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I've Got Your Number
Capcom Proves Zero is a Number
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 05, 2003   |   Episode 0 (Show Archive)  

   

Would you rather I used the poster for that new Freddy vs. Jason movie??
Everybody loves a good sequel, be it a movie or video game. This summer alone has proven it, each week we've had one sequel after another, from the Matrix Reloaded to the second Charlie's Angels movie, we had a third American Pie movie, not to mention a third Terminator. It's been a year for sequels.

And video games are no exception. At this year's E3, most of the biggest games of the show had some sort of numeric symbol after their names, games like Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gar Solid 3, Gran Turismo 4, and even SOCOM II. There's no doubt about it, we love our familiar stars and games.

But what do you get when you have a sequel that isn't really a sequel. What do you get when you have a prequel that is set long before the story takes place, but doesn't really fit into the regular numbering system? Sadly, you have Capcom's strange desire to overuse a word that doesn't make a lot of sense in context. That's right, we're talking about Capcom's use of the number "ZERO".

The dictionary defines "zero" as "a cardinal number indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration." So by this rationale, a game that is supposed to take place before one cannot be called zero, since zero is the absence of numbers. But that hasn't stopped Capcom, who has made it battle that stretched over many years.

It all started innocently enough in 1995, when Capcom decided to go back in time with their Street Fighter series.

If Street Fighter Zero happened before Street Fighter One, as the title indicates, then how on Earth can Sagat have that scar??
Instead of making Street Fighter III, a game EVERYBODY was waiting for, Capcom chose to make a game called Street Fighter Zero, a game that combined characters from Street Fighter, Final Fight, and Street Fighter 2. It was a game that changed the look and feel of the Street Fighter franchise. Without a doubt, it was a breath of fresh air.

But it was also oddly numbered. If this was Street Fighter Zero, then did it mean it was to come before the original Street Fighter? And if so, then why were there characters from Street Fighter 2 fighting characters from Street Fighter 1? Or why did Sagat have the injury from the first Street Fighter, if this was Zero, hence coming before?

These questions, and others, staggered the minds of Street Fighter fans. But they were willing to give Capcom the benefit of the doubt. After all, it wasn't like they were going to do it again, right?


Is it just me, or does Mega Man Zero's attack look suspiciously like Striders sword??
Fast forward a few years, the year is 2002, and Capcom is yet again trying to squeeze money out of Mega Man, a franchise so dead, not even John Edwards can talk to it. Mega Man Zero was set to reenergize the blue super-boy, to start the series over right, to make a dent in a world of polygons four control ports.

But Mega Man fans were skeptical, this Mega Man Zero, is this before he battled Guts Man, Cut Man, Bomb Man, Ice Man, Elec Man, and Fire Man in the original Mega Man? Was this to show the humble roots of Mega Man, to show him in a light you've never seen before? Nah, it ended up just being his name. And to build on the confusion, Capcom released the awkwardly titles Mega Man Zero 2.

While fans may have accepted Street Fighter Zero and Mega Man Zero, Capcom was ready to push them just a little further and actually mean "zero" when they say it. Enter Resident Evil Zero, the game that advertised that it was "before the mansion" and "before the disaster".

In Resident Evil Zero, gamers take control of a character who is about to discover what will lead to a whole list of sequels. But the game itself comes in after the events have already started, so it could have another prequel to explain even more about the mythology. But what would they call that one? Resident Evil -1?

And if Resident Evil Zero is now the first game, shouldn't the first Resident Evil (the one with Jill,

"What's that? You say I'm not needed yet, the first game hasn't started? Do I still get paid??"
the "master of unlocking") have a 2 after it's title?? These are questions that NEED to be addressed before Capcom gives us Devil May Cry Zero and Breath of Fire Zero.

Not even Star Wars creator George Lucas, who is pretty backwards about everything he does, went back to zero. Star Wars episode I, II, and III may have come twenty years after IV, V, and VI, but I can all but promise you that there is never going to be a Star Wars Zero movie. In fact, as I think about all the movies that have had sequels and prequels, not one of them has been blessed with Capcom's funky "Zero".

But it doesn't stop with Capcom, even SNK Playmore, the company to rise from the ashes of SNK's death, has embraced Capcom's weird numbering system. This Fall SNK will unveil the newest episode in the hugely popular Samurai Shodown series, and you guessed it, it's called Samurai Shodown Zero. Actually, it will be called Samurai Spirits Zero, since it's a Japanese game, but I digress ...


I don't care what you call it, just bring us more Samurai Shodown, and make sure it's better than parts Three and Four!!
Neo*Geo fans have had to put up with a lot of Capcom following over the years, but this is too much. Having everybody throw fireballs the same way as Ryu from Street Fighter is one thing, making nothing but arcade fighters to compete with Capcom's juggernaut of brawlers is another thing, but adopting a numerical system that makes no sense, well, that's just despicable.

Fans of Samurai Shodown deserve more, especially after disappointing outings from parts three and four. No matter how part Zero turns out, no matter if it's the one thing that brings the series back from the dead, the damage has been done, and gamers are left to scratch their heads over where the game fits into the lineage.
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