Zone of the Enders HD Collection
The Zone of the Enders franchise was amongst one of the most breathtaking come the 21st century. ZOE: 2167 IDOLO and ZOE: Dolores, i (GIVE ME MORE DANGERRRR) were inspirational works and certainly took up a healthy chunk my time during college. It’s a concession that deserves reverence, but respect at times can be a finite element.
In a way, the presence of two games brought together serves up as a retrospective of how anime has changed within two years – ZOE, using the dated stance of humanity introspect peppered with melodrama, and 2nd Runner, taking up the modern prose of convoluted plotlines and the gregarious use of acronyms.
The first game is as short as remembered. However, its core mechanics remain intact with added crisp visuals and a sleek frame rate. If anything, it has always served as the playable prologue to 2nd Runner which is more realized now that the two are united.
As the sequel, it’s apparent that 2nd Runner is the starring attraction, but sadly in comparison to its predecessor, it bombs when the time comes to deliver the HD visual goods. There were many components to 2nd Runner that conjure fond memories amongst fans, and one of them was its bewitchingly smooth frame rate. Unfortunately, the HD re-release is a step backwards as once the scenery begins to add on with enemies and environmental complexities, choppiness begins to accumulate. Although it’s nowhere near the realm of lag, it certainly steals much of the power that the original flexed. There was also one instance where splotches appeared on character eyes and mouths during conversations.
2nd Runner also carries that bum factor akin to old movies once enjoyed in younger years. Watching Secret of the Ooze today, you could’ve sworn it was awesome back then, but, to put it lightly, you rapidly realize that it hasn’t aged all that well. Such is the case of bringing 2nd Runner back into modern times. Taking on repetitive battles, nonsensical challenges, and the only bright spots being the boss battles doesn’t necessarily add up to an altogether enjoyable undertaking. Furthermore the occasionally crowded camera view, the irregular targeting system, and untrustworthy control responses doesn’t rally much support to the cause.
Adding on to that is the lack of bonus goodies or the usual set of unlockables. When it comes to HD Collections, the motive is usually one of celebration (aside from being able to play a classic on a flatscreen). The inclusion of the OVA, behind the scenes footage, or even a gallery mode would’ve been appreciated as truth be told, with it being over ten years since the onset of ZOE it can be a tad difficult to remember why the series was worth the hype to begin with.
Sometimes when it comes to HD re-releases, there isn’t much incentive for purchase if you already own the originals and the ZOE HD Collection is a prime example of such. Its incredibly short stature makes ZOE an almost pointless re-release, and the de-evolved frame rate handling of 2nd Runner isn’t much to pine for unless your PS2 copy was lost, stolen, or destroyed. If this is an effort to get people amped and ready for the recently announced Zone of the Enders 3, the fans certainly deserve better than this.