Release Date: August 25, 2015Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PCDeveloper: CapcomPublisher: CapcomGenre: Platformer
For someone who grew up playing all of Mega Man’s original adventures on the NES, blasting Cut Man and Guts Man away again every few years on different systems never gets old. The first six Mega Man games are great, but everyone has his or her own favorite. I tend to gravitate back and forth between Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 6.I’ve always had a soft spot for 6’s Centaur Man.
If you’ve never experienced these Mega Man games before and you own a current-gen console, there’s really no reason to keep reading this review: You need this on your digital or physical shelf. For those of you who are already all about the Blue Bomber, let’s talk about the value of the collection itself.
Needless to say, Mega Man 1-6 are the stars of the show here, with the focus squarely placed on playing the games themselves. Mega Man Legacy Collection is an extremely minimalist compilation, with simple text menus and a single piece of artwork used to represent each game. There are a few different viewing options you can switch on and off, like playing the games in fullscreen or with stylized borders. I was also happy to find a very liberal save feature, which allows unlimited backups of your game mid-level, so if this is your first time playing through the series or if you’re just a little rusty, you can make steady progress through the games without too much frustration. Again, saving can be a little unintuitive given the simplistic menu system, but the feature is there all the same.
In addition to the first six games of the iconic series, all wonderfully reproduced in their original 8-bit glory, Mega Man Legacy Collection also comes equipped with various enemy databases and museum galleries full of high-resolution concept art accompanying each game. But the real selling point is the exclusive and brutal challenge mode. Comprised of over fifty skill-based trials, the challenges will test your platforming skills, your memorization of some of the series’ most difficult areas, and above all else, your patience. The majority of challenges take an approach that’s similar to the NES Remix series: random sections from different stages are strung together in unforgiving gauntlets, sometimes from the same game, sometimes spanning across all six.
Other challenge types include replaying Dr. Wily boss fights and taking down all robot masters from a given game, one directly after another. By the time you’ve made your way to the end of the list, you’ll be tasked with completing an entire challenge that’s comprised of nothing but those annoying “appearing block” areas. And then there’s the ultimate boss rush that pits you against every Robot Master from Mega Man 1-6. Oh, and did I mention you can’t use any items? Good luck with that! Bronze, silver, and gold medals are awarded for completing each challenge in a given time.
While these challenges certainly serve as a fun extra outside of the main six games and offer a little something more for veterans of the series, they can still feel rather monotonous at times. Many of the platforming gauntlets reuse the same cut-and-pasted sections over and over again, while others feel like they go on for a few minutes too long. There’s just not that much variety in terms of challenge types, and the whole mode feels like an afterthought at times. But with that being said, you’d better believe I’m going to finish them all, because more Mega Man is never a bad thing.
Is Mega Man Legacy Collection the definitive way to experience these gaming classics? Perhaps. I personally feel that Mega Man Anniversary Collection (released on PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox in 2004) not only has a more charming presentation, but also offers better features in terms of bonus content. However, Mega Man Legacy Collection still brings the Blue Bomber to current-gen consoles through faithful emulations (beloved and notorious slowdown ever intact!), complete with trophies and achievements, slightly brighter graphics, and seemingly less input lag than previous collections. It’s impossible for me not to recommend something like that.
Though the bells and whistles may be few this time around, these six Mega Man games speak for themselves and still stand the test of time. This collection brings Mega Man to a whole new generation of gamers, and it reminds us why our hero will still be deserving of the term “legacy” for many more generations to come.
Joe Jasko is a game critic.