what? except that the background designers didn't care/spend as much time on it >.>
The only BG's that were impressive were the intro of Submarine Volcano and Ouroboros.
What's this talk of the backgrounds being of lesser quality? As a same series same system sequel, the two are graphically identical and interchangable. This is especially true for ZX and Advent, what with a good portion of the former's stages being revisited in altered form the latter. For all the newer stages, I really see no difference in their quality. But if you insist, I must remind you that it is Advent that put much more work in character sprites, balancing it out.
On other points on Advent vs ZX, I feel that Advent is much more actively involving in terms of plot and player involvement. ZX throws you directionless into a world under the selling point of exploration. But whilst doing this, it seems strangely stuck in such antiquated notions like a mission select, intermission stage and final stages after a select amount of Falseroids defeated. Adding insult to injury is the unhelpful map system and backwards transerver-mission system. It's quite bad when the game penalizes you in the main plot with backtracking just because you approached the area from the wrong side. This is especially true in the find Giro and Guardian license missions. Also let's not forget that the plot mostly warrants you to get anywhere just to eliminate a boss for its power up item, losing most of the interest in a stage until you actually get there and they finally explain what they're all about.
ZXA on the others steers you in the right way by engaging you in the ever deepening plot whilst still leaving a sense of exploration, virtually eliminates the backwards mission select, throws in non-Falseroids at random and improves on its map system all at the same time. The only cases of backtracking are outside of the main flow of the game. (Items/Side Quests).
In the matter of arsenal, I much prefer ZXA's balance over ZX's, even though it required toning down the forms. ZX was imbalanced to the point that one form would have all sorts of overkill attacks whereas another had none. Model HX being a big offender in terms of unneeded carnage. Atleast in Advent only Time Bomb is a really big offender that you don't even have to employ if you feel it's a cheap way out. And for those times it is employed, ZXA allows for a lot of tactical variety in taking bosses down, beyond just using Model ZX or any other strong attacker. The fact that you can take down Queenbee in record time with a combination of Time Bomb and Rospark's grounded form speaks for itself.
Finally, speaking of form variety and use, Advent wins by its weapons energy system. ZX tied far too much to weapons energy with no real way to recover it during times when you really needed. The self recovering shared energy bar allowed for a much nicer time battling than just having to carefully manage overdrive activation down to the second and then getting stuck fighting a boss with no real way to attack as anything but ZX. ZX's method wouldn't be so bad if they gave you full energy bars from the get go, but they had to go with this unfortunate need for e-crystal gathering or quirky weak point dodging.
and general lack of IP enhancement and protection in the form of well thought-out cast and asset management (
Set up game is a set up game? Advent is only a stepping stone to the third title leaving many elements of ZX are ignored and many of the elements of ZXA are introduced solely for the future to delve into. It is Advent and not 2 for a reason. It was never meant to be conclusive a title as ZX. Much like comparing the first ZERO with the second. Advent simply chose to extend the world in a much larger manner, beyond what it could contain as one title.
useless sidequest rewards
I'm trying to remember a recent Rockman game with worthwhile sidequests, nothing comes to mind. At least Advent was nice with its occasional cameos.
(i.e. changing the 4 Guardians' original designs completely...),
You're frikken nittpicking. Who cares about the designs being changed? Besides, Rock On designs were always different. Remember Model Z? It's the Double Rock On forms that more closely resemble the original. They were being consistent and diverse in giving the four those designs.