Bogleech.com Reviews Mega Man X Mavericks - PART IV!
By Jonathan Wojcik
Last time, we looked at the last few true "Mega Man X" games, including a spin-off with entirely different mechanics. By that point, however, another spin-off series was already gaining in popularity, now starring X's quasi-friendly rival, Zero, known for his luxurious blonde hair and energy sword...
Mega Man Zero
Right away, you can see that this series has a slightly different design aesthetic than the X games, with more detailed robots and less "cartoonish" faces. I'm not personally a fan of that shift, but the designs in these are still pretty fun. The games also don't limit themselves to animal-based bosses alone, but more often mythological animal-based bosses, like Anubis here!
"Sacred Sweeping King of Hades"
Anubis's gimmick is a mechanical heart full of nanobots that can rebuild him every time he's destroyed. By the time he's encountered in this game, he's already Anubis Necromancess III, returns by the final stage as Anubis Necromancess IV, and again in the third game as Anubis Necromancess V. I like saying Anubis Necromancess.
Okay, this one isn't any specific mythical being, but just has a vague "Aztec" stylization to his head. His wings are pretty novel, not only conducting electricity but opening up like gigantic pincers to emit magnetic waves, dragging enemy robots into his grip!
"Lightning at Ultrahigh Frequency"
Nice to see a deer character as such a hulking, intimidating brute. We spend way too much time treating deer like dainty, fragile four-legged forest elves when they're actually pretty capable of smashing every bone in your body if they really want to.
"Absolute Zero Deer King"
I like this name, too. Blizzack Stagroff means almost nothing, technically, but has just enough "blizza" and "stag" in it that you still know what you're in for. I like those actual deer-like legs vs. the huge vent-like arms, and the icicles for antlers are an obvious touch, but nice looking.
One thing really cool in the Zero boss designs is the repeated use of those blocky, interlocking jaws!
Another mythology-based one and the fire=themed boss of this game. I like Hanumachine's bright red hand-like feet, pointed gremlin ears and genuinely cute little face, which even has those cool jaws I was just talking about! This is about as cool as a robot monkey design can actually get, which is not a combination of things I'd usually be all that into.
"Super Monkey of Knowledge"
Our first insect of the Zero series is...alright. Slick and menacing with cool "hologram pincers," but surprisingly not as cool looking to me as the three mammals we just went over. I guess it's because they had more monstrous faces and more readable personality than this stoic Eva-like insectoid. It may also simple be that, because I love them more, I can be pickier about how insects are portrayed.
"The Lightning Beetle"
Still, pretty good.
The awkward thing about a Japanese game basing a video game boss around Ganesha is that this is a god one of the world's largest religious demographics still believe in and worship, so it's really not all that different from basing one of these on Jesus. Of course, that's something Japan has already done countless times with anime villains. Where IS our Jesus-based Mega Man robot?!
"Big, Hard Ball Genie"
Connection to the wise Elephant-headed god goes beyond this robot's design and into the fact that he's a master of data processing and basically one big harddrive capable of storing tremendous amounts of information. Even in our own world, however, we're not really far away from quantum computers capable of storing trillions of terabytes on something the size of an ant, so there's genuinely no reason this poor guy should ever be necessary.
Really pretty color scheme, though.
This is actually just about the end of this game's traditional-style zoological bosses, so, once again where I'm going to just leave it off. I'm here to review weirdo robot furries, not regular robot robots.
Mega Man Zero II
Kuwagust is considered the "brother" of Herculios from the previous game, and Herculios even returns as a boss in this one. It's the inverse of the red-plated Boomer Kuwanger and blue-plated Gravity Beetle from the X-series! Many of my thoughts on Herculios's design still stand, but I think Kuwagust came out looking much more like an insect at a glance, and cooler overall. He has a less humanoid, more hunched-over stance, buggier limbs and more emphasis on his horns that all really sticks out well.
"The Wind God of Pincer Attacks"
This guy's name is so funny to me. It's like a little kid couldn't say it right, but it just stuck. He's actually named after Flauros, a demon from the Ars Goetia who took the form of a humanoid leopard, not a panther, but was said to be so terrible that mortals called upon him to exact vengeance on other demons. That's so bad-ass it hurts, and Panter's design is more than worthy of it. That has to be one of the coolest takes on a robotic cat head I've quite possibly ever seen, and those are some truly vicious looking electrical claws.
"Black Panther of Lightning"
The second time we've seen a phoenix or firebird here, and while lacking in the goofy personality of Blaze Heatnix, this really is an extremely cool looking robot. It's not too obviously bird-like, a little more "alien" than that, with real unique looking wings that obviously function more as hovering mechanisms than actually flapping, which would be horribly inefficient for a robot and made past avian bosses a little harder to believe. It's also interesting that this game's heat-based boss is also illusion themed, producing false images of himself and even other characters!
"Fire God of Illusion"
As obvious a concept as this may be, Polar Kamrous is pretty awesome. The gruff, gigantic "alpha bear" is the first female boss in all of these reviews, and I'm just so glad that didn't end up being something as typical as a cat or a flower.
"The Alpha Bear of the Ice Blade"
This time, it's the claws that are composed of ice, and I always thought the ice appendages on these bosses were a little impractical, but now that I think a little harder about it, a robot that can freeze water as it pleases may as well use it for defensive claws, horns and spines, making them extremely easy to replace whenever they break...although, we are talking about robots who primarily fight other robots, made of metal and stuff.
Kamrous is also interesting for her seemingly soft, flexible head. Why don't more of these robots have parts covered over in artificial "skin?"
Our first snake boss in this universe is as killer looking as I think it could have ever possibly been; I love when a snake monster is a complete humanoid with flexible, sinuous arms and legs, I love the toxic look of the gold, purple and teal together and I love how the whole torso is the hood of the cobra.
"The Shinobi Serpent of the Hidden Forest"
You'll also notice, of course, that an entirely different robot snake is included with Hyleg's official art. That's "Altroid," a giant robot Hyleg rides around on and controls. One of his main attacks, which is called Super Looper by the way, is when Altroid takes on a shape like a giant staircase and Hyleg releases deadly slinkies down the steps. My understanding of what "shinobi" entailed was apparently way off.
Can you believe it took so long to have a frog-based boss!? We haven't had an Anuran boss since Toad Man of the original series! Everything about Burble is pure fun, too, from his little round body and noodly arms to his darling, darling name...and of course his in-game dialog is punctuated by "kero."
"Guardian in the Tree's Shadow"
Hekelot was inspired by the frog-headed Egyptian goddess, Heqet, even though Burble is a male robot. If we had to have only one female robot, I'm glad it was the rad polar bear, but couldn't we have just had two? Or literally any more than one?
At least Burble takes after one of the most interesting frogs in the world, the Pipa pipa; a row of panels down his back can pop open to unleash what are referred to as "Baby Missiles!"
Mega Man Zero III
Not much to say about Foxtar here as a design, though. Certainly a spooky looking face for a robot Kitsune, no doubt, and the fact that it's a "poisonous" robot Kitsune is something.
You can CLICK each of these bosses to see artwork of the animal form by itself, but unfortunately, that's only available in much lower quality.
Childre is of course the speedy trickster as well as the ice-based boss of this bunch. He even appears repeatedly throughout his stage before you'll fight him head on, piloting a small submarine
His bat form is pretty nice looking, too. I like how tall and dorky the ears are, the creepy red interior of the wings and the heavy use of purple, a color that bats never have in real life but repeatedly have in fiction because it just feels like they ought to be purple, yeah?
Volteel apparently processes so much energy that it constantly damages his brain, and he needs regular maintenance to avoid going bonkers. I feel like maybe this was not a robot that ever should have had judicial authority to begin with but far be it from me to question the same society that thought making robot dinosaurs and thunderbirds would make everyday life safer.
I really love the design of Biblio's eel form; it has a really cool looking face with that "breath mask" kind of mouth I always love, and the humanoid body with stubby flipper limbs is just adorable.
Cactank was a kindly old judge before he was brainwashed for evil, and I really enjoy how his head is just a long, thin stalk with those bulbs on top. I guess that represents a flower sprouting out of the cactus! His color scheme is also really lovely, I like the green and teal together quite a bit.
As terrifying as he is, Deathtanz was the most noble and merciful of the judges before his corruption. He hated taking a life that could be saved in any way, and was proud of how worn and dull his blades became from such infrequent use. This is one of the coolest designs and coolest characters in this whole continuity...but adorably enough, he says "chikachika" when he's annoyed, a Japanese onomatopoeia that can refer to your eyes fluttering when you look at a screen for too long.
Mega Man Zero IV
I was actually really getting into those judge characters with their humanoid alternates as a theme, but it's also kind of nice to go right back to the basics, as the fourth and final "Zero" title brings us another simple, straightforward eight-boss set of robocritters.
"Sky-Running Divine Lance"
This electrical pegasus man is apparently an overbearing narcissist hung up on his good looks, and considers absolutely everyone and everything else to be ugly. That's kind of exactly the attitude you expect from a pegasus man, isn't it? Robotic or otherwise.
No special title?! Aww. This one is supposed to represent a cockatrice, hence the spiny, reptilian tail, and the eerie lights in its wings that resemble additional, menacing eyes! Like certain versions of the cockatrice, Popla can "petrify" enemy robots through the "gaze" of those lenses, and there's a whole canon explanation as to how it works: all robots apparently have a built-in emergency shutdown sequence, and Popla is able to hack this by transmitting data via laser inscription through the optical sensors of his opponents. That's just technobabbley enough to sound pretty legit!
If I have only one critique of Popla, it's that his head looks way more like a robin or even a woodpecker than like a chicken or rooster.
Not our first wolf-themed boss, and not quite as cool looking to me as past canines, but certainly very slick! I also really like the broad, flat, segmented tail representative of an actual wolf's fluffier one.
"Freezing War Wolf"
Fenri, as you can tell, is the ice boss here. He's also the one that can clone itself, but entirely from ice, which is pretty weird. He really just makes complete, functioning robots out of frozen water, just like that? The "solid light" clones of other bosses actually manage to be more plausible.
A big green robot turtle is an interesting choice for fire boss, though that's just because he's based on the turtle constellation Genbu, and is interestingly enough just an intelligent, mobile power reactor for a devastating solar particle beam. I'm not sure why a solar powered weapon needs its energy supply to run through a turtle man first, but whatever, I guess it's a security measure. A gun that only fires when you have a robot turtle man plugged into it can't be easy to misuse for villainy, even if that's exactly what happens in Zero 4's story.
"Phase-altering Sage of Death"
This robot minotaur has exactly the personality you might have guessed; a big, slow, bruteish cow man who speaks veeerrrry slooowly. That already makes me feel bad for him, even though he has a giant axe and magnetic powers, so he's probably doing fine.
"Horn Fighting King of Dual Extremes"
As much as I liked the cartoonier faces and feel of X bosses, Tech Kraken really shows off how cool Zero's style can be, looking much less human and much deadlier at just a glance than our previous decapod, Volt Kraken or Squid Adler. His title is another of the coolest I think we've ever heard, and his job was apparently to detect and eliminate traitors within an elite assassination force known as the Cutting Shadow Squadron, which also included Burble Hekelot, Hyleg Ourobockle, Phoenix Magnion and Hanumachine.
"Haunting Wail of the Deep"
Tech's long limbs, segmentation and various spines are all just really slick and sinister looking, though nothing - not in this or perhaps any design we've seen - can really top his giant, bulging crotch piece with fangs.
So I lamented earlier about "obvious" choices for female animals, but I think I'll have to rescind that, because a Lepidopteran princess may feel kind of cliche, but Sol Titanion - named after the the fairy queen Titania from Shakespeare - is a fantastic design with a very great deal of thought put into it.
"The Butterfly Princess of Passionate Love"
Despite being referred to as a "butterfly," Titanion is clearly a moth, specifically an atlas moth, right down to her fat, segmented abdomen and little pale blue spots. I appreciate that they didn't make her a spindly waif, but kept to the bulky shape of her insect inspiration, with a torso casing that evokes a long, flowing hairstyle. The little feet on the end of her abdomen are also reminiscent of an actual insect's cerci, but give her the simultaneous appearance of having legs in a tight-fitting dress. The hair bob things on her head do a nice job of symbolizing insect eyes, and the fact that she has no mouth - just a smooth, blank metal plate - is probably a deliberate reference to the fact that Atlas moths, and many other larger moths, don't have any kind of mouth opening either. They store all the energy they need during the larval stage! The glaring little green eyes and wings made of multicolored flame tie the whole thing together into an amazingly formidable looking "Butterfly Princess," and does she also get a dark, tragic storyline? You bet!
Sol Titanion was once one of two identical, benevolent robots in charge of a weather-manipulating "artificial sun," which is where the "Princess of Passionate Love" part comes from. When her partner was murdered in an attempted takeover by the series main villain, Titanion reduced the enemy robots to ashes in a blind fury and began a senseless rampage of destruction that reduced entire thriving regions to scorched desert. It's the classic trope of a villain mad with grief over lost love, but it's not usually the princess who survives to terrorize the countryside, and the fact that it's a fairy-themed "butterfly" makes this even more fun.
So, at long last, a Mega Man game actually got away with two female bosses, and while this one is a flower - a choice just as commonplace as a butterfly - it's easily also one of the fiercest looking bosses I think I've seen in anything Mega Man related. Intended to protect and nurture the environment through her mastery of plant life, Mandragora is successfully corrupted by the villains into believing she can only rejuvenate the natural world through some wanton destruction, so she's basically the Poison Ivy of the Mega Man continuity!
"Tree Woman of the Collapsing Erosion"
It's not as dramatic or impressive as Titanion's story, no, but Mandrago's design is almost unbearably cool looking. "Humanoid" in only the loosest possible sense, she really is pretty much just a plant made of metal, an almost insectoid orchid face and vine-like arms atop a black, thorny stalk with a huge, flaring waist resembling what would be the plant's central crown of leaves, and below that, an enormous drill symbolizing her root system. She wouldn't be humanoid in even a loose sense if that drill didn't split into a pair of simple "legs," but that one simple detail gives her a remarkable amount of attitude. Not a single part of this design looks like a human, yet she somehow manages to look like some divine fairy-tale queen strutting her stuff in a pair of absolutely killer boots. I know I said Toxic Seahorse was the one for me, and I think he probably still is at least due to his toxic sludge theme, but counting all the stuff we still have yet to review...I think Noble Mandrago is my actually top favorite design out of anything Mega Man, possibly one of my favorite robot designs in video gaming, and even one of my favorite-ever plant-themed designs. She has it ALL!