Mega Man X Legacy Collection PS4 review: almost retro perfection
Capcom's latest remaster collection revisits the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Mega Man X series. Our review...
After more than a decade of neglect, Capcom has finally brought the Mega Man X series out of hibernation in the best way possible, with a collection of all eight games in the mainline series. But while Mega Man fans will no doubt be thrilled to have this collection for modern consoles, there are still a few odd design choices and omissions that hold this compilation back from being definitive.
First, let’s talk about the games. You’re getting two bona fide side-scrolling classics here with the first two X games, and quite a few excellent sequels. After including the PS1 version of Mega Man X3 in 2006’s Mega Man X Collection for the PS2 and GameCube, Capcom has wisely included in the SNES version of that title and its far superior soundtrack for the Legacy Collection.
Mega Man X5 is a more divisive, but still pretty solid title that named all of its Mavericks after members of Guns N’ Roses for its original North American release. Capcom has given the Mavericks more traditional names for this collection, but if you’re already not a fan, it’s not going to change your opinion of the game.
Then there are two frankly bad games here: X6 an X7. X6 is just a mess of some of the worst designed levels in the franchise, but at least it’s functional on some level, if maddeningly frustrating (even by Mega Man standards). X7 and its ill-advised foray into 3D gameplay has aged particularly poorly and stands out as the worst game in the package. At least X8 returned the series to its 2D roots, though it’s still a shadow of the series’ early glory.
The first six games here, released on the SNES and PS1 feature a new smoothing filter that makes the games look better than ever, but you can also remove this if you prefer the original pixelated graphics. I found it almost impossible to go back though. Load times are lightning fast on all the games, although even the filter couldn’t save the poor quality of the anime cutscenes in X4–6.
There is a boatload of bonus features here, including an art gallery, sound test, and the “Day of Sigma” opening movie from the PSP remake of the original Mega Man X, but the real highlight is X Challenge. This mode lets you equip three Maverick powers and then battle against two Mavericks from different games in the series, such as Neon Tiger from X3 and Magma Dragoon from X4. It’s ridiculously awesome and difficult, and I want something like this in every retro game collection from now on. X Challenge alone is a reason for even the most hardcore Mega Man fans to pick up this title.
So why isn’t this the perfect X collection?
Well, the first issue is how it’s packaged. The collection installs as two separate games, each collecting four titles, so if you want to go back from X7 to X2, you have to fully exit one game and start up another one. This also means that the two collections offer bonus features that are almost identical, which is just an odd design choice. The X Challenges actually are the same between the two titles, which is going to really annoy achievement and trophy completionists who now have to beat this ultra hard mode twice.
Dividing the collection into two packages just reeks of something demanded by the marketing department, but even the exact benefit of this isn’t entirely clear since the $40 price point for all eight games is perfectly reasonable. This really should have been one collection of eight games.
And while it’s hard to complain about the titles here, it would have been nice if Capcom had also included the excellent Mega Man X: Command Mission RPG and Maverick Hunter X remake of the first game, which is acknowledged in the “Day of Sigma” video. I also kind of missed Mega Man: Battle & Chase, the Mario Kart clone that was included as a bonus in the 2006 Mega Man X Collection.
Ultimately, the Mega Man X Legacy Collection delivers almost everything a Mega Man fan could ever want from the X games, including the awesome new X Challenge mode, but the decision to divide this into two titles holds it back from retro perfection.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection is out now for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.