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Video Game / Mega Man Zero 4

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As the Grand Finale to the Mega Man Zero series, all spoilers for previous games preceding this one, including Mega Man Zero 3 may be unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

Mega Man Zero 4 is a video game created by Capcom and Inti Creates for the Game Boy Advance in 2005. It's the fourth and final installment in the Mega Man Zero series, making Zero the first Mega Man subseries to see a proper conclusion.

Though Zero destroyed Omega and thwarted Project Elpizo in the prior game, Dr. Weil still rules over Neo Arcadia with an iron fist and has begun persecuting both humans and Reploids. This forces Neo Arcadians to flee their homes to establish a new colony in the wilderness, settling in Area Zero (the crash site of the Eurasia colony from Mega Man X5). Zero learns of Operation Ragnarok, a military campaign by Weil to obliterate all inhabitable places like Area Zero so that humans cannot flee Neo Arcadia, and decides to thwart Weil's evil plans.

The game introduces the Zero Knuckle, a weapon that lets Zero steal parts from enemies and use them for himself as weapons or as crafting materials. There is also a new mechanic where Zero can alter weather conditions before entering one of the eight main levels, which modifies the level layout, enemy placement, and whether the boss can use their EX skill for Zero to copy.

Followed by Mega Man ZX.

This game provides examples of:

  • Astral Finale: The game ends up with Zero breaking in to the Kill Sat Ragnarok and trying to destroy it from within.
  • Background Boss: Carnage Force 0, Hell the Giant and Randam Bandam.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Weil continues to be the main antagonist and leader of Neo Arcadia after setting himself up the chain of command in the previous game.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, the bad guy is killed and the world is saved and peace is restored but...the ending cutscene starts off with Zero's survival in deep doubt. Ciel runs off to a hill to cry her heart out in peace. She then regains her composure and looks hopefully to the sky, telling Zero to come back soon...cue a shot of his broken helmet and strewn mechanical parts in a crater somewhere.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Zero does not get off the Ragnarok station. Ciel hopes that he will return, but the series merely ends with his damaged helmet in the sun, leaving his true fate unknown.
  • The Cameo:
    • Omega shows up in the Opening Narration, in an image taken from the Elf Wars.
    • Colbor returns as the leader of a rescue party scouring the ruins of Neo Arcadia for survivors. The same goes for all the prominent Resistance soldiers left behind at the base. Colbor appears again in the ending cutscene.
    • All eight of Weil's numbers from Mega Man Zero 3 make brief appearances as projections for one of Dr. Weil's attacks.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The Resistance arrives too late to rescue all Neo Arcadians from Ragnarok's laser fire, and could only scour the ruins for a scant few survivors.
  • Colony Drop: Area Zero is where the Eurasia colony from X5 hit, turned into a New Eden because of an environmental control system left active for a century or so. Late in the game, Ragnarok begins descending towards Area Zero thanks to Dr. Weil.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The entire plot revolves around Area Zero, the crash site of the Eurasia Colony way back in Mega Man X5.
    • Carnage Force 0 and Hell the Giant are reworked versions of the introductory level bosses from Mega Man X2 and X3. The in-game database even mentions that Carnage Force is built from ancient blueprints.
  • Cyberspace: The storyline requires Zero to enter one to disable the network security system of Ragnarok.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The hanging ledge ability from X5 and X6 returns here. Unlike those games, where movement like dashing is possible, Zero remains stationary (unless the "ledge" itself was moving) and must jump to move around.
  • A Day in the Limelight: This is the first game in the Zero series (and really, in any game of the original timeline) that actually gives humans the spotlight to see what their side of all the Robot Wars is. The result is, as expected, decidedly mixed: Humans are shown to be quite distrustful and even hateful of Reploids, blaming them for constantly starting wars that have ultimately ravaged the planet and made life for everyone difficult. It's the reason why they've refused to let Reploids into their settlement in Area Zero and distrust the Resistance despite the help they've offered. There is a bit of a point to that, but they are also woefully misinformed on many things, such as ignoring how the current Robot War was sparked because the Neo Arcadian regime prioritized human safety and comfort over that of Reploids to the point of being willing to genocide the latter on flimsy excuses, that their "hero" X was actually a delusional and woefully inept Knight Templar copy who started it all, and the fact that humans actually had it very well off in the current Crapsack World as a result until Dr. Weil (a human himself) decided to make life hell for everyone. Zero observes this and isn't very impressed with them as a result, several times calling them out on being such stuck-up, cowardly and ungrateful bastards. At the same time, the humans are capable of seeing past their prejudices and ultimately come to realize how wrong their viewpoint really is.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Although Ciel believes that he survived the final battle and will return, we see the helmet Zero is wearing in the very next shot.
  • Devil Complex: Right before you fight him, Dr. Weil declares "Ware ga akuma da!" ("I am the Devil"!).
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Junk Armor is all about this. It takes a bit of effort to forge (assuming you know the required parts), especially since the Junk Body part requires creating an S-Crystal (meaning if you're going for all the Sub-Tanks you'll need to make at least three of them), and it only shows off its full power when you don't have your Cyber Elf equipped. And once you do get it working, its lowered defense coupled with your small natural health bar means one hit can eat half your life (roughly 8 units). However, it also boosts Zero's attack power to the point you can shred even bosses in seconds, and 4 is the easiest game in the series with which to obtain four Sub Tanks (each of which can hold up to 32 units of spare health meaning you can recharge effectively sixteen times). Since the game encourages playing Zero fast to avoid taking hits and dealing damage anyways, the Junk Armor effectively becomes a nigh unstoppable ultimate boss and mini-boss killer when in the right hands capable of ending fights fast and preventing dragging out that might result in taking more damage the "normal" way.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While it's not fully happy since Zero, X, and the Four Guardians gave their lives in the process, by the end peace is finally restored between humans and robots alike, and the world seems to be in the brightest place it's been for centuries, before Wily started the entire succession of conflicts with his campaign of world domination. As the Mega Man ZX series shows, this is the first time such a happy ending actually sticks. Area Zero will save the planet, the Ciel System will solve all energy crises, and Zero's heroism will keep Maverick incidents at an all-time low until well past the point the planet has recovered to an even greater extent than where humans were at at the beginning of the Mega Man (Classic) series.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • Removing the wires underneath SubDesert Core with the Z-Knuckle will disable its laser attack.
    • Randam Bandam has an attack where it disappears into the walls and the panels open up one by one to fire at Zero. The Tractor Shot will absorb all these shots (protecting Zero in the process) and can be used against Randam for a decent amount of damage.
    • Using the Zero Knuckle to remove the vines in Noble Mandrago's stage is much faster than trying to slash or shoot them, and can save precious time when clearing the level.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The target of the drop is a New Eden area in a Crapsack World where all other forms of nature are mechanical reproductions.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Almost half of the eight bosses use a disappearing trick of some sort as part of their strategy, leaving very little opening for Zero to attack. This can be worked around with two of them (Mandrago and Kraken) who are vulnerable to the Z-Knuckle in this state.
  • Grand Finale: 4 marks the conclusion of the Mega Man Zero subseriesnote , seeing Zero put a stop to Weil and his tyranny over Neo Arcadia. He succeeds, but not without going down together with Ragnarok.
  • Green Aesop: The plot here is protecting the last traces of nature from a villain bent on making sure that his empire is the only habitable place left on Earth.
  • Helpful Mook:
    • A variant with the helicopter enemies. They provide aid via their propellers; when the main body is destroyed Zero can use the propeller to fly upward. One use for this is to reach the Sub Tank in Noble Mandrago's level.
    • A Unique Enemy in the Hibernation chamber holds a Card Key needed to obtain a Sub Tank in the same level.
  • Improvised Scattershot:
    • One of the bosses, Mino Magnus, has a move where he makes a cluster of metal junk using his magnetism ability. Then, as the cluster floats towards him, he smashes it with his axe, causing the chunk to split in two as they're launched away from him.
    • One of Dr. Weil's moves after he goes One-Winged Angel is to shoot a large, slow-moving Energy Ball. Said ball can be shot/slashed by Zero, but upon hitting it enough, it'll split into 3 smaller energy balls.
  • Irony:
    • The site of a major disaster a hundred years ago is now one of the newest safe havens in a desolate world.
    • The one who put an end to the entire war is the greatest creation of the very madman who started it in the first place. The revelation in Mega Man 11 that Wily initially wanted to make heroes of robots before he became consumed by hatred for Dr. Light adds even more layers of irony on top of it, as the robot he created to help fulfill his petty revenge ended up becoming the kind of hero he wanted to make in the end.
  • Item Crafting: Zero makes customization chips out of "recipes" of enemy parts.
  • Killed Off for Real: Implied when Zero fails to make his return to Earth, but Ciel is hopeful that he'll return. All that remained is Zero's broken helmet.
  • Kill Sat: What Ragnarok turns out to be, a giant space station with the purpose of razing any location below it with a powerful Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness
    • There are no elemental chips, a Zero series staple. Elemental attacks are now limited to the game's EX Skills and some weapons swiped by the Z-Knuckle.
    • The Rod weapons and the Shield Boomerang are done away with, replaced by the Z-Knuckle.
    • There is no incentive to maintaining high rankings aside from bragging rights,note  since the eight Bosses now use their EX Skills if the weather is favorable to them.
    • There's only one non-expendable Cyber-Elf that has Magikarp Power: it starts weak, but grows stronger and adapts abilities of all three types.
    • All eight Bosses are available in the mission selection right off the bat. Also, the final level's requisite Boss Rush is in a single hub room. Past Zero games divide both into two sections. ZX brings back the divided Boss Rush.
    • The music decidedly has a different feel from the previous three games, edging towards a more hard action rock soundtrack. Aside from the use of "Return to Zero" in the opening narration, none of the music of previous games return or are even referenced. Most notably, Dr. Weil has a completely new leitmotif, more bombastic than his more ominous one from last game, and which also replaces the previous boss intro theme. Ciel also has a new leitmotif, based on the game's theme song, "Freesia".
    • Zero has all new grunts that are more distinctly Yuuto Kazama's voice, replacing those used in the previous three.
    • Zero, Ciel and a select few members operate from a mobile unit instead of the Resistance Base. The rest of their forces do not appear, even in any of the missions, save for the rescue of survivors from the ruins of Neo Arcadia and the ending.
  • Leitmotif: The game has one which effectively acts as the game's "theme song", and appears throughout in tracks like "Holy Land ~ (Area Zero Camp)", "Esperanto ~ (Intro Stage 2)", as well as the ending themes. It takes many cues from the ending theme of Mega Man X5.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Earth gradually grows more visible in the backdrop during the final level.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Variants, which replace the Pantheons used by Neo Arcadia's armed forces from the first three games.
  • Never Found the Body: All that remains of Zero after defeating Dr. Weil and destroying Ragnarok is his shattered helmet, stranded somewhere in the desert. Ciel, however, remains hopeful that Zero is still alive.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Spy Larue, a series of mechanical dragons. There are three of its kind in this game, one for each element, serving as a Mini-Boss for an Einherjar of the same element.
  • Painful Pointy Pufferfish: There's a robotic pufferfish enemy that appears in water areas. They inflate and deflate when Zero is close to shoot out spikes in multiple directions.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The ending and credits roll involves a night sky with a swarm of pieces of Ragnarok.
  • Power Stereotype Flip: Despite being a lightning user, Mino Magnus is slow in thought, speech and movement.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Get this - there's a satellite array that's capable of changing the weather and climate of a given area simply by inputting data. It's used by the Resistance to alter levels Zero plans to visit, and is never mentioned after this game. Even if the implication is that the satellite can only work on Area Zero (which makes no sense, considering the original Eurasia colony was a spacefaring vessel that already had climate controls built specifically to allow for the existence of nature on said colony before it crashed and became Area Zero, and before the satellite was online), there's no mention of it two hundred years in the future, where such designs could logically be improved, especially considering the somewhat wonky terrain around both Slither Inc.'s head office (which is near an active volcano) and the headquarters for the ruling body of the world, Legion, which is in the middle of a wasteland. Climate controls would certainly help.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The game has been designed from the ground up with the third weapon, the Z-Knuckle, in mind. With it, you can:
    • Grab onto thin platforms, horizontal poles, and the propeller lifts from Gyro Cannons.
    • Rip pieces of an enemy out and use them as weapons or tools (such as a keycard from the Hibernation Chamber or the water pumps in the intermission level).
    • Tear through the wires powering the intro boss to reduce its power.
    • Instantly kill some level design elements such as removing the computer cores in the Living City, or the rapidly-growing vine tangles in the Underground Forest.
    • Yank Tech Kraken and Noble Mandrago out from their hiding spots, damaging them and stunning them for a brief moment.
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: A bit into the deliberate type. Area Zero's environmental control system (which is what enables the region around it to grow sustainable life) is also used by the Resistance to manipulate the eight main levels of the game into becoming harder or easier for Zero to conquer.
  • Stealthy Mook: In the Hibernation Chamber stage, if you set the weather into snowing, some of the Variant Claw mooks may try to hide beneath the snow pile and ambush you when you get close.
  • Take Your Time: Once Ragnarok is set on a collision course to Area Zero thanks to Dr. Weil who survived Neo Arcadia's destruction, naturally Zero has to hurry to prevent it. However you can spend as much time as you want visiting past levels for collectables and Ragnarok will not fall.
  • Trash the Set: Craft obliterates Neo Arcadia near the end.
  • Unique Enemy: There are enemies unique to each level, but the most notorious in the entire game is the Moloid, because the level it's present in, the Area Zero Intermission, cannot be revisited. Worse, Moloid Parts are material for a couple of chip recipes, so the player has to farm for them during this mission if they're going for 100% Completion.
  • Wrap Around: It's not obvious because of the size of the area, but the maze portion of Tech Kraken's level actually loops around itself. Walking to the "edge" of the map would only send you to the other side.
  • You Are Too Late: Zero was literally one room away from Ragnarok's control room before Craft fires on Neo Arcadia.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One:
    • The heroes realizing too late that the Einherjar Eight Warriors are just distractions for the real Operation Ragnarok.
    • Later, Craft pulls out a Hazy-Feel Turn and tries to destroy Neo Arcadia and Weil using Ragnarok. Zero is sent to stop him, but right before he can reach the control room, the Ragnarok is fired, claiming millions of lives. And then you fight him.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: 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: Used ironically in the finale in a masterful round of Shown Their Work. The act itself being a Genius Bonus to those who truly understand the laws of robots and their nuances.