Mega Man (or Rockman in Japan) has been a staple of the gaming landscape since his debut on the NES in 1987. Offering up an immense but not insurmountable challenge, great variety in obstacles and level designs with a bunch of distinct weaponry, Mega Man has earned a place in games history. Mega Man Legacy Collection assembles the first six Mega Man titles into one collection and attempts to bring these games to 2016 as accurately as possible to the original titles. For anyone wanting to re-live Mega Man’s early outings or experience the games for the first time, Legacy Collection is absolutely the best way to do so.
Just in case you’ve not played a Mega Man game before, I’ll give you a quick run down. Mega Man games feature a robot boy created by Dr. Light who has a gun for a left arm, known as the Mega Buster. You start the game with only the Mega Buster as a weapon, and can choose between eight stages to run through in any order. Each level will feature a boss at the end, and when defeated Mega Man gains an ability based on that boss. These range from more powerful projectiles, weapons that can shoot in different directions or that explode on impact, or other more unusual effects like stopping enemies in time temporarily.
Generally, Mega Man levels reward a more considered and thoughtful approach to action platforming. Running through and shooting everything that moves without a second thought is a very fast way to see a Game Over screen, but take a moment to consider each screen as you encounter it and things aren’t nearly as difficult as they seem to begin with. Starting with the basic running, jumping and shooting abilities, as the series progressed new abilities were added like a slide and a charge beam, which allowed for more variation in level designs and challenges. Once you’ve taken care of the first eight levels, you generally progress to a series of much more difficult levels on the run to the final encounter.
These levels will typically push you to use all the skills you’ve learned to deal with the first eight levels, all at once.
Mega Man Legacy Collection is clearly a labour of love from developers Digital Eclipse. Legacy Collection goes to great lengths to keep the experience of playing these games as authentic as possible to the original games. These games have been available before on the 3DS Virtual Console download service, but they have never looked as good as they do in this collection. Rather than stretching the image to fit the 3DS’s screen (and making the game blurry in the process), Legacy Collection places small borders around the image to preserve the 1:1 pixel presentation on the 3DS screen. The effect is gorgeous and really makes the 3DS’s comparatively low-resolution screen shine. Some might not notice, but for me it’s hard to go back to the shoddy stretch-o-vision of the Mega Man games on Virtual Console after seeing Legacy Collection.
To go along with this beautiful in-game presentation, Digital Eclipse have included a huge amount of extra artwork to go along with all six of the games in the collection. Each game has a Database which provides information on every enemy encountered in the game and allows you to challenge bosses anytime, which can be super useful as practise so you don’t have to fight your way through a difficult level just to try again. There is also a Museum for each game as well with a veritable treasure trove of artwork ranging from game box arts, manuals, character and enemy artwork, concept art, development images and even things like magazine ads used to market the games around their release. Along with this, some seemingly minor details like being able to choose between the Japanese and Western releases of the games really show how much the developers love Mega Man and just want to share their vision for an authentic collection with anyone who wants it.
As far as performance goes for the games, things are for better or worse, exactly as you might remember them on the NES. Certain areas of levels with a lot of enemies on screen will suffer from slowdown which can mess up your rhythm, and the charge beam introduced in Mega Man 4 still interferes with a channel of the game’s music with it’s charging sound. The game is a strictly 2D presentation too, with the 3D slider simply making the game screen ‘pop-out’ against the border which recedes to the background. Some might feel this a little disappointing after seeing games in a similar visual style like Shovel Knight on 3DS. These things might well have been possible to fix or implement, but it is understandable that they weren’t. The Legacy Collection embraces the high points and imperfections of the games’ original releases.
There are some minor and completely optional additions to the games which weren’t present, or in some cases possible in their original incarnations. As well as repeatedly tapping the fire button to shoot repeatedly, one button is assigned a rapid fire function. In addition, each game allows players to create a saved state at any point during gameplay by accessing a settings menu. Both of these additions are entirely avoidable if you want to play the games with the original challenge of replaying levels on game over, but they also can really help less experienced players (or players who just want some reprieve from repeating difficult sections). Rapid fire makes some enemies and bosses a little easier to conquer, and save states can go a long way to preventing frustration at moments which demand perfection platforming.
Review concludes below.