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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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  • Author's Saving Throw: One of the biggest criticisms of parts of the series, particularly with Zero 3, is its strict adherence to sticking certain unlocks and the EX Skills behind an A rank or higher, which required mastery of the stage, no deaths and not using any Cyber-Elves, among other caveats. The Zero/ZX Legacy Collection adds Save Assist Mode, which creates extra checkpoints that work a lot like save states; if you die after triggering one, you're sent back to the last with full health but none of the damage afterwards counted against your rank. This effectively gives players infinite tries and eases the stress off of ranking scores significantly, though it does come with the issue that unskippable cutscenes will repeat each time as well.
  • Broken Base: Whether the original plan to have X himself be the villain of the first game rather than Copy X would have been a good idea or not. Some fans think it's a good thing it didn't happen and that it would have derailed his character, not to mention it would prevent the entire ZX series from being a thing. On the other hand, a lot of people feel that it was an instance of wasted potential and would have been much more interesting and emotionally resonant than what actually happened (especially considering that foreshadowing for it exists in the X games themselves, with one example even coming in a game released after Z1).
  • Catharsis Factor: You get to cut enemies and bosses in half. Why stop at just shooting them dead?
  • Complete Monster: Dr. Weil, known in Japan as Dr. Vile, is notable for being one of the most evil beings in the entire franchise. Following the peaceful resolution of the Maverick Wars by the sapient super-program, the Mother Elf, Weil decided that Reploids needed to pay for their crimes. To this end, Weil corrupted Mother Elf by turning her into the Dark Elf, and triggered the Elf Wars. Weil used the Dark Elf and her children, the Baby Elves, to control Reploids and force them to fight each other in massive battles, which resulted in the deaths of 90% of all Reploids and 60% of all humans. Defeated, exiled and transferred into a mechanical body for his crimes, Weil eventually returned a hundred years later, consumed with a thirst for vengeance directed at all life for the perceived crimes against him. Weaseling his way into becoming the supreme ruler of Neo Arcadia, Weil turns it into a dystopian hellhole. When he breaks his citizens to the point where they're desperate enough to risk escaping into the wastelands to form their own colony, Weil decides to obliterate their new home with a Kill Sat. When his Kill Sat is disabled, Weil attempts to drop it upon the colony, killing everyone in the region. Cruel, megalomaniacal and displaying an unprecedented level of sadism in the series, Weil reveled in the suffering of others and desired nothing less than to make human and Reploid alike feel like their existences were living deaths.
  • Continuity Lockout: The four games are so continuity-heavy that they only really make sense story-wise when played in order back-to-back. Both re-releases thankfully make this a lot easier.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Some fans are taken aback by how Nintendo Hard it is, but this series has generally considered to have the best story in the franchise. Luckily, the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection has the Casual Scenario mode which eliminates the difficulty altogether for those who just want to enjoy the story.
  • Evil Is Cool: Copy X's armor would spectacularly break any Mega Man X game, essentially being X5's Falcon Armor with extra firepower and Charge Man's weapon thrown in for fun.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The ending of the series. The fans don't seem to accept Zero's death, and as Dr. Weil cannot die, they "know" he's still out there. There's also the fact that there's around a century or two of Time Skip between this series and Mega Man ZX. The general agreement across different fan groups is that Zero perished in his Heroic Sacrifice but was successfully resurrected by Ciel in ZX as Model Z.
  • Goddamned Bats: The spiked wheel enemies. They are inordinately tough (two saber slashes when one will do in most anything else that moves), coming rolling from offscreen towards you (or occasionally from behind) with no warning, do a ridiculous amount of damage (more than virtually any other normal enemy), move just fast enough that it would take split-second reflexes to dodge them, spawn again if you move mere pixels backward from where they appeared, and are sometimes dropped in by lifter robots for added cheapness.
  • Good Bad Bugs: The Orbit Shield. Basically, there are two flavors. The first is where you throw the Shield Boomerang, then rush forward and start jumping over it so that you don't catch it and it goes in a circle indefinitely, and the other is the "automatic" version where you jump and throw it against something it'll bounce off of, allowing you to stand idle and let it do its thing (orbit around you, hence the name). While its utility is pretty limited, it makes for a fantastic method of leveling up the Shield Boomerang by making it so you don't have to charge it over and over, as you can do the automatic version in both Zero 1 and Zero 2. (In Z1 on the infinitely recovering tower enemies in the overworld version of the second stage, destroy one block of them first and bounce it off the top, and in Phoenix Magnion's stage in Z2, off the infinitely rising lava buckets.) The manual version can also be used to farm kills in Burble Hekelot's stage for the Defense Form without wasting precious time charging it over and over (on the pair of enemies that jump up from the bottom of the screen together and spawn infinitely, before entering the temple portion).
  • Growing the Beard: While the various Mega Man sub-series have all been celebrated, Zero is often recognized as the one with the most developed themes and narrative out of them all. The first Zero was a pretty standard Mega Man story, but starting with Zero 2 the games became much more mature and original than any of their brethren. The fact that Zero is the only series in the Classic timeline to have a proper conclusion is indicative of this.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The antagonists of the first three games in this series all have the Greek letter Omega as their symbol. Sure, most of them are Knight Templars, but they still mean well, fighting for the sake of humanity. But later we're introduced to an actual character named Omega, who is everything that the antagonists (except one) ever stood against.
    • In Mega Man X2, Zero, freshly Back from the Dead, very easily destroys a weak clone of himself that the Big Bad made. Cue the third game, where Omega is the original body of Zero, while The Hero is the clone.
    • During the Alouette's Good Day audio drama, Rouge and Joan starting going at each other over the names they've chosen for the two baby elves. It's mostly meant to be funny, but during the discussion Joan points out that Rouge's simulation for Operation Righteous Strike would fall apart under even minimal scrutiny. Joan is proven tragically correct halfway into 2 where the entire operation gets every participant besides Elpizo killed, and reduces Elpizo to something much worse.
    • In Mega Man 7, Mega Man gives serious thought to killing Dr. Wily (and, in the American version, actually tries to go through with it), but is unable to due to his programming before deciding to settle for simply capturing him again in later games. Likewise, Dr. Light's fear of X breaking the First Law of Robotics was why X was sealed before Mega Man X. While Mega Man X4 reveals that Sigma's ego played a part in the events leading to his corruption and resulting wars, this series shows that Dr. Light was misguided: the first rule is important, but people like Dr. Weil or Dr. Wily just don't deserve that kind of protection—the robot hero killing the human villain is what finally ended the fighting here, and would've ended it 200 years sooner, but without the massive death and destruction from the Maverick Wars.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • Since even official materials go back and forth on whether or not Zero died on Ragnarok and he has a history of doing this, a common fan theory is that he survived somehow. Made even more confusing in Mega Man ZX since Zero does reappear, but as a Biometal. Because of this, it doesn't give either argument anything to work with.
    • Likewise, the fate of X and the Four Guardians as of the end of Zero 3. The former indicates he's just about out of time thanks to the destruction of his body in the previous game, complete with a final Take Up My Sword speech; Phantom is hanging out in Cyberspace after his Taking You with Me moment in Z1, having learned the truth about Zero and daring him to confront his destiny; and Word of God originally stated (via the Complete Works book) that the other three Guardians died shielding Zero from Omega's explosion...only for Inti Creates president Takuya Aida to later revise that answer: their names were removed from Neo Arcadia's register in the aftermath of the game's events, meaning the public believes them to be deceased, but it's possible they're now fighting for humans somewhere outside of Neo Arcadia's surveillance. note  Furthermore, "Vile's Incident" contains an image of X and the Four Guardians seemingly observing the fall of Ragnarok during Z4's endgame. While confirmed to be little more than an Easter Egg on the part of series illustrator Toru Nakayama and thus difficult to fit into the timeline, this led to the widespread Fanon assumption that the Guardians became Cyber-elves just like X and live on in Cyberspace along with him.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Despite the series' name, Zero is still just "Zero", yet "Mega Man Zero" has become a widely used term. This was made fun of in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and officially used in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to differentiate this version from the X series design. (Meanwhile, Mega Man X DiVE refers to the Zero series version as "Zero (Z)", likely to avoid further spreading any misconceptions.)
  • It Was His Sled: Dr. Weil and Copy X's very existences are common knowledge by now. Also, Zero's body being a copy of the original Zero along with Omega's true nature and Zero's Dying Moment of Awesome in the Grand Finale.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: Regarded as this by some, to the point that the DS Compilation Rerelease includes an "Easy Scenario" with includes lots of 1-ups and all of the cyber-elves. You can still die even in this mode, given how Nintendo Hard it is.
  • Love to Hate: Ask any of Weil's fans and they'll say how horrifically despicable he is (and how he never suffers Villain Decay unlike previous Big Bads) is what makes him such an effective villain. Omega gets this as well, because of his sheer coolness.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hidden Phantom is the leader of the Zan'ei Army and the most professional of the Four Guardians of Neo Arcadia. Before encountering Zero in front of an old factory, Phantom scatters bombs throughout the building in an attempt to further hinder the heroes. As a ninja, Phantom makes use of several different tricks and tools during the fights against him, showcasing his skills. His desire to help others while destroying Mavericks is strong enough for him to make a final attempt to kill Zero before he dies. After being encountered in Cyberspace over a year later, he decides to test Zero's resolve after having learned that Zero's body is a weaker version of Omega's. Upon defeat, Phantom reacts with dignity, urging Zero to show the world what he's truly capable of.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "WARE WA MESSIAH NARI!! HAHAHAHA!!" Translation  Explanation (Spoilers!) 
    • "Megan Man Zero." Once pre-orders for the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection went live, a few fans noticed that physical stores offering pre-orders (with placeholder cases on the shelves) all had the same hilarious typo on the box. People took the name and ran with it.
  • Moe:
    • Ciel, with her looks of a child and her big eyes.
    • Alouette, who is ridiculously adorable, and with the chassis of a young child, even more helpless than Ciel.
  • Polished Port: The Zero series has the fortune of receiving two great Collections.
    • The Zero Collection includes an Easy Scenario for players who want to dip their toes into the series' infamous difficulty, improves the music quality to be on par with the DS hardware, allows customization of the controls, and features artworks of characters in the lower screen at appropriate moments (for example: Harpuia's artwork appears when you fight him). The Japan-exclusive E-Reader function is also included as unlockables.
    • The Zero/ZX Legacy Collection has almost all the same features as the aforementioned Zero Collection. The lower screen artwork has been reworked into a dedicated Gallery menu. A new Save Assist system is introduced, removing the tedium of losing lives. The Legacy Collection also features original music and remixes of the most iconic tracks of the series (with the PC version gaining a small modding scene), as well as a speedrun mini-game in the form of Z-Chaser. Finally, you can switch between the Japanese and Western versions of the games as you like.
  • Robo Ship:
    • Ciel with Zero. Thanks to the large amounts of Ship Tease between them, many fans warmed up to the pairing better than the original (and doomed) Zero/Iris.
    • Neige with Craft and Andrew with his wife, some of the most blatant examples in the entire series franchise. And unlike the above, both cases are definitively canon, with the former driving a lot of the fourth game's plot.
    • Some fans ship Zero with Fairy Leviathan. Leviathan's overall rather playful and (later on) obsessive attitude makes it very easy to interpret it as her having a crush on Zero. Dating Catwoman probably helps in this case.
    • As with the last series, people ship Zero with X a lot.
  • Ron the Death Eater: A rare example by the creator himself. Originally, X himself was to become a tyrannical Knight Templar dictator rather than just a clone of him, but Executive Meddling prevented this at the last second, as Capcom thought it was too dark. Although Keiji Inafune likely had a reason for X becoming bad, we can at least see the potential of it from the backstory for this game.
  • Saved by the Fans: X. Not from death per se, but from being an Ax-Crazy dictator. Similar to what happened to Axel, this resulted in his inaction with regards to the Guardians' attempts to kill Zero. The sequels give him other things to worry about and the issue really doesn't come up again. Ultimately zig-zagged in that X does officially retire to Cyberspace at the end of the third game due to his physical form being destroyed by Elpizo in Z2 and his cyber-elf form steadily running out of energy, which effectively serves the same purpose as if X had suffered a Plotline Death, but he's given a few moments to shine in his last on-screen appearance and goes out on his own terms.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Some fans aren't too fond of Zero's new human-like design, or at the very least feel that Omega's final form should have resembled Zero's X appearance instead of simply being a Palette Swap of his redesign.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
  • Tough Act to Follow: Not the games, but the music. The Classic and X series became so remembered by their awesome music that the music of the first game was perceived as forgettable because it could not measure up to those of the other series. The sequels sought to have better music and are generally agreed to have succeeded in that endeavor, especially by the time of Z3 and Z4.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The Zero series is by far the darkest of the series, and yet it's often held up as some of the finest the franchise has ever offered in terms of writing and characters, with little of the Narm that made some of the attempts in the X series fall flat.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Harpuia's voice is provided by Megumi Ogata, a woman. Plus his name is derived from the legend of the Harpy, half bird, half-women. It does not help that he's wearing the exact same clothes as Leviathan (the lone female Guardian) with a Palette Swap (what appears to be a midriff-baring shirt and panties).
    • Cubit Foxtar is based on a Kitsune, which can change genders, hence his androgynous appearance. Curiously, he is portrayed as a female in the original Japanese games.
    • Anubis Necromancess (boss in Zero 1 and 3) is confirmed to be male. His name in Japan is Anubistep Necromances, with one "s".
    • Polar Kamrous, despite the matching build and deep voice, is female. Weirdly enough, the Complete Works book refers to Kamrous as male.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The entire series qualifies, for the reasons listed on the Nightmare Fuel page for the entire franchise. There's also the fact that the Neo Arcadian government basically performs systemic genocide on Reploids to "solve" an energy crisis. And the game was rated E in its original release (it was bumped up to T with the release of Zero/ZX Legacy Collection, most likely due to inclusion of the Japanese versions, which had bisected enemies bleed out red oil).
  • The Woobie:
    • Ciel. On two separate occasions, she thought that she was doing the right thing, but it only ended up giving rise to worse problems. The first one would be for creating Copy X, who went insane and started a genocide against the Reploids. The Resistance is partly her effort to make amends for what she's done. The second time was successfully researching an energy source that she believes would put an end to the war, only for it to be a catalyst to a new conflict. Mind you, this is a person who longs for peace as much as X, and she is very young at the series' start, and also human. And then there's the fact that, at series' end, she is waiting faithfully for Zero to come back, when it was completely impossible.
    • Alouette is implied to have gone through a Break the Cutie livelihood, and might have suffered even worse, if Ciel hadn't found her.
    • X. The only cure for the virus that they had worked tirelessly in looking for for well over a century is weaponized into a living Maverick-maker. His best friend's body is stolen and converted into a mindless weapon that wipes out most of the planet's already perilous population, with Zero going into an intended eternal stasis, leaving X with basically no shoulder to lean on for moral support. He's forced to manage the virtual entirety of the world's remaining population and all Maverick activity by himself and effectively kill his body in order to seal the aforementioned corrupted cure which not only leaves him off, but leads to his soul then being split into fifths. X is forced to watch as the copy made to take his place ruins the haven that he had so desperately fought to create and preserve and his "offspring" are then tricked into being assassins and strongarms for the sociopathic copy. Finally, X is murdered in his comatose state by a villain who just wanted the Dark Elf in a screwed-up and misguided attempt to save all Reploids from further retirement and destruction. X did not even get a chance to fight back against his assassin. He finally spends the rest of the following game slowly, slowly dying and using every precious ounce of power for the sake of others.
    • Almost all the tragedies in the X series are inflicted on Zero, and even more are piled on here. Like the fact that he wakes up seeing the current state of the world, and freshly awoken, he has to continue fighting, again, and he was able to finally return the world to a peaceful state, which was what he and X have been fighting for a long time, only for him not to see it come to fruition, seeing as he's dead...
    • After looking at Harpuia's motives, personality and the situation he's in, it's pretty easy to feel sorry for him. First introduced as a loyal right-hand man within the Neo Arcadian power structure, he quickly establishes himself as a Noble Top Enforcer and the closest to the original X in temperament and ideals. Come Z2, he's now in command of a moderately more benign Neo Arcadia, willing to spare enemies like Zero and Elpizo, and expressing doubts about the administration he's dutifully served since birth...just in time for Dr. Weil to swoop in during the third game, reinstate an even more flawed incarnation of Copy X as a Puppet King, and pretty much wipe the slate clean—including destroying an entire city full of innocent lives—when all Harpuia truly desires is peaceful coexistence between human- and Reploidkind. At this point, Harpuia defects in the name of protecting civilians and ultimately dies so that Zero can live on to finish the job. All in all, a Tragic Hero who spends most of his screen time fighting for the wrong side.
  • Woobie Species: Reploids, who are subjugated and oppressed by Copy X's forces. By the start of the first game, countless Reploids have been unjustly branded as Mavericks and killed to preserve power for humans.
  • Woolseyism: Some of the boss names are changed overseas. In particular, Dr. Weil's name was originally Dr. Vile. There's already another guy who's named Vile (who is originally called VAVA), so the name change was to avoid confusion. If pronounced in German, it can still be read as "vile". There's also the fact that it's quite meaningful in its own right (being the Big Bad, Dr. Weil is the Dr. Wily of the Zero series).

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