8-bit Mega Man classics return on current-gen consoles
There are few names in gaming as iconic as the legendary Blue Bomber. Capcom’s petite, plucky, and ultra-powerful combat robot blasted onto Nintendo Entertainment System home consoles in 1987 and forever changed the gaming landscape. If you were too young to experience the original 8-bit Mega Man games, or are an old-school 80’s gamer and want to relive these celebrated pieces of video game history, you simply cannot miss out on the Mega Man Legacy Collection.
This collection, which released digitally last summer on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo 3DS, is now available on these same platforms in physical format for the very first time. The Mega Man Legacy Collection packs Mega Man 1-6―universally regarded as six of the greatest and most influential platforming games of all time―on one disc/cartridge. Not only that, this compilation offers extra ways to experience these timeless games with the all-new Challenge Mode, Museum Mode, and more.
Extraordinary games with a crisp HD finish
As much as I love more recent Mega Man series, like Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX, there’s nothing quite like the pure pixel perfection of the original six 8-bit games. The Mega Man Legacy Collection gives you faithful ports of these cherished platforming games that retain their retro 8-bit style, while at the same time adding a beautiful HD finish. The upgraded visuals present a sharper, cleaner look to the familiar, charming environments and sprites, making these beautiful classic Mega Man games look even better.
Playing through all six original Mega Man games, I was reminded why these are such treasured, epic adventures. For one thing, the level designs are simply immaculate, rewarding level memorization and precision gameplay, while rarely feeling deliberately punishing (unlike say, Battletoads or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES). Every aspect of individual levels―from the floor layouts, to enemy placements, to power-up locations, to traps―seem painstakingly placed to smoothly ramp up the difficulty as you practice and hone your platforming and combat skills. The games were also known for pushing the envelope of 8-bit graphics, with gorgeous, thematically varied worlds possessing their own enemies, hazards, and obstacles to overcome. Unique challenges inherent to each level, such as the slippery platforms on Ice Man’s world (Mega Man 2), or the ceiling walking of Gravity Man’s stage (Mega Man 5), gave each area its own distinct flavour.
On top of the impeccable level design and crisp graphics, all original six Mega Man games followed a revolutionary level select system featuring Robot Masters—Mega Man‘s version of powerful end-level bosses—and their domains, which can be challenged in any order. After defeating a Robot Master, Mega Man acquires their power, and the trick is to figure out the best order to defeat the bosses; since each boss is weak against a specific weapon, and resistant to others. Half the fun of playing Mega Man games is experimenting with all the cool weapons you’ll obtain, such as the wall-bouncing Gemini Laser, protective Leaf Shield, and the sliding Charge Kick.
Museum Mode is a nostalgic trip down memory lane
Apart from the six main games (which themselves are enough to recommend this collection), the Mega Man Legacy Collection also include a massive museum chock-full of vintage sketches, original production art, concept art, character files, and more. If you love exploring the rich history of iconic game characters like I do, they you’ll have a blast browsing the hundreds of antiques on display here.
What’s really awesome is that the Museum includes not just North American vintage pieces, which older Mega Man fans here may have seen before, but also relics from Mega Man‘s Europe releases, as well as Japan, where he’s known as Rockman. There are all kinds of wonderful gems to be found here, like front and back scans of each game’s box art, full reproductions of the instruction manuals, high resolution versions of 80’s and 90’s Mega Man print advertisements, images of the game cartridges, and even early concept sketches of characters, enemies, and environments that never made it into the final games. I also really enjoyed browsing the character files, which shows you the height, colour scheme, and front/back/side views for all main characters, including Mega Man, Dr. Wily, Rush, and Robot Masters. For even more detailed information on the characters, the Mega Man Legacy Collection contains a deep Database mode offering character bios, including their HP and ATK power, as well as any potential weapon weakness.
Challenge Mode awaits
When you want get in some extra practice, or put your Mega Man mettle to the test, the all-new Challenge Mode is the place to go. This fun mode remixes gameplay segments from all six games and packages them into succinct timed gameplay challenges. The over 50 included challenges come in varying themes, such as rapid-fire Robot Master boss fights, fast-paced platforming snippets across multiple levels, multi-game mashups, and more. There’s a nice scaling of the difficulty here, making Challenge Mode excellent for experienced players to conquer yet serves as a great entry point for newcomers, too.
All versions of the Mega Man Legacy Collection will record your best times for each challenge, as well as allow you to save and replay your favourite runs. This is great for those who like capture and replay their most epic gaming moments, and share them with friends. The Xbox One and PS4 versions also include global leaderboards for Challenge Mode, letting you compete against the best in the world, and showcase your top-notch Mega Man talent by uploading your best video replays.
Other exciting new features
Mega Man Legacy Collection is filled with tons of additional features new and returning fans will love. My favourite is the ability to create one save state per game, enabling you to not only pause and resume your game exactly where you left off, but also it can help you through particularly tough levels by giving you the option to save your progress mid-way. Another neat feature is being able to switch between the Mega Man and Rockman (Japanese) versions of all six games. There are not many differences I could find between the regional versions, aside from two difficulty settings in the North American version of Mega Man 2, varied title screen art, and a slightly different opening chiptune track in Mega Man 6, but it’s still cool to see the slight tweaks across games, and import collectors will appreciate getting both versions.
All six Mega Man games are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, and as you can see in images to the right and above, you can select to replace the black bars on either end with beautiful game art, much like what you’d see on arcade machines. On the Nintendo 3DS version, you’ll also get colourful artwork on the bottom touch screen, which even changes depending on whether you’re playing the Mega Man or Rockman version. Chiptune audio enthusiasts will love the included Music Player as well, with its more than 100 songs from the Mega Man games for you to listen to. Classics such as the Dr. Wily themes, all the Robot Master tracks, and fun additions like the Capcom logo music and stage clear jingle, are here in all their 8-bit audio glory.
Mega Man is legendary character, beloved by millions of fans around the globe, and just as relevant today as he was nearly 20 years ago when he made his debut on the NES. The Mega Man Legacy Collection lets you explore his rich history by packing six of the all-time greatest 8-bit platforming games on one disc. The robust Museum and Database modes will let fans dig deeper into the iconic characters and worlds of Mega Man, while the Challenge Mode will test the skills of veteran and new players alike. If you love Mega Man or retro gaming, you definitely should not pass up this chance to play a piece of gaming history.
+ Retro 8-bit graphics with a fresh, crisp polish
+ One of the best soundtracks in gaming
+ Challenge Mode is a great addition
+ Museum & Database modes are steeped in history
+ Can toggle between Mega Man and Rockman versions
– Game may be challenging for players new to the series
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)