After all the drama with Keiji Inafune’s departure Capcom and the company’s apparent effort to drive the light away from his works as a result of it, the Mega Man franchise saw little in terms of releases, with a couple cameos here and there, but nothing substantial. Given the characters humongous popularity during three videogame generations and his fondly remembered catalog of games, it was only a matter of time before some sort of comeback would occur. And no, I’m not talking about Mighty No. 9.
Compilations isn’t a new concept for the Blue Bomber, considering how only a single new console iteration after his debut saw a relatively well done recreation of his three original NES/Famicom games on Genesis/Mega Drive under the title Wily Wars, only released in Europe. A few years later, it was the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube’s turn to host pretty well made but ultimately flawed conversions of old Mega Man games, the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, which housed all six of Mega Man‘s 8-bit adventures as well as his lone Super Nintendo outing, Mega Man 7, and its anime intro-ed PlayStation sequel Mega Man 8, as well as a couple of bonus little known outside of Japan arcade releases. For that moment in time, that collection served its purpose of bringing back to the limelight the (at the time extremely re-hashed and tired) character’s long gone golden years, control issues aside.
Given how well retro re-releases have been doing lately and their success in doing so for decades, Capcom decided to give its cherished mascot another go, with great results. Mega Man Legacy Collection is lovingly well produced, and serves as a strong reminder of how well these games have aged, bringing back the classic 8 bit six game run in as close to high definition as it possibly could have been without going in and redrawing sprites and levels, a practice that normally yields mixed results. They’re all just as they were: bugs, glitches and old tricks all there and ready to be cursed upon or exploited at your heart’s content.
Fans will eternally wage message board and forum wars on the subject of which Mega Man game they consider the best, usually tugging between 2 and 3, but considering the entirety of Mega Man‘s videogame legacy, it’s safe to say that the 8-bit generation had by far the least amount of duds. Sure, Mega Man 4 might not be as fondly remembered, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some of his PlayStation 2 attempts at making the transition to polygonal 3D. Regardless of what side of the argument you might stick your fork at, there’s no denying that these games have stood the test of time, occasional cheap trial-and-error level design notwithstanding. They have not only opened the doors for numerous game creation philosophies to flourish in the coming decades, but have also worked their way in the very definition of what videogaming is. Despite that concept’s constant shifting, it’s safe to say that the classic Mega Man games will never not be considered cornerstones in gaming.
With that unintended preachy sounding but necessary caveat out of the way, let’s talk about the collection itself and how well the games are served in it. Given the sane decision to keep these games as they were nearing 30 years ago, certain graphical options are made available to help make the transition to modern configurations. Mainly, if you wish to be a purist, you’re given the option of leaving the graphics alone in their as crisp as possible 4:3 screen aspect ration glory, with black borders or framed by original art for the game you’re playing at the moment. However, there are a few other interesting tweaks available that try their best to serve a variety of tastes, from scanlines to the distortion and filtering of the screen, including character ghosting, in order to emulate how it was like to play these in an old tube TV back in the day. It’s a neat effect that’s not particularly new to Capcom’s retro compilations, but it’s a welcome addition that’s tastefully done nonetheless. There’s also the option to stretch the screen in order to fill a widescreen display — for as unnatural it felt to me to do so, it’s an understandable addition that is there for those who wish to prove that TV does add 20 pounds to anyone, including short little 8-bit videogame characters.
But the addition of these fantastic classics wouldn’t be much of a deal if playing it sucked, like it did with some of the older collections. None of the weird button layouts seeing in Anniversary Collection are present in Legacy Collection, thanks to the option of fully customizing all inputs. The PC version unfortunately suffers from a lack of compatibility with some of the more popular models that have seen support in current releases, such as the DualShock 4. Still, it’s a huge improvement throughout that might be considered a given in 2016, but usually isn’t treated as such.
The real nugget in this collection which will see most play, though, is a new challenge time attack mode that adds a significant amount of replayability to the game. The cool bit in this mode is that the trials are varied and take into account the many glitches and tricks that have since been discovered in the six titles over the many years they’ve been out. For instance, one of the very first gives you mere seconds to kill the Yellow Devil boss in Mega Man 2, an impossible feat without the use of the infamous pause trick, which survived intact in this collection.
As a side treat, each game also contains a sizable amount of original concept art sketches and color drawings for just about any character and level found in these games, even going as far as having rejected ideas for bosses. A lot of this content was only found in some of Capcom’s art books released through Udon, so it’s a little extra that might not go a long way for most, but works well as a bonus for anyone looking for insight as to how these games came to fruition. Those books are expensive! Trust me, it’s a ton of neat stuff.
There’s no escaping the fact that these games are exactly what you’d expect and remember playing years and years ago. It’s the complete package that matters in the end in a case like this. The added mode and extras make this collection While it’s easy to pass this as an attempt by Capcom to make a quick buck by digging into our nostalgia, it’s also incredibly easy to see the amount of extra care went into making this collection particularly special and worthy of your time and money. Here’s hope there’s even more to come going forward into the Blue Bomber’s 16-bit X adventures.