Berserk Boy review: not Mega Man Zero, but close

It tries its hardest to capture Mega Man Zero’s vibes, and mostly pulls it off.
Berserk Boy
Berserk Boy / Big Sugar

For a long time, all I’ve wanted is another Mega Man Zero game. Those Game Boy Advance games were my childhood, and I loved them dearly, but very few things have come close to scratching that itch since. Azure Striker Gunvolt – from Mega Man Zero developer Inti Creates – isn’t too far off, but its focus on quick, chaotic combat felt at odds with the ethos of Zero’s more deliberate, calculated battles. Berserk Boy inches ever closer to exactly what I want from a new Zero game, while still doing plenty of new stuff of its own. 

There’s not much to be said about Berserk Boy’s story, so I’ll try to keep it brief. The basic premise is that Kei, the eponymous Berserk Boy, works for a paramilitary organization called The Resistance, who fight against the evil forces of Dr. Genos. Kei finds a Berserk Orb, transforms into the Berserk Boy, and sets out to defeat other Berserk Orb users to steal their elemental powers. 

Berserk Boy
Berserk Boy / Big Sugar

Look, it’s not exactly a banger of a story. A lot of it is retreading stories seen in games like Mega Man X and Zero, and frankly there are way too many text boxes for a story that doesn’t do anything particularly new, but it gets the job done, I guess. It’s perfectly serviceable and very little more. 

The gameplay is the main draw, and there are two aspects to it I think are worth bringing attention to separately: the movement and combat systems, and the level design itself. We’ll start with the movement and combat systems. 

At the core of Berserk Boy’s movement is a dash, which allows him to bash into enemies at high speed, avoiding damage and quickly moving through obstacles. There’s wall jumping, too, which can combo together with the dash for some satisfying movement, and while different elemental Berserk Orbs have distinct behaviors, they’re all similar enough that switching between them is intuitive. 

Berserk Boy
Berserk Boy / Big Sugar

The movement tech folds itself nicely into the combat loop, which usually has you dashing into enemies, sending out a little burst, and then repositioning yourself to do it all again. Unfortunately, basically every power-up beyond the initial starting form is effectively useless in combat, so taking down enemies does tend to get a little bit repetitive, with very few useful tools added to your toolbox throughout the game to expand things out. 

The level design, on the other hand, is pretty much all great. I do think some of the later stages suffer a bit from being a little plain and repetitive, but they’re still good despite that. Every stage is effectively a new 2D Sonic level, and when you combine that with Kei’s dash-heavy movement and wall jump combos, going fast feels very good. I have no major complaints about the level design as a whole, except maybe that a lot of late-game platforming is unnecessary once you unlock flight. 

Berserk Boy
Berserk Boy / Big Sugar

In terms of presentation, Berserk Boy knocks it out of the park, too. Gorgeous pixel art and animation combine with Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes’ fantastic compositions to make an audiovisual experience that feels exactly like the games that inspired it. 

Berserk Boy isn’t Mega Man Zero, but it tries its hardest to capture those vibes, and mostly pulls it off. It’s a bit repetitive, and the story isn’t really worth paying attention to, but its fast, fluid, and fun movement and combat make it worth playing for anyone who’s a fan of Sonic, Mega Man, or Azure Striker Gunvolt. 

Score: 8/10 

Version tested: Nintendo Switch


Published
Oliver Brandt

OLIVER BRANDT

Oliver Brandt is a writer based in Tasmania, Australia. A marketing and journalism graduate, they have a love for puzzle games, JRPGs, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and any platformer with a double jump.