Third, the soundtrack is nostalgic and integrating. True, the previous series had stellar tracks (Bubble Crab theme and Flame Stage theme come readily to mind), Megaman Zero has tracks that fit the mood: solemn tracks for serious missions (Power Plant level, MMZ2); upbeat music for exciting missions (Area Zero level, MMZ4; Shuttle Factory level, MMZ2); mournful music for depressing moments (Ragnarak, MMZ4; Elpizo pre-battle, fight, and aftermath, MMZ2, X theme, MMZ1-3); and epic music for world-changing moments (final boss fights, ZC). The synergy between the moment of impact and the sound effects are perfect and realistic. Even though the tracks are not as memorable as Halo's or Mass Effect's, the game music stays in the back of your mind, creating links to crucial moments of the game. A great accomplishment for a Megaman game in and of itself.
Fourth, the graphics are fluid and colorful. True, they are GBA style and have some pixels standing out, but the bosses boast intense detail for the most part and fill most of the screen without slowdown time. Zero's actions perfectly match your input and translates fluidly onscreen. The backgrounds get more detailed and more interesting with each new game. Cracks in the first game, architecture and shade in the second, constant change in color in the third, and finally constant background movement in the fourth. Even if you prefer the older Megaman games, a fan will love the SNES emulating graphics and feel right at home.
Fifth and finally, the story is well constructed, has characters that realistically change, and has no glaring inconsistencies within themselves or in connection to the Megaman X series. The story, bluntly put, is extremely dark, with death, prejudice, revenge, god-complexes, racism, fascism, and economic crises featuring prominently and consistently to the series. The dialogue is smart and concise with little to no translation errors (unlike SOME games I know, like Megaman X5 and 6!). The villains, while insane and blood crazed for the most part, are interesting. Take Harpuia for example: as one of the Four Guardians, he has devoted himself to X blindly. By the events of the second game, he comes to realize that there is a time and place for mercy and for destruction, respecting Zero enough to let him take on Elpizo. By the third game, Harpuia, while proud, is willing to die, even to aid Zero in order to save not just humanity but his erstwhile enemies the Resistance. Zero finds a new and better love interest in Dr. Ciel, a young prodigy of a scientist who views the world more optimistically than Zero, but later gains some of the courage and dogged stubbornness of Zero, while softening the war-hardened machine in the process. By the way, she's HUMAN, so if you are the kind of gamer who likes games where race issues are set aside in favor of love and respect, these are the games for you (even if professionalism is the main dividing wall between the two lovers). Also there is no absolutely terrible "I hid myself in order to repair myself" garbage of a plot device in this series (I salute you, great Clement, for pointing this out.). Also, when a character dies, THEY. STAY. DEAD. End of story (the sole exceptions being the reploids remade by Dr. Weil). In a series where resurrection and reincarnation are a usual gameplay and plot device, this is unnerving and refreshing. This means that the final boss is always something different. The emotions run high in this game, and even when the characters are dumb, you care about their fate and hope at least that they will become better people as a result of what they experience. The height of the game's emotion occurs at the end of the game, which I will not spoil for those who do not know (and if you do not know, DO NOT LOOK IT UP! I cannot stress this enough: it has to be experienced to understand), but well simply say that it was one of the most moving moments I ever experienced from a video game. I shed a tear, which I have only done TWICE before while playing. Enough said.
The cons to this series? The difficulty can be a problem, but is easy to remedy thanks to Cyber Elves, Sub Tanks, and experience. The Cyber Elves lack true originally over the course of the games and are a PAIN to level up with Energy Crystals. While I love the level up weapon system, it can take over an hour of grinding in order to max all your weapons, slowing the pace of the games. The mini games, while a pleasant diversion and test of skill, are pointless and boring over time. Hard difficulty slows your attack patterns, limits charge attacks to either the stupid Shield (which I will mention in a moment) and the short ranged Zero Knuckle. The Shield doesn't block much, it slows down your movement (you cannot even DASH while the shield is activated), and the attack is easy to dodge and weak. The combat doesn't evolve much over the course of the games either, despite how superior it is to that of the other games in the franchise. As if this wasn't enough, the games are short once you master them, taking anywhere between 1-2 hours minimum with no real incentive to play again except to do so on a harder or cheaper degree.
Despite the cons, I love these games: they boast high quality time, an interesting story line, a respectable difficulty, a flexible combat system, an amazing main protagonist, and four games for the price of one. And people STILL blow this game off! The ZC is not perfect, but it does it's job much better than the other Megaman games, and it was made before the whole MEGAMAN LEGENDS 3 CONTROVERSY. If you do not like this game, I can respect that. If you hate it, I can take it with tact. But, in my humble opinion, if you love action games, if you love good combat systems on handhelds, if you value quality time, and if you are a megaman fan or hardcore gamer, THIS is the game for you. DS games are going to vanish next year as a result of the 3DS' popularity. Buy it now before it is too late. Capcom, as a final act of respect to its fan base, worked hard to create a collection of awesome games that some might have missed 5 years before this collection's release: DO NOT LET THEIR WORK BE IN VAIN.
yes: I recommend this product