What can be said about Zoids: Legacy that hasn’t been said already? Probably a lot, because nobody else I know has ever played the damn game—a travesty if ever I did hear one. So, despite the fact that nobody asked and probably less people care, I shall detail the reasons why I love this game with a passion. Oh, and this isn’t one of those ironic passions either—I legitimately, and without reservation, love this game.
In case you were wondering what the hell a Zoid was, allow me to explain. It’s a big animal mech. A bit of a stripped down explanation, but an apt one. Set on the fictional world of Zi, Zoids are the shape which combat has taken. Rather than tanks or planes, militaries based their weapons upon native, techno-organic species—sort of like if you strapped a cannon to a tiger, but also it was the size of a bus…and you sat in its skull. Okay, that sounds horrible, but it’s completely fine in the series…I think. Ethics in Zoids is similar to Pokémon—where it’s just accepted that all of them like to battle, as long as you don’t treat them poorly. Anyway, none of that really matters, because it might not even be in-universe accurate. The whole “native, techno-organic species” thing is true of Battle Story—the storyline that went along with the initial release of the toys—but each anime series tends to put its own spin on things. For example, Zoids: Chaotic Century created the mythos of Zoid Eve—the apparent predecessor and life source of every Zoid. Seems pretty important…it has never been mentioned again. Zoids: New Century created the Ultimates Xs—Zoids who are entirely sentient, capable of learning and adapting under their own power. Seems pretty important…it has never been mentioned again. Sensing a pattern? Though references and hearsay link each iteration of the franchise to one another, Zoids is, effectively, a segmented beast—which is what makes Legacy so cool.
What is the one thing that children playing with their favourite toys don’t care about? Canon. Who cares if Spider-Man never met Goku? Those are the toys I have and by Jove, they are going to team up to beat Makuta. That is what lies at the sole of Zoids: Legacy. Through manipulation of a power long left dormant, Zi’s timeline is thrown into disarray. Characters who exist centuries apart from one another find themselves in a strange, hybrid world, uncertain of how to return to the moments from which they were ripped. Still, the good guys all become friends and the bad guys all team up for the purposes of evil, so everybody is still within their usual realms of existence. I mean, the game knows what it’s doing—if you see a familiar face, you’re going to get a familiar teammate. The only glaring subversion of this is Leviathe. Though a game-exclusive villain, her story arc really makes it seem as if she’ll join your team. Sure, she does help you save the world, but you never get to control her as a party member. It’s a minor gripe, but if Benjamin and Sebastian—Harry Champ’s robot butlers—are going to join, let me add the badass redeemed villain to my team. It’s like when Final Fantasy IX only lets you play as Beatrix for a little while. Cop out. Even Chris and Kelly Tasker get a spot on your team, and I’m not sure they actually do anything. Look—even though they were used in spite to prove a point—I love that niche characters are playable, I just think it would be neat to play as all of the original characters with actual arcs.
Regardless of singular exclusions, Zoids: Legacy allows you to stock your team with all manner of Zoids—from all manner of times. That being said, anime-important Zoids are given no special treatment; so, as cool a Bit’s Liger was in New Century, this version can get its face smashed in by a pack of Rev Raptors. Though it serves to balance the game, it is a little unceremonious to witness a main character destroyed by stun lock. This is especially true given that I was much younger when I first played this game…because of how time works. Still, it was (and is) cool to have the option of making an entire team of multi-coloured Liger Zeroes—brought about by the construction and panting mechanics/options. However, to the game’s credit, you cannot alter Bit’s Liger—as per its personality in the show. There are also a few pilots who refuse to leave their series-specific Zoid, but most are up for whatever you’ve got—you can even cram flying-specialist Pierce into a Molga if you’re feeling particularly mean…and want to lose. Molga suck, and the size tiers of each Zoid are generally an indication of how good they are. Large Zoids are the most versatile, Small ones are made of paper, and Extra Large ones limit your options for teammates. Now, this is all rather specific for a general retrospective; however, this information has been in my head forever, and now it’s in yours to. And, with this shared experience/trauma, maybe somebody else on the planet will play this game…nobody else knows what I’m talking about when I mention ZOS.
That all being said, there is something that was always cool about owning this little-known game. Hell, even I only found out about it by sheer happenstance. My mum just stumbled upon it when Christmas shopping—I wasn’t even there with her. I was at my nunna’s (grandmother’s) place and mum called, asking if I wanted this Zoids game she found—which I’m pretty sure was on special even then. I remember standing in the garage (where the phone was), ummming and ahhhing for quite a while. I’m not sure why. I love Zoids. Maybe because I’d never heard of the game before; perhaps I thought it would be bad. Well, regardless, I said I wanted it—the beginning of my story with my favourite game of all time. Mind you, I’m not a firm believer in favourites. If you can’t decide which game or movie you like above others, then don’t. Have two favourites. Have seven. Forcing yourself to decide when it isn’t necessary is an effort in stress and futility. But if you can decide, if you know something to be your favourite—relish that knowledge. Be passionate, be proud, be goddamn happy. People tout Tetris as on of the greatest games of all time. I mean, its impact on gaming can’t be denied; but, at the end of the day, it is just stacking blocks. If people can deify that, then why not cry from the rooftops about how you love Diddy Kong Racing. And none of this ironic “meme” crap either. If you like something, then just like it. Who gives a rat’s ass?
Hell, one of my favourite memories involves this game. One night, my mum had to pick my dad up from the Boat Show—which I capitalise because I don’t remember if it was legitimately just named “Boat Show”. Naturally, this meant us kids all had to tag along—what with their being laws about leaving children unattended…I mean…I hope there’s laws against that. Regardless, tag along we did, and—after a brief stop at McDonald’s—I settled in for a long drive. Luckily, my Game Boy was Advance and SP, which—for all you youngsters out there—meant I could play it at night. Oh yeah, I was a pretty cool customer. You needed a backlit, portable gaming console? Well, too bad…you couldn’t have mine…I was using it. Who else was going to beat the snot out of Hiltz, and then eventually pilfer his abandoned Gojulas Giga? And I tell you what, those labyrinthine tunnels—in which Hiltz was hidden—made for quite the time passer on that drive. Plus, I had McDonald’s.
So yeah…that’s about it. Zoids: Legacy is a game where every anime-important character becomes your friend and helps you save the world. It’s basically a fan fic with a bitchin’ soundtrack—which is saying something, given how often I don’t notice music in games. Regardless, there’s something fun about seeing characters from a fictional period of war learn that their weapons are used for sport in the future; meeting certain characters in their youth, then two days later when they’re five years older is also neat…albeit a little confusing. Oh, speaking of confusing, the game is also rather terribly translated. “In front of an behind” is used instead of “before and after”, tenses are a crapshoot, and character’s names aren’t necessarily correct—I’m looking at you, “Ballad”. Still, despite all of its flaws and shortcomings, I love this game. Heck, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve beaten it. I mean…it’s a lot. I’ve beaten it a lot of times. And I didn’t even know for, like, the first twelve playthroughs that you could put in cheat codes to get secret Zoids. Honestly, it’s shameful. Not that anyone had the chance to mock me—not when I slapped an extra Gravity Cannon on my new Gilvader. Still, the sheer timey-wimey nonsense surrounding the Blitz Tiger—having been gifted to you by your future self—makes it just a little cooler than an extinct engine of destruction. Especially when combining it with your robotic leopard sidekick allows it to bend the fabric of reality in order to fight better. Trust me, it’s as awesome as it is confusing, and—if I’ve really managed to pique your interest—you’re more than welcome to play Zoids: Legacy for yourself. Come, join me. We’ve oh-so-much to talk about.
PS: It will always bug me that Team Zeru—your crew—is the only group in the game that has “Team” written first.