Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 will be released on Aug. 10, and it will bring four classic games, or at last classically stylized games, to modern consoles and the PC for the very first time. Much like Mega Man Legacy Collection, this offering of the original franchise with the most up-to-date emulation is enough to get fans excited to play their favorites all over again.
Ranking the games in the original Mega Man Legacy Collection is too convoluted of a task (for this day at least) that will leave nobody truly happy when the smoke settles, but we're happy to break down what's in Capcom's upcoming bundle. My gut tells me that most Mega Man fans have similar opinions for Mega Man 7, 8, 9, and 10, and they can't get worked up over them like the first six games.
No robotic feathers will be ruffled in the publication of this list.
Mega Man 10
I'm feeling pretty good about a list where we can start off at the lowest point and still think "Yeah, that was a pretty cool game." Those who gamed on the NES remember thinking Capcom skipped a bunch of games and changed to Roman numerals for Mega Man X, but only afterwards did we learn that was a separate series. Those who also gamed on the NES know how stale Mega Man got toward the end of the console's lifetime.
Mega Man 5 and 6 are solid games, but yeah, the tedium set in long before their releases.
Mega Man 10 suffers from that same problem. It's a well-constructed game that adds fun ideas on top of Mega Man 9's advancements, but… why was this made? Mega Man 9 was pure lightning in a bottle with perfect timing for tapping into the retro craze and giving fans that old school feeling they craved. Its announcement and reception received universal praise from the fanbase.
Mega Man 10's reception? Uhhh, again? How about something new?
Don't get me wrong, it's a really good Mega Man game, and Sheep Man is the absolute best parody of a bad Mega Man robot master, but I think it lacks the extra edge that the rest of these games have. That's why it's on the bottom.
Mega Man 8
Mega Man 8 is a victim of the times it was released in. By 1997, Mega Man X had clearly taken over the darker direction that the side-scrolling series was heading in with Mega Man X4 dominating the scene, and even that wasn't the biggest of Mega Man 8's problems.
This whole new idea of 3D games infested our brains to the point of believing that anything created in 2D simply wasn't worth your time anymore. Super Mario 64 crushed Mega Man 8's hopes of becoming a hit, and later that year, Mega Man Legends advanced the series into 3D with a brilliance that so few classic franchises were able to match.
Time forgot Mega Man 8, and the only reason it remained slightly memorable throughout the 2000s was because of its legendarily bad voice acting. Mega Man 8 is a bonafide meme generator, which is crazy considering how strong the localization for Mega Man Legends turned out to be.
Unlike many of those 3D games that helped bury it in the day though, time has been kind to Mega Man 8. It plays just fine, the 2D sprites for the enemy robots all animate smoothly, it has loads of great level design and fun robot masters, and that soundtrack is just so perfect. Listening to it is like a timewarp back to the mid-90s Japanese pop scene, back when anime had more guts than it has today.
I played this on the Vita not too long ago and had a blast. The only part I genuinely hated is one of the game's more infamous levels. Ugghh… Jump, jump, slide, slide!
Mega Man 7
Mega Man 7 suffered a similar fate as Mega Man 8 upon release. While it had yet to compete with the full potential of 3D video games, it still had the much "cooler" Mega Man X games to compete with. Because of this, some saw it as outdated at the time, limited in its gameplay because classic Mega Man's moveset was somewhat sparse in the face of the nimble and agile X. I mean, X could dash and climb walls!
Mega Man? Well, he could still slide like he had done since Mega Man 3.
Retrospect is also somewhat mixed on this one. Because of how large Mega Man's sprite rendered in this game, some see its platforming as imprecise and stiff when played next to the classic series as well.
Myself? I adore this game. As a kid I did, and now that the badass 'tude and dark sci-fi of the '90s are no longer the defining movement in our pop-culture, we can better appreciate stories that are funny, charming, and innocent all over again. Mega Man 7 doesn't play as well as Mega Man X (nor do I like it as much), but it alone is unique in its presentation with the series. No other games employ the same sprites or art style. For that reason, I'll always choose it over Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3.
As for the imprecise platforming, this is a legit argument, but the size of Mega Man also allows him to be more expressive in his face. I would argue that this game has more personality than any other game in the series, as perfectly summed up in this opening cutscene.
For what it lacks in originality and cutting edge platforming, Capcom tapped into the powers of the Super Nintendo to make a cute Mega Man game that sells itself more on charm than brutal platforming. The rest of the series already tough enough, so that's a trade I'm more than happy to make.
Mega Man 9
Mega Man 9 was a stunning revelation when it launched in 2008. With it, companies started recognizing the value in their retro library all over again, and not just for the sake of re-releasing old classics but also to make new games with a distinctly classic style.
Without Mega Man 9, I see both the indie market and the retro movement taking a much different path than the one we got.
However, the movement it set off wasn't all that Mega Man 9 can take credit for. It's also the best game in the series since Mega Man 3, possibly even the legendary Mega Man 2. Capcom wisely ditched aside the Mega Buster weapon and brought back the focus on the robot masters' weapons. Since Mega Man 4, the defining element of Mega Man, that of collecting weapons from fallen enemies, had taken a backseat to the all-purpose and overpowered charge attack.
In Mega Man 9, the robot masters again are allowed to control the flow of the game.
And while it is distinct in its 8-bit presentation, the game employs a lot of visual tricks and obstacles that simply wouldn't have been possible on the NES. Mega Man 9 created brilliant levels using the superior hardware in ways that made it seem so simple and subtle. Many missed out on the advances in level design because they thought they were playing a simple retro game.
Mega Man 9 earned its reputation as one of the best Mega Man games not just because of its nostalgic allure. Tucked behind those retro graphics is a genuinely brilliant game, and one of the best action platformers ever made.