The Ultimate Uncovering

Longtime fans of the Mega Man X series have no doubt taken note of certain discrepancies between the Blue Bomber and his crimson counterpart, Zero. One in particular that is seldom spoken of is the result of entering special codes for each Hunter before engaging in a round of Mega Man X4. For X, the series' eponymous hero who somehow seemed short-changed in the fourth title to bear his name (at least where cutscenes were concerned), entering one code would yield the prize of prizes: access to the Ultimate Armor. X would take on a slightly-different hue, and rather than having to round up pieces from four of the eight stages initially available to choose from, he would only need to find one-- any one-- and Dr. Light would grant him his greatest gift.

Those who have used it know that it affords nearly all of the abilities granted to a full set of the Fourth/Force Armor, but with unlimited use of the metal shell's devastating Giga Attack, the Nova Strike. Plus, for model kit aficionados, there was the additional bonus of disassembling the outer-layer of the armor to create a jet sled cool enough to make a robot dog jealous.

(Of course, the sled was not used in the game, but still made appearances in promotional art and manga.)

Those who reaped the reward of a few mere button presses were no doubt interested to see what would happen to X's popular friend, the Z-Saber-wielding Zero. A few button presses later, and they got...

A black Zero. That is, Zero in black armor and with bleached blonde hair.

What?

How could such a thing be? X gets the power to raze armies to the ground just by looking at them, and Zero just gets a new paint job? What's going on? Why doesn't Zero have something that lets him slice planets in twain, or... something?

Those hoping for something to take Zero to the next level would have their wishes answered, for good or ill, in the role-playing game Mega Man X: Command Mission. In that game, before X can don a new suit with the old christening of "Ultimate Armor," Zero would have the opportunity to deliver an blast from the past as "Absolute Zero," which seemed to take a few cues from predecessor Bass' Treble Boost fusion.

But now, all these years later, we now learn how the original Ultimate Armor came to be. Not only that, but we also learn that Zero was also to have his own set of armor in Mega Man X4.

Kobun 20 of The Reploid Research Lavatory has delved deep into the archives of the magazine CAP! to find an in-depth feature about the creation of the armor which allowed players and Reploids alike to ascend to a near-godlike state of being.

So, here’s the completed version of this transforming Mega Armor. This time, the main feature is definitely the wing parts located on the back. You can connect the wing parts to all the shoulder parts and feet parts and everything, and presto! The parts combine and in no time they’ve changed into a flying craft mecha! You’ve never seen a Mega Armor that could do that before, now have you? Check it out, when X is riding atop this mecha, he has total freedom of mobility while in the air! Variable air dash and hovering have nothing on this! The ultimate perfect body for X has been born!

The truth is, Zero was going to have a Mega Armor, too. For various circumstances, we wound up with just X this time. You want to know what his Mega Armor would have been like? Well, it has to do with Zero’s connection to W… actually, I’m not allowed to say any more than that. But, at least I can show you the rough design. I hope that sometime it will see the light of day. That’s all for now! Enjoy Rockman X4!

Here is a close-up of the portion of the article which displays Zero's would-be armor:

The Lavatory notes:

This armor sported a face guard and a central fin on the top of the head, along with a claw-like beam blade emitted from each arm and an overall spikier design. And are those wings in the back? The note pointing to them reads “these parts connect to his hair portion (the hair transforms)”.

It would seem that there is more to the article/magazine, specifically about a "new character" and Hitoshi Ariga's corner, but that will come at another time. You can read the rest of "Arthur"'s thoughts here.

For now, we are simply left to ponder this new development, and notions such as "had Maverick Hunter X continued on, might we have seen this in a remake of X4?"

Source: The Reploid Research Lavatory, via Protodude's Rockman Corner