Part 20: Supplementary 5
(play either THIS or THIS while reading, tia)
So, Cyber elves. Ive been collecting them for a while now, and as of the last update had all but 1.
BUT WHAT ARE THEY?
This will be the subject of todays lecture. Pay no heed to the fact that this prooooobably would have been more useful at the beginning of the game.
The provided video shows the last elf, gives an overview and goes over all their effects, and directly demonstrates a few of the more visually stunning abilities, but here Ill be going a little further into the mechanics. And, if you care about dumb plot things, heres the explanation as to how they do what they do, pulled straight from the Megaman wiki
The Cyber-elves function by interacting with Cyberspace, a parallel world where everything in the "real" world (referred to as "substance world") exists in the form of a program. A Cyber-elf manifests its power by altering the program of Cyberspace, causing changes to the substance world. It is through this process that Cyber-elves can accomplish feats such as increasing a Reploid's power, repairing damage, or even environmental changes such as the removal of local hazards or the transformation of certain Mechaniloids.
Elves serve as both a game mechanic and a plot point within the games, with certain Cyber-elves (Passy, Cyber-X, Dark Elf) featuring prominently in the games thusfar, and while Reploids and Elves are generally separate beings, Xs existence as an elf suggests that conversion from one to the other may be possible. Their roles in the story will be expanding as the series goes on, so keep this in mind.
Cyber-elves, as they function in Zeroes 1 and 2, are essentially limited-use powerups and abilities, meant to assist players in the game, increase attributes, or simply make odd alterations to stages. In-game, Ciel acts as your Cyber-elf hub, allowing you to view, grow, and use the elves within the game; however, their usage does not come without a price. The elves are beings of pure energy, visible only to Reploids (and Ciel, for some reason), and while theyre sentient creatures, theyre also a relatively new technology. This means they still have some kinks to work out, most prominently the fact that they have an unfortunate habit of dropping dead the instant they use their powers.
RIP in pieces Euppie.
So basically, this means that using the things makes you both bad at the game AND an elf-killing monster. It also means that you get penalized on your mission score for all the elf effects you have active, with permanent effects subtracting score from ~every~ stage thereafter. Its a big discouragement to their usage, and one of the few things I take issue with in Zero 2.
Should you still choose to use them, though, its useful to know their distinctions. Cyber-elves are divided into 3 categories based on their powers, color-coded red, green, and blue respectively, as well as 3 separate sizes, depending on the permanence and power of their abilities. Each one will show up in-game as an elf of that color prior to collection, get categorized into 3 separate sub-menus for your viewing pleasure, and provide the player with a special flavor of power depending on their type. The 3 types are as follows.
Nurse elves specialize in health restoration and bolstering, revitalizing and rejuvenating. Themed after medical practitioners, theyre all female and fetishized to varying degrees, which leads me to consider them the waifu-elves. In the original concept art, each elf type had green, ovoid wings; later, though, each elf got their own set of wings, with the Nurses getting cutesy little heart-shaped ones, further reinforcing their image as creepy otakubait.
Still, though, theyre probably the most widely useful of the cyber elves, and the ones that youll find yourself taking into battle the most if youre into that kind of thing. Mundane, but practical. In Zero 2, the ultimate Nurse elf is Grandie, who adds a second layer your life bar.
Most of the elf power types have a few duplicates, and when an elf with the same power as another shows up, theyll usually share a prefix or suffix. A few examples of Nurse suffixes are Ppie, who increase health by 4 notches, Ick, who heal you to full health, Rnue, who increase your starting lives upon a continue by 2, and Tan, who transform into a Subtank for later usage.
Animal elves are masters of power and mobility, each exemplifying and amplifying a certain physical trait associated with their base animal. Theyre all anthromorphized to a certain extent, but look a lot fiercer than the nurse elves. Their special wingtype is actually just the green hoops that all elves previously had, but its a good match to their rawness.
Bigger animal elves generally increase Zeros own attributes, like his run speed or ability to cling to walls, while the smaller ones provide backup in his battles by firing bullets or sticking onto enemies. Theres also a special bird-type elf that emulates Beat from the classic series by rescuing you from bottomless pits, which is pretty sweet. Some of the Animal-types are cool enough, but others are somewhat questionable (increasing your ladder climb speed?), which means that their usefulness is very much limited. The greatest of the Animal elves here is Putick, an odd gel creature who ups Zeros spike and lava resistance to the point that you only take a few ticks of damage, as opposed to dying instantly.
Animal elves get prefixes that are significantly more meaningful than the Nurses suffixes. By this I mean they kinda just slap part of the animal name or effect at the beginning and call it a day. Some examples are Bir for the Beat copycats, Stick for the clinging otters, and Bee for the bullet-firing bees.
Hacker elves are the odd ones out of the elf types, including strange effects covering a wide spectrum of game mechanic alterations. As their name implies, they actually literally hack the code, creating a visual distortion effect which, upon completion, changes something within the game.
Because of their distinct powers, the dont really follow a visual theming, instead having appearances indicative of their powers, like a clock for reducing charge speed or a knight for destroying minor enemies; even so, theyre all equipped with small blue double hoop wings, which slightly resemble wind-up keys and allow them to be identified at a glance. Some of them are super useful, others are just interesting novelties, but one in particular changes minor stage enemies into the well-known Megaman Mets, which is a great legacy callback. The Hacker king is Dable, a genie capable of doubling the effectiveness of item drops.
Hacker naming includes the prefixes M-or for Mettall transformers, Hafmar for cutting a boss health bar in half, a single A for resetting your rank to A, and the suffix nite for removing all minor enemies in a stage.
Like in Zero 1, Cyber-elves are found in three ways: within specialized white containers, as an in-stage reward for killing a certain quantity of normal enemies, and in the possession of specific base members. That last type is, by far, the least common, but can also be moderately annoying theyll only be given to you at certain times in the story, and if youre the type that just doesnt give a rats ass about supplementary story bits, they can be kind of easy to miss.
Ive shown all of them off at this point, but often didnt really comment on their locations unless they were particularly special; as such, Im gonna drop THIS VIDEO here, because its a pretty, efficient, well-edited demo of all their locations in the game. If anyone needs to clean up the last few elves theyre missing, thats the video for you.
Also as in Zero 1, in order to use your elves, you must first prepare them. While the more common, weaker elves are like potato chips and just need to be equipped for consumption, powerful elves first need to be prepped like a classy meal. To do this, Zero needs to feed them the E-crystals hes picked up in-game, with medium-sized elves needing to be fed once and large ones twice. The requirements are somewhat varied, but not overly egregious, and a normal playthrough will generally give you more than enough crystals to grow a couple cyber elves for usage. This is in stark contrast to the first game, wherein beating the whole game could potentially leave you with not even the quantity needed for a single elf; for example, take the ultimate Nurse elf. In Zero 1, she was named Winkie and required 1000 crystals for the first level, 2000 for the second, whereas in Zero 2, Grandie needs 300 for her first evolution, 700 for her second; its basically a reduction of 66% between games, and makes the system as a whole feel way more streamlined and fair.
Each evolutionary step also brings with it a change in physical appearance, and though you can see a bit of it through the profile pictures, you cant get the full effect there. As such, heres the 3 ultimate elves (Grandie, Putick, Dable) showing off their babypics for your viewing pleasure.
Once your elves are well-seasoned with a light coating of E-crystals, its time to serve them up. By talking to Ciel, you can equip elves 3 at a time for later usage. They show up under Elf in your main menu screen, represented by an icon (a pink heart for Nurses, a green circle for Animals, and a blue nail-looking thing for Hackers), and can be used whenever you wish within a stage. You can return them back to your main elf collection through Ciel if you have a change of heart, but the moment you press A on their icon, theyre condemned to their fate and irretrievably banished to the void. Im one of those dumb people who gets himself attached to inanimate objects and images on a computer as if they were alive, so generally speaking Ill never use them, but theyre there if you want to play around.
ANTIGAM HAS NO PROBLEMS USING THEM THOUGH.
In the last game, there was an extra fourth classification (the Special elves) containing only a single entry (named Jackson), who was awarded for finding and leveling all the elves in the game. He gave what was basically Sting Chameleon's invincibility power from Mega Man X1, allowing you to make Zero all glowy and invincible for a decent amount of time, and while I can say that the Special elf classification doesnt show up again in the series, there might maybe possibly be a different award for finding, leveling, and brutally slaughtering all the elves in this game. As such, AntiZeros murdered the lot of em, and Ill be maintaining a separate, non-100 point file so I can demo the result. Look forward to it!