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Old 05-26-2012, 05:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Rockman is coming up on his 25th birthday, and he remains one of the game industry's most recognizable characters. True, most of the English-speaking world knows the little blue robot as 'Mega Man,' but a winch by any other name feels just as oily.

Mega Man's extended family tree is recognizable, too. His futuristic brother, Mega Man X, grimly protects humanity against Sigma's bloodthirsty Maverick forces in the turbulent years of 21XX. And standing beside X is Zero, a crimson android who outshines his blue buddy constantly.

Though they're close, Zero is not of X's bloodline. X was created by the benevolent Dr. Light to help humans in the future, whereas Zero was created by the villainous Dr. Wily to presumably wreck humanity's good times. Whereas X and Zero should be mortal enemies, a weird twist of fate brought the two together as pals—but an even weirder twist of fate almost cast Zero as the star of the Mega Man X series.

Character designer Keiji Inafune had hoped for Zero to become the Mega Man of the future—the character we know now as Mega Man X—but as he told Chris Hoffman in the Best Damn Mega Man Feature, Period (published in April 2004 by Play magazine), Zero was just too aesthetically different from the original Mega Man to carry on the legacy. Therefore, Inafune developed Zero separately as a partner for X.

But what if Zero had replaced X as the Mega Man that ushered the series into the SNES era?

Granted, Zero only had to wait a paltry nine years for the opportunity to star in his own series. The Mega Man Zero games hit the Game Boy Advance in 2002, and those games eventually gave birth to the Nintendo DS's Mega Man ZX universe, a strange world where every character of significance was a little bit of Zero, a little bit of X, and a little bit of whatever Maverick from the Mega Man Zero series had accidentally left his or her DNA lying around. But let's go back a bit and pretend things never got that weird.

Zero is clear and away the most beloved character amongst Mega Man X fans, but he probably never would have achieved his hallowed status if he'd not been demoted to sidekick status from day one. After all, it was his initial sacrifice against Vile that endeared the red robot to so many of us; he leapt on Sigma's right-hand man and performed the world's deadliest piggyback in order to give X a fighting chance. And when he returned in Mega Man X2, it wasn't without strife. Depending on how you played the game, you either fought against Sigma's three Maverick Generals to retrieve Zero's parts, or you fought Zero himself after he'd been re-assembled and brainwashed by Sigma.

Either way, Zero went out on a high note in Mega Man X, but you had to fight to see him again. Oh, the suspense! The drama! Mega Man X2 was also the game wherein Zero gained his now-iconic beam saber weapon, and he was officially declared to be too cool for school.

If Zero had taken Mega Man X's spot, there wouldn't have been a heroic sacrifice, and he might not have learned to wield a melee weapon, either, since Zero initially toted an arm cannon and nothing else. Our exposure to blonde, heroic locks would have increased by 900%, though, and given the recent popularity of Thor and the Avengers, the new exposure combined with what would have been backed up in our bloodstream might have poisoned us. Whew, that's one bullet dodged.

In all seriousness, Zero benefits mightily from his sidekick status. X is not a forgettable character by any means, but he has a soft, gentle, and sometimes kvetchy personality that would never have fit the wild-haired robot. On the other hand, if Zero had been the cool, distant, and smirking hero he'd originally been designed to be, he probably would have been lost in the mire of attitude-sporting mascots that bubbled up from the ‘90s gaming landscape. The two simply work better as a team—and they work even better as rivals. One of the most interesting story points featured in the Mega Man Zero series is the very idea that X has gone bananas, and Zero must stop his systematic execution of the Reploid race.

Zero's heritage as a Wily number (DWN-Infinity) also works well as a counter to X's inherently good nature. Zero's destiny is supposedly to go Maverick and fight X, which he did in Mega Man X5. The game's story didn't execute the showdown very cleanly, but moral conflict between best friends is ancient, and rarely boring to behold. It's also the reason why a lot of Mega Man fans got teed off when pitting X versus Zero was never an option in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, aside from a cheesy costume switch for Zero.

Some men and women are born to runner-up, but that's not automatically a bad thing. If Zero had been the designated main man for the Mega Man X series, he never would have been on-hand to strengthen X as a character, and we might have even seen the Mega Man series die out early, had Capcom not had the necessary ingredients for Mega Man Zero. Inafune set out to make a sidekick that would essentially steal the show, and he pretty much succeeded.

Question is, what's the status of Zero now? Capcom doesn't seem intent on paying much attention to the Mega Man franchise as a whole: will we ever again see this nobly conflicted warrior dash across our screens in a brand-new adventure? Of course we will. Coming back from the dead is Zero's specialty. The phoenix herself bows to him. We'll see him soon. Hopefully. If not us, then our children, or our children's children. Reploids are ageless. Us fleshlings are not so lucky.

[Image source: The Mega Man Network]





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Old 05-26-2012, 08:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Mega Man X - Super Nintendo
Mega Man X 2 - Super Nintendo
Mega Man X 3 - Super Nintendo
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Old 05-26-2012, 04:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

I hate all the megaman spin off characters. Just like with Sonic, they ruined the franchise by adding a ton of half baked "friends" into the plot which brings down the entire organization.

It's like WCW, they had a ton of people nobody cared about. Week after week they'd try to get you to care about some jobber who otherwise plays no significant role in the story beyond being a human who happens to be in the same area as their stars. It's probably my biggest pet peeve, needlessly expanding a character roster.

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Old 05-26-2012, 07:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Also, why does a robot need that big lock of golden hair? The shiny green headlight nipples aren't helping either.
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Quote:
The shiny green headlight nipples aren't helping either.
Cannot unsee.

---------- Post added at 01:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:55 AM ----------

Also, his chest looks like a face.

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Old 05-26-2012, 09:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Ya know, he's a much more likeable character in the redesign.

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Old 05-26-2012, 11:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

I didn't dislike Zero.
I mean, the Megaman Zero games were pretty fun, at least I thought so.
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

You know Zero was suppose to be the Main Character in the X series right? Mega Man wasn't suppose to be playable. I'm not sure if thats suppose to be a good idea but when X-2 came out i hated it I didn't played the game much at all only my friend that came over that had rented it did.It just had a different look to it,New hero, New Main villain,New world,new music.But was it good enough compare to the old series? Uhhh .. no. '_'
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

Franchises have strict continuity, when you dilute it with a bunch of experimentation with THE ENTIRE FRANCHISE AS IT WERE UP TO THAT POINT it's displeasing. It's like if next week the price is right became an anime and instead of a game show they played hockey.

These people need to come up with new names, not just tags. Valve has this nailed with Portal/Halflife. 2 completely different games taking place in the same fictional world with completely different names. Maybe if George lucas had called ep 1,2, and 3 something entirely different, it wouldn't of had such a back lash. "HEY THIS ISN'T HAN SOLO !!!"

Sure it's probably a good idea in a marketing sense in the short term, but long term it destroys everything.

Last edited by fungusman; 05-27-2012 at 12:49 AM..
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: What If Zero Had Been the Main Character in Mega Man X?

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Originally Posted by Demon-Mask View Post
I didn't dislike Zero.
I mean, the Megaman Zero games were pretty fun, at least I thought so.
They are.
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