One wonders what might have become of Konami if Hideo Kojima had not graced them with his presence. All of their major success are spawned directly from the warped mind of Kojima, with the end result being games that even if they are not directly popular, manage to ensure large cult followings remain even years later. Robot Mech-em-Up series Zone of the Enders was one such oddity, successful enough to spawn a sequel and a rather devoted fandom. For the first time for many, these two games are available in one repackaged HD collection.
ZOE is set in the distant future, when mankind has expanded to explore and colonize our own solar system, and orbital stations maintained by piloted mechs are the norm. The first game begins when a young boy, Leo, has his colony attacked by an unknown force, and hides in a strange-looking mech, one which will change his life forever. The second title picks up several years later, and fills in much of the gaps in the plot between the first and second title.
If that description seems rather vague, it’s because it’s the best that can be done with these games being as weird as they are. Nominally you are controlling a robot to fight other robots, but mixed in with this are references and plots drawn from ancient Mesopotamian and Biblical myths as well as smatterings of other arcane tidbits. Its one of those series where it needs to be experienced to have any justice done to it, simply reading a synopsis does not ever quite capture what Kojima has produced.
All gameplay takes the form of controlling a singular combat robot, with the simple and sad truth being that the gameplay in the first title is infinitely more clunky and unenjoyable than the second title. While this is favorable in a sequel, it does mean that the first title feels almost worn unplayable by age. The second game is the concept fully realized, and the first serves only as a narrative source.
Is it worth picking up the collection? Well, the second ZOE game is considered one of the rarest titles on PS2 available, so it’s likely that you’ve never played it. If you feel you can trust Kojima after playing one of the MGS titles, feel free to give him a try here. He rarely lets people down. I will admit that ZOE didn’t quite do it for me, but I can see the appeal for others. As well as this, it seems as though a third title in the series is in the pipeline somewhere, so here’s another chance to catch the originals in a nice neat package.