a strange large fallen object. This is the opening level of the game and as such helps introduce you to the mechanics in case. It has a relatively easy opening and if you played X era games Zero plays very much like that but more emphasis on melee.
After that however the game gets hard, very quickly. In fact I recall one person playing it saying that one of the mini bosses was harder than many last bosses (that mini boss was also based on the previous games final boss.) While the levels require some skill to get through it’s with the bosses you see the difference in Zero and X era fights. See Zero won’t be getting attacks from the bosses he kills, sure maybe techniques but you can’t just kill a boss, get its weapon and use it to curbstomp the one weak to it, that doesn’t exist here. You have to fight the bosses without exploiting a weapon that stuns them and makes them do a little dance. Some people refer to this era as the Dark Souls of Mega Man games ( HA Ghosts and Goblins was there long before Dark Souls you wee bairns).
Zero does get some customised parts though that help, however, and different weapons but I always just stuck to the Z sabre and blaster (also if you kill a boss using the Z sabre… you cut them in half)
The plot is probably one of the most complicated but well executed in that regard for the whole robot era of Mega Man. And I say that as there are plenty of times games decided to be complicated but left me raising a hand at some questionable stupidity. No this continues the plot alluded to in the previous game (had to look that up but fortunately was explained in game enough for me to get it without that) involving the Dark Elf but now revealing the real masterminds behind it, Dr Weil and Omega. (I should point out in the Japanese he was called Vile, but because X renamed VAVA to Vile to avoid people realizing he’s a blatant play on Boba Fett this is going to cause many issues down the line… ah hindsight). Resolving in a plot that has quite a few surprising twists and dark turns leading to what is probably the best final boss in the entire Mega Man franchise.
This game is hard, but it’s the right kind of hard. The upgrades and improvements you can get through the game will help you (at least on normal) and the levels are so designed that as you adapt to the game you can clear them somewhat comfortably. It didn’t make me feel cheated when I died… well maybe at first I did as that difficulty spike after the first level is real.
Of Course we have to talk about music. Once again Mega Man delivers some classic and great music and the final boss track Cannonball is one I always go back to (as said it is the best Mega Man final boss for many reasons).
The Mega Man Zero games are quite highly regarded and this one is considered the best of them. I can’t say if it should be your first entry, mine was actually 4 and I still found this one hard.