|Mega Man Zero|
|Japanese cover and promo art.|
Mega Man Zero closely follows the gameplay of its predecessors. Players navigate Zero through difficult obstacles and terrain whilst combating Mavericks. However, as the game exclusively follows Zero, the character does not gain a new weapon system with each boss he/she defeats. Instead, the player may gain Elemental Chips of Fire, Ice and Thunder, absolutely simplifying the concept of janken (Fire>Ice>Thunder>Fire). The character is equipped at the very beginning of the game with the Buster Shot Gun (not to be confused with the arm-mounted Z Buster from the X series). As always, Zero is equipped with the Z-Saber, a close range energy sword weapon. In addition, Zero can obtain new weapons such as the Shield Boomerang and Triple Rod. The player is able to upgrade these weapons through levels, increasing their capabilities.
The game introduces the 'Rank' system. The player will start at Rank F, but can raise their rank up to E, D, C, B, A and S as represented from poor to excellent. If fighting a boss whilst in A or S rank, they will unleash a special attack. Your rank will differ on how well you complete a mission, such as time taken, accuracy and enemies defeated.
In addition, the game brings in the concept of Cyber-elves, small, spirit-like entities that can improve Zero's abilities, change the terrain and enemies. However, once a Cyber-elf is used, it cannot be used again. Cyber-elves also penalize the player's overall score and rank.
When the game is beaten, a "New Game Plus" can be played by loading the completed save file. In the new game, Zero will start with all activated Cyber-elves used from the previous game still in effect (the penalties, however, will still remain).
By meeting certain criteria, three additional modes can be unlocked:
- Hard Mode is unlocked by beating the game once. To play, hold L when selecting to start a New Game. In Hard Mode, Zero takes 50% more damage from enemies, cannot use Cyber-elves, and his weapons cannot level up or become elemental.
- Jackson Mode is unlocked by beating every mission in Hard Mode at A rank or better and collecting every cyber elf, or collecting and powering up every Cyber-elf. In Jackson Mode, Zero starts with every Cyber-elf including Jackson.
- Ultimate Mode is unlocked by beating the game after using every Cyber-elf, including Jackson. To play, hold R when selecting to start a New Game. Ultimate Mode starts Zero off with all Cyber-elves with permanent effects already in use and without penalty. Also, all of Zero's weapons are at full power, and he can use full-charge attacks instantly by means of simplistic button combos. This also appeared in Mega Man Zero Collection as an easy scenario, but for all games and obtained at start of game.
Over a century after Sigma's defeat in the Mega Man X series, a new government called Neo Arcadia was formed to maintain peace. The leaders of Neo Arcadia began hunting down Reploids unjustly labeling them as Mavericks. Now the only hope for the Reploid is a legendary Reploid named Zero. Feeling that the Reploids were being wrongly accused, Ciel flees from Neo Arcadia and creates a Resistance against Neo Arcadia.
The game begins as Ciel and a small group of resistance soldiers is being hunted by Pantheons and Golems. Some of the resistance soldiers fall behind, but they can't stop their advance. Pursued, Ciel reaches a huge door. Passy, her Cyber-elf says: "I feel strong energy emanating from here. This must be the place." After that, soldiers blow up the door, and Ciel, Passy and Milan enter the room, with Zero's lifeless body in the middle of room, inactive for 100 years. Milan tries to touch it, but he is knocked back by energy shield that protects Zero. While they try to figure out how to bypass the shield, Pantheons appear at the door. Milan orders Ciel to run, and dies, being hit by one of the Pantheons. Passy tells to Ciel: "You have to use my power. You have no choice." Ciel thinks while Pantheons come closer and closer, and agrees sadly. Passy's sacrifice breaks the energy shield and brings Zero back to life. He helps Ciel, and learns that Mega Man X (although actually a copy) is the one responsible for innocent Reploids being retired.
First boss: Golem
- Aztec Falcon
- Maha Ganeshariff
- Pantheon Core
- Guard Orotic
- Anubis Necromancess III
- Blizzack Staggroff
- Hittite Hottide
- Asura Basura
- Herculious Anchortus
- Rainbow Devil
The Four Guardians:
Final boss: Copy X
|Rockman Zero commercial|
- With EX Skills debuting only until the next game, this is the first installment in the "original" timeline that the character doesn't learn skills from defeated Bosses.
- The Repliforce symbol appears in the yellow submarines in Fairy Leviathan's mission, Stop the Hacking.
- Originally, when it was planned to be released after Mega Man X5, the villain was supposed to be the original X, not Copy X.
- Three of the Neo Arcadian Guardians appear to be based on the various armors X obtained in his series. Harpuia most likely may have been modeled after the Falcon Armor due to his flight ability and bird motif. Fefnir appears to be based on the Gaea Armor due to his heavy firepower. Lastly, Phantom may have been based on the Shadow Armor due to its obvious ninja motif and saber weapons.
- Zero's theme from Mega Man X can be heard as the theme for the first level.
- This game is, chronologically speaking (based on the series timeline), the first game in the Mega Man series to not feature boss information when taking on a mission (strictly speaking, the Mega Man Legends series was first, since they were designed before the Zero series).
- Cyber-elf X gives Zero his Z-Saber probably because in Mega Man X5's 'canon' ending, X is last seen with Zero's Z-Saber, and because Keiji Inafune intended X5 to be the final game in the X series and didn't know about the development of Mega Man X6.
- This is the only game in the series in which it is possible to clear the game without obtaining the Shield Boomerang and the Triple Rod weapons. Mega Man Zero 2 and Mega Man Zero 3 made it mandatory to obtain them before proceeding with the game. Mega Man Zero 4 did away with these weapons by introducing the Z-Knuckle.
- This game is the only installment in the series in which Zero can repeatedly use a single Z-Saber slash to defeat bosses without the invincibility timer taking effect. Mega Man Zero 2 and onwards would no longer allow Zero to defeat bosses in that manner.