We’re moving towards the most elite bosses, this time focusing on those Zero encounters solely in Neo Arcadia in his fight to take down Copy X’s iron-fisted regime. But first, why don’t we take a look at the utopian city itself?
“Neo” stems from Greek, meaning “new” or “revived.” “Arcadia” doesn’t translate to anything, really; it’s a place. And that place is directly related to the mythology of the Mega Man Zero series.
Arcadia is an idyllic region of green pastureland in Greece. It has been known as a sort of utopia and was often the subject of Renaissance literature. The region was named for Arcas, the mythical King of Arcadia and a great hunter. Unbeknownst to him, his mother had been turned into a bear. He spotted her one day as he was hunting and drew his bow. Just before he could kill her, Zeus yanked the pair up into a couple of constellations: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Such is life for Greek deities.
The important parts for us: Arcadia was ruled by a hunter who became a set of stars. How ironic, then, that Neo Arcadia was established by a (Maverick) Hunter who became a Cyber Elf, glowing like a star. While the latter part is surely a coincidence (Original X was only added to the game at the last minute), it’s very possible the “hunter” bit was intentional. Either way, it’s an interesting parallel.
Let’s dig deeper. When X founded Neo Arcadia after the Elf Wars, he sought to provide people with an everlasting peace. He wanted to give them a utopia, and this wasn’t the first time he’d had the thought. In one ending of Mega Man X5, he expresses interest in building Elysium, “a paradise where the human race coexists with Reploids peacefully.” In the Japanese version he calls it Heaven, but it’s the same concept. Elysium is a Greek conception of the afterlife. Unlike Hades, Elysium was a realm for those related to gods and heroes, as well as some mortals chosen by the gods. Whether Elysium or Heaven, the nomenclature makes it clear that he wanted to build a permanent peace.
So why did he call his new city Neo Arcadia instead of Elysium?
From a gameplay development standpoint, Inti Creates probably didn’t name it Elysium because they knew Zero would be fighting against it, and there’s really no way he could win if Elysium survived all the way to the Legends series.
From a character-based perspective, X may not have intended for Neo Arcadia to be the penultimate city. In the interview section of Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works, it’s mentioned that the dream of Neo Arcadia was “creating a utopia for humans and the Reploids sworn to protect those humans.” Neo Arcadia, while designed to be utopian, still had one problem: Humans were incapable of defending themselves against Reploids. A perfect coexistence was impossible as long as Reploids had to protect the humans. Like the Greek Arcadia, which was a utopia watched over by the gods, the humans of Neo Arcadia were watched over by the god-like Mutos Reploids. True equality hadn’t yet been established, so Elysium had to wait for later. (So the real question is, did Biometal Model X survive long enough to name Elysium, or is that a coincidence?)
Incidentally, the Greek Arcadia was home to a bustling city, Megalopolis. How ‘bout that?
Within the Neo Arcadian shrine, Asura Basura stands in Zero’s way. This four-armed killer is unique among the Mutos Reploids in that he has no dialogue. At first I thought perhaps he’s simply a Mechaniloid, but Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works definitely lists him as a Reploid; I guess he’s just not the talkative type.
Asura Basura is based on asuras, deities who pop up in Hinduism and Buddhism. In both instances they are multi-armed spirits with a highly competitive nature. The Hindu version is typically presented as an evil spirit, constantly struggling against the devas, which are good spirits. Hindu Asuras are known for their violence and cunning aggression. In Buddhism, asuras are jealous, warlike demigods who are wildly emotional. That wild emotion may be related to Asura Basura’s behavior. While most bosses of the Zero series generally stand around between attacks, Basura is constantly in motion, moving his arms and shield wildly about when he’s not busy throwing his weaponry.
Basura also has the Top Man-like attack of spinning himself wildly on his heels, appendages ready to smack Zero around. Buddhist asuras are said to only be defeated in battle with the severing of their head; convenient, then, that only Asura Basura’s head is vulnerable during his "Top Spin".
Furthermore, asuras are sometimes said to have originated at the peak of Mount Sumeru, but were cast down from the realm of the gods. This may be related to the fact that Zero must scale a literal mountain to fight him— and he continues climbing higher afterward.
Herculious Anchortus (or, Herculious Anchus)
Herculious Anchortus is the boss faced shortly after Zero defeats Asura Basura. According to Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works, Herculios is “considered a hero, famous for accepting and successfully completing missions that most deem impossible.” You can see this type of behavior in-game by his short speech in which he tells Zero to see it as an honor to be killed by him. Later in the boss re-fights, Herculious is the only Mutos Reploid to claim he can’t even understand how he’d been defeated; clearly he’s used to winning.
Herculious is based on Hercules who, incidentally, was not a beetle. There is of course the Hercules beetle, which Herculious is physically based on. These insects belong to a class of rhinoceros beetles, so perhaps the name “Herculious” is meant to be a combination of “Hercules” with “Rhinoceros.”
His last name in Japanese is Ankatusu. In English, Mega Man Zero 1 translated it as Anchortus, but Zero 2 named his brother Herculious Anchus. This is rectified by the Mega Man Zero Collection, which sticks with Anchus for both siblings. I bring all this up because I find parallels amusing. The actual name of Hercules in Greek is Heracles— but nobody really likes that name, so most people stick with the Roman version, Hercules, instead. It just so happens that Heracles/Hercules and Anchortus/Anchus both suffer from a bit of a naming identity crisis.
As for Hercules himself, he of course is the famous half-god hero, son of Zeus. He’s famous not only for his epic strength, but also for completing twelve impossible challenges: The “Twelve Labors.” This type of personality is the inspiration for Anchortus as a hero.
But what about his attacks? How could Hercules be represented by a giant beetle? For one thing, Anchortus is prone to ramming his opponents, which definitely shows off his raw strength (but also could be attributed to the “rhinoceros” aspect). Another attack which Anchortus uses is to cast out two electrical ropes. He uses those ropes to pull himself in and crush the area between them. These ropes are possibly inspired by the ropes which Hercules used to bind the Erymanthian Boar, which was the Fourth Labor of the Twelve.
It may also seem a little strange at first that Anchortus flings electricity everywhere in battle. It’s not like Hercules had the ability to throw lightning-- but if you think about it, his dad Zeus sure did.
Ah, the Rainbow Devil. The dialogue-free slimeball monster controlled by the head of a Pantheon. Given that Pantheons are Reploids and not Mechaniloids, I’d venture the guess that this fellow is also fully capable of free thought. Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works cites him as the secret weapon of Phantom’s Cutting Shadow Squadron— can you imagine how cool the squad’s days off must have been, with Phantom, Hanumachine, and the Rainbow Devil just kicking back to relax?
Anyway, Official Complete Works says “it has been speculated that [the Rainbow Devil] was derived from the lost data of an ancient civilization.” If I may take the liberty of diving into unprovable fanboy analysis for a moment, I’d like to suggest that although the Rainbow Devil physically most resembles the jello-like construction of the Green Devils from Mega Man 8 and Mega Man & Bass, I’m inclined to believe he was based on the Shadow Devil from Mega Man X5. For one thing, the naming lines up perfectly with the Cutting Shadow Squadron. More importantly, the Shadow Devil was battled in Zero Space, the strange digitized world created by the Zero Virus after chunks of debris from Eurasia crashed into earth. This site was sealed off at Area Zero, and the ruins found in Mega Man Zero 4. Is it possible that Neo Arcadians explored these ruins and discovered data related to the Shadow Devil? I think that’s more likely than finding ancient data from the Classic series.
As far as the mythology goes, the Devil series is based on the Cyclopes (yes, that is the plural form) from Greek and Roman mythology. Cyclopes were giant one-eyed men. One is encountered in The Odyssey, a Cyclops named Polyphemus. He trapped Odysseus and his crew, locking them in his cave with a great stone before eating a handful of them. As it turns out, the Rainbow Devil is the only member of the Devil series which actually tries to actively “eat” the protagonist, by transforming into a monstrous face with a hungry mouth. Likewise, he’ll wrap his jello-like body around Zero like an anaconda squeezing its prey to death before it dines.
Odysseus managed to eventually defeat Polyphemus by stabbing his single eye with a wooden stake while the Cyclops slept. In the Classic series, the Devil series can only be injured while their eye is open, rather than closed. The Rainbow Devil, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be capable of closing his eye and is therefore always vulnerable.
As Odysseus and company escaped from the Cyclops, Polyphemus hurled great stones at them. This is possibly related to why all the Devils throw bits of themselves at the protagonist. It could even be the reason the American version of Mega Man 1 (which wasn’t allowed to include the word “devil”) changed the original Yellow Devil’s name to "Rock Monster".
Well folks, that may be all the standard bosses the first Mega Man Zero game has to offer, but we’ve still got four guardians to face…
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