|Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero series|
Zero as he appears in the X series
|First appearance||Mega Man X (1993)|
|Created by||Keiji Inafune|
|Designed by||Keiji Inafune (X series) Toru Nakayama (Zero series)|
|Wayne Doster (X4)|
Jack Merluzzi (X7)
Lucas Gilbertson (X8-Command Mission-Maverick Hunter X)
Jamie West (Mega Man ZX Advent)
Johnny Yong Bosch (Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds)
|Ryotaro Okiayu (Mega Man X series, Marvel vs. Capcom 3)|
Yūto Kazama (Mega Man Zero series)
Zero (ゼロ) is a video game character present throughout the Mega Man franchise. First appearing in the 1993 game Mega Man X for the Super Nintendo, Zero has since been the star of the Mega Man Zero series and has played a supporting role in other game series such as the Mega Man ZX series.
First developed by Keiji Inafune when he was attempting to create a new design for Mega Man for the X series, Zero was instead used as a deuteragonist. In the Zero series, which was developed by Inti Creates, Zero is the protagonist and had a change in his design, which was meant to create a more "human feel" to him. Zero has since played a minor role in the ZX series as Model Z. His inclusion in the Mega Man X series has generally received positive critical response from video games reviewers.
Conception and creation
Zero was created by designer Keiji Inafune when he was told to recreate Mega Man for a new series on the Super Nintendo, Mega Man X. He wanted to design a Mega Man different from the original one. However, Inafune realized afterwards that the character he created was too different from Mega Man's old appearance to be viewed positively by fans. Deciding to let another designer work on the character that eventually became Mega Man X while he developed Zero, Inafune created the character intending him to be "the 'other main character' that would "steal all the good scenes". He further described Zero as representing the idea that "nothing is absolute", and circumstances can change anything. When asked if Zero had killed the cast of the original Mega Man titles, suspected due to their absence in the X series, he replied no, adding that given how he had designed the character, "Zero is not such a person--it is not in his profile."
The concept of Zero starring in his own series was proposed by Inafune. Inafune proposed that Zero star in his own series, and planned to go forward with the idea at the end of Mega Man X5. However, he was unable to after Capcom announced another Mega Man title without his involvement. Designed by Toru Nakayama of Inti-Creates, Zero was meant to have a more "human feel" rather than the complete "mechanical feel" of the X series. Nakayama wanted the public to recognize that this series was different from the X series. Since Capcom wanted Zero's general structure to be the same, Inti-Creates concentrated on how different they could make him, rather than how similar. Zero's depiction in the series was intended to be morally ambiguous and depend on the perspective, appearing as a hero from one point of view and a terrorist from another.
Designed to be "harder and wilder" than the original Mega Man, Zero's design ultimately resembled Mega Man X in several ways due to his initial character concept, Inafune's insistence on drawing the character, and input from other project artists. In the X series, Zero has red and white armor with twin "horns" on his helmet. Zero also has his signature long blonde hair. His main weapon is the Z-saber, an energy-based sword that introduced melee combat to the Mega Man games. His secondary weapon is the Z-buster, a cannon mounted at the end of his right arm, similar to Mega Man X's primary weapon. A tertiary weapon that would orbit around Zero was also considered, but left uncompleted. Unlike the original Mega Man, who had a full head of hair under his helmet, Zero has a smooth secondary helmet, intended to imply the characters were older. In Mega Man X4, Zero was going receive his own enhanced armor in the same way X does, but the development team decided not to finish it.
In the Zero series, Zero still possesses his blonde hair and general structure, though it has much less of a "cartoon" feel and more of a "realistic" feel. Instead of having red and white armor, Zero has black upper arms and wears a red vest, armparts, and boots. His helmet has horns, though they are more smoothly designed. The Z-saber was also redesigned in Zero 3, and has a more triangular shape compared to the original Z-saber, which is similar to a katana and the Z-buster was replaced with a handgun. Early concept art featured Zero with solid-black, pupil-less eyes, though this changed to a normal set of eyes as development progressed.
Zero made his debut appearance in Mega Man X in 1993, and a cameo appearance in Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. Zero was revealed to have been originally created by Dr. Wily sometime during the Mega Man series. Zero works as a Maverick Hunter, a soldier in charge of defeating Mavericks, robots who turned against humanity. He plays the role as X's comrade and best friend in the X series. The two, later accompanied by Axl to fight Sigma, Vile, and other enemies throughout the series. While in the first two titles he only assists X during gameplay, he becomes an optional character in X3. Depending on the story development, Zero can be fought as a boss character in Mega Man X5. In Mega Man X6, Zero is not initially present in the game since he went missing in the end of Mega Man X5 during a fight against Sigma, and he becomes an optional character depending on how the story develops throughout the game.  In the spin-off title Mega Man Xtreme, he is an assistant character but becomes playable in the sequel, Mega Man Xtreme 2. He is also playable during the prologue and the last chapters from the role-playing video game Mega Man X: Command Mission.
The Mega Man Zero series features Zero as the title character and protagonist. Set around 100 years after the X series, Zero helps a scientist named Ciel fight the human city of Neo Arcadia, during which he destroys Omega - his original body, Dr. Weil, and Copy X, leader of Neo Arcadia, twice. Zero makes an appearance in the ZX series as Model Z, who plays a minor supporting role in the plot in the first ZX game. In ZX Advent, Zero plays an even smaller role, only having a few lines throughout the game. Zero's Mega Man Battle Network counterpart, Zero.EXE makes an appearance in Mega Man Network Transmission as the antagonist of the first half of the game. He later aids Mega Man against the true villain, The "Professor".
The Mega Man Zero version of Zero's character appears as a sub-boss in Playmore's crossover fighting game SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos and as a hidden character in Onimusha Blade Warriors. The Mega Man X version of Zero appears as a hidden character in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars and as a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. In the latter titles, Zero was chosen to represent the "Mega Man" franchise over Mega Man himself, as director Ryota Niitsuma thought he had more variation in his moves. 
Weapons & abilities
- Strength: Like many other robots, Zero has super strength. He can lift in excess of several tens of thousands of pounds but the precise maximum capacity is never disclosed.
- Speed: Zero has above average running speed and jumping ability complemented with a special dash maneuver that allows a quick speed burst over a limited distance. In X4 and later games, Zero can enhance his jumping and dashing abilities by defeating certain Mavericks (like in X4, Split Mushroom and Jet Stingray), allowing him to double-jump (Kuuenbu) or air dash (Hienkyaku). By the time of Mega Man X6, Zero has internalized these Kuuenbu and Hienkyaku techniques into his default systems. Also, from X5 and later on, Zero can install chip upgrades received after certain criteria are met, like rescuing Reploids, and enhance his dashing and jumping abilities even further.
- Learning System: Zero, like X, can gain the data of defeated enemies and use them to gain powerful techniques. Almost all of the special techniques gained from defeated mavericks involve the use of Zero's Z-Saber or another energy blade weapon, and usually no ammunition is required except for Zero's Giga Attack during which he slams his fist into the ground unleashing a full screen-engulfing energy attack. For example, whenever X beats Web Spider, he can shoot a web made of electricity at enemies. But whenever Zero beats Web Spider, he shoots a blast of electricity from his Z-Saber. When this attack hits the enemy, it stays locked on the enemy for a short period of time to do extra damage. In most cases, X gains the primary attack of the boss, while Zero gains either their secondary attacks, or attacks based on their abilities.
- Most of Zero's attacks are variations of previous attacks that he's already learned. Attacks that are most common include a rising sword uppercut, a rolling slash, a forward thrust and the Giga Attack, where he punches the ground, releasing energy that hits all enemies on-screen. With the exception of the last, most of these abilities survive into the Zero series.
- Armor upgrades: Though not as sophisticated as X, Zero does have the ability to enhance his Armor in some games of the X series. Notable differences are: Zero gets his upgrade as a whole, whereas X gets individual pieces for legs, head, body, and arms. Also, unlike X who looks different in every Armor he dons, Zero's Armor structure doesn't change, but only its color does. The best known Armor upgrade of Zero is his black armor which usually reduces the damage he takes and increases various aspects of Zero's saber attacks. In the Mega Man Zero series, Zero receives armor upgrades for his body, legs, and head that grant him new abilities and enhancements.
- Teleportation: Throughout the series, Zero, as well as many other robots have demonstrated the ability to teleport from location to location as a quick means of travel. In his appearance in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom, he used this as an ability to quickly move around the fighting area as both a means to dodge attacks and a way to quickly reach the opponent to attack.
Z-Saber: Zero's default weapon in all games, except the first Mega Man X. It appears as a longsword in Mega Man X2 - Mega Man X5, a rapier in Mega Man X6 - Mega Man X: Command Mission, a katana in Mega Man Zero, and changed to a triangular blade in Mega Man Zero 2 - Mega Man Zero 4. As Model Z, the Z-Saber is a triangular blade. It has a triple slash, and in the Zero series, can also be charged.
Z-Buster: Zero's standard cannon. It appears as an arm cannon in the Mega Man X series, and a hand gun in the Mega Man Zero series. It can be charged to 2 levels (normal, partly charged (level 1) and fully charged (level 2). In X3, once fully charged, the Z-Buster will fire 2 charged shots and allow Zero to slash with the Z-Saber.
Triple Rod: A spear Zero uses in Mega Man Zero that can be used in any of the 8 directions. When boosted to the maximum skill level, Zero can use it to stab someone once, twice, or a maximum of three times, expanding each stab. When charged, Zero will stand and spin the rod over his head. When charged in the air, he will spin the rod in front of him.
Chain Rod: A rod Zero uses in Mega Man Zero 2 which can also be used in the 8 directions. It's a staff that's connected to a chain, allowing Zero to hit anything in the distance and pull them towards him. It also allows Zero to swing from certain footholds. When charged, it produces the same result as a charged Triple Rod.
Recoil Rod: A pair of tonfa-like weapons Zero obtain in Mega Man Zero 3, which can also be used in 8 directions. If Zero hits an enemy with this weapon and it survives, it will be pushed back a little. When charged, the enemy will be pushed back a lot farther (assuming it still survives). Firing the recoil rod against the ground results in a pogo-assisted super jump.
Shield Boomerang: A spinning disk of energy Zero first receives in Mega Man Zero 1. It allows Zero to block enemy shots. When charged, Zero can throw it to hit most objects, and it returns to him. Zero obtains this weapon in every game of the series, with the exception of Mega Man Zero 4. It is possible that the design for this weapon came from Sigma's shield in Mega Man X3.
Zero Knuckle: A weapon Zero gets in Mega Man Zero 4. It uses chips in either of Zero's hands to boost his strength. This weapon allows Zero to punch an enemy, and if he kills the foe, steal their weapon. When charged, Zero punches harder than before, but he cannot charge if he has an enemy's weapon. This weapon effectively replaces both the Rod and Shield Boomerang (Zero can pick up shield like weapons, which nullifies the Shield Boomerang's effectiveness)
Zero's appearances in the Mega Man X series have generally had positive critical response. GameZone praised the inclusion of Zero in the Mega Man X series, citing his playability as popular amongst series fan as it expanded the gameplay. Additionally, GamesRadar credited Zero as one of the reasons the X series became so popular and that his own popularity within gamers earned him his own video game series. Game Revolution called him "mysterious, androgynous" and compared him to Proto Man "with a ponytail". 1UP.com stated that his appearance as a playable character with his own story in Mega Man X4 by itself made it the best game in the X series. GameSpot noted the contrast in his gameplay to that of Mega Man X in Mega Man X4 increased the difficulty of using him in the title. IGN named him one of their ten favorite sword wielding characters in the video games, describing him as an answer to the question of how Mega Man would fight if armed with a sword, and noted his fighting style as popular with gamers. They repeated the sentiments in their list of characters they wished to see appear in a future Marvel vs. Capcom title, describing him as "arguably cooler than Mega Man", regardless of version in comparison. PSM praised the character as well, stating "[he] might wear some funky shoes, but that doesn't stop him from kicking some robot butt". While reviewing Mega Man X: Command Mission, 1UP.com criticized that during parts from the game players are unable to use Zero and that his English voice acting makes him "sound like a surfer".
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