Mega Man Legacy Collection
Reviewed on: PS4
Also on: Xbox One, PC
One of my first gaming memories is playing Mega Man X on the Super Nintendo, a game which kicked my 8-year-old ass up and down the block so many times that I can still feel the little blue bootprints. I spent hours dying over and over to the same botched jump into the same bed of spikes, and I honestly loved it. There’s just something pure and primal about a game that isn’t afraid to be hard as hell. It’s not some caffeinated pre-teen stomping your face in and laughing at you over the Internet—when it’s just you and the game, every loss is self-inflicted, every victory is hard-won.
More up-to-date gamers will point to the Souls series and Ninja Gaiden as a continuation of this trend of unapologetically difficult games, and as someone who has spent his fair share of time looking at the words “YOU DIED,” I’m inclined to agree. However, there’s still nothing quite like booting up the original Mega Man and still getting mercilessly owned by a gang of ridiculous-looking 8-bit robots. This series is the original controller-throwing, profanity-screaming, palm-sweating experience, and Capcom has decided to release the first six titles in one giant next-gen package. Fire up your Mega Buster and get ready for some premium butthurt—it’s time for the Mega Man Legacy Collection.
Booting up the Mega Man Legacy Collection brings you to a Super Mario All-Stars–esque gallery where you can select any one of the six games to get lost in. Each of them features a Museum, which collects some of the early concept art and box art from the games, including the infamous USA promo art for the original Mega Man, which depicted the Blue Bomber as some sort of deformed, muscle-bound chicken/human hybrid. There’s also the option to check out a Database of information about each game, which mainly consists of the enemies encountered therein, the amount of health they have and their weaknesses. Some of the descriptions even have some subtle hints on how best to approach these enemies, which can be pretty invaluable advice for those new to the game, or a great refresher for those who haven’t played Mega Man in years.
Once you start up a particular game, it essentially emulates the original game using your platform software. However, there’s also a menu of options that can help customize the play experience to one’s liking. There’s a sort of primitive save-state function which allows players to circumvent the frustration caused by limited lives and extreme difficulty. However, if you really want to get the true Mega Man experience, you’ll have to just pretend that little function doesn’t exist. It’s just not the same unless you get ganked by the boss three times in a row and then have to march all the way back from the start of the level. Bonus points if you forgot where you wrote down the password for your save file and you have to start over from the very beginning of the game.
There’s also a few options relating to the display, featuring filters that allow you to pretend that your top-of-the-line 1080p monitor is some shitty cathode ray tube TV, complete with screen fuzz and inexplicable lines. As much as I want to be miffed about this blatant nostalgia bait, I actually thought it was a really charming touch. After all, it’s not too often that your super-ultra-high-res-remake comes with an option to play the game like it’s still the same piece of beautiful, blurry garbage from yesteryear.
I think the one thing we all could have done without, though, are the occasional weird lags and graphical glitches that plagued some of these early games. I get that this is the original presentation and that it’s hard to justify rebuilding the game to balance the competing demand for nostalgia and playability, but I don’t need a reminder of all the times the game itself was actually responsible for me falling helplessly to my death. If my PS4 is having a rough time running NES-level graphics, something has gone horribly, terribly wrong. I’m sure that the same crowd that was appeased by the “TV” filter would have just as readily welcomed a “glitchiness” option.
However, other than a few occasional issues brought about by weird coding decisions from 28 years ago, these games are still just as infuriatingly fun as I remember. Even without all the bells and whistles here to update this series to the standards of Ultra High Definition Modern Gaming Technology, Mega Man has a classic gameplay aesthetic that holds up even against today’s standard of gaming. Expect many hours of true, old-school fun between bouts of vein-bursting fury.
If, for some reason, you thought that playing Mega Man 1 – 6 simply wasn’t enough of a challenge, you’re in luck. There’s a whole host of insane Challenges accessible through the main menu that will test even the most die-hard of Mega Man devotees. “Remix”-style challenges are a little more lightweight, dropping the player into fragments of various levels from each game in the series and setting a timer in which all of them must be completed. Then there are timed boss fights and plenty of other masochistic madness for the truly pain-hungry.
The Remixes were a ton of fun, and the time limits never felt honestly unbearable. It’s kind of fun to have to experience a game through a series of disconnected stages, hoping that you can keep up with the rapid changes in pace and difficulty. The real challenge, though, is in trying to hit high scores on the online leaderboard. There’s already someone on the leaderboard who’s beaten Mecha Dragon from Mega Man 2 in just less than 13 seconds, and I’m sure they will be dethroned sooner or later, so good luck with that, by the way.
The big bonus is that your playthroughs of these challenges are automatically recorded, regardless of what platform you’re playing on. While PS4 owners might not bat an eyelash at this, people without the means of setting up a screencap on their computer might find that the built-in option is a really convenient way to show off their unbelievable Mega Man skills on YouTube.
Alpha and O-Mega
While not everyone out there has fond memories of a time when beating a video game felt like leveling up in real life, Mega Man Legacy Collection can give the few of us who do a chance to relive it. It’s a well-crafted and well-thought-out remake of a beloved series, and despite a few flaws, faithfully recreates a gaming experience that, for many, is only accessible through buggy ROMs on inconsistent emulators.
So, if you have a need to scratch that deep itch—the one that’s only satisfied by repeatedly cursing at inanimate objects in the comfort of your own home—I have good news. Mega Man Legacy Collection rocks, and for $15, you’re getting a ton of game for your buck. Just remember to check the warranty on your TV screen before the controllers fly.