It's an almost lifelong relationship, me and the 8-bit Mega Man. I haven't really taken to his other incarnations in the same way, but this crudely pixelated little fellow is the one thing I can imagine getting a tattoo of. And each and every game in the series (including the more recent Mega Man 9 and 10) are among my personal favourites. Simply put, I had to have Mega Man Legacy Collection.
The collection includes the six original games from NES with some added extras, and the key decision seems to have been to treat these classics with respect. This is going to divide opinion as the developers, Digital Eclipse, have opted to keep choppy framerates and graphical glitches. Flaws that could easily have been fixed, and they also haven't made the menus easier to navigate which means lots of browsing when weapons need to be switched out.
It's an odd proposition given that the 11-year old Mega Man Anniversary Collection offered more games, as Mega Man 7 (Super Nintendo) and Mega Man 8 (PlayStation) were included as well as more obscure titles like Mega Man: The Power Battle and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. My guess is that this has made for lots of animated discussions among the Mega Man faithful, but personally I'm fine with it just being the NES titles. It makes for a more cohesive collection and allows for a setup where you can face any boss with any weapon straight out of the menu.
Digital Eclipse have also been clever enough to not limit players when it comes to setting up the control scheme. Too often have we been fed Mega Man collections or re-releases where the button placing has been wrong and it has rendered the classics nearly unplayable. Thankfully the customisation really helps things out, as does the addition of auto-fire. It's not a big deal, and it definitely doesn't feel like cheating, but it does make it more accessible for a new generation of gamers.
The Mega Man games, particularly the early ones, have long carried with them the reputation of being extremely difficult. And sure, the blue bomber does take a lot of damage when hit, and there are lots of objects that cause instant death. The controls on the other hand are incredibly precise and you quickly learn how to navigate Mega Man through the most harrowing situations. Where icons like Mario and Sonic have a bit of inertia built into their movements, Mega Man is the most responsive hero of them all.
All deaths are avoidable. They never come across as unfair, and if you fail once you'll know how to solve the problem the next time. Therefore the experience feels very rewarding, you always feel as if you're doing well and are constantly honing your skills. Add to this the fact that the games differ much in terms of items and as such it never grows too repetitive.
Capcom was really firing on all cylinders at the time these games came out originally; the creativity on display, mixed with beautiful pixel graphics and possibly the best chip tune music ever made makes for an amazing combination. The number of classic tracks is mindblowing and I find myself turning up the volume continually as I mow down one boss after another.
Part of the collection is a museum with lots of concept images and beautiful drawings from the infancy of Mega Man - and while I've seen many of them, there are also many that I haven't. It's a treasure chest that I really enjoyed digging through. You can also listen to the excellent music thanks to a wonderful player and I've spent at least an hour stomping my feet to the groovy chip tunes without actually playing the games.
The major new addition is the 50 challenges that have been created for Mega Man Legacy Collection. Challenges that remind us of the NES Remix titles. This means selected parts of the old titles have been remade as missions, often with a time limit, and they're enjoyable. Trying to beat Yellow Devil within a certain time proved unexpectedly addictive, and jumping through all the passages with blocks appearing and disappearing is an exercise in skill that really brings out the best in you.
It's always difficult to review collections as they often consist of a number of great titles that have maybe, or maybe not, withstood the test of time. However, this package offers both great value for your money and some timeless classics. On the negative side of things I feel that there isn't enough extras, and I would also have appreciated a better save feature (saving and loading should simply be two button presses - no fiddling with menus).
At the end of the day I'd recommend this to everyone. Regardless of whether you've played Mega Man before, or even if you're in need of a good history lesson. It's doubtful that there are any other 8-bit games that feel as good and current after this amount of time, but by all means don't take my word for it. Try them out for yourself.
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