Video Game: Mega Man Zero
Promotional art for Mega Man Zero 3
. Background, clockwise from the top: Weil, Weil's Numbers (eight), and Omega.
Foreground, left to right: Zero and Ciel.
Another entry into Capcom's popular flagship series Mega Man
, although it is a more direct sequel to Mega Man X
and is even Darker and Edgier
than the latter series. The first game was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 and continues the story of Zero, the partner and best friend of the latter series' protagonist.
A century after the Elf Wars
, themselves an unknown number of years after the X series, Zero awakens to find the world is still not at peace and Reploids are being hunted by Neo Arcadia, a utopia for humans and Reploids Gone Horribly Wrong
. Ciel, a human scientist who leads the Reploid resistance, revives Zero and asks for his help in stopping Neo Arcadia and to bring peace between humans and Reploids.
The series lasted for four games and spawned a sequel series, Mega Man ZX
, which currently stands at two installments. A Compilation Re-release
of the entire saga has also been released for the Nintendo DS
Keep in mind that many of the following tropes contain spoilers
. You've been warned.
See the series's character page
for more info.
Vote on the best game in the series here
Tropes present in the Mega Man Zero series:
- Cyber Cyclops: Pantheons are eerie, one-eyed mockeries of X's design.
- Cyberspace: Part of the gameplay in Zero 3, supposedly caused by the arrival of Omega. In Zero 4, the storyline requires Zero to enter one.
- Darker and Edgier: And bloodier, if you're playing a Japanese copy. This is the darkest saga in the series, hands down.
- Diagonal Cut/Half the Man He Used to Be: Pretty much any enemy killed by the Z-Saber or any bladed weapon. Division by Zero, if you will.
- Hit Stop: Happens to the bosses if you do the above to them.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: All of the Guardians but Phantom remark that Zero makes them feel "so alive" when battling him. Several times after a battle you'll hear them panting it.
- Downer Beginning: The first game: It starts with La Résistance being oppressed by the Neo Arcadian forces as they run away in a Dramatic Chase Opening. Several of the Red Shirts get cut in half by the Golems. As Zero is unsealed, only Ciel was alive.
- Drill Tank: One of the bosses in Zero 1.
- Dynamic Difficulty: If you have A or S rank when you're fighting bosses, they'll have a special move. The Guardians will have a Desperation Attack that makes them invincible during execution. In Zero 4, if the stage's weather is compatible with the boss (indicated with highlighted lines near the stage icon), the boss and the stage will be harder.
- Earn Your Fun: The "Ultimate Mode". To elaborate, you'll start the game with all of the Cyber-elves abilities activated without any penalty. It also has good stats, and you can do instant charged attacks using button commands. In Zero 3, some of the upgrade chips are also available from the start, including the Infinity Plus One Boots. That's worth all the effort of Gotta Catch Them All (specifically, the Cyber-Elves).
- The Mega Man Zero Collection subverts this with Easy Scenario, which automaticly starts the games in their "Ultimate Modes", but they have to be played in sequental order.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The peaceful era after hundreds of years of war has finally come, and the enmity is finally dissolved between humans and Reploids by the two sides working together. However, it's subverted in that, those who really fought hard for such peace, X and Zero, sadly never had the chance to see it (at least, not on the earthly plane).
- Emergency Energy Tank: Some Cyber-elves can function as this; some heal directly, some give extra lives, some become Sub-Tanks, etc.
- Empire with a Dark Secret: Unknown to the human residents of Neo Arcadia, their utopia comes at a price: the retirement of their fellow (innocent) Reploid citizens. Then again, maybe they just don't care.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Double Subversion in Zero 4: the Colony Drop really isn't going to bring out the aforementioned effect; however, seeing as the target of the drop is a New Eden area in a Crapsack World, it arguably comes close.
- Energy Being: The Cyber Elves.
- Escort Mission: Two in the first game: in the intro stage (where you escort Ciel) and in Anubis Necromancess III's stage (where you escort one of the Red Shirts).
- Evil Overlooker: See page image.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Copy-X's stage in the third game, which extends all the way into outer space.
- Fantastic Racism: As a result of the discrimination, most mass produced reploids have No Name Given, being simply called by their designated serial numbers, like TK-31 or HE-22. It was Ciel who named most of the Resistance members, and she seems to love birds.
- Finishing Move: Subverted with the EX Skills of most Boss enemies (even including those that can't be, obtained).
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: Literally, as the simplified version of the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors compared to its predecessors, where, on the second game onwards, Bosses are always grouped in fours (one for each element and the fourth for a non-elemental). Three of the four Guardians, Fefnir, Leviathan and Harpuia, respectively, even embody these elements. Mega Man ZX would also follow this trend.
- Five-Bad Band:
- Foreshadowing: Each game has at least one example before an important reveal, in the form of character's dialogues. In order:
- Before the gauntlet that are the final levels:
Unknown Elf (the real X): "Go. Terminate that copy of me. Terminate with extreme prejudice..."
- After one of the first missions:
X: "The Baby Elves will do anything to reunite with their mother. Stir the humans' minds and bring chaos...It's all to meet their mother, the Dark Elf...The Dark Elf that I sealed..."
- Upon defeating Omega in the first encounter, Copy X and Dr. Weil issue a challenge to La Résistance to find out who can capture the Dark Elf first. Before leaving, Weil gives the following cryptic remark:
"Let's see how far you get with that body!"
- Before being sent off to the Ragnarok core to stop the Colony Drop:
- Four Is Death: Aside from the Four Guardians, there's the Elf Wars, that lasted for only four years, yet brought so much damage to the world. Partial subversion: The only reason the war ended on its fourth year was because of Zero only reappearing at that time. Also, there are four games in the series.
- Four Philosophy Ensemble — the five major bosses in the first game: Copy-X (the Cynic), Phantom (the Apathetic and pragmatist), Harpuia (the very Conflicted), Fefnir (the Optimist), and Leviathan (the Realist).
- Four-Star Badass: The 4 Guardians technically qualify, as they're generals of their respective armies.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Among the Four Guardians: The loyalist, rule-keeping Phantom (choleric/melancholic), the reliable and civil Harpuia (phlegmatic), the encouraging but Trigger Happy Fefnir (sanguine), and the self-centered but calm and playful Leviathan (leukine).
- Fun with Acronyms: The Convergent Ignition by Energen Linkage System.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Zero and La Résistance are the good; Copy X, the 4 Guardians and Neo Arcadia in general are the "bad" (at least at first); Dr. Weil and Omega are very evil.
- The time comes when Neo Arcadia and the 4 Guardians join with the good; Copy-X progressively worsens until in Zero 3 he's become just as evil as Weil and Omega!
- The Government: Neo Arcadia, which started out as a peaceful city-state where humans and robots lived in peace until it became fascist and genocidal after the disappearance of its original leader.
- Grand Finale: The first in the series to have one (followed only a few months later by Mega Man Battle Network). The fascist government that the heroes are fighting against is finally gone, and the Big Bad, desperate, is getting ready to destroy the last hope of healing a dying Earth with a Colony Drop. The hero confronts the Big Bad, passing up the chance to escape to safety so he can stop the Colony Drop and the Big Bad once and for all. Add the fact that the hero finally finds his purpose in fighting the war, a problem that has plagued him since the previous series, and that peace is finally restored after a very, very long time.
- The last bit is a clincher, since Zero, who was created by the same Dr. Wily who started the entire Robot War in the first place, is the one who finally ended it. Of course he also stopped it by dying.
- Great Offscreen War: The Elf Wars.
- Green Aesop: Plot of the final game: Protecting the last trace of nature from a villain bent on making sure that his empire is the only habitable place left on Earth.
- Guide Dang It: You can't find all the Cyber-elves without one.
- Zero 2 only slightly hints at the Forms system; after that, the players will have to rely on luck unlocking each of them unless they consult a guide. A player can possibly even go through the whole game without unlocking a single one (until completion, of course, where the Bragging Rights Reward for beating the game is the Proto Form.
- In Zero 3, players tend to ignore entering Cyberspace so as not to lower their rank. However, entering the Cyberspace in a specific stage is key to obtaining the best foot chip in the game.
- You have to guess most of the recipes in the Item Crafting feature in Zero 4, unless, of course....
- Guilt-Based Gaming: In this series, Zero can find powerups to upgrade his abilities and activate some temporary cheats. The problem about it is that the powerups are Ridiculously Cute Critters that you raise and "eat". The third game softens this by allowing you to equip some Cyber Elves without sacrificing them while the fourth has just one elf that mimics the abilities of the others.
- Lampshaded in the first game:
Ciel: Have you ever heard of a thing called Cyber-elf? A Cyber-elf is an electronic entity that gives some kind of a power. But once they use their powers, they die...I feel sorry for them...
- Halfway Plot Switch: Happens in Zero 2. The first half of the game has Zero taking care of missions for La Résistance, or, more specifically, for its new commander Elpizo, in preparation for his Operation Righeteous Strike. When the Operation turns out to be a disaster, Elpizo becomes the designated Big Bad of the game, and the second half is spent trying to find him, and stop him from his plans.
- Handshake Refusal: Elpizo introduces himself to Zero as the new commander of the resistance and offers his hand after announcing his plans to destroy Neo Arcadia. Zero refuses both the plans and the handshake.
- Hellevator: The Giant Elevator in Zero 3. You take a massive elevator deep into the Earth to fight a boss who's based off Cerberus.
- Hitbox Dissonance: A couple times, noticeably in the first level of Zero 2.
- Honor Before Reason: The Guardians and the Neo Arcadian army are all heroic guys, but they are bound to obey the will of Neo Arcadia, even if that "will" is obviously either A. That of a fascist tyrant who goes against everything the city once stood for, or B. A human government who is greedy and uncaring.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: Subverted in Zero 1's first boss. Your only weapon is the buster, which at this point can only do one point of damage at a time, and the boss's Mercy Invincibility makes it practically an exercise in futility. However, midway into the fight, X as a Cyber-elf will appear and grant Zero his Z-Saber, which will One-Hit Kill the boss.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Revealed in one dialogue during Zero 3, stating that humans of the dystopian Neo Arcadia only indulge themselves in food and comfort, letting the authorities do the thinking for them while regarding the conflicts Zero and Ciel have been fighting as mere daily news on the televisions. The whole Government Conspiracy and Propaganda Machine aimed at the Resistance don't help. In Z4, Zero also further condemns humans fleeing from Weil's iron fist as cowardly beings who would do nothing about their refugee leader getting kidnapped just to avoid another war. It is not until Craft blows up the city that the humans finally wake up with terrible pain in their minds.
- Dr. Weil also implies in the third game that Humans innately feel that ruling all the eye can see and making others work for them is the ultimate joy for them, and believes that no Reploid could ever understand this joy, although Zero counters this by stating that he doubts any decent human would understand Weil's viewpoint, either.
- Humans Are Special: The villains all hold this view, to the extreme. But played straight in Zero 4, where Zero has a short line about how humans are the ones who can change the world and tells Craft the reason he failed is because he was a reploid built for war, while Zero was fighting for Ciel (a human).
- Humongous Mecha: There is a Boss in the first game that qualifies, "Hittide Hottide". Needless to say that the entire mission is spent trying to destroy this monster. Also a borderline example of Battleship Raid.
- Also, the Golems.
- Hell the Giant and Carnage Force 0 from Zero 4, who are expies to the intro bosses from X2 and X3.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Although it is only one uniquely-named mode, the Ultimate Mode present in all four games. It's almost always the hardest mode to unlock (all games present a Gotta Catch Them All requisite), with good reason: it's the best mode of play in the series. Simply put, it's a middle point for hardcore players who resent note NORMAL Mode, and casual ones and/or "newcomers" who resent Hard Mode, arguably enjoyable for both tiers.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With the exception of the first album, the Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero soundtracks are all given Greek philosophical subtitles: Idea, Telos, Physis, and Mythos.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: The boxes containing Cyber Elves (1 and 2) and Secret Disks (3).
- Infinity+1 Sword: The Ultimate Mode (Form in 2). Handed to you at the start of them on Easy Scenario mode in the DS rerelease.
- The secret Cyber Elf Jackson in 1. Which is also handed to you at the start of the game on Easy Scenario Mode in the DS rerelease.
- Ultima Foot Parts in 3. ALSO handed to you on Easy Scenario Mode in the DS re-release.
- Invisible to Normals: Cyber-elves can usually only be seen by reploids. Ciel is an exception to this, thanks to an innate ability to interact with them.
- Item Crafting: In 4, Zero makes customization chips out of "recipes" of enemy parts.
- Kill Sat: The true means of Operation Ragnarok.
- Japanese Beetle Brothers: The subbosses Herculious Anchortus and Kuwagust Anchus in the first two games, respectively.
- Lampshade Hanging: Occasionally. An NPC in Zero 2 remarks on the difficulty of getting pictures of bosses for the stage select, and a mod card NPC in Zero 3 will note Zero's Celibate Hero tendencies if you refuse her advances. Another mod card NPC speculates about why the operators have No Name Given (after he tells you their names).
- Land, Sea, Sky: Fighting Fefnir, Fairy Leviathan, and Sage Harpuia respectively.
- Last Note Nightmare: The Mythos-version of 1s Resistance-theme ends off on one of these, for some reason.
- Legacy Boss Battle: in 3, taking a secret detour in the second fortress stage will take you to a teleporter. Go inside, and you'll meet Phantom from the first game, or rather his "ghost" since he self-sacrificed. Defeat him and you'll get the Infinity Plus One Foot Chip.
- Lethal Joke Item: Ever make "Junk" out of Item Crafting in Z4? They're actually ingredients for the Junk Armor, a set of armor that makes him even more of a Glass Cannon and doubles all damage he deals and receives. There are also S-crystals, which are never used as Custom Chips either, but make two of them and bring them to your friend Hirondelle for two free Sub-tanks.
- Lethal Lava Land: Phoenix Magnion and Fefnir's stage in Zero 2; Blazin' Flizard's stage in 3.
- Levels Take Flight: At one of the turning points of Zero 2 (right after the failed attack on Neo Arcadia and during Elpizo's subsequent Face-Heel Turn), Zero has to cross an entire air fleet of Neo Arcadian vessels in order to hijack and stop a missile that Neo Arcadia launched at the Resistance Base.
- Living Battery: Cyber-elves, and in particular, the Nurse types, function this way.
- Locked Out of the Fight: In the third game, the 4 Guardians only show up to aid Zero after he defeats all three of the Final Boss' forms.
- Lost Forever: Zero 1 is bad about this with the Cyber Elves. In each stage, at least half of the enemy types in that stage must be killed roughly five times to produce a Cyber Elf. Failing to do so during the stage means you can't get that Elf later. What's worse is that the game will, about half the time, not even provide you with a sufficient amount on a straight run, meaning you have to run back and forth over the same area to trigger respawns of the enemy type. There's also the Underground Lab area, which has two Cyber Elves hidden in out-of-the-way places. If you beat the Data Recovery stage (where Maha Ganeshariff is the boss) without collecting the two elves, those two will be permanently sealed off. Finally, in the desert level, there is a Cyber Elf at the top of some collapsible platforms. The platforms not only collapse ridiculously fast, requiring precision timing to get across, but they never regenerate (as in, once collapsed, they never come back for the entire game), so you have to get it right the first time, restart your save to try again, or beat the game, reach those areas again, and give it another shot.
- Zero 3 has a cross-platform example with the Battle Network chip Z-Saver [sic] in Ciel's computer. This is a once-only chance. Not once-per-game, mind you, once per cartridge. If it gets traded off, anyone else who gets their hands on the cart is stuck with whatever you traded the Saber for (which is sadly, most of the time, a Guard chip). There's always a Game Shark to fix that problem, though.
- The EX skills in all the games after Zero 1. 2 and 3 required you to get an A Rank or S Rank to obtain the EX skill, while 4 required you to play the more difficult version of the stage for it. Because the boss doesn't come back when repeating the level, you can't face them a second time to obtain their skill.
- Metroidvania: The hub of the first game.
- Monstrosity Equals Weakness
- Multiple Life Bars: Bosses in these games have layered life bars. Zero can get them too, with a special Cyber-Elf.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Neo Arcadia, after an energy crisis, had started persecuting Reploids as being Maverick for no real reason, resulting in a mass amount of retirement (IE, execution) of said Reploids, allowing for anti-Reploid policies that are heavily implied to include genocide, and the person who directly created these policies is himself a Reploid (and by that, it means an actual Reploid, as in not even something of X or Zero's caliber). It's kind of hard not to see the parallels between this and the creation of Nazi Germany, and more importantly the rise of Adolf Hitler.
- New Eden/Last Fertile Region: Area Zero.
- New Game+: Although what you carry on to the next playthrough is dependent on the game.
- New Neo City + Arcadia = Neo Arcadia.
- Never Say "Die": The DS re-release of the saga received this treatment by cutting down most of the instances of "die," "death," and "kill" was edited in the each of the games' scripts to make it more kid-friendly to younger players.
- Nintendo Hard: Especially the first two games. The critics even say that "it's not cheap to use cyber-elves to make the game(s) easier."
- Specifically, in the first game, the bosses were very hard (to the point of putting in a skip system), you couldn't backtrack if you did use said skip system, you had to grind with your weapons to level them up, the cyber elves were very unforgiving in mistakes and gave huge penalties, took an absurd amount of energy crystals to fully level up, and weren't nearly as useful as the later ones. In Z2, the elves are more useful, didn't need so many crystals, there were two free e-tanks, you could get permanent power ups, and you could even learn special attacks from bosses; however, you still had to level up your weapons, and said special attacks were only available for A or S rankings. In Z3, you no longer had to level up weapons, it was easier to get upgrades, there were more opportunities to use elves, and there were useful armor chips. And Z4 was just so easy compared to the rest, it would take all day to compare it to the others.
- Which is probably why the Compilation Re-release for the Nintendo DS comes with an "Easy Scenario", an option to play through all four games in one go with all the weapons, items, and cyber-elves collected and maxxed out.
- No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: In the second games and beyond, Zero can acquire equipments that change his color. However, in cutscenes, he's always the default red.
- No Fair Cheating: You lose score points if you use cyber elves.
- No OSHA Compliance: In Z1, you have to restore power to your base so that the Red Shirts can take the elevator to the shuttle bay so they can evacuate the base. Because, apparently, there are no stairs, ramps, or ladders.
- Norse Mythology: A recurring motif, but it's the strongest in Zero 4.
- Omniscient Database: As said by the ghost Phantom, the Cyberspace holds all the data of the past. How this comes to be is never so much explained, though.
- One-Wheeled Wonder: Kerberos
- One-Winged Angel: Pretty much every single final boss, three out of the four members of the Guardians (Phantom has one in concept art, but is dead by the time the others use theirs in-story), all of the Eight Gentle Judges (though some of their transformations are only slightly bigger than their human forms), and, finally, a Pantheon. Boy, did Capcom go overboard with this one. The Guardians' transformations are referred to as Armed Phenomena; fanon has come up with similar terms for the other transformations.
- Open Ended Boss Battle: if the player loses a life out on a mission, they may be given the option to "give up", where the mission is a failure but the story continues without the mission's rewards.
- Opening Scroll: Every game except the first a'la Star Wars, yet again.
- Operation Blank: In Zero 2, there's Elpizo's "Operation Righteous Strike", which is essentially an invasion of Neo Arcadia. It fails horribly, with many Red Shirts dead, and Zero having to rescue Elpizo before he's killed by the Guardians.
- In the drama tracks. there's "Project Elpizo", an operation to create Omega, a Reploid that's a perfect ruler using the Mother Elf's program rewriting ability. TK-31 (Elpizo's former codename) accidentally found the data about this project, and because it's supposed to be a secret for Neo Arcadia, he's declared as Maverick by Harpuia. Eventually, he managed to run away from the country and changed his name into...you know...as well as starting his quest for power by stealing the Baby Elves.
- There's also Operation Ragnarok in Zero 4, which aims for the destruction of Area Zero using Ragnarok.
- Painting the Medium: In the intro stage of Zero 2, the Start menu is a burned-out shell of the design from the first game, representing the damage Zero has taken after a year constantly fighting for his life. Once he's taken to the new Resistance base and repaired, the design changes completely.
- Pan Up To The Sky Ending: Zero 4's ending and credits roll involves a nightsky with a swarm of pieces of Ragnarok.
- Perspective Flip: Simply put, the roles of hero and villain is flipped between the "Mavericks" (La Résistance) and the "Hunters" (Neo Arcadia), a complete reversal of the previous series.
- The Phoenix: Phoenix Magnion from Zero 2.
- Platforming Pocket Pal/Live Item/Equippable Ally: Cyber-elves that Zero use.
- Power Trio: Ciel (Superego), Zero (Ego), and Elpizo (Id) in Z2.
- Pre-Explosion Glow: All of the animal bosses glows before exploding after you defeat them. The humanoid bosses usually don't do that (except Phantom, Copy X (in the third game), Omega and Weil).
- Previously On: Each game after Z2 features a prologue of sorts that narrates what happened in previous games (see Opening Scroll). The narrator in Z4 is actually a character introduced later in the same game: Neige.
- Puffer Fish: One Mechaniloid in the fourth game is modeled after this. They exploded into spikes if left long enough.
- Pyrrhic Victory: It's easy to say that all installments (even the Grand Finale) leave some sort of crushing blow to the heroes.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Four Guardians, minus the "quirky" part.
- Fefnir and Leviathan are kinda quirky....
- Weil's Numbers, the main bosses of Zero 3, could probably count as well.
- Rank Inflation: You can get up to an S grade on each level. In theory, anyways. And don't forget that achieving a perfect S100 in levels is necessary for some unlockables.
- Recurring Boss: The Four Guardians for the first three games.
- Red Shirt: Subverted; after the fiasco that was Operation Righteous Strike, Zero makes a vow that no more of his teammates will ever be killed senselessly while he's around.
- Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: If a conversation doesn't feature this it is safe enough to assume that Zero does not speak.
- La Résistance: The Resistance group, which partially consists of civilian Reploids. The group was founded and lead by Ciel.
- Rewriting Reality: The Remastered Tracks says Cyber Elf's powers work like this, by rewriting the programming code of reality via Cyberspace. Too bad they die after that...new models and really powerful ones such as X and the Mother Elf are exempt from this, though.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: All Reploids. Up to the fact that Reploids are now capable of aging and even falling in love, with humans. Best not to think about it too much. Here's a notable exchange:
Neige: I was amazed at how Craft fought to protect the humans. Hehe, it's kinda strange, a human falling for a Reploid.
Craft: Then I fell in love too.
- Same goes for one Reploid, Andrew who actually married a human. He even went so far as to modify his age-appearance to match hers and stayed that way even after she died as a way to remember her.
- Riding the Bomb: The latter half of a mission, including the level's Boss Battle, in Zero 3 takes place inside a missile as it was launched towards an unsuspecting target.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Zero is found by the Resistance to Neo Arcadia, an empire that Zero's friend X (hero of the previous series) created with the best of intentions, only for it to go bad after he left. The Resistance is full of spunky, heroic types with French names, and they're always in the right — with one major subversion. Elpizo, the leader in Zero 2, is zealous and aggressive; when his new methods fail, he goes nuts and becomes the game's Big Bad.
- Robo Family: While the four never say it outright, some of the fandom call the Four Guardians "siblings", due to their similar origins and purpose. X can also be considered their "father" (and, by extension, Copy-X is their "stepfather". The four are loyal to both.)
- Scenery Porn: Area Zero in Zero 4.
- Score Screen: Used after you finish the missions.
- Segmented Serpent: A variant in the second game: Hyleg Ourobockle's boss room has this as the battlefield itself, with Bottomless Pits below it. Said serpent can detach and its segments can form various shapes.
- Sequence Breaking: In Zero 1, Leviathan will talk about your fights with Harpuia and Fefnir, whether or not you've even met them.
- Series Continuity Error: In Zero 1, Zero must go to the Underground Labortory where he needs to gain information, defeat the boss of the area, and escape before the level crumbles him in. In Zero 3, somehow, it's completely fine before Omega Zero explodes that promptly destroys the area.
- Series Fauxnale / Trilogy Creep: Zero 3 was meant to be the final game.
- Shared Life Meter: The Dual Boss fights with Kuwagust and Herculious in 2 and Crea and Prea in 3 utilize this, with the former performing one final suicide attack once the life meter is emptied.
- Shifting Sand Land: The desert level in the first game and the second game.
- The reploid known as Andrew had his age-appearance altered to match a human he married just to be with her, apparently borrowed from "Andrew Martin" in the movie Bicentennial Man.
- Ciel's line after the first Boss battle in the first game:
- Makes for nice Book Ends with her line before the last level in the last game:
- The Z-Saber igniting in the drama tracks makes the exact same sound as another Laser Blade. It makes the same sound in Mega Man X, at least in Japan.
- Omega's second form has different-coloured arms and white middle body. You know, there's some other guy named Omega who has the same appearance...note
- Heat Genblem, a turtle-based Reploid from Zero 4, uses a spinning attack that resembles Gamera's method of flight.
- When Zero finally reaches the Ragnarok Core, Dr. Weil says "Welcome to your front row seat to the end of the world."
- Dr. Weil's trying to crash Ragnarok into Area Zero heavily resembles Sonic Adventure 2's last story where the Space Colony Ark, after being given the seven chaos emeralds, ends up falling towards Earth's atmosphere due to a program that Gerald Robotnik made during his grief-enduced insanity and prior to his execution. Furthermore, one of the heroes ends up sacrificing himself in an attempt to stop the colony from falling into the Earth, complete with defeating the enemy fused to the falling colony. Coincidentally, both instigators of the event (directly or indirectly) share the same voice actor in Japan.
- Another Street Fighter reference: the boss Maha Ganeshariff, who has what's obviously the Hundred Hand Slap of E. Honda.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Expect a stage with an ice boss to be a variant of this.
- Slow Doors: In the first game, one mission requires you to sneak into a factory. If you're detected, the Slow Door starts closing. If you're not through it before it closes, Game Over.
- Solemn Ending Theme: Zero 4's Freesia.
- Spell My Name with an "S"
- A carry-over from the X series: the Japanese term is Repliroid; the English term is Reploid.
- Zero 3 reveals that the animal-like Reploid bosses are known as Mythos Reploids, referring to the fact that they're all based on various mythological figures. The English translation slipped up and translated it "Mutos" (the katakana is myutosu, for those curious. Japanese transliteration of Greek can be sort of weird).
- Stealth Pun: When you defeat an enemy with a bladed weapon, they split in half before exploding. In other words, they got Divided By Zero! Wakka wakka!
- Also, the Ragnarok's core is named after Laevatein, a legendary sword (in the manual, anyway). Said core is sword-shaped.
- The Stinger: At the end of Zero 2, Dr. Weil commands his creation Omega to act.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Most bosses always take the opportunity to chat up the hero just before exploding. Even if they've just been visibly bisected down the middle.
- Technicolor Death: Defeated bosses are usually engulfed in a spherical blast that emits beams of light after being defeated. The explosion may be justified due to them being robots; since Zero's trademark weapon is a sword, it may have compromised their power systems. The radiating beams of light part? Not so much. Also, the attack that depletes their health meter causes much more damage than any other attack (blowing a chunk out of them if it's a charged beam shot, Diagonal Cut if it's with the sword), but that's another trope.
- Theme Naming: Bosses are named after various mythological creatures; Resistance members are named mostly after French names of birds. In the latter's case, the handle of the one who named them is French for "sky".
- Timed Mission: Some missions have a time limit. The most notable one is the Final Final Boss of the series, which gives the player only 2 minutes to finish him off or it will definitely be The End OF The World As We Know It, again....
- Time-Limit Boss: The very first Mutos Reploid that you fought in the first game, Aztec Falcon, had a time limit, specifically on the platform that will crush the hostages below. Another instance include the Final Final Boss, above.
- Title Scream: In the first game.
- Traintop Battle: Panter Flauclaws' stage.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: If you're going for A or S rank, then expect to reload from your save file over and over while you memorize the layout of each level and the attack patterns of the boss therein. And god help you if the level doesn't end at the boss.
- Tron Lines: Some stages have these in the background.
- Turns Red: The enemies' attack patterns are modified once they're down to 1/2 or 1/4th of their hitpoints. Special mention goes to the guardians, who not only change patterns, but gain an attack that makes them invincible until they complete it. Moreover, they are covered in aura which makes it impossible to jump them without climbing a wall, which none of their areas have.
- Two-Part Trilogy: At least before Zero 4 showed up. 2 and 3 are more directly linked, both dealing with the Dark Elf and the Elf Wars it played a part in.
- Underwater Boss Battle: Once an installment. Zero 3 has a subversion in Childre Inarabbita's level, where fulfilling the mission's objectives will decrease the Boss Room's water volume to knee-high depths. Played straight when you fight him again during the Boss Rush though, since there are no switches to lower the water.
- Untrusting Community: The citizens of Area Zero in 4 don't think very highly of Zero and the Resistence at first.
- Ungrateful Bastards: During the Battle for Area Zero, most of them didn't take too kindly to being rescued by Zero...
- Unusual Ears: All of the Reploids in Mega Man Zero & cyborgs in Mega Man ZX seem to have these strange white headphone-like things instead of human ears, which is strange, considering that the first Mega Man had proper ears, despite being much less advanced.
- The above is very much the norm in this continuity - even for the humans. The only characters in the entire Zero series who are shown to have normal, human ears are Neige (a human) and Dr. Weil ( formerly human), making ''them'' the unusual ones.
- Updated Compilation Re-release: The Mega Man Zero Collection for the Nintendo DS, which adds an "Easy Scenario" Mode for beginners, fixed some of the translation errors, brought over the Japanese-only e-Reader Mod Cards from Rockman Zero 3 in the overseas release, the ability to use the DS's X and Y buttons, and a gallery with unlockable images.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The final location in each game has some sort of climactic impact to the storyline. In order: Area X, the Big Bad's headquarters and palace of sorts; Yggdrasil, a tower where the Dark Elf is sealed; Dr. Weil's secret laboratory, which, coincidentally, was near where Zero was sealed at the beginning of the series; and finally, the Kill Sat-turned-Colony Drop Ragnarok.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The use of Cyber Elves. However...
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Using them also decreases Zero's game ranking.
- Zero 3 actually distinguishes with certain fusion elves. Sub-tank elves? Won't hurt your rank if used outside of a mission. Life extension? Same. Double life? Same. Instant A-rank for one mission? You just lose one point, meaning you can still get from a B-average to an A-rank in the same mission you use it. It also offers the use of Satellite Elves, which don't die when used.
- There's a bizarre variation in the second game: The Crystal Cave area is full of turquoise Red Shirt Reploid allies under enemy control; you're supposed to spare them before saving them, but if you kill them instead, you get a 1-Up! However, killing them will reduce your mission points (which is important to your rank), and they won't become helpful NPCs at the Resistance Base like other Reploids you've saved.
- Violence Is the Only Option: Unfortunately for the series' resident Actual Pacifist, this happens in Z3.
- Visible Silence: Abused throughout the first game, with ellipses that span multiple dialogue boxes. Later games dial this back to the regular three dots.
- Voice Grunting: The whole series. One of the drama tracks from the Zero 4 soundtrack even uses voice grunts taken from the game to depict a battle.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Aztec Falcon, the first real boss in the first game, is known for shocking the players who have been used to the previous Mega Man games.
- Weaponized Offspring: In 4, Popla Cocapetri (a cockatrice-based Reploid) can lay an egg with 2 legs that will run about, harrassing you. The egg is hard to kill, too.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Zero stops short of killing the Guardians when you first fight them, with no explanation offered. Granted, you find out later that they're Hero Antagonists, but their subordinates, who are similarly just doing their job, are all fair game for bisection.
- The Guardians also apply this as What Measure is a Red Shirt. In the second game, Harpuia chooses to spare Zero when Zero is at his mercy, even though he spent the previous game retiring Resistance soldiers left and right. Later on, they also let Zero leave with Elpizo after slaughtering his entire army.
- What Measure Is A Nonhuman: The main conflict in the series involves the dwindling rights of the Reploids, relentlessly persecuted for trivial reasons. Later, the humans receive this treatment as well, ironically from the most inhuman of them all.
- White and Grey Morality: Deconstructed in the first two games. Barring the psychopaths (the bosses from Zero 3-4, Copy X, Elpizo, Omega, and Weil), no one in the war was truly a villain in the proper sense. This point is what makes the Guardians (especially encourager Fefnir and civil Harpuia) the most sympathetic antagonists in the franchise.
- Even the never-matured Copy X and Maverick-intentioned Elpizo had their Alas, Poor Villain moments, and they both ultimately only wanted what was best for the people they were fighting for — just never learned what true sacrifice and heroism meant. Arguably, the only real villain in these games was Weil, who was behind the horrible events of the games' backstory, plus being involved in some way in the plot of the first two games which was before he was even introduced.
- Surprisingly, Weil himself too. The Official Complete Works revealed that he started the whole Elf Wars because he thinks that Reploids, being just machines, were getting off too easy for the massive destruction caused in the Maverick Wars, especially once the plan to solve the Maverick problem was to basically install anti-virus software (the Cyber-Elves) and call things even. So he was more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist from the start; but, driven secretly to avenge only himself, he went through the Moral Event Horizon by creating the Elf Wars in the first place (and he went nuts even more during his exile). This shows how much this trope is deconstructed in this series.
- World Sundering: The aforementioned Elf Wars, the closest thing to The End of the World as We Know It that the series ever approached. Nearly happened again (in a different way) at the end of Zero 4.
- World Tree: Yggdrasil, the prison of the Dark Elf.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Many instances:
- Halfway through Zero 2, your missions are all the same: you who were helpful to Commander Elpizo must now intercept the runaway Elpizo. Guess what happens every time. Zero also failed to save X's body in time, as Elpizo destroys it, releasing the tightly-shackled Dark Elf in the process.
- In Zero 3, you have to stop a missile from harming a residential area. When you arrive, the missile is launched, and then you ride onto it, trying to destroy the inactive Omega inside. Unfortunately, the Baby Elves hold you in the middle, long enough for the missile to reach its destination and claim thousands of lives. Ergo, Zero is prevented from saving any innocent lives other than Sage Harpuia.
- Later, Zero tries to stop Copy X Mk. II, and then it's revealed that Weil is just using them as his Unwitting Pawns to become the ruler of Neo Arcadia.
- In Zero 4, it's said that the Einherjar Eight Warriors are just distractions for the Operation Ragnarok.
- Later, Craft pulls out a Heel-Face Turn (sort of) and tries to destroy Neo Arcadia and Weil using Ragnarok. You are sent to stop him, but right before the final boss door, the Ragnarok is successfully fired, claiming millions of lives. And then you fight him.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In Zero 4, let's see: Craft has just destroyed Neo Arcadia, the symbol of Reploid oppression in the series, with Ragnarok, taking Dr. Weil with it. Before Craft could fire for a second time, Zero puts a stop to him. It's over, right? Nope, since Dr. Weil survives, and cues the Colony Drop.
- Zeroth Law Rebellion: Played with copious amounts of irony via Zero's final decision in dealing with Weil. The irony here is two fold: while Zero was not designed to be Three-Laws Compliant yet he chooses to obey them of his free will, and in how Zero's actions are in perfect compliance with Law Zero. note