Monday, March 16, 2020

Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection Review

Developer: IntiCreates, Capcom
Available on: XBO, PC, PS4, NS
Version Played: NS
Price: $30

After playing the Mega Man and Mega Man X Legacy Collections on Switch, I wouldn't blame you if you were a bit apprehensive about buying a similar collection for the Mega Man Zero and ZX games. Half of the previous collections were plagued with issues. They had a lot of input lag, screen tearing, slowdown where there was none in the originals, and questionable filter and aspect ratio options. It looks like Capcom listened to the feedback, though. This collection isn’t plagued with technical issues, and the video options are pretty good, for the most part. I’d even say this is the best of the Mega Man Legacy Collections so far.

Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection includes Mega Man Zero 1-4, which were originally released on GBA, and Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent, which were originally released on DS. All these games are enhanced ports of the DS versions and not emulated ROMs. Mega Man Zero 1-4 have the white text (instead of yellow) and the enhanced soundtrack from the DS MMZ Collection, and none of the slowdown of the GBA games. All these games also have higher resolution cutscenes, higher sound quality voice overs, a new optional checkpoint system, and the Casual Scenario Mode from the DS MMZ Collection. The Casual Scenario Mode lets you play with a fully upgraded Zero from the start, so you can cruise right through the games if you want. And unlike in the DS MMZ Collection, it uses a separate save file for each game.

The “Save-Assist” or checkpoint system is like something in between traditional checkpoints and save states. The checkpoints are actually visible in the game, unlike in MMLC2, and save your progress when you walk past them. These saves are separate from the regular saves these games have, though. These saves work more like save states. They save your progress up to that point and ignore further progress until you save at another checkpoint, even if you beat a boss or make a hard save. These checkpoints also automatically load after you die, even if you've made a hard save, which can put you in some weird situations. For example, while playing Mega Man Zero, I beat a boss, saved with Ciel, died in the overworld, and respawned at the checkpoint before I beat the boss. I then had to exit back to the title screen to load the save that had the boss beaten. Aside from issues like that, they're pretty nice. They basically give you infinite lives because of how they work, which makes MMZ1 a lot less annoying to play.

My biggest issues with the Switch versions of Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and MMXLC1 were the poor performance and excess input lag, so I was on high alert for this kind of thing when playing this collection, but thankfully, both are fine here. I played all the way through MMZ1 and a bit of every other game, and didn’t notice any slowdown or screen tearing, and the response times felt very close to how they do on DS.

Since the Mega Man ZX games used the second screen on the DS for the map, the video options for these 2 sets of games are pretty different. For the Zero games, you have 4 screen layouts to choose from. Type 1 is 3:2 scaled unevenly to fill the screen from top to bottom. It maintains the original aspect ratio of the GBA, but will look a little blurry compared to Type 2. Type 2 is 3:2 scaled evenly to 4x its original resolution at 720p (handheld) and 6x at 1080p. It covers the exact same amount of the screen in handheld as it does at 1080p on a TV. Since Type 2 is evenly scaled to a whole number, it will give you the sharpest image. Type 3 is 648 pixels vertically (at 1080p), so it’s a 4.05x scale square in the middle of the screen. It’s tiny and unevenly scaled, so I don’t know what this is for. I guess it’s close to the size of a GBA or DS screen when played handheld on Switch. Type 4 is the image stretched to 16:9 to completely fill the screen, which looks terrible.

For the ZX games, we get 7 screen layouts, most of which are the same thing with the bottom screen in a different position. Types 1-4 give you a 5.625‬x scale top screen (at 1080p), filling the screen from top to bottom, next to a tiny bottom screen in a 1.875‬x scale. Types 1 and 2 put the screens side by side, and Types 3 and 4 center the top screen and put the bottom screen in either the bottom left or right corner, layered over the top screen. Types 1 and 2 are the only ones I use because I don’t like the idea of covering one screen with the other. Type 5 gives you a 3.375‬x top screen on top of a 2.25x bottom screen. I guess this is trying to give you something resembling the original DS layout, but the scale is all wrong, and it’s really small. They could have used a vertical (tate) mode for Switch in handheld mode here, and it would have worked much better. Types 6 and 7 stretch the top screen to 16:9 to fill the entire screen and put the bottom screen in either the bottom left or right corner. The bottom screen stays the same size and aspect ratio as in Types 1-4 for some reason. Don’t 16:9 stretch fans want everything to look equally as ugly? For whatever reason, Types 3, 4, 6, and 7, the ones that layer the bottom screen over the top screen, give you the option to make the bottom screen even bigger and a transparency slider. None of these screen layouts give you an evenly scaled image, so they all look a bit blurry, but nothing too bad. They could have had an option with a 5x top screen and a 2x bottom screen that would have looked much better, but I guess they thought it was more important to cover as much of the screen as possible.

If you’re wondering how you use the virtual DS touchscreen, you move a cursor with the right analog stick and click it (L3) to simulate a stylus press. The touchscreen on the Switch is not supported in these games at all. This works fine for the ZX games since the touchscreen isn’t used a whole lot, and you don’t have to do anything crazy with it, like in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.

All games get the same 2 video filters; a smoothing effect, and a grainy “CRT” effect. The CRT effect doesn’t have any scanlines, so it’s not doing a great job of replicating the look of playing on a GB Player on a CRT TV, if that’s what it’s going for. It just adds a bunch of flickering and grain, which looks pretty bad. The smoothing filter is just an ugly emulator-like filter that smudges pixels together. I’m not a fan of filters, so I don’t use any.

Unlike in some of the previous Legacy collections, wallpapers are not game specific, so you can use any wallpaper with any game. Each game gets 2 wallpapers with artwork from those games. There’s also a Z Chaser Wallpaper and an unlockable Special wallpaper. Overall, I think they did a much better job with the wallpapers than in previous collections.

In addition to the 6 games, there’s also an all-new racing mode. Not like Battle & Chase racing, there’s no karts involved. It’s a speedrunning race, like something you’d see on Games Done Quick. There’s 2 levels from each game available, and you can play it with someone locally or play against someone’s online ghost. When you finish a level, you can upload your ghost and post your time on a leaderboard. This mode could probably use a few more levels, but it’s still pretty fun as is.

This collection also includes a gallery and a music player. The gallery has key and concept art from all the games and some new artwork used in this collection. All the e-Reader (Not that e-Reader) cards from Mega Man Zero 3 can also be viewed and used here. These cards can be toggled on to change little things in MMZ3, like make cats and paintings appear in the base. The music player has all the music from all the games, and the new music recorded for the collection. There’s looping options for single songs, entire game OSTs, and the whole thing, so it’s a much better player than the one in some of the earlier collections. You can also make a 3 song playlist and play it while looking at the gallery, which is kind of cool.

I was a bit worried about the quality of this collection, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with it. There’s no excessive input lag or performance problems, and even though the scaling for the DS games could have been better, the video options for the GBA games have everything I want. The Z Chaser Mode is also pretty fun. The games included are really good, too! I know a lot of people skipped these games because they weren’t on consoles, and they’re not as popular as MM and MMX, but this is a great bunch of games. Mega Man X fans will probably love them most of all since they are definitely building on the MMX formula.