Mega Man Legacy Collection – Review
PC, PS4, PS3
Video games are relatively young when compared to other artistic endeavours, but there is a lot of history packed into that time span. Technology is one of the fastest evolving mediums around and as the depth and breadth of what video games could accomplish technically has grown, so too have the ideas and inspirations surrounding it.
However, that history is also at great risk of being lost. The same technological acceleration that has enhanced video games so much has also rendered a lot of its history obsolete or lost altogether. And while efforts have been made to preserve some of this history, through emulators, backwards compatibility and the careful maintenance of original hardware, there are still great chunks of video gaming history that are, for all intents and purposes, gone forever.
This is why it’s fantastic to see the release of something like the Mega Man Legacy Collection. This collection contains not only the first six games of the original classic Mega Man series, but preserves them in their original state, complete with glitches, flickers and frame rate drops. Though the graphics have been upscaled for modern monitors, there are options to scale them to your screen size or have them in the original box dimensions, as well as additional filter options, such as one that simulates the look of an old CRT television for further authenticity.
In addition to these options, the Legacy Collection is chock full of additional content that any original fan would have gladly gone up against Cut Man for. To start with, there’s the complete original soundtracks for each game in the collection, plus Remix modes consisting of small portions selected from the larger levels and chained together as timed challenges. These challenges share a global leader board, so you can compare your efforts with others as well as watch footage of the most successful runs.
More importantly, in my opinion, the Legacy Collection comes with a wealth of behind the scenes info, including original concept art for the characters and stages of all the existing Mega Man games, as well as the series’ future. This is complimented with a compendium of every Mega Man character, listing their official back story as well as their stats and a few hints on how to deal with them, in the case of enemies. The option is also available to fight any selected enemy with a full range of weapons, so you can practice moves and perfect techniques for the real deal.
Each game consists of 6-8 different areas centred around a particular Robot Master, each with their own distinct enemies and themes. Defeating each boss earns you their power which can be used against other bosses (for example, Fire Man is susceptible to the power gained by defeating Ice Man). Once they have all been defeated, it’s time to face the final boss – usually the seemingly incorrigible Dr Wily.
Even before seeing all of this additional content, I was genuinely excited to play the Legacy Collection. The Mega Man series is akin to gaming royalty and it would have filled what I felt was a large hole in my gaming resume. After immersing myself in the larger world of Mega Man for a while, I settled in to playing the game proper.
To put it bluntly, it sucked. Or perhaps, more accurately, I sucked. No matter which level I chose, I could barely proceed, let alone finish the stage, and often found myself groaning with frustration. I couldn’t jump on enemies! I couldn’t shoot enemies whilst reeling from a hit! I couldn’t shoot UP, for goodness’ sake!
The levels are true to the old school, arcade style of gaming where lives are few and precision is everything. Rather than favouring reflexes or imagination, excelling at Mega Man requires good muscle memory and a lot of dying. To its credit, the ability to save a single restore point makes progression a quicker, albeit still painfully slow, process than the original password system (which, like everything else in the original game, is still carefully maintained).
In the end, I found myself going back to Remix mode a lot – this allowed me to experience the gamut of the Mega Man games without having to put in the hard slog of actually completing levels. Basically, whilst I can appreciate the importance and value of the Mega Man Legacy Collection, without the warm embrace of nostalgia, the games themselves were little more than an exercise in frustration to someone like me.
I never got to play Mega Man in its original format as I was a latecomer to the gaming scene – my first console was a PlayStation; a console two years younger than the last game in the Legacy Collection. But although I can pretty confidently say I will likely never finish a Mega Man game, thanks to time capsules like the Mega Man Legacy Collection, I’ve had the opportunity to start one, and for that I’m extremely grateful.