It's the early hours of July 6th in Japan right about now, and that makes it official: the Mega Man ZX series turns five-years old today....
The original ZX hit retailers in Japan on July 6th, 2006, followed shortly thereafter by a September release in North America, and a June release in Europe. While Mega Man ZX didn't change the Mega Man formula up too much, it brought to the table some of the best qualities from both the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man X series in one sweet package. The result was a solid gaming experience that rekindled the old while embracing the new.
Initial sales for the original Mega Man ZX proved the series a future, selling just a little over 94,000 units domestically. In true Capcom fashion, work began on a follow-up -- the first (and only) Mega Man sequel to not be identified by a numeric: Mega Man ZX Advent. Advent boasted a few new bells and whistles that solidified the core gameplay experience of ZX, all the while progressing the plot established in its predecessor. A cliff hanger ending awaited players who completed the game in its entirety... and ending that continues to leave us hanging to this day.
Despite racking up generally positive remarks from fans and critics alike, Advent failed to perform in the Japanese marketplace. Initial sales figures were low -- far lower than that of ZX. Hopes of a sales spike were quickly dashed as the game continued to drop down the charts weeks after its release. Fearing the worse, the now-defunct Undersquare reached out for a comment from Capcom, yielding the following ultimatum: if Advent did not sell over 100,000 units, a sequel would not be made.
By the end the fiscal year in '07, Advent only managed to move some 63,000 units in Japan, shattering the prospect of ZX3 in the process.
A year later, the series' status was official deemed "too be determined." It's 2011 now, and not a peep has come from ZX. No games, not even some form of merchandise: no new soundtracks, model kits, little trinkets or shirts. No longer viable to the company, the series faded into the shadows of obscurity, given little, if any, official recognition from Capcom presently.
Demand for a third entry in the series remains unwavering today, and if Legends 3 can prove anything, nothing is impossible. As I always say when it comes to these things, rally the troops. Make some noise. Capcom has, and continues, to listen closely to our fanbase. Thought it may not always seem like it, they are gauging your comments and feedback for the franchise's long-term road map. Where ZX fits into that plan is all up to you.
In any case, today is day a day to celebrate what ZX was and what it could be. Bust our copies of ZX and Advent, kick your feat up and enjoy. If you've yet to play these games, I implore you to give 'em a shot -- they're worth, at the very least, a try.