Let's just get the obvious point out of the way here. This is $15 for six wonderful classic games. If you are like me and loved these games as a kid, then the Mega Man Legacy Collection is one of the best deals on the market.
If you have any interest in gaming history, looking back at the roots of video games, or exploring where this hobby you've accrued over the years comes from, then this Mega Man Legacy Collection is one of the best deals on the market.
If you just love video games and somehow haven't stumbled across a Mega Man title during your career and would like to fill in this obnoxiously large gap in your knowledge, then again, this is one of the best deals on the market.
Even if your body doesn't have the slightest fleeting interest in anything that has to do with Mega Man or straight up don't like the original series, at least give this collection a try before swearing to keep yourself as far from the gene-pool as humanly possible. You might surprise yourself and realize that "joy" is a perfectly acceptable emotion to have, saving yourself from creating future generations of soulless husks that merely resemble human beings.
Robots, I guess.
Simply put, buy this package regardless of the reason. If you still need convincing though, let's dive in below, shall we?
Modern extremities meets the ultimate old-school franchise
The Mega Man Legacy Collection is an initiative taken by Capcom to recollect and perfectly render the six classic NES Mega Man games in a single affordable package on modern consoles. Not only is this bundle more affordable than if you bought each game individually from the Wii U's Virtual Console or hunted down the original NES carts, it also comes equipped with all the expected extremities of modern day video games!
Digital Eclipse's engine designed to reproduce these titles is pixel perfect in the resolution boost, making the games more stunning than ever. This package might have less content than the PlayStation 2-era Mega Man Anniversary Collection, but those renditions were bogged down with blurred lines (hey hey hey!) and smudged animation. It's like 30 years later, we've finally realized that pixels are infinitely scalable, and Digital Eclipse's revelation shows us the proper way to display NES games in 1080p.
It's shocking how difficult some companies find this process to be. Pixels, bless their little hearts, are a mathematically perfect way to render games because no matter how big your screen gets, as long as everything remains relative to one another, the game still looks the same! I mean … is that rocket science? Did Capcom and Digital Eclipse have to hire Dr. Light or Dr. Wily to solve that 30 years after the original Mega Man games were first made?
Needless to say, the classic Mega Man games have never looked better, but there are a few problems in recreating the games a little too accurately. Digital Eclipse's engine is unable to fix the classic games' slowdown issues, which might be a pain to some. Other fans out there see this slowdown as authentic and as part of the game, so it all depends on what you are looking for, the real experience or a smooth, modern product.
For the most part, the Mega Man Legacy Collection provides a choice for one or the other, but leaning on the files and programming of the original NES classics holds it back a little bit from being a perfect modern rendition of the games. Younger gamers don't want slowdown just because it's how it was back in the day, and older gamers might be curious as to how the game is actually supposed to look when running properly and not limited by the NES.
Seriously, the PlayStation 4 can't display four Mega Man enemies on a screen at the same time without slowing down?
Other elements in this package hyped by Capcom are the museums, enemy databases, and challenge modes, each of which do their jobs properly. The museum is handy because it allows players to practice against robot masters without having to slug through a challenging level to get a few reps in.
It's a risk free window into learning his patterns and weaknesses. Why not?
The challenge mode is decent, and the museum has some interesting art, especially the old advertisements, but I'm not too big a fan of the layout. Digital Eclipse's displays are all stiff, like menus for a mobile game designed for straight up convenience. Couldn't someone have made a more interesting menu system? Mega Man running through the selectable options? Proto Man fighting enemies in the background? Dr. Wily's saucer swooping in and him doing his eyebrow dance every once in a while?
Or better yet, decorate it like it looks like an actual Mega Man menu straight from the game?! Put me in coach, I'm ready!
The added bonuses are a nice touch, but they come up a bit short of the Criterion treatment that Capcom was hyping. I was hoping for the option of the silky smooth framerate of Shovel Knight, but I admit my expectations might have a bit high in that regard.
Still, $15 for a bunch of never-before-seen art, new challenge modes, soundtracks, and six of the best NES games in the world gorgeously displayed in 1080p? Come on, there isn't much room to complain about here.
What the heck is a Mega Man, anyway?
Now, we all know that Mega Man is famous, but do we know why? The NES spawned plenty of classic franchises, so what makes this one so memorable? Well, pull up a stool, and let this old man school you for a second.
The first Mega Man game launched in Dec. 1987 before many of these established franchises really got a chance to take off. At that point, North Americans of course had Nintendo classics like Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Punch Out! Konami was also already an established force on home consoles at this point with Gradius, The Goonies, Contra and Castlevania thanks to experience with the MSX in Japan. Outside of the early hits from these two companies, many of the NES classics we love were just budding themselves.
Metroid was only a month old, Final Fantasy was only a WEEK old, and outside of a few established developers, gaming, in North America at least, was just a bucket of licensed garbage that is best left forgotten to history.
A few Japanese cult classics like Tecmo's early games got through, but not many. Not this early in the NES' lifetime, and certainly none of which were game changers like Mega Man turned out to be.
In 1987, Capcom was not very well known on the home console market and most of its NES games were subpar outsourced remakes of their popular arcade hits, not far removed from how Capcom nearly buried itself by outsourcing itself too much earlier in the 2010s. The first truly great in-house developed Capcom game on the NES was a fun but forgettable shooter called Section Z, a remake of an arcade game rethought with a console player in mind, and following its success in the summer of 1987, the company saw value in creating games specifically for the home consoles, not just as a roundabout way of selling its arcade hits.
It handed off home console development to a small team of seven people and ordered them to make a game fit for home consoles, something beyond the mindset of a coin-op arcade machine. This is how Mega Man was born, and when it comes to third party titles, Mega Man was the first true mascot-based series to challenge Nintendo's quality.
The franchise had its own likable character, ripped straight from the pages of Astro Boy, and more importantly, likable villains which each had an elemental theme. It had an established animé look that made it very attractive with colorful worlds, extravagant enemy designs, huge sprites, and bold black lines that made characters leap from the screen.
Mega Man also excelled in its musical presentation with the one and only Manami Matsumae composing tunes for each level, creating just as much personality for each stage as the graphics did.
On the gameplay front, Mega Man also had its own set of specific rules that were groundbreaking in their own right. Mega Man could complete the stages in any order he felt like, and he would absorb the power of the bosses after pulverizing them. Some bosses could even be beaten much easier with a proper corresponding weapon! I mean, how cool is that?!
People recognized this quality as far beyond anything else the NES was doing at the time, and latched on. Mega Man was a minor hit but did well enough for Capcom to allow development of a sequel in between hours of the team working on something else.
Mega Man 2, a pure passion project for those involved, launched the following year and became the best selling Mega Man game of all time, and from there every game built on the formula. Sprites got bigger, music became more complex, mechanics piled on to the original setup without ever breaking too far away. Some pieces got tired over the years, but hey, Mega Man also provided a blueprint for the dangers of developing an annualized franchise.
All in all, the series is groundbreaking for not only being instantly recognizable on any one of these elements but for also setting a standard for third party companies. Capcom especially would begin to take the NES more seriously, establishing itself a leader on the console with much better software than the pre-Mega Man days. Classics like Willow, Gun. Smoke, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, DuckTales, and of course, Bionic Commando
And we should love and thank Mega Man for this because without him, third-party video games might have taken an entirely different route of evolution. Either that or it might have taken longer for someone to step up and truly challenge Nintendo for supremacy on its own machine.
My reason for this rant? Mega Man is important to gaming history and deserves to be recognized by the generations that follow. This excellent bundle ensures that could happen.
When you're not with us, we're blue. Oh Mega Man, we love you.
That's my history lesson. So, how do I feel about each of them? I'll sum them up briefly … now:
Mega Man: Never played it as a kid, too hard for my old-man brain these days. A nice game that just beats you over the skull once you hit Wily's stages.
Mega Man 2: One of the best video games ever made, and my first foray into the series. Played it every morning at a friend's house before school. One of my first true gaming loves. Holds up very well.
Mega Man 3: A mythical beast I could only play at a cousin's house giving it an extra edge of desire as a kid. Just as much fun, but not as tight as Mega Man 2. Holds up well.
Mega Man 4: The first one I owned, and the first one I played to death. The mystic desire I had for Mega Man 3 isn't there because I had the game always waiting for me on my shelf. Upon replaying it for this review, it holds up better than I would have guessed.
Mega Man 5: The second one I owned, and the eternally boring one. Could barely summon the ability to care when playing for my review, but it has a few nice levels. Way too easy and generous with the 1 ups.
Mega Man 6: A misunderstood classic that is hated on more than it deserves. Nonlinear levels, Mega Man's new armor sets This one changed up the formula, but just a tad "too little too late" since Mega Man X kicked the series into hyperdrive on the SNES three months earlier. A good game to go back and re-explore.
I will say this though, being able to switch through all these games so easily in one package really lets you see how they stand up to one another. Fascinating stuff.
Overall, this package is just great. $15 for a look into yesterday, and its release couldn't have been better timed because my patience with modern day console games is about at the breaking point. Support for this means possible support for Capcom classics in the future if Mega Man proves the demand for retro is still here, and that's all I need.
Gaming has become something of a comfort-food hobby for me, and these days, I would much rather fill in the gaps of my NES, SNES, and PlayStation knowledge or revisit old favorites than play the latest PC/Xbox One/PlayStation 4 "must own" hit.
With the Mega Man Legacy Collection, I can do both!
Disclaimer: We were provided with a copy of the Mega Man Legacy Collection by Capcom for the PlayStation 4, and we played all the games before writing this review.