Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Making of the Rockman ZX Series Part 5: ZXA Character Designs, DASH Connections

Rockman Unity took an extra week to publish the last part of Makoto Yabe's interview about "The Making of the ZX series", but it's here, translated once again by Sidier. The final entry discusses the creation of Grey and Ashe, the connection between the ZX series and the DASH series, among other topics. Check it out after the break!


The interview is filled with spoilers from  start to finish, so people who want to avoid them should stay away!

Rockman ZX Advent

Tell us about the beginnings of the project. Was the change from Vent and Aile to Grey and Ashe as protagonists intended from the start?

I think that this was explained in the “Rockman ZX Transmissions” official website many years ago. But yes, we initially expected Vent and Aile to continue as the protagonists.

However, Aizu-san ordered “I want to increase the number of new players and make it an accessible game where you don't have to play the first one. "It mustn’t be a numbered game (ZX2) either”, he said. He also said he wanted to have "different protagonists for each game”.

The Zero series featured the same protagonist in all four games but this time, Aizu wanted to make it possible to enter (the ZX series) from any game, hence the protagonists change. I believe that was the thought process.

When Aizu told you “I want new characters as protagonists for the next game”, how did you react?

My head went blank. I struggled so much to design Vent and Ail  and now he wants me to go through that struggle again? (laughs)

Why did you use Axl as a motif for the “ZXA” protagonists?

“It looks like Axl but it’s not Axl”, you see (laughs).

If I remember right, “Rockman X8” was the latest game in the “X” series at the time; but Axl himself was still surrounded by mysteries and we didn’t know what his ultimate fate was. It was a cliffhanger. That made it hard to bring his character over to the “ZX” series.

As a compromise, the protagonists in their transformed state inherit the "symbols" of Axl, such as the color scheme and the double guns. It wasn't intended to be the *same* character but it took influence from Axl.

▲ This is Axl in X8. He has a pretty mischievous face!

True. The forehead doesn’t have the gems or lenses on it, either.

Actually... at the end of X8, there was a scene in which Axl is attacked by Lumine and looks like his helmet lens became infected. So I used that “image” to add a cover to Model A's helmet that’d limit the spread of the infection… that was the flow of the design, but it’s not really explained in the game(s).

But that helmet part was used in the (ZXA) animated cutscenes. I, personally, am interested to see how the X series will continue as well as what’ll happen to Axl. I look forward to seeing a continuation one day.

▲ The ZXA illustration where the “lenses” setting can be appreciated.
If you look closer you can see how the forehead “cover” is opening…!?

Rockman ZX Advent Characters

Can we ask you about feelings and episodes about each character?

★ Grey

In “ZX” we had many characters who were going with the design flow of the “Zero” series; but here I wanted characters totally independent from “Zero”. I was able to make them pretty freely by bringing out all of my tastes.

When turned into sprites, the impression these characters give will change, so I wanted to mark a difference with “Vent is brown-haired” and “Zero is a long-haired blonde”.

Axl has a unique hairstyle which would be used if he was the direct reference. But, again, I avoided doing that. Ultimately, I choose silver as the hair color, which lead to the names of “Grey” and “Ashe”. Grey's image is that of a “unleashed lost puppy”.

He’s the one who’ll meet the grown-up Aile, so I purposely made him shorter in height, even smaller than Vent was in the previous game. I wanted to show how Aile has grown up into a “miss”.

▲ A collection of Grey’s expressions. He does look like a “puppy”

★ Ashe

Her image is that of “a hunting ocelot”. She’s going to be there with the grown-up Vent, so I turned her into a strong girl without looking like a “cute sister” archetype.

I wanted to give her a distinct presence, so I made her design more voluminous than Aile – I gave her a ponytail and bigger body.

I designed these new protagonists taking into account that there would be a stark contrast to the grown up Vent and Aile.

▲ A collection of Ashe’s expression. Her refreshing personality can be seen.

Why is  there a "4 years and 8 months" time gap between ZX and ZXA?

The main reason was to make it independent from “ZX” so we didn’t want it to happen right after ZX ended at. We wanted to put some distance between both games to make it easier for new players to jump right in.

Also, since the main player base was elementary school aged students, we took into consideration that children tend to view people past high school as “adults”; and if they’re past 20 years old they might look like “middle-aged people”.  The protagonists of “ZX” were 14 years old but now, 5 years later, they’re already at an age where one graduates from high school.

Basically, I wanted it to be less than 5 years, as close as possible to 18 years old… and that’s how I ended up with “4 years and 8 months”. Aizu-san also told me “19 is also ‘middle-aged’” (laughs).

Who knew that there were  so many detailed reasons to the time skip setting? (laughs)

I didn’t want the image of the grown-up characters to stray from the “reliable big bro/sis” basis.

As a result, while it was often said that “it’s been 100 years since the previous series”, now we ended up with a very concrete number of “4 years and 8 months” (laughs).

When you play the games you do get the feeling of “Oh! They’re grown up”, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while.

Yes but in real time terms, there was only 1 year time between “ZX” and “ZXA”. (laughs)

▲ The grown-up Vent and Aile as they appear in “ZXA”. If you play it after ZX, you can enjoy the world of ZXA better!

About the 3 Sages… Why are they named after the 3 scientists who were deeply involved with the “Classic” series? [Albert (Wily)], [Mikhail (Cossack)], [Thomas (Light)].

▲ The 3 Sages. From left to right: Albert, Thomas, Mikhail. They’re very involved with the mysteries of the world of “ZXA”.

▲ These are the 3 scientists of the “Classic” series; from left to right: Mikhail Sergeyevich Cossack, Albert Wily, Thomas Light.

Well, while there is a wordplay involved, I depicted them as “they’re not the same characters”. I just wanted people to go “Oh?”.

These names have, ironically, appeared in history again after so much time… that was the intended feeling. They are not directly related to these Classic series characters.

In the Complete Works of “Rockman Zero”, there was a comment made along the lines of, “Rockman Zero is a world between 'X' and 'DASH' which leads to 'DASH'. Is the world of the “ZX” a world that’s inching closer to the one depicted in “DASH”?

Yes. There’s a scene in “ZXA” where (they mention) a place where the “original data” of humans and Reploids resides. It’s a tug towards the next installment, but maybe, in a distant future, that becomes the model for “that thing” in the world of DASH? That was the intended “image”, but no more than that.

Oh! He(XXX)n… Hu(XXX) regeneration project!

[*note: they censored these words deliberately. They are presumably talking about the Human/Carbon Reinitialization Project]

■ Sound BOX

On March 25th the “Rockman Zero & ZX Sound BOX” released. Could you tell us about the illustration and the composition of it?

As an illustration, it's intended to summarize the “ZX” series. The timeline is a bit off, but it features Vent and Aile from “ZX”, Grey and Ashe from “ZXA” and the rival characters Prometheus and Pandora, all fighting together against a future “threat”.

As for the 4 “shooting stars” in the background… use your imagination why I chose those particular colors.

To conclude this interview, could you please give us a comment for the ZX fans?

This collection is the first time that “ZX” has been made available on other platforms so I think a loftof people are playing these for the first time.

I hope you enjoy both the stoic gameplay of “Zero” and the fresh gameplay of “ZX; the ability to transform into many forms.

Thank you very much!


  1. I feel like he kinda dodged the question on why Axl was chosen for the protagonists' motif. Like he explained why they had Model A be "Axl, but not really Axl", but not why they picked Axl in the first place.

    1. i think it was just a hommage, you had X, Zero, the 4 guardians, the logical other choice was Axl since he is the tritagonist of the X serie, so they used him.

  2. This one was full of interesting infos. from the actual ages of the protagonists, to the (very) exact amount of time between the two games, and finally the reason WHY model A is'nt model Axl despite clearly being inspired by him.
    Would'nt have guessed that Aile/Vent where 14 in ZX, though (i had read it somewhere else before, but the source whe uncertain), i imagined them no older that 12 since they looked that smoll.

  3. ZXA was the first Megaman Game i played, and it indeed was easy to get what was hapening even without being familiar with the previouses games, but at the same time contained just enough references to make me curious to play them. So it was a good decision in my opinion.
    However, If ZX3 is eventually made, i think it would be best to stick with the four player characters we already have. Don't know if what i'm saying makes any sense, but Putting a new protagonist for every game could dilute the serie's identity too much. Like, not having anyone to stand as the face of this serie like X is the face of MMX or Hub the face of battle networks.
    Also, with the collections making every games from classic to ZX avaibaible on current system, it very easy right for new players to get familiar with it, so this should'nt be so much of a issue.

  4. "As an illustration, it's intended to summarize the “ZX” series. The timeline is a bit off, but it features Vent and Aile from “ZX”, Grey and Ashe from “ZXA” and the rival characters Prometheus and Pandora, all fighting together against a future “threat”."

    Is this a secret tease for ZX3? It has to be XD

  5. As an illustration, it's intended to summarize the “ZX” series. The timeline is a bit off, but it features Vent and Aile from “ZX”, Grey and Ashe from “ZXA” and the rival characters Prometheus and Pandora, all fighting together against a future “threat”.

    Is this a secret tease for ZX3?! It has to be XD

    1. Man, I hope. We've all been patiently waiting for it for 13 years. And something tells me that the four shooting stars have something to do with the other 4 Megamen.

  6. Fuck all that we just want ZX3

  7. I really want a ZX3 right now because that same line what Thomas said still got me thinking about another sequel

  8. Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. Read More


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